The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) celebrated its 18th Foundation Day on 21st March 2018 with the launching of two compendia on Indo-U.S. Virtual Networked Center Programmes and Bilateral Workshop/ Symposium/ Conference.
In 18 years of its existence, IUSSTF has developed a vibrant program portfolio largely conceived and driven by the scientific and entrepreneurial community from both countries. IUSSTF-supported activities have led to the direct interaction of over 20,000 Indian and American Scientists and Engineers.
Hon’ble Minister for Science & Technology & Earth Science, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in his address pointed out IUSSTF has proved to be a single-point entity that seamlessly brings together the manifold engagements in the U.S.-India collaborative arena in science, technology and innovation into fruition. “This celebration is also about what India and the United States stand for in our common aspirations and ideals to achieve excellence through science and technology. Over the years, our scientists, engineers, doctors, educators and entrepreneurs have worked together in every area of the human endeavour,” he added.
“All these similarities make India and the United States natural partners in several areas, including Science, Technology and Innovation. There exists an incredible synergy between the scientific and technological charters of both our nations where a strong and long-standing tradition of intellectual excellence coupled with scientific temper, is systemically supported with a large network of modern and well-endowed scientific establishments,” Dr Harsh Vardhan stated.
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) was established in 2000 as an autonomous bilateral body through an inter-governmental agreement between India and USA. It was mandated to promote, catalyze and seed bilateral collaborations in science, technology and innovation through close interactions among government, academia and industry. The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India and the U.S. Department of the State are the two nodal agencies of the respective Governments which funds the IUSSTF.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan reiterated that there is need to scale up the current level of Indo-US cooperation in Science & Technology to the next level. “The Forum has been able to build capacity in scientific networks, R&D programmes and entrepreneurial initiatives since its formation,” he added.
IUSSTF currently implements a portfolio of “four” broad program verticals - Scientific Networks, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Research & Development and Visitation & Fellowships.
The Scientific Networks comprise of short-term engagements such as Bilateral Workshops/Conferences/Symposia as well as medium-term arrangements through Virtual Networked Joint Centers that aim to encourage collaboration in topical areas of mutual interest. More than 340 Indo-US Workshops and 78 Joint R&D Centers have been supported by the organisation.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship vertical comprise primarily of the hugely popular U.S.-India S&T Endowment Fund (USISTEF) that provides grant-in-aid support (upto INR 25 Million / USD 400,000 approx.) through a highly competitive process, to commercialize S&T-based innovations with significant societal impact. USISTEF has supported 27 projects over the last 6 years at a total investment of approximately INR 609.69 Million / USD 94, 00,000, in the areas of affordable healthcare, safe drinking water, clean energy and environment, livelihood enhancement, women’s empowerment and financial inclusiveness, amongst others. 12 products have been co-developed and since been commercially launched through this highly successful program that has effectively brought the Indian and American entrepreneurs together and nurture an ecosystem of technology led innovations.
In the Research and Development space, IUSSTF has been entrusted to administer strategic bi-national initiatives that include the Indo-U.S. Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center; Grand Challenge on Affordable Blood Pressure Measurement Technologies for Low-Resource Settings; PACEsetter Fund to accelerate the commercialization of innovative off-grid clean energy solutions; Real Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring and Partnerships for International Research and Education.
In an effort to address the issue of skill development and capacity building in all areas of science and engineering, IUSSTF currently administers 15 different types of Visitation Programs across disciplines and stakeholder levels and close-to 1500 Interns and Fellows have been trained over the last 10 years.
H.E. Ambassador of the United States to India, Mr. Kenneth Juster; Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology; Former Secretaries of DST, Prof. V.S. Ramamurthy and Dr. T. Ramasami; Dr. Rajiv Tayal, Executive Director IUSSTF were also present.