Nepal S&T and Its Future Prospects Raju Adhikari

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Nepal S&T and Its Future Prospects

  • Raju Adhikari

  • Principal Research Scientist

  • CSIRO Molecular Science and Health Technologies

  • (Former Senior Scientist, NAST)


  • Part I

    • Global R&D overview
    • Australian R&D- Public sector
    • S&T Indicators
    • S&T Vision
  • Part II

    • S&T-Development in Nepal
    • NAST- A Case Study
    • S&T Poor Performance: Main Reasons
  • Part III

    • S&T: New Vision
    • Way Forward
    • NRN Role in S&T
    • S&T Networking- New Approach
    • Proposed Structure
    • S&T and Education in 2008 Budget
  • Conclusion

Global R&D Spending

An overview: World R&D

International Patent:

Source of R&D Funds

R&D Workforce

S&T Indicators

  • R&D budget (% of GDP)

  • R& D expenses

  • R&D capabilities (Manpower and Infrastructure)

    • Number of graduates/post graduates and PhD
  • R&D facilities (Equipment and Infrastructure)

  • Strong linkages between public, private and academia sectors

  • Number of patents and publications

  • R&D manpower

  • Collaborations (National and International)

S&T Vision

  • Government long term commitment (NASA, NIH)

  • Scientific leaders in innovation and creation

  • Centre of innovation and technology excellence

  • Generate opportunities to retain or attract talents

  • U.S.-40 % of global (R&D), 70 % world’s Nobel Prize winners, 3 quarter of world’s top 40 universities.

  • Private sector lead role

  • A visionary R&D in key S&T areas

    • Information technology (Q dots, OLED, Softwares, Wireless network)
    • Medical technology (No sutures, Injection, Targeted drug delivery, Gene technology, Diagnostic (Protein markers), Regenerative medicine
    • Nano technology

Australian R&D

  • R&D budget in 2008 - 10 billion AUD

  • Industrial R&D expense accounts for 0.9% of GDP

  • Industrial R&D is focused on Automotive and Biotechnology (Agriculture, Veterinary) sectors.

  • Government share 50% of the total R&D investment

  • R&D manpower is > 70,000

Australia: Public Sector R&D

  • 3 Public Research Institutes, CSIRO, ANSTO and AIMS

  • 63 cooperative research centres (CRC) were established nationally to strengthen the linkage between university, industry, and research institute

  • 6 National Flagship projects in key areas Energy, Metal, Health, Niche Manufacturing, Environment and Energy to address national issues

  • S&T agreements with 11 countries and 3 international organizations

  • Weakness is in manufacturing industry, university industry linkage, and S&T manpower.

Nepal S&T-Development

R&D Activities

15 in Agriculture sector

  • 15 in Agriculture sector

Professional Societies- 1995 Data

  • Nepal Science Association in 1956

  • 96 Professional Societies

  • Largest Associations

    • Nepal Engineers Association (Members > 3500)
    • Nepal Medical Association, Members > 3000
  • Internal publications:

    • Professional Societies Journals (37)
    • National S&T Conference
      • 48 papers in 1982 to 502 in 2004.

R&D Budget and Expenditure- in US$

R&D Manpower- 1995

S &T Apex Body- NAST

  • A Case Study

RONAST/NAST- Objectives

  • Advancement of science and technology for all round development of the nation

  • Preservation and further modernization of indigenous technologies

  • Promotion of research in science and technology

  • Identification and facilitation of appropriate technology transfer

RONAST/NAST: Function-15

  • The specific functions of NAST are to: - Undertake studies/reports on the achievements of S&T in the country.

  • Advise the Government on formulation technology transfer policy and its implementation.

  • Implement S&T programs in collaboration with national and international organizations.

  • Conduct and promote research in priority areas of science and technology.

  • Collect and disseminate S&T information through a central S&T Information System.

  • Organize seminars and conferences on S&T topics and help facilitate S&T publications.

  • Establish and strengthen linkages with regional and international institutions in order to promote mutual cooperation.

  • Mobilize internal and external resources both financial and technical, for S&T development as well as to carry out the activities of the Academy.

  • Give recognition to outstanding individual and institutional contribution for development, promotion and application of S&T.

  • Enhance public awareness towards the importance and usefulness of S&T as well as to create conditions conducive for S&T application.

  • Advise Government of Nepal on S&T development programs.

  • Advise Government of Nepal on the establishment of new institutions or laboratories for S&T related research and development.

  • Provide financial and technical assistance for the establishment and development of new S&T institutions/laboratories.

  • Set up centres for S&T related innovations and innovative models.

  • Undertake all necessary measures to achieve the goals and objectives of the Academy.


NAST Agreements

NAST Agreements

  • International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

  • International Foundations of Sciences (IFS). International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

  • Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies (FASAS).

  • Information Network on New and Renewable Energy Resources and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (INNERTAP)

  • Centre for Science and Technology of Non-Aligned Countries

  • ( NAM )

  • Association for Science Cooperation in Asia (ASCA)

  • Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN)

  • Association of Asia 's Scientific Academies (AASA)

  • International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Publications -200 in 25 years

  • Vigyan Lekhmala since 1986

  • Nepal Journal of Science and Technology since 1999

  • Proceedings SAARC Workshop on Biofertilizer Technology, 1989

  • Proceedings Discussion Forum on Pollution Preventing Strategies for the Kathmandu Valley , 1995

  • Citrus Greening Disease: A Compiled Study, 1990

  • Proceedings of Workshop on Indigenous Technological Capabilities of Industry Level, 1993

  • Proceedings of IInd National Conference on Science & Technology, 1994 –

  • Endogenous Capacity Building in S & T Development in Nepal , Vol. II, 1996

  • Proceedings of IIIrd National Conference on Science & Technology, 1999 - Ramaila Prayogharu (In Nepali), B.S. 2055

  • Urja Ra Urjaka ka Shrotharu, (In Nepali) B.S. 2055

  • Science and Technology in Nepal 2001

  • Proceedings of International Seminar on Mountains, 2002

  • Status Paper on Zoology, Statistics, Forestry, Plant Sciences - 4th National Conference on Science and Technology: Abstracts, 2004

Research Activities

  • Biotechnology programs

    • Conservation of Aromatic and medicinal plant
    • Molecular Diagnostic of Citrus greening Disease
    • Molecular characterization of Medicinal plants  -Tea clones  -Bacillus thuringinsis
    • Research on Organic farming
    • Antagonistic Study of Ectomycorrhiza -Study of the role of Endomycorrhiza
  • Natural products research

    • Bioprospecting of Cordyceps sinensis-Biopesticides study program -Analytical services
  • Environment and Radiation research

    • Microbial analysis of tap water, mineral water milk, soft drink and others -Chemical Microbial analysis of ground water -Detection of arsenic in ground water and removal of iron and arsenic. - Radiation hazards assessment in hospitals and nursing homes in Nepal .
  • High altitude sciences

    • Study of mushroom diversity and its economic value in Sagarmatha National Park Area. -Local knowledge and ethnomedicinal botany of high altitude plants in Sagarmatha National Park Nepal .
    • Distribution of C 3 and C 4 plants along environmental gradients in Eastern Himalayas of Nepal . -Ev-K²-CNR Committee
  • Technology application and development

    • Research works on Briquetting Technology
    • Study on Solar Pump -Instrumentation Centre

NAST: History

  • RONAST established during Panchyat time as an Apex Coordinating Body in S&T (Non working Academy)

  • VC - Non Scientist (PhD in Geography)

  • Absolute power and large budget

  • Agreements signed with overseas public S&T organizations

  • RONAST jobs – not permanent

  • Democracy in 1992 triggered uprising

  • Change in political system changed RONAST structure

  • New structure introduced without proper consultation and discussion

  • Appointment of Academician from representative political parties polarized the Academy’s functioning

  • Academician appointed lifetime with no clear role and responsibilities

  • S&T failure- Linked to Panchyat regime

NAST Achievements in 25 Years

  • NAST own building at Khumaltar (85 ropanies)

  • New building with old vision

  • Many Academicians and no projects

  • Many awards and grants

  • PhD fellowships program with University

  • National S&T Conference every 4 years

  • Radio program (Science Quiz, Interviews)

  • Science Learning Centre (SLC) launched

  • National Forensic Laboratory established

  • National Instrumentation Centre ?

  • High Altitude Research Laboratory-established

  • Few In-house projects

  • Talk Program, Meet your scientist program

  • Workshop and seminar

A Classic Example of a Failed Project

  • Advanced Natural Products Research Laboratory (ANPRL)- Identified as a National project in health sector

  • Aligned with policies of establishing national laboratory

  • Aimed to provide a centralized R&D facilities with modern Instrumentations (NMR/GC/GC-MS, SEM, FTIR )

  • Organised an International conference

  • Princess Chulabhorn, Mahidol university agreed to jointly fund this project with support from International community

  • Proposal submitted to Mahidol University through Chancellor office

  • Change in Political system in 1992

  • Project collapsed and never followed up

  • Nepal doesn’t have necessary equipment such as NMR/Mass Spectrometry/SEM etc necessary for R&D work

NAST- Main Reasons for Poor Performances

  • No defined role and responsibility (Working or Non working academy)

  • Broad agreements

  • Failed leadership

  • No new initiatives and vision

  • Working in isolation

  • Academician out of touch and no raw model

  • Power equation to become VC

  • Political appointments (Academician and VC)

  • Nepotism and poor governance

  • No initiatives or program for NRN S&T manpower ( A global resources with new blood and ideas)

  • Small In-house projects with poor funding without major collaborations, a road to failure

S&T Poor Performance: Main Reasons

  • Political instability

  • Not in Government priority

  • No clear national S&T strategic plan

  • Political appointments in all S&T institutions

  • No Science and Technology leaders

  • Poor R&D budget

    • Poor research infrastructure
    • Poor scientific manpower
    • No national coordinated efforts in R&D
  • Weak linkages between different R&D institutions

  • No incentives to private sectors

  • Confusion between R or D or both

  • Few collaborations (Intra, Inter and International)

  • Duplications of R&D

  • No commercial focus and patent protection

Examples: R&D Tax Incentives in Other Countries

Nepal S& T New Vision

  • Creating a team from different scientific fields and having a coordinated approach to find solutions to Nepal problems

  • Purpose

    • Serve Nepalese Community and benefit our
      • Industry
      • Environment
      • Society

Way Forward

  • S&T recognition and investment

  • A long term vision and serious commitment

  • Fresh approach and initiatives

    • A separate R&D wing in Planning commission
    • S&T seat in upper house
    • Invite NRN resources and brain for S&T investment
    • Organize a national conference of all R&D institutions (private/public & academia) and prepare S&T development master plan for the next decade
  • A development plan for S&T human resources next 10 years

  • Redefine the role of NAST

  • Form a Prime ministerial S&T advisory committee comprising of top scientists, technocrats and business minds

  • Establish a separate S&T department

Way Forward

  • Realign or merge Departments/Institutions with similar objectives to best utilize the resources and better service from R&D

  • Establish National laboratories in Key S&T areas (Chemical. Biological, Environment, Water Resources, Forestry, Alternate energy and Information sciences)

  • Create Federation of all societies- Lobby group

  • Identify S&T investment areas and invite foreign investment

  • Launch National projects in priority areas with clear focus

    • Invite external Science leader to review national projects on annual basis
    • Develop strong KPI to monitor R&D performance
  • Create national fellowship to attract and retain best scientists

Way Forward

  • Establish a strong patent portfolio to protect R&D outcome

  • Double the number fellowships (PhD, master and visiting scientist) in overseas countries

  • Tax incentives in all R&D work

  • Give incentives to Universities to develop strong links overseas to expand higher education infrastructure (KU)

  • Create a national S&T database

  • Look out for Science leaders

  • Higher the best brain for the top job

  • Knowledge based nation- (Invite, attract and retain talented Nepalese brain )

Biotechnology Sector (Yarsha Gumba): An example

  • Identify and invite collaborative national proposals

  • Approach overseas private companies for funding and investment

    • Advertise the project globally, institutional approach or individual contacts
    • Develop the proposal jointly with a clear objectives commercial focus and time frame
    • Nepal to provide resources and manpower
    • Advanced testing and formulation development overseas
    • Patent royalties to be shared
    • Access to clinical trials in Nepal- Investment opportunity
    • Tax incentives and other flexibility for the company
    • Manufacturing of products in Nepal (cheap resources)
    • 10% of profit from the sell for reinvestment in R&D in Nepal

NRN Role

  • NRN should play a lead role

  • NRN to organise International S&T conference every two years in Nepal

  • Create a separate NRN S&T wing (Representative from country chapters globally)

    • Generate skill database and strong networking
    • Invite ideas and identify key areas for S&T investment
    • Create S&T investment funds
    • Submit a proposal to Nepal Govt
    • Launch collaborative projects in key areas
  • Appoint a S&T representative in NRN ICC

  • NRN ICC representative in the PM S&T advisory committee

NRN Approach

  • Create an investment fund ($ 1M) for R&D in priorities research areas

  • Initial funding for 1-2 projects with a clear commercial focus (Value added applied research)

  • A strong networking of NRN S&T expertise and resources through above projects in Nepal

  • Revenue generation- Spin off companies, licensing of patent or technology sale

  • New NRN PhD and post –doctoral fellowships in above project

    • Fellowship linked to commitment in the project
  • Local employment, infrastructure development and creation of wealth (long run)

Nepal S&T networking- New Approach

Brain Drain ?

  • Migration of Nepalese professionals –on rise

  • 14 years in CSIRO- Co-inventor of 2 spin off companies PolyNovo and Aortech Biomaterials, 20 patents and 40 international journal papers and 50 International conference abstracts

  • Research ideas led to multimillion dollar business, created employment and infrastructure development

  • Can state use such experience and knowledge and is there any opportunity ?

  • Recent initiatives to start a collaborative proposal between CSIRO and NAST failed, No interest

  • Is Brain drain an issue

  • Is Reverse brain drain a need now ?

Education gets Govt support- Budget 2008

  • 5% Tax (Rs 1.41 billion) on total revenue generated by the private schools and colleges (i.e., all higher institutions).

    • 1.5 million students, 8500 private schools, and 70,000, 250 private colleges.
  • 10% tax levy from the sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and casinos – Rs 1 billion

  • Total = 2.4 billion NRs

  • Independent trust funds

    • 3.5 years education vouchers
    • 25% school grants
    • 75% vouchers for vocational and technical education

Science and Technology to be promoted- Budget 2008

  • Programme to stops brain-drain of the indigenous scientists and technologists

  • A National lab set up under National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) to expedite the studies and researches in area of science and technology.

  • 5th National Science Conference to be convened in Kathmandu

  • Rs 230 millions for National Information Bank to protect important public information from catastrophe and anthropogenic accidents.

  • Rs.  57.5 million for additional 175 Tele-centres in rural communities, schools and post offices.

  • One Tele-centre in each Village Development Committee

  • Establishment of a Climate Change Research Centre


  • There is no silver bullet or magic solution

  • No short cut approach

  • A new vision, passion, commitment and approach is necessary

  • Realigning of the national priorities and existing structure is important

  • Increase S&T budget to almost 2% of GDP

  • NRN role is critical to S&T development

  • Knowledge/Skill grafting is critical to S&T prosperity

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