Research funding: Indian science needs alternative investors

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India needs to look beyond its government and find other investors that can transform the face of science there (Nature 484, 159160; 2012). The private sector and philanthropic organizations must step in if the country is to realize its huge scientific potential.

India has opened up its financial markets, telecommunications and retail to foreign investment — education and science should follow suit. It should provide incentives for foreign universities, funding agencies and multinational corporations to invest in India's education and research, within a regulatory framework under strict oversight. The government could help to promote the economic and social returns on these investments to other interested parties.

India's nouveau riche need to follow the example of US and UK philanthropists and set up research foundations. Together with non-profit organizations, they can invest in high-risk, low-return areas of science not usually considered by the private sector.

As a young Indian scientist who aspires to build up a public-health genomics research programme in India, I believe that input from a variety of funding sources will help to drive competition and improve scientific output and accountability.

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  1. University of Texas, Houston, Texas, USA.

    • Siddhartha P. Kar

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