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India Aims for Global Leadership in Quantum Technology

India has made significant strides in the field of Quantum Technology, producing over 40 start-ups in just two years, several of which have the potential to make a global impact, announced Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister for Science and Technology (Independent Charge), during a review meeting of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in New Delhi on June 15, 2024.

Image credits: Press Information Bureau

Dr Singh, who also holds positions in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Prime Minister’s Office, and other departments, emphasised the importance of the National Quantum Mission. He directed officials to focus on the development of quantum technologies and quantum communication, asserting that India is currently on par with other nations in this domain. His vision is for India to establish itself as a global leader in quantum technologies.

Highlighting the role of start-ups and the private sector in advancing science and technology, Dr Singh shared the success story of a Bangalore-based start-up incubated by IIT Madras. The start-up has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Technology Development Board (TDB) to develop security products based on Quantum Technologies, exemplifying the potential and progress of Indian start-ups in this cutting-edge field.

Dr Singh also underscored the increased participation of women in extramural research and development (R&D). He noted that women’s participation has doubled in the last ten years due to government initiatives aimed at promoting women scientists and researchers through fellowship STEM programs. The introduction of the Common Fellowship Portal has made it easier for women to apply for grants. Under the ASPIRE scheme, around 300 women scientists are set to receive research grants for three years from the government.

Expressing satisfaction with India’s rapid growth as a start-up hub, Dr Singh highlighted that the number of start-ups has surged from a few hundred before 2014 to over 125,000 in 2024, with more than 110 unicorns. He pointed out that Indian start-ups are excelling even in critical sectors like space technology. India’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index has jumped from 81st in 2015 to 40th in 2023, and the country now ranks third globally in terms of the number of publications and PhDs awarded in Science and Engineering.

Dr Singh reiterated India’s vision of empowering every citizen and enhancing their quality of life through innovation. He believes that the current environment is highly conducive to the development of science and technology in India. The government has invested approximately 900 crores from 2016 to 2023 in the National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI), which supports budding entrepreneurs in the field of science and technology.

During the review meeting, Dr Singh also inquired about the progress of the National Geospatial Mission and the Interdisciplinary Cyber Physical Systems Mission. He highlighted the government’s efforts to bring legislation on the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (NRF).

The meeting was attended by Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology; Shri Sunil Kumar, Additional Secretary; Shri Hitesh Kumar S. Makwana, Surveyor General of India; Directors of Institutes under DST, and other senior scientists and officials.

The focus on quantum technology and the increased participation of women in R&D are testament to India’s commitment to advancing its scientific and technological capabilities. These initiatives are expected to drive significant socio-economic benefits and position India as a leader in the global technology landscape.

By fostering an environment that supports innovation and inclusivity, India is paving the way for a future-ready workforce and a robust digital economy. The country’s strategic investments and collaborative efforts are set to unlock new opportunities and drive sustainable growth in the coming years.

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