From Paper to Patent

An novative idea only exists in your mind; You are the owner of your idea and you need to express this human intellect into an invention; Always stick to single most important idea which has great significance
From Paper to Patent

Just imagine the situation thirty years back when a scholar was applauded for getting a Ph D degree. Even publication of a single paper in an elite international journal was considered a significant achievement, and job offers from reputed institutions was always on the cards.  However, scenario has changed in recent years as more students are aspiring for research degrees and there is always chance that pool of highest degree holders will be there who will be striving for faculty positions. The lack of meritocracy in our varsities, faulty recruitment process and lack of quality in degrees itself are some of the issues which hinder the progress of higher education in India. There is always scope for change in any area if it remains stagnant for a number of reasons. In a recent move to boost innovation and start-ups, IIT Delhi has planned to introduce new way that allow PhD students to convert their thesis into start-ups. The overarching aim of this concept is to transform research problem into startups and promote entrepreneurship. This idea further encourages the concept of patent oriented research through innovation and human competence. However, more emphasis on applied research can have consequences on the fundamental or basic research. In this article I will focus how research can be made more innovative and patent oriented. Some of the ideas discussed here were delivered (invited lecture) in the 2 day seminar held on 18-19 July, 2018 at the Division of Animal Biotechnology, Shuhama.

 Innovation in research is very important to make it more relevant and society centric. For achieving this goal there is need of multipronged approach where different steps are to be taken to achieve the set goals. It is pertinent to mention that economic value of research papers which are published from research degrees has declined over the years. In a recent Nature report, market value of research papers has decrease what it was in 1980s decade, while as market value of patents has shown abrupt surge in recent decades. In a significant move to boost the importance of Patents and IPR, Govt. of India approved the National IPR Policy 2016 in order to develop "Intellectual Economy". Among other objectives, 'Human Capital Development (HCD)' is one of major objective in the policy, and for achieving this goal immediate revamp is needed in research sector. Our state has plethora of creative and innovative human resource that can be harnessed properly to achieve the above goals. Some of the steps in this direction are:

Creation of Innovative Ideas: One of the primary requisite for making research innovative and patent oriented is generation of ideas. The creation of human intellect is one of the inherent capacities of human beings which has helped humans to discover fire in ancient time, to invent steam engine during the beginning of industrial era and more recently to invent most sophisticated artificial intelligence. The beginner in research should make sure that no one else can beat you in designing an idea. It is pertinent to mention that mere possession of academic degrees doesn't entitle one to hold or create ideas. Sometimes, extraordinary ideas can emerge from layperson which can be transformed into if properly channelized into an industrial application. During 19th and 20th century, USA used the ideas of layperson to boost their inventions. Following the ways by which you can formulate a brainstorming idea:

An innovative idea only exists in your mind. You are the owner of your idea and you need to express this human intellect into an invention. Always stick to single most important idea which has great significance

Your task is to present the idea in a fundable proposal. This aim can be achieved if you have identified the applications of your idea.

Identification of problem is one of the important steps in designing an idea. The solution of a problem must be also addressed while proposing an idea

R&D Grant Must for Innovative Research: As independent funding is important for carrying out innovative research, there is need for budding researchers to compete for R&D project. As researchers from our part of world are not economically sound, the importance of fellowships are important for carrying out innovative research. For making your case strong for R&D, one has to make proper planning. Writing a grant is just like playing a game; one has to get the guidelines, read them and follow the norms. The grant agency always want you to identify answers which has relevance with your proposed project. You have to communicate and address 'What', Why', 'Who', 'How', and 'When' of the proposal.  

Following are the steps to make attractive and catchy R&D Grant proposal:

The title of the proposal is very important and make sure your title is reflection of whole proposal. The title should be catchy, creative and concise. It is important to use keywords that show the novelty and innovativeness of the proposal.

Proposal summary is another important step where grant applicant can attract the attention of reviewers. In proposal summary, applicant can demonstrate that need is pressing. It should be story telling by building your case drawing to a logical conclusion.

The objective of the proposal is an essential feature which can draw the attention of fund provider about your aims and ambitions. An innovative and well thought out proposal has either couple of goals nor several objectives related to the goals 

Designing of methodology or study design is another important step for R&D project. It is essential that you demonstrate all the steps necessary to complete project with each flowing logically from the previous to the next. Pertinently, 2 out of 5 proposal are being rejected because of poor formulation of methods.

The outcome and opportunities of the proposed proposal is essential feature of your proposal. It is important for the applicant to mention the specific, measurable and realistic outcomes of the project.

To make more attractive and novel, you need to mention whether there is an opportunity for creating new intellectual property (IP). In addition, there is need mention which aspects of your project has the potential for getting a patent. 

Mentorship: The mentorship is important step for carrying our patent oriented research. The University Professor having innovative intellect can act as the best mentor for patent oriented research programs. The aspirants need to contact best innovators of the university to discuss their idea and possibility of mentorship. In addition, universities have their own innovative centers, where budding scientists having interest in inventive research can express their inherent talents. In recently years, number of incubation centers are available all over India where incubators can help you to groom your ideas and turn them into industrial applications. The BIRAC-BIG funding program sponsored by DBT has 14 different incubation centers spread across India where budding innovators can start polishing their ideas. The Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) is open twice a year and has strict policy of selection procedure comprising various stages of evaluation. Similarly, there are other national and international R&D grant agencies which provide similar type of mentorship to talented and innovative researchers who are interested to contribute towards socio-economic development. 

   In sum, there is urgent need to transform academic research into applied endeavor in order to utilize the innate potentialities of young researchers into positive direction. Let us hope that our think tanks will work towards this direction and take important decisions towards harnessing the human intellect of our region. 

(My special thanks to coordinator and organizers of two-days seminar at FVSc., Shuhama for inviting me to deliver a lecture on the title ' Intellectual Property Rights: Patent Oriented Research")

Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is SERB-DST Fast Track Fellow, Department of Zoology, CUK, Sonwar Campus.

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