In the interim budget presented on February 1 , 2024 , Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1 lakh crore fund to provide low-cost or zero-interest loans for 50 years for research and development.

Main point-

  • The Finance Minister announced the launch of a new scheme to strengthen deep-tech capabilities in the defense sector. 
  • Another announcement is about implementing a policy to encourage deep-tech startups in all sectors, not just defence , by the end of the year, 2024.

Deep Tech –

  • Deep tech is advanced technology based on significant scientific or engineering innovation.
  • It is also called advanced technology. 
  • This includes areas such as artificial intelligence , quantum computing , blockchain , robotics and biotechnology.
  • Deep tech involves exclusive innovation. 
  • Blockchain , Virtual Reality , Augmented Reality , Computer Imaging etc. can be included in Deep Tech.

National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP)- 

  • The NDTSP Consortium put forward the NDTSP for public consultation in August 2023 .
  • The following suggestions have been given in this policy- 
  • Nurturing research , development and innovation
  • Strengthening the Intellectual Property System
  • Facilitating access to finance
  • Supporting infrastructure and resource sharing
  • Making rules , standards and certifications
  • Attracting human resources and undertaking capacity building
  • Procurement and promoting
  • Ensuring interlinkage of policy and programs
  • The 'National Deep Tech Startup Policy' (NDTSP) has not yet received government approval.
  • This policy provides a platform to solve the challenges of deep tech startups, enable them to compete and collaborate with deep tech companies of the world.
  • It aims to build a deep tech startup ecosystem by incentivizing companies that invest in innovation and research. 
  • The National Consortium has been set up on the recommendations of the Prime Minister's Science , Technology and Innovation Advisory Council ( PM-STIAC) .
  • It is a high-level organization to create a policy framework for India's deep tech startups ecosystem. 
  • Under the leadership of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, this consortium has been formed by comprising of eminent representatives from government departments , industry associations , research institutes and innovation centres.

Deep Tech Startup-

  • NDTSP aims to create a conducive ecosystem for Deep Tech.
  • The aim is to solve the challenges faced by deep tech startups by formulating policies. 
  • Most of the deep tech startups work on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Deep tech startups are working in the following areas, 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • life science
  • Agriculture
  • aerospace
  • chemistry
  • Industry 
  • clean energy 
  • care of terminally ill patients 
  • AI drones and AI robots are examples of deep tech.

Building an ecosystem for deep tech-

  • The Government of India has taken the following steps to encourage research in the Deep Tech sector-
  • National Mission on Transforming Mobility
  • National Mission on Battery Storage
  • National Quantum Mission 
  • For this, more than 10,000 startups working in this field were identified.
  • NDTSP considers certain actions in this area essential; As- 
  • Creating long-term funding opportunities
  • A simplified but robust intellectual property rights regime
  • tax incentives
  • a favorable regulatory framework
  • Creation of standards and certifications
  • Relationship between industry , research centers and academic institutions

Funding requirement-

  • NDTSP has recommended providing long-term finance for research and development (R&D) projects. 
  • Most Deep Tech projects are time-intensive with relatively high finance requirements.
  • India's expenditure on R&D is lower than the global average.
  • India's expenditure on R&D is very low compared to the scientifically advanced countries with which it has to compete.
  • For two decades the Indian government has aimed to allocate at least 2% of GDP to R&D. 
  • While absolute expenditure has increased , expenditure on R&D as a share of GDP has declined in the last few years. 
  • India currently spends about 0.65% of its GDP on R&D, while the global average is about 1.8% . 
  • Recent decisions of the government make it clear that R&D expenditure cannot increase substantially without partnership with the private sector. 
  • The recently established ' National Research Foundation' (NRF) aims to attract about 70% of its allocation of Rs 50,000 from private industry over the next five years .
  • Hopes of investing private sector money in research have already failed. 
  • Not much can be expected from the private sector without a proportionate increase in funding by the government.
  • It is at this point that the Rs 1 lakh crore fund to finance R&D becomes important. 
  • This will encourage the private sector to promote R&D in this sector.

Importance of Deep Tech

  • It has the potential to trigger significant change and provide solutions.
  • It is used for cutting-edge research in nanotechnology , biotechnology , materials science , quantum technologies , semiconductors , artificial intelligence , data science , robotics , 3D printing, etc.
  • This has the potential to solve the world's complex problems; As-
  • Climate change
  • Hunger
  • Pandemic
  • Energy access
  • Mobility
  • Physical and digital infrastructure 
  • Cyber ​​security
  • Deep Tech can provide the following benefits,
  • To increase productivity 
  • In promoting economic development 
  • In creating jobs 
  • Countries with a strong foundation in deep tech are also likely to gain a competitive advantage.
  • are likely to contribute to the development of those technologies; Which can ensure participation in intellectual property , indigenous knowledge and self-reliance. 
  • Benefits may also accrue in spin-off technologies , trained manpower , entrepreneurship and technology export.
  • India can play a leading role in this field due to high quality manpower in science and engineering and good technology culture. 

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