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Not just business scope, foreign companies to now get space tech access

India has now amended its transfer of Technology (ToT) policy for the space sector to allow foreign companies direct access to technologies developed by Isro and the department of space (DoS) for the first time.

Isro has at least 500 technologies ready for transfer, of which about 400 are already with more than 233 Indian private firms and are open to more firms. Now, foreign firms can also access most of these technologies, but dual-use and other sensitive patented technologies will have restrictions.

“ToT activities are primarily intended for domestic utilisation of DoS-Isro developed technologies by Indian industries. However, in the context of liberalisation and globalisation, ToT requests from foreign firms will be encouraged as per guidelines issued by the government,” the ToT Policy and Guidelines-2020, reviewed by TOI, reads.

Such requests though, will be reviewed and processed on a case-to-case basis and terms of licensing will be arrived at considering the merits of organisation, intellectual value of the technology and its commercial potential, among other things.

K Sivan, secretary, DoS, told TOI that earlier, technologies were open only to Indian industries but it’s time to push more technologies to the market, and the decision to give foreign firms access to DoS/Isro technologies will help this.

“Allowing foreign firms access to our technology has two objectives: To bring more talent and investment to India and to ensure that Indian products enter the global market. So, foreign firms wanting access to our technology will need to invest in India either by directly setting up businesses here, or through tie-ups with Indian firms,” Sivan said.

Lab-Mkt through private companies
In another first, the space agency will now allow Indian private firms to work on taking space research to the market by developing products in collaboration with Isro.

“Processes and prototypes developed in the laboratory need an extra development or scale up to be successful in the market. This specific customised development could take place with the help of an interested industry under the guidance of a concerned scientist/engineer,” the policy reads.

Isro centres will facilitate incubation efforts and decide on modalities and under this programme, firms will be allowed to work directly with Isro on product creation, moving away from the existing system where private firms get fully developed technologies/products to assemble or manufacture.

“The first right of refusal for technology transfer shall be given to industrial partner collaboration with Isro and DoS will decide on the incubation opportunities for start-ups and MSMEs,” the DoS said.

PV Venkatakrishnan, director, Isro Capacity Building Programme Office (CBPO), said: “We’ve already been encouraging both R&D and entrepreneurship among the youth through various programmes spread across national institutions. Now, we want to be able work closely with the industry on developing products, or improving existing products, for which they will receive support. The modalities will be worked out.”

The newly formed New Space India Limited (NSIL), a central PSU, has been mandated for commercialising the technologies developed by DoS/Isro. The technologies that are approved for transfer will be transferred to NSIL through an internal agreement enabling the latter to transfer the technologies with technical support extended from Isro towards hand-holding and training the industry.

Incentives for Isro scientists
The policy envisages to create a technology transfer organisation at Isro and ToT will be organised through a centralised Technology Transfer Group (TTG). This centralised office will interface with all Isro centers through centre-level ToT Cells (TTC). The TTG will be responsible for getting proposals reviewed by the Centralised ToT Committee (CTTC).

Further, it will formalise adequate recognition in the form of incentives and awards for successful technology transfer cases at various Isro centres/units.

Isro scientists and engineers will be motivated to take up technology transfer activities in addition to regular project activities they are engaged in.

ToT to NGOs and community-based organisations
Arguing that NGOs and other community-based organisations (CBOs) play an important role in development of weaker sections of community as well as service delivery in local and rural areas, the policy says these organisations can access ‘spin off’ technologies which may have wider societal applications.

“NSIL will not have to pay ToT cost to DoS and must, on a non-exclusive basis, transfer technologies to NGOs and CBOs with suitable rebates in licensing fee/royalty. Such decisions may be taken by NSIL appropriately,” the policy reads.

However, NSIL is barred from committing to any funding or investment from its side for successful application of such technology. ToI

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