Web portal to book slots in institutes to start in Jan

PUBLISH DATE 19th November 2017

An integrated portal will be launched in January where industries can book slots to use infrastructure available in academic and research institutions, revealed Ashutosh Sharma, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, at the sidelines of a programme held at Agharkar Research Institute on Saturday.

However, when enquired about the lack of funding in fundamental research institutes, thereby, forcing them to cut down on equipment and other resources, Sharma denied the allegation and said that funding for fundamental science has doubled in the past five years.

Till two years ago, 250 researchers were waiting to use an electron microscope at National Chemical Laboratory in Pune. Like NCL, premier scientific institutions are buckling under pressure of infrastructure crunch. As a result, resources are being shared by two or more institutions.

A scientist noted that the ratio between researchers and equipment was poor. “We have anywhere between 500 to 1,000 scientists in the city, who need translational-electronic microscope. We have one in NCL and another one, although not of same standard, in Pune University. Hence, we go around requesting for a slot. Sometimes, the slot comes at a price as the host institution may want its name in the list of co-authors.”

Sharma said that equipment which value more than Rs 50 lakh would be first mapped and then certain time slots would be made available for industries through an online portal.

“There is no way to know whether a certain infrastructure in an institution can be used by outsiders or not. A transparent online system will solve the problem,” Sharma said.

Satishchandra Ogale, who recently won the Newton Prize and works at IISER, said even if slots are allotted to industries, priority should be given to academia. “We need more advanced machines. We also need a maintenance fund. If the government decides to allot slots to industry, we need to give it at a premium price. The money can be used for maintenance.”


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