Indian Institute of Technology-Madras Dean Job Kurian (left), felicitating Director M.S.Ananth at a meet in Chennai on Monday. Tube Investments of India Chairman M. M. Murugappan (second from left) and Ashok Leyland executive vice-president R. Seshasayee are in the picture
The Industry-Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) faculty meet strongly advocated the need for creation of research consortia to innovate and work on time-bound projects and programmes to be technologically competitive globally.
Setting the tone for the evening, M. Murugappan, Vice-Chairman, Murugappa Group of Companies, said his company had worked with IITM on 50,000 to 75,000 soil samples over several seasons to come up with solutions for soil nutrition, giving the company’s fertilizer unit a significant competitive advantage. The concept of consortium research wherein different companies competing with one another come together to work on different projects to co-own or share intellectual property had to gain momentum, he said, emphasising that the industries should be patient, reinforcing absolute faith in academia.
R. Seshasayee, Executive Vice-President, Ashok Leyland, said the conversion cost advantage the country has had for long no longer existed, as it was with China and ASEAN countries at present. There was a need to discover a way of delivering value to the customers through a frugal kind of approach to productivity to win the game. The approach had to be focussed, highly competent and cutting-edge technology, which required a dialogue between the industry and academia, supported by funding, in a time-bound programme mode, he stressed.
It was important to leverage knowledge, competence and technology available with a number of institutions, both within academia and industry globally. Industry, perhaps, had not been very good at collaborative research at a pre-competitive stage.
In his farewell speech, M.S. Ananth, Director, IITM, thanked the faculty, staff, students and partners from outside for the success of the institute in the past ten years. Juxtaposing of industry, faculty and students was very important and a meeting of scientific minds from different cultures could work wonders.
This idea of meeting of unlikely minds from different cultures was being tested at the IITM Research Park. IITM should enable the idea of research consortium with the help of its students from different industries by getting them to work in the research park and projects, Prof. Ananth said, hoping that IITM would take the lead.