Odisha's public varsities slip on innovation and patents

Vice Chancellor of Berhampur university Geetanjali Dash said infrastructural roadblocks also affect patent filing.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

BHUBANESWAR: Even as research and innovation have become a core area of academics and account for national rankings of institutions, Odisha’s public universities seem to have majorly failed on this front. According to the Higher Education Department, only 117 patents have been applied and registered by state public universities during the last five years despite an increase in the number of institutions to 15 and most of the top-ranking ones now equipped with IPR cells.

Academicians said patents are an important part of any university’s research and innovation ecosystem as it facilitates technology transfer besides helping them improve national ranks and making them self-sufficient to fund research.

Utkal University, the premier university of the state which has a very strong research ecosystem equipped with a state-of-art incubation centre, has filed and registered only 25 patents between 2016 and 2022. Year-wise, the university saw no patent registration in 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 but got 21 patents in 2020-21 and four more in 2021-22.  Sambalpur university in the same time got just two patents - one in 2016 and another in 2021.

Ravenshaw bagged four patents during the two years of pandemic. Berhampur university, on the other hand, has registered three patents and Khallikote varsity just one. “Universities like Rama Devi, Fakir Mohan and Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo also have a few patents in subjects like computer science, bio-technology and others, mostly funded under OURIIP scheme,”said an official of the HE department.

According to the recently released report for 2021-22 by the office of Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications, Odisha filed only 327 patents segregated in different fields of invention that year. The report, which evaluated 20 states that submitted the maximum number of patent applications, Odisha was at the bottom fourth position before Himachal Pradesh (268), Jharkhand (225) and Assam (150). 

Roughly five per cent of these applications were from academic institutions while most of them were by individuals and startups. As far as innovation is concerned, no public university has secured a place in the National Institutional Ranking Framework for Innovation report 2023.

The problem, academicians said, is that while the state government is laying stress on acquiring academic patenting for research and innovation, researchers have been focussing only on publications in scopus indexed journals and other publications. “This is because applying for a patent is a much more cumbersome process compared to publishing in journals. Scholars do not realise that even after getting a patent registered, they can publish their research work,” said Pradeep Kumar Naik, professor of life science in Sambalpur university.

Vice Chancellor of Berhampur university Geetanjali Dash said infrastructural roadblocks also affect patent filing. “We are unable to pursue patent application in a dedicated manner. Berhampur university still hasn’t got an incubation centre. For research on  targeted drug delivery, government had allocated nearly `50 lakh two to three years back but the money is yet to come,” she said.

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