Kapil Sibal in a UK round table: 14 innovation universities, cluster innovation centers, collaboration with UK and Meta-universities
April 20th, 2012
Following is rearranged from http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=82396. The sub-headings are added by me.
On 14 Innovation Universities
Recognizing the need for leveraging on the creative knowledge, we are also planning to set up 14 Innovation Universities, to begin with, aiming at world class standards which will set benchmarks for excellence for the Central and State Universities. Each of the Innovation University shall consistently aspire for attainment of pinnacle of knowledge and will provide the knowledge manpower of the country in training professionals, specialists, scientists and researchers needed by the supporting national innovation system. Government has already framed a legislation for Universities of Research and Innovation which will provide a facilitating framework for creation of these institutions. These universities would be embedded in ecosystems developed for promoting synergies among education, research and incubation centres or industry
In order to be truly innovative, these Innovation Universities will not be clones of each other, but will focus on one deep theme of innovation and will focus on one area or problem of global significance in general and India in particular, by building an ecosystem of research and teaching around related discipline and fields and will search for solutions that are globally valid. For example, such areas may focus on urbanization public health, water security, environmental sustainability, digital literacy etc. The proposed universities will be autonomous in true sense, designing their own knowledge disciplines, admission criteria, academic programmes, credit systems etc. The programmes shall also facilitate horizontal mobility across disciplines.
We have realized that traditional models of public funded universities are not enough as the investment required is too high. We do acknowledge the need for policies to encourage private investment in higher education and the Foreign Education Providers’ Bill, now under consideration of the Parliament, is a decisive step in that direction. Although Government will be prime facilitator of the new innovation universities and innovation clusters, it is also proposed to focus on Public Private Partnerships (PPP) mode. It is also proposed to collaborate with Universities elsewhere in the world and they may be invited to set up similar such institutions in India and Government will support its research and establishment needs and teaching including scholarships may be funded by the promoting university. New Greenfield Innovation Universities supporting an already existing University/Institution of repute to attain world class standards through innovation in chosen areas of knowledge as well as Identification of some educational hubs in the country, where a few institutions of excellence are located and create an architecture of Innovation University by promoting synergy for teaching and research among such institutions are the models that we are aiming at promoting.
Cluster Innovation Centers
We have also planned creation of Cluster Innovation Centres in our Higher Education Institutions for promoting linkages for innovations, and R&D for solving the real problems and creation of products and processes for which systemic reforms have already been initiated for facilitating the linkages with industry and society. The Cluster Innovation Centres will provide a platform for the University and its partners to forge linkages between various stakeholders from industry and academia and to act as catalysts and facilitators. We have prepared a blueprint for setting up about 50 innovation centres of excellence in different frontier areas. Cambridge Cluster in UK as well as Trinity College founded by Cambridge Science Park are two prominent examples from UK which have promoted the growth of enterprise and innovation and created thriving innovation ecosystems. Such examples also exists in US (MIT, Silicon Valley – Stanford University), Israel, Germany, Sweden, Japan, China and Korea. Biggest strength of these clusters has been the cooperation and collaboration, where all actors are connected in symbiotic relationships. We are also aiming to scale up such National Innovation Clusters. We already have a few such schemes in the form of Technology Business Incubators and Technology Entrepreneur Promotion.
Collaboration with UK
The Cluster Innovation Centers and Innovation Universities are the specific areas in which we seek further collaboration with UK Institutions who have already innovated and scaled up by creating appropriate framework and institutionalized the same successfully.
Seizing the new opportunities and leveraging the National Knowledge Network, the National Innovation Council has also proposed to create the first Global Meta University. With a network of Universities coming together offering courses cutting across disciplines, the Meta University will reinterpret the concept of a University as not just a traditional, physical space of learning, but as a repository of knowledge and information that can be delivered in multiple ways, and can be accessed from anywhere and anytime. It will seek to enhance the learning experience through new and innovative delivery models of education that allow students and institutions to collaborate in unprecedented ways. Thus the 21st century meta-university would be a network and an ecosystem rather than a single brick and mortar space – a Facebook of Institutions. A few central institutions located at Delhi, like Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Delhi, Jamia-Millia Islamia and IIT-Delhi have already initiated steps to constitute a meta-university. Here also, we are looking forward to collaborate with Institutions from the United Kingdom in the next step for creation of global meta alliances. Though the internet and technology are fundamental to this conception of the Meta University, at the crux is not a new technology but a ‘new pedagogy’ that is more in tune with the requirements of the knowledge society of the 21st century. In such an environment there is a greater focus on a learner centric, collaborative model that allows continuous learning from the environment.