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Web Exclusive | January 2019

Translational R&D is the way forward

Research knowledge should be transformed to benefit society and grow the economy.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India speaking to a large audience on January 3 at the 106th annual session of the Indian Science Congress in Jalandhar, India emphasised the importance of translational research that would serve the society and grow the economy of nations.

Invoking a new slogan, “Jai Anusandhan,” meaning praise to be to research spotlighted that research should not be carried out just for the sake of research.  Research should be commercialised so that weaker sections of the society would also benefit. 
Modi stated that knowledge developed needs to be consumed and made a clarion call to scientists to develop affordable technologies. He added, “Technology needs to solve local problems.”

These valuable points are relevant for the global textile and manufacturing sectors. The textile sector needs to diversify and move towards translational research.

The result of translational research at Texas Tech University is a commercialised defence technology, “FiberTect.” FiberTect is a nonwoven toxic chemical decontamination wipe marketed by Chantilly, USA-based First Line Technology. A collaboration with a textile manufacturing industry in South India has led to the development of an environmentally sustainable crude and toxic oil absorbent wipe, which has resulted in a start-up “WellGro Tech,” in Chennai, India. This effort fits exactly with India’s new initiative, Atal Innovation Mission, to create a start-up culture among its scientists and businesses.

Chennai, India-based Professor Sridhar Narayanan, academic and a management consultant who has been advocating industry-institute collaborations for 22 years stated, “Scientific research should be relevant to the societal needs and as a way forward should lead to the creation of new businesses. Research leading to development in any sector need to take care of the environment as well.” He added that such translational research will be able to take care of unemployment challenges. Low-cost technologies for the development of a growing and highly populated nations are the need of the hour, added Narayanan.

Prime Minister Modi called for drought monitoring and resistant technologies and clean water solutions, which can lead to novel textile and material developments, benefiting the cotton and textile sectors. The Prime Minister challenged the state universities and colleges to engage in more research and urged the industrial sector towards boosting the research ecosystem.
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