The Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) is a Ministry of Human Resource Development initiative that aims at improving the research ecosystem of India’s Higher Educational Institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
The Government in August 2018 had sanctioned the scheme at a total cost of Rs.418 Cr for implementation up to 31.3.2020. Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur is the National Coordinating Institute to implement the SPARC programme.
Salient Features of SPARC
This scheme will improve research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions [overall top-100 or category-wise top-100 in NIRF (including such Private Institutions which are recognized under 12(B) of UGC Act)] and the best institutions in the world (top-500 overall and top-200 subject-wise institutions listed in QS World University Ranking) from 28 selected nations [Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom(UK), United States of America(USA)] to jointly solve problems of national and international relevance. As per the criteria mentioned above, 254 top Indian Institutes and 478 top ranked global Institutes have been already identified.
A set of 5 Thrust Areas (Fundamental Research, Emergent Areas of Impact, Convergence, Action-Oriented Research and Innovation-Driven) and sub-theme areas in each thrust area has been identified for collaboration under SPARC based on emergent relevance and importance for the nation.
Each Thrust Area will have a Section Chair. The role of Section Chair of each Thrust Area is to review shortlist and recommend the potential joint-proposals submitted under SPARC scheme.
A set of Nodal Institutions (NI), from India, for each participating foreign country has been identified. The role of a NI is to help, handhold and coordinate with willing Participating Indian (PI) Institutions to forge alliance with the Institutions of concerned participating foreign country, for academic and research collaboration. 25 such reputed Institutions have been notified as Nodal Institutions.
SPARC proposes to enable productive academic cooperation by supporting the following critical components that can catalyze impact making research :
Visits and long-term stay of top international faculty/researchers in Indian institutions to pursue teaching and research
Visits by Indian students for training and experimentation in premier laboratories worldwide
Joint development of niche courses, world-class books and monographs, translatable patents, demonstrable technologies or action oriented research outcomes and products
Consolidation of Bilateral cooperation through academic and research partnerships through Indo-X Workshops in India
Publication, Dissemination and Visibility through a high profile annual international conference in India.
This Scheme is expected to have a major impact in providing the best international expertise to address major national problems, expose Indian academicians to the best collaborators abroad, enable international faculty to stay in India for a longer duration, provide Indian students an opportunity to work in the world class laboratories, to develop strong bilateral relationships in research, and improve the international ranking of Indian Institutes.
The SPARC Scheme is expected to have a major impact in the following areas:
Providing the best international expertise in solving major national problems.
Help Indian academicians and researchers unravel deep and open research problems with the help of the best collaborators abroad.
Enable long-term stay for international faculty the simultaneously helps in academic interactions, research collaborations, niche course development.
Enable a large number of Indian students to be trained in high end experimental facilities available in the best laboratories in the world.
Produce a large volume of educational and research content in terms of high quality journal publications, text books, research monographs, patents, demonstrable technologies, products that are jointly authored by Indian and Foreign collaborators.
Have strong thematic interactions which enable students in the country interact with high quality research groups through Workshops held in India.
Develop strong Bilateral relationships in academics and research with top countries in the world.
Enable most of the top ranked Indian Institutions to develop academic and research collaboration with foreign institutions.
Improve International Rankings of Indian Institutions through a combination of internationalization, research outcomes and academic interactions.
Develop a set of success stories that can enable international agencies, Indian industries, partner ministries support follow up projects.
Create a major International Impact for Catapulting Indian Academics and Research and help make it competitive with the best worldwide.