Govt Unveils Scheme To Empower Startups, MSMEs In Mining Innovation
The Ministry of Mines on Wednesday announced plans to financially support research and innovation initiatives in startups and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) operating in the mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and recycling sector. The initiative, named Science and Technology Program for Research and Innovation in Startups and MSMEs (S&T-PRISM), is designed for promoting applied and sustainable advancements in mining and industrial applications.
Under the scheme's guidelines, the ministry will entertain proposals from startups, MSMEs, and individual innovators with direct relevance to the minerals sector. The funding, spanning up to two years, aims at hand-holding these entities to a stage where they can attract investments or secure loans from commercial banks and financial institutions.
Positioned as a catalyst between developmental stages and commercialization, the funding seeks to streamline the journey of innovative technologies, products, or services. According to the ministry's statement, the primary focus of S&T-PRISM is on translating research into tangible technology, be it a product, process, or service, rather than indulging in open-ended fundamental research.
Mentorship To Startups, MSMEs
The implementation of S&T-PRISM will be overseen by the Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and Design Centre, Nagpur—an autonomous body under the Ministry of Mines. This center will act as a facilitator for startups and MSMEs, offering mentorship, incubation support, and technical advisory assistance throughout the project development phase and an additional two years post-technical completion.
The mentoring support includes advisory services, networking opportunities, resource utilization, piloting, business planning, and fundraising. Startups and MSMEs selected under this program will also receive piloting opportunities within the mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and recycling sector.
Women-Led Startups To Be Prioritized
In line with the commitment to inclusivity, the ministry's statement highlighted a preference for startups and MSMEs from the North East region and women-led enterprises. Emphasizing the importance of safety, economy, speed, and efficiency in mineral resource extraction, the initiative aligns with the National Mineral Policy's elevated focus on Research and Development (R&D) programs.
Meanwhile, the 'Connecting Beyond Mining' pavilion of the Ministry of Mines took center stage at the India International Fair 2023 in New Delhi, showcasing technological interventions, mining reforms, and state-of-the-art geological survey techniques in virtual reality. Union Minister of Mines, Pralhad Joshi, inaugurated the pavilion, emphasizing the government's pivotal reforms for the mining industry's development in a video message to the visitors.
Additionally, the government will initiate the bidding process for 20 crucial mineral blocks, including minerals such as lithium and graphite in the next two weeks. Following the inauguration of the Mining Pavilion at IITF, Mines Secretary VL Kantha Rao announced that, having formulated policies for critical minerals, the subsequent step involves auctioning these mineral-rich blocks. Notably, in February 2023, India identified lithium deposits amounting to a reserve of 5.9 million tonnes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ministry of Mines takes a significant step towards encouraging innovation with the launch of the Science and Technology Program for Research and Innovation in Startups and MSMEs (S&T-PRISM). The initiative, focused on applied advancements in the mining sector, offers financial support and mentorship, emphasizing inclusivity and aligning with the broader goals of the National Mineral Policy.