In the last 10 years, colleges and departments affiliated to the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) have spent Rs 26.91 lakh to secure intellectual property rights (IPR) or patents towards researches undertaken, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed. This was one-fourth of the total budget allocated by the university under the head since 2011.
For filing and processing IPRs, patenting and related formalities, the university allocates a sum of Rs 10 lakh for each academic year. Recently, the budget was revised to Rs 20 lakh per academic year. Between 2011 and 2020, the SPPU is then estimated to have allocated more than Rs 1 crore towards IPR, patenting and copyrights. Fewer researchers seeking funds for IPR also indicates that only a few quality researches are emerging from the university.
The RTI, filed by Loksatta, had sought information on the annual expenses made towards obtaining patents. Earlier, on September 12, 2019, The Indian Express had reported that only 16 of the 30 patent applications filed by the SPPU’s science faculty between 2008 and 2018 were awarded patents by an Indian or international agency. The report also stated the patents were granted to the limited applications filed by SPPU’s technology, microbiology, biotechnology and bioinformatics departments. While the ones filed by botany, instrumentation science and zoology departments were either denied or not granted.
According to the information obtained under the RTI query, between 2011 and 2020 (till date), a total of 19 beneficiary faculties have made expenditure under IPR budget, of which 18 are from science departments. Only two of these beneficiary faculties are affiliated to colleges recognised under the SPPU, while the rest were from departments functioning within the university, it has also found.
Since 2011, there was only one student beneficiary who received fund at the time of pursuing doctoral studies. In fact, faculty members who have been granted the funds include at least eight who have recurrently utilised the scheme. Some of them, information obtained by the RTI query states, was granted funds for four and even up to six projects during the last nine academic years.
The academic year 2017-18 recorded the highest usage of funds, with Rs 12,80,049 released towards three projects, the query states. This was followed by academic years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 respectively, the RTI reply mentioned. When enquired about the unutilised sum from the annual budget, SPPU officials said the unused funds are routed for some other academic purposes during the successive academic year.
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