India has talent, waiting to be tapped, says Nobel Media CEO

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) India is the most interesting country at this moment in terms of scientific research and there is a lot of potential talent waiting to be tapped, said Nobel Media head Mattius Fyrenius, who visited IIT Delhi.

Accompanying him was W.E. Moerner, a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, who later gave a lecture on his prize winning discovery.

Nobel Media CEO Fyrenius told IANS that India was always a desired destination for Nobel Prize Series, which aims to stimulate creative thinking among students by getting them up and close with the Nobel Prize winners through lectures and seminars.

“India was always on our radar. Even last year we had organised the same thing but on a very small scale. Later, I was approached by a person from the Department of Science and Technology here and we discussed about the possibility of a bigger event. This is how we came to organise the Nobel Prize Series 2017,” Fyrenius said.

“We have been to Brazil, Japan, Singapore, Dubai, among others, but we haven’t done anything as big as this yet. India is our most ambitious project so far,” he said.

Asked how were India to do great discoveries when there was only a pittance in the name of research fund, he remarked that things cannot be changed overnight and emphasised the need for building an eco-system gradually where research is rewarded.

“I was surprised when I heard Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry Venkatraman Ramakrishnan remark that India spends only one per cent of its GDP on research and development. This amount is anywhere near 3-4 per cent in the US,” Fyrenius said.

The CEO added that funding from private sponsors is the key to good research since in India almost 100 per cent funding is done by the public sector while in the US, a beau ideal of research, universities get 75-80 per cent of their research funded from private players.

In the same breath, he pointed out that good discoveries take decades, and it is going to be some time before a perfect eco-system is created.

When compared with other developing country Brazil, Freynius highlighted that although the Latin American state has a robust university system, the educational tradition of India is to be prized over anything.

“You should value it highly and be very proud of it,” he said.

“There is huge opportunity here. If you get the private sector to invest in research and development, you will be in a very interesting position. The issue is not lack of talent, but of developing that talent,” he added.

Nobel Media is the outreach arm of the Nobel Foundation formed to get people interested in sciences and inspirational stories of the winners through various media.

“Nine Nobel laureates are here on a five-day (January 9-13) visit, during the course of which they will be visiting institutes and other places in three states — Gujarat, Delhi and Bengaluru — and give lectures and seminars,” Fyrenius said.