India’s R&D Funding, Breaking Down the Numbers


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India’s R&D Funding, Breaking Down the Numbers Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The recent announcement in India's Interim Budget for 2024-25, allocating a significant corpus of ₹1 lakh crore to bolster the research and innovation ecosystem, underscores the nation's commitment to advancing scientific endeavours.
  • The decision to expand the iconic slogan 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan' to 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan' reflects a renewed emphasis on research and innovation as fundamental pillars of development.
  • The assessment of the current state of India's research and development (R&D) landscape, examining its funding, output, and the potential impact of recent initiatives on fostering a conducive environment for research and innovation is important.

The Current State of India’s R&D Landscape

  • Government Allocation
    • The Indian government plays a pivotal role in driving R&D investment, with a substantial portion of funding allocated to key scientific agencies.
    • Notable recipients of government funding include the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Department of Space, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and the Department of Atomic Energy.
    • These agencies receive significant financial support, reflecting the government's strategic focus on sectors such as defence, space exploration, agriculture, and nuclear energy.
    • The allocation of funds to these sectors is often guided by national security imperatives, strategic interests, and developmental goals.
  • Private Sector Contribution
    • While the government remains a major contributor to R&D funding, private sector involvement in India's research ecosystem lags behind global standards.
    • Compared to leading innovative economies where business enterprises typically contribute over 65% of R&D funding, Indian businesses represent only 37% of the country's GERD.
    • The relatively low contribution from the private sector can be attributed to various factors, including risk aversion, limited focus on long-term research, and a preference for incremental innovation over disruptive technologies.
    • Additionally, regulatory hurdles, lack of access to venture capital, and challenges in commercialising research outcomes deter private sector investment in R&D.
  • Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Public Sector Industry
    • HEIs and public sector industries also play a significant role in India's R&D landscape, albeit to a lesser extent compared to the government and the private sector.
    • HEIs contribute a modest percentage of R&D funding, highlighting the need for greater investment in research infrastructure and academic-industry collaboration.
    • Public sector industries, while contributing a smaller share of R&D funding, play a vital role in driving research and technology development in sectors such as energy, telecommunications, and infrastructure.
    • Collaborative efforts between the public sector industry, HEIs, and the government are essential to maximise the impact of R&D on economic growth and technological advancement.

Research Output and Innovation in India

  • Academic Talent Production
    • India ranks third globally in annual PhD production, reflecting the nation's commitment to nurturing intellectual capital and fostering a culture of academic excellence.
    • The impressive number of PhDs produced annually underscores India's capacity to contribute significantly to global research endeavours across various disciplines.
    • The emphasis on doctoral education and research training within Indian universities and research institutions has led to the emergence of a talented pool of researchers capable of driving innovation and scientific discovery.
  • Publication Output
    • India ranks third globally in terms of research publication output, with over 300,000 publications in 2022.
    • This substantial volume of research output highlights the nation's robust research ecosystem, diversified research interests, and contributions to advancing knowledge across diverse fields.
    • The proliferation of research publications signifies India's active participation in the global scientific community and its role in shaping scholarly discourse and scientific advancements.
  • Patent Grants and Intellectual Property
    • India demonstrates commendable performance in securing patent grants, ranking sixth globally with over 30,000 patents granted in 2022.
    • While this figure is lower compared to leading innovators like the United States and China, it underscores India's evolving innovation landscape and its potential for further growth in intellectual property creation.
    • The issuance of patents reflects India's capacity for innovation, technological development, and commercialisation of research outcomes.
    • It also highlights the nation's efforts to protect intellectual property rights and foster an environment conducive to innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
  • Sectoral Focus and Emerging Technologies
    • India's research output spans a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, agriculture, information technology, renewable energy, and biotechnology.
    • The nation's diverse research interests reflect its strategic priorities, developmental goals, and aspirations for inclusive growth.
    • Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and clean energy represent areas of significant focus and investment within India's research and innovation ecosystem.
    • These technologies hold the potential to drive transformative change, address societal challenges, and enhance India's global competitiveness.
  • Collaboration and International Partnerships
    • Collaboration between Indian researchers, institutions, and their international counterparts is crucial for fostering innovation, knowledge exchange, and scientific collaboration.
    • Partnerships with leading global institutions and participation in international research initiatives contribute to India's integration into the global scientific community.
    • International collaborations facilitate access to cutting-edge technologies, expertise, and research infrastructure, enriching India's research landscape and enhancing its capacity for innovation-driven growth.

Impact of Recent Initiatives

  • Recent initiatives, such as the National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP) and the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) Act, signal a strong commitment to fostering research and innovation.
  • The NDTSP aims to incentivise private sector engagement in R&D, while the ANRF Act seeks to bridge the R&D investment gap and nurture a robust research culture within HEIs.
  • These initiatives, coupled with the allocation in the interim Budget, are poised to drive India's research and innovation agenda forward, particularly in burgeoning industries.


  • While significant strides have been made, there is a need for increased funding, stronger industry-academia collaboration, and policy measures to incentivise private sector involvement.
  • Recent initiatives such as the NDTSP and the ANRF Act represent positive steps towards realizing India's potential as a powerhouse of research and innovation.
  • By creating a conducive environment for research and innovation, India can pave the way for sustainable development and prosperity in the years to come.

Q1) What is the National Research Foundation (NRF)?

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a government agency dedicated to promoting and funding research and development initiatives in various fields within a country. It often serves as a central organisation responsible for coordinating research efforts, allocating funds, and fostering collaborations among researchers, institutions, and industries.

Q2) What role does the National Research Foundation (NRF) play in driving innovation and scientific progress?

The NRF plays a crucial role in driving innovation and scientific progress by providing funding support for research projects, facilitating partnerships between academia and industry, and promoting the commercialization of research outcomes. Additionally, it helps to establish research priorities, invests in cutting-edge technologies, and fosters a conducive environment for scientific exploration and discovery, ultimately contributing to the advancement of knowledge and the socioeconomic development of the nation.

Source: The Hindu