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A bill to set up a national agency to fund research across universities in the country was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday by Union Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh.

The Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill-2023 seeks to set up a 50,000-crore fund, with a sizeable contribution from the private sector, to "seed, grow and promote" research and development (R&D) and foster a culture of research and innovation throughout India's universities, colleges, research institutions, and R&D laboratories.

It seeks to set up different funds - the Anusandhan National Research Foundation Fund, for the financing of activities under the Act; the Innovation Fund for supporting outstanding creativity in the areas supported by the foundation; the Science and Engineering Research Fund for the continuation of the projects and programmes initiated under the Science and Engineering Research Board Act, 2008; and one or more special-purpose funds for any specific project or research.

According to the government, the National Research Foundation will be an apex body to provide high-level strategic direction of scientific research in the country as per recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP).

"NRF will forge collaborations among the industry, academia, and government departments and research institutions, and create an interface mechanism for participation and contribution of industries and state governments in addition to the scientific and line ministries," Singh said in June when the Union Cabinet approved the bill.

He said the NRF will focus on creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D.

The NRF will have a governing board consisting of 15 to 25 eminent researchers and professionals, and it will be headed by the prime minister. The education minister and the science and technology Minister will be the vice presidents of the NRF.

The proposed foundation will also have an executive council under the principal scientific adviser.


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