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[NEW DELHI] A partnership between India's National Innovation Council (NInC) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is expected to boost innovation among micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India. 

The new partnership proposes to tap CSIR expertise to set up innovation centres in MSME clusters and identify technological problems they face and also find solutions, an official release of India’s ministry of science and technology last week (1 June) said.

Each centre will consist of people capable of building links between industry and scientific and financial institutions.

"We are in the process of identifying six to eight MSME clusters where we can set up innovation centres in the next six months. These will be the pilots. We intend to set up 50 such innovation centres in the next two years," an NInC official told SciDev.Net 

"CSIR will lend the human resources to solve technological challenges faced by these clusters by designating specialised experts from among its 37 laboratories," Sarala Balachandran, a scientist at CSIR, said.

The organisation also plans to post the technological challenges of the MSME clusters on its website so that scientists, other than those designated for a particular cluster, can offer solutions.

CSIR, Foundation for MSME clusters, industry bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry and the ministry for MSMEs will be partners in the venture. 

The partnership aims to create a model to infuse innovation among Indian MSMEs which have a very low track record of generating, applying or using new technology. In contrast, MSMEs the world over are known as hotbeds of innovation. 

According to the National Knowledge Commission, Indian MSMEs are also not as successful as large firms in pushing forward the innovation frontier.

The MSMEs are looking forward to the establishment of the innovation centres to take better advantage of the existing knowledge base. 

"We would like the centres to focus more on applications that we need immediately," said Mukesh Gulati, executive director of the Foundation for MSME clusters.

Gulati said technologies existing in MSMEs need improvisation. "Focusing on such technologies and fulfilling such requirements will greatly help the clusters," he said.