Foreword from the Director

Anurag Kumar

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc, or just ‘The Institute’) was established in 1909 by a visionary partnership between the industrialist Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Maharaja of Mysore, and the Government of India. Over the 107 years since its establishment, IISc has become the premier institute for advanced scientific and technological research and education in India. Since its inception, the Institute has laid a balanced emphasis on the pursuit of basic knowledge in science and engineering, as well as on the application of its research findings for industrial and social benefit. In the words of its founder, J. N. Tata, the objectives of the Institute are“to provide for advanced instruction and to conduct original investigations in all branches of knowledge as are likely to promote the material and industrial welfare of India.”

During the year 2015-16, the Institute participated in national (NIRF) and international rankings (QS and THE), and was invariably the top-ranked institution of higher education in India. The Institute actively pursues a policy of true academic freedom in orderto enable academic excellence in all areas of its activities. The Institute faculty, numbering about 500, is active in a broad spectrum of research,in science and in engineering, and maintains a high annual publication output. Several faculty members of the Institute have won national and international awards and honours in recognition oftheir contributions to the growth of knowledge in science and engineering. Among the current faculty members, there are 51 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awardees, 74 INSA fellows, 97 IASc Fellows, 57 NASI fellows, 50 INAE fellows, and 56 J.C. Bose National Fellows, which is indicative of the high level of academic excellence of the Institute faculty.Out of a student population of about 4000, about 2600 are enrolled in doctoral degree programs in science and in engineering. In 2011, the Institute introduced an undergraduate program,with separate classrooms, laboratories, and its own Dean. The undergraduate degree is the four year Bachelor of Science (Research), in which,apart from their course and laboratory work, the students are exposed to research in the laboratories of the Institute. Students in the four-year Bachelor of Science (Research) degree can also choose to graduate with a dual degree (i.e., a Master of Science as well) by putting in a total of five years of study.There are about 500 students enrolled in these undergraduate programs. The Institute also offers several Masters degree programs in engineering(MTech, MTech (Research), MDes, and MMgmt) in which about 900 students are enrolled.

The support for recurring expenses, and also for apart of the annual research expenses, is provided by the Ministry of Human Resource Development,Government of India. The faculty of the Institute also undertake a large number of research projects funded by various agencies, including the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology,and many other organizations, in the public and the private sectors. Over the past 10 years, the external funding for such research has grown at an annual rate of about 19.5%. Interactions between the Institute and industry are strengthened through the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Consultancy(CSIC), the Society for Innovation and Development(SID), and several centres specifically set up for interaction with the government, the society, and the industry.Substantial expansion of funding is required to catapult the Institute from being the leader in Indiato being among the best in the world. The Indian Institute of Science was established as a result of a “private-public partnership.”

In keeping with this history, in the recent years, several initiativest the Institute have been supported by funding from private sources. Neuroscience research has received a major boost by a Rs. 75 crore grant from the Tata Trusts. Mr. and Mrs. Kris Gopalakrishnan have committed Rs. 225 crores to the establishment of a Centre for Brain Research (CBR) which will bededicated to translational research on diseases of the aging human brain, and also a sum of Rs.10 crores for the Shri. K. Vaidyanathan Chair in neuromorphic computing. The IISc Council has permitted CBR to be set up on the IISc campus ina building that will also be developed by Mr. and Mrs.Gopalakrishnan. The Infosys Foundation has endowed international visiting chairs in Physics and Mathematics. Recently major memoranda of understanding have been signed with the Tata Consulting Services (TCS), General Electric (GE),Hewlett Packard (HP), and with Robert Bosch, for promoting a variety of interactions between IISc and these leading companies. The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs (ODAA) was established in 2014-15, and has already been able to tap various private sources of funds for establishing a new Skill Development Centre in the new IISc extension campus at Challakere (Chitradurga District), and for various academic and institutional development initiatives.In keeping with the founder’s vision of promoting“the material and industrial welfare of India,” over the past one and a half decades, the Institute has been encouraging its faculty and students to protect their intellectual property, and convert the results of some of their scientific investigations to practice via technology licensing or via entrepreneurship.In the recent past, several technologies, such asgas flow sensors, electrical storage devices and related test instrumentation, and fungal pesticides,have been licensed. Inventors of other technologies such as an enhanced electric gradient based water filtration device, a multi-analyte device for diabetes monitoring, a micro-fluidics based cell counter for diagnostics, and optical fibre sensors for structural monitoring, have chosen to take the “start-up” route.

 

Anurag Kumar