New Delhi: The Ministry of Science and Technology has called for research proposals to aid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and is encouraging the Indian scientific community to look for treatments, develop vaccines and build related technologies.
The Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science & Technology, invited proposals as part of a special call under the Intensification of Research in High Priority Area (IRHPA) scheme specifically designed for COVID-19 and related respiratory viral infections to ramp up national research and development efforts against the virus.
Academic and research institutions specialising in respiratory viruses can submit proposals focusing on the development of affordable diagnostics, vaccines, antivirals and disease models.
The submission deadline has also been extended to 30 April from 30 March because of the nation-wide lockdown imposed Monday.
“We have already reached out to all competent researchers to form competent interdisciplinary teams and submit proposals,” Sandeep Verma, secretary of SERB told ThePrint.
The proposals will be approved on a first-come-first serve basis. However, there is no cap on the number of proposals that the board will fund, said Verma, adding that any research that is worth working on will get support from the board.
According to Verma, no specific funds have been allocated for COVID-19 research but it is within SERB’s purview to repurpose existing funds towards this initiative.
Others call for research proposals too
The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body under the Department of Science & Technology, also invited Indian companies and enterprises to send proporsals addressing protection and home-based respiratory intervention for COVID-19 patients.
“The proposal may include technologically innovative solutions like low-cost masks, cost-effective scanning devices, technologies for sanitisation of large areas as well as for contactless entry, rapid diagnostic kits and oxygenators, and ventilators”, the announcement read.
TBD provides financial assistance by means of soft loans, equity participation or grant in exceptional cases to encourage the commercialisation of indigenous technologies.
Similarly, the Department of Biotechnology also invited project proposals for developing diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics, repurposing of drugs or any other intervention to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to the notice, researchers are expected to work on solutions that are affordable and have a realistic possibility for widespread application and scale-up.