Center Bats, fund incentives for sharing research infrastructure

Researchers in small towns will soon be able to access expensive research infrastructure in state-funded institutions, as the center has issued guidelines for sharing such scientific tools at low cost.

Although researchers in the city of Mooseball will have access to state-of-the-art equipment, the Scientific Research Infrastructure Sharing Maintenance and Network (SRIMAN) guidelines also seek to encourage organizations to rate the amount of participation in an initiative, which could have an impact on future funding.

In a recent guideline, Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh noted that 90 per cent of high-end research equipment is imported and not shared among the research community.

The SRIMAN initiative aims to “provide universally funded scientific research infrastructure as a valuable public resource through better access and sharing for community-wide and optimal use”.

The initiative seeks to improve government spending efficiency by sharing costly and state-of-the-art publicly funded research infrastructure.

“Scientific infrastructure is the foundation of research and innovation and making its availability, accessibility and sharing requirements a key goal, especially for countries like India with limited resources,” Singh said.

The initiative seeks to promote the domestic instrument industry by encouraging universities and research-and-development institutions to set up start-ups for the manufacture of research instruments and to develop staff for its maintenance.

The guidelines make it clear that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) will have the discretionary authority to define exclusive and divisible infrastructure with the exception of the strategic departments, which will be the discretionary authority for them to have its own infrastructure.

The guidelines make it clear that individual researchers who benefit from the initiative will enjoy full intellectual property rights.

“By simply accessing and sharing the research infrastructure, a donor organization cannot claim IPR on the work done by individual researchers,” the guideline says.

However, researchers should properly acknowledge the benefits of accessing and sharing research infrastructure, the guidelines say.

Funding agencies will maintain an online portfolio of expensive research infrastructure to give researchers access through a national portal or other online tool, usually materials valued at over Rs 25 lakh.

The guidelines plan to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the implementation of the SRIMAN initiative under the overall control and supervision of the Department of Science and Technology.

The SPV will primarily look at the management of the national portal for research infrastructure, which will enable users to save time slots for research after appropriate priorities from donor agencies.

The portal will allow the collection of usage charges through online tools and remote-tracking of research work.

“As far as possible, the physical presence of the researcher on the premises of the donor organization will be minimized and the researcher will be assisted with an adequate evaluation method to track the progress of the research work through online tools,” the guideline said.

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