Guide to Establish an R&D Cell in Higher Education Institutions

r & d cell in colleges

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has laid down specific guidelines for establishing a research and development cell (RDC) in higher education institutions. This development is aligned with the development of the three critical elements of the Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Mission, namely, Research, Innovation, and Technology. Atma-Nirbhar Bharat aims to use science and technology to pave the way for societal change in India in the 21st century.


To establish a robust mechanism for developing and strengthening the research ecosystem within higher educational institutions, aligned with NEP 2020.


The research and development cell in higher education institutions should be established keeping the underlying objectives. Here is a look at the prerogatives set by the University Grants Commission for this endeavour –

  1. Organization – Creating a structured organization within the university focused on research and development. The RDC will have role-based functions and positions; they will formulate research policies for the HEIs, and identify promising research areas for the cell. It also involves bringing a research-focused team together by forming cluster groups, frontline teams, or a consortium of researchers.
  2. Establishing the Right Policies – The RDC will be responsible for bringing new provisions to the institution’s research policy. It includes better policies to recruit research personnel, procure equipment, and financial management of research projects. Adequate autonomy should be given to the Principal Investigator(s) to allow them the freedom to lead the research. Policies specifying the proper method for disseminating research outcomes to stakeholders and the public should also be put in place.
  3. Collaboration & Partnerships – The Research and development cell will be a particular purpose vehicle that promotes research and innovation among potential research patrons and sponsors. The RDC will help HEIs create synergistic partnerships with other institutions and industry leaders. The RDC will identify likely collaborators from the industry, other research organizations, academic institutions, and other stakeholders for better support.
  4. Research Funding – The Research Development Cell will be expected to act as a liaison between researchers and funding agencies. Suppose there is an opportunity to submit a research proposal or project proposal. In that case, the RDC will provide guidance for such preparation and submission. Once the grant is sanctioned, the RDC will oversee the adherence to timelines for the project.
  5. Better Coordination – The Research Development Cell will establish better coordination among the RDC of their HEI and other research centers/research cells. It will help create a coordinated effort for University-Industry Inter Linkage, Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
  6. Institutional Research Information System – Establishing a state-of-the-art institutional research information system enables researchers to share information about ongoing/completed research projects, upcoming programs, expertise, and resources for better research. It will help researchers and innovators leverage information and communication technology by preparing a database of in-house experts to provide industry consultancy and services.
  7. Promoting Researcher Mobility – RDCs across the nation can do a lot to engage and utilize the services of superannuated active faculty/scientists in building the research capacity of talented young scientists and improving the mobility of researchers across higher education institutions R&D labs.
  8. Ideation & Conceptualization of Research Topics – The research development cells in HEIs will serve as nodal centres for the ideation and conceptualization of new topics/themes for research. They will organize workshops and training programs to ensure integrity and ethical practices in research activities.


Functions of Research Development Cell

The most significant objective of establishing RDCs in all higher educational institutions is to promote high-quality research in India and bring the country closer to our goal of Atma-Nirbhar Bharat. Here are some of the main functions of research development cells –

  • Governance – Putting an efficient research governance mechanism to create a conducive research environment.
  • Administration – Supporting institutional research by integrating multiple functional units under a single-window operational system for effective administration.
  • Research Ecosystem – One of the critical functions of RDCs will be to build a research ecosystem through effective collaboration. Strategic partnerships can offer India a meaningful thrust for sustainable research and innovation.
  • Information Management System – Creating a Research Information Management System (RIMS) to collect and manage research-oriented information, create databases, share publications, research projects, fellowships, etc.
  • Human Resources – Creating a talent pool of motivated individuals to drive the research effort at the higher educational institution.
  • Research Promotion & Guidance – Research guidance from RDC will encourage faculties to make efforts to promote better research in their fields. They will find new ideas fuelled by frequent industry-academia interactions and prepare detailed research proposals for funding. It includes –
    • Research thrust and clustered areas
    • Research incentives and recognition
    • Developing technology and establishing business-centred facilities
    • Finance
  • Integrity & Ethics – The RDC will be expected to conduct regular initiatives to ensure that young researchers understand the importance of integrity and ethics in research.
  • Capacity Building – RDC will play a vital role in building research capacity in India so that faculties and students can undertake research problems in line with the latest advancements and contribute to technological developments relevant to societal needs.
  • Research Monitoring – A standard function of the RDC in an HEI will be to monitor and oversee research progress, manage and optimize research resources and conduct timely reviews to help complete projects as per schedule.

Higher education institutions have welcomed the directive of establishing research development cells in their aegis. However, setting up the RDC is a labyrinth of logistical, organizational, and administrative challenges. Partner with an expert to create an effective research effort in your institution. Our consultants at CollPoll will help you build your RDC, create a helpful research pathway and follow the guidelines set by the university grants commission.

If you are an HEI looking for help creating an RDC for your institution, get in touch with CollPoll today!