Global tech major IBM signed three agreements with the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Wednesday across the domains of semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing. The memoranda of understanding (MoUs) will focus on capability enhancement in these emerging technologies.
Sandip Patel, managing director of IBM India, said that the three agreements represent a trinity of technologies that will transform the future of innovation in India. The MoU on semiconductor research was signed with India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), the nodal body on chip industry under the MeitY. The pact establishes IBM as the knowledge partner in ISM’s plan to set up a semiconductor research centre in the country.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state in MeitY, said that the partnerships with IBM will cover three out of the four technologies that will shape the world of tech innovation in the coming years. Besides AI, quantum tech and semiconductors, he pegged synthetic biology as an emerging field of study that will become crucial in the near future.
“These three technologies represent tremendous opportunities for our academic institutions, start-ups and innovation ecosystems. The broader opportunity lies in creating a global-standard talent pool in India that can take advantage of these opportunities,” the minister said.
The collaboration on quantum tech involves IBM and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the R&D organisation within the IT Ministry. This partnership is focused on skill enhancement and research support and will also explore the possibility of setting up a quantum-centric supercomputing centre in India.
IBM’s pact on skill enhancement in the field of AI comes days after the MeitY released its report on the IndiaAI Programme. The report had provided a roadmap for India’s plans on AI applications. Under the agreement with IBM, IndiaAI will now establish an AI Innovation Platform (AIIP) that will enhance research and nurture talent within the AI ecosystem. AIIP will also provide incubation services in priority sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, payments, education and logistics.
Minister Chandrasekhar also mentioned that the MeitY is currently in talks with IBM on adding some of company’s high-performance computing technologies into India’s indigenous microprocessor strategy of Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V). The DIR-V programme was launched last year with the goal of achieving self-reliance in microprocessor technology.
Notably, India had inked agreements with the US in areas of semiconductor research, AI and quantum tech in June this year when Prime Minister Modi visited Washington. Those pacts also largely focused on talent and skill advancement without delving into infrastructure development.