The Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) recorded a 68.5% jump in its applications for intellectual property in 2020-21, even as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the institute and affected grants. The total intellectual property filings, including patents and trademarks, grew from 156 last year to 263 this year.
The institute also saw a 45% increase in the number of Indian patents filed this year compared to last year. Researchers in the institute filed almost three times the number of patent applications in the United States compared to last year.
In 2020-21, the institute filed for 141 Indian patents and 17 US patents. Of these, 110 Indian and eight US patents have been granted. In comparison, 97 Indian and six US patent applications were filed in the previous year.
This increase in the number of patent applications is despite the Covid-19 pandemic shutting the campus down and affecting regular research work. In the past year, the premiere institute also saw a significant drop in research funds, according to data revealed by Subhasis Chaudhuri, director of IIT-B, during the 59th annual convocation held on Saturday. For the second consecutive year, the annual convocation was held in a virtual reality mode with virtual avatars of students receiving degrees from virtual avatars of Chaudhuri and chief guest Geoffrey Hinton, Emeritus Professor at University of Toronto, chief scientific advisor of Vector Institute and vice-president and engineering fellow at Google.
The institute shut down its campus completely on March 28 last year as the Covid-19 pandemic raged in the city. An early summer vacation was announced on April 1. However, on June 25, the institute declared that the entire autumn semester will be conducted online to ensure students’ safety. The new batch of engineering students was inducted online. Since then, almost all teaching and academic activities, barring research work, are held online. The pandemic also affected the institute’s receipt in research grants, which fell by almost 14% from ₹331.24 crore in 2019-20 to ₹285 crore in 2020-21.
“Despite the pandemic, research and development activities at the institute kept a brisk pace,” said Chaudhuri, who presented a report on the institute’s achievements through the year.
“We are happy to note that despite the pandemic, our students did not have to suffer academically. The training that our students received will definitely see them taking up leadership roles, as always, in the academic and corporate world, thus contributing to the needs of our country,” he added.
A total of 2,501 degrees were awarded to 2,289 students, apart from 378 PhD degrees. The virtual event was attended by Pawan Goenka, retired managing director and chief executive officer of Mahindra Group and chairperson of the board of governors of IIT-B.
“Can no longer assume fascism is a thing of the past”
Chief guest at the ceremony, Geoffrey Hinton, emeritus professor at University of Toronto, chief scientific advisor of Vector Institute and vice-president and engineering fellow at Google, asked the students to stand up to truth in the face of political attempts to suppress it.
Hinton, who delivered the keynote speech, said, “The amazing technology we have today is the result of curiosity-driven research unfettered by religious or ideological constraints. My generation just assumed that this is how things should be and that humanity would never go back to allowing religious authority or political expediency to dominate scientific discovery, but I now think we cannot take this for granted just as we can no longer assume that fascism is a thing of the past.”
He added, “I believe that highly selective and extremely well educated students like yourselves have a moral duty to stand up to the truth in the face of political attempts to suppress it.”