Union Cabinet nod to set up National Research Foundation to boost R&D

New Delhi:┬áThe Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill to set up the National Research Foundation, a new funding agency to bolster the country’s research competence in areas of science and technology, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said.

He said the National Research Foundation Bill, 2023, will be brought in the upcoming session of Parliament and replace the Science and Engineering Research Board Act, 2008.

At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to introduce the bill, Thakur said. He said the government has earmarked Rs 50,000 crore for research till 2027-28.

Of this amount, the government will make available Rs 14,000 crore directly in the next five years, while the remaining Rs 36,000 crore would be garnered from public sector enterprises, industry, foundations and international research organisations, the information and broadcasting minister said in a Cabinet briefing. The NRF will have a governing board consisting of 15 to 25 eminent researchers and professionals, and it will be headed by the prime minister, he said.

The proposed foundation will also have an executive council under the principal scientific advisor, Thakur informed. It will seed, grow and promote research and development (R&D) and foster a culture of research and innovation throughout India’s universities, colleges, research institutions, and R&D laboratories.

The proposed foundation will focus on ”need-based” research, the minister said, adding that inter-disciplinary research will be promoted.

Thakur said the NRF will help support research in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and technology, environmental and Earth sciences, and social sciences. ”Funds would be provided by the NRF and priority would be given to high impact areas,” he said. This is a decision for the present and future of India, and it will also help startups, the minister said.

The NRF will be an apex body to provide high-level strategic direction of scientific research in the country according to the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP), he said.

”NRF will forge collaborations among the industry, academia, and government departments and research institutions, and create an interface mechanism for participation and contribution of industries and state governments in addition to the scientific and line ministries. It will focus on creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D,” according to a statement.