Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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Case Study 27

Technology Information Assessment and Dissemination in India
Ajay Mathur
Energy-Environment Technology Division
Tata Energy Research Institute
New Delhi - 110 003, India

Keywords: Institutional framework, technology development, information system, forecasting

The Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), established as an information clearinghouse by Government of India, is playing a significant role in technology development of the country. TIFAC can serve as a role model institutional infrastructure in a developing country for technology information flows, analysis and technology development.


Established in 1988, during a period of transition when India was moving from a state-regulated economy to a market driven system, TIFAC is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India (GoI). Its mission is to undertake technology assessment and forecasting studies in key areas of the national economy, keep track of global trends in technology and formulate preferred options for India, and establish a nationally accessible technology information system. Though it does not explicitly state protecting the global environment as one of its objectives, TIFAC was chosen for this case study because it represents a developing country's effort to promote technology assessment and forecasting that are vital for a successful realisation of the initiatives under the Climate Change Convention.

Activities at TIFAC include information dissemination, studies on technology-linked business opportunities, technology sourcing, commercialisation of technology projects, and extending patent information service to scientists from academic institutions. TIFAC's mandate includes functioning as a clearinghouse on information, and is facilitated through a technology information system aimed to disseminate techno-commercial information and business opportunities, especially to entrepreneurs and business planners. At the macro level, TIFAC has produced a series of documents on India's efforts in science and technology development in all sectors (government, private and public, etc.). TIFAC disseminates information through newsletters, participation in national and international technology expositions, industry meetings, and one-to-one mail campaigns. TIFAC provides assistance in technology sourcing worldwide. There is a Patent Facilitating Cell, with the support of a panel of attorneys, to assist scientists patent their inventions by providing financial and technical support. In addition, the functions include information dissemination to create awareness about intellectual property rights while keeping abreast of global developments and to facilitate the use of patent information as inputs to R&D programmes. In order to be in line with global developments, TIFAC has international linkages with institutions/organisations including the Association of South East Asian Nations, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organisation, the International Association of Technology Assessment and Forecasting Institutions, the National Science and Technology Board (Singapore), and the National Technical Information Service (US Department of Commerce).

About 170 studies have been undertaken encompassing a broad spectrum on materials, chemicals, energy, environment, and information technology. Studies aimed at establishing the technology status in the country vis-à-vis emerging global trends based on 'market-pull' and 'technology-push'. The results have been used for investment risk evaluation by financial institutions, and have been instrumental in planning the technology development efforts of many government departments. To prepare the technology vision for the country, 5000 experts from the industry and government, R&D, and academic institutions were brought together in a span of two years to identify the focal areas of the country. TIFAC's technology sourcing database contains more than 4,000 technology offers and business opportunities. It has also established several national centres of excellence for joint technology promotion and development in areas like leather, aerospace, and chemical technology.

Lessons Learned

There are three lessons from this experience:

  • Access to information is the first step in a programme which aims at 'technology development'. This includes creating awareness among the user groups of the existence of an information clearinghouse.
  • The importance to evolve the objectives/activities of institutions to suit the needs of users/stakeholders.
  • The extent of involvement of the stakeholders determines the success of the venture.

TERI, 1997: Capacity building for technology transfer in the context of climate change.

The Registrar,TIFAC, Dept. of Science & Technology,Technology Bhawan,New Mehrauli Road,New Delhi 110016.Fax. 011-6857643, 6863866

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