There are about 5,000 industrial clusters that have been doing their bit for the country and produce 45 per cent of goods, but remain largely unsung. Most of these are small and medium units that cannot hire consultants or technical and marketing expertise.
Now, the National Innovation Council (NIC) has stepped in. It has announced a 'cluster innovation centre' initiative to help these clusters improve their efficiency and competitiveness
To begin with, it has identified eight clusters, mainly small and medium enterprises, and is providing them necessary linkages to innovate and commercialise their products, Mr Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister on innovation, infrastructure and information, told reporters here on Wednesday.
'There are about 200 large clusters, such as diamonds, pharma, food processing, bamboo etc. We plan to organise them and provide linkages with partners like the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), industry, R&D labs, financial institutions and universities,' Mr Pitroda said.
A pilot project is already on in eight clusters since November 2011 and will last for six-nine months. Among these is a bamboo cluster in Agartala, auto components in Haryana, furniture and Ayush in Kerala, brassware in Uttar Pradesh and food processing in Tamil Nadu.
'Interesting things are happening, such as innovations in waste recycling. For instance, butter is being made from mango kernels and wood is being created from rice husk. We can provide technology and marketing expertise to these clusters,' he said.
Mr Samir K Brahmachari , Director-General, CSIR, admitted that while his organisation, with a strong army of scientists, had been doing such work for years, it lacked 'marketing capability'. When asked if there was some duplicity in work being done by NIC and CSIR, Mr Brahmachari said, 'NIC is adding professionalism and skill to the tasks that we have been carrying out.'