India’s parliament has voted to establish a new funding agency to provide ‘high-level strategic direction of scientific research in the country’.

The Indian government says that the new Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) will help the country’s scientists take a leading role in addressing global challenges. It hopes that the ANRF will encourage more collaboration between higher education institutions and the private sector.

The government plans for the ANRF to have a budget of ₹500 billion (£5 billion) over the five years to 2028. However, 80% of this is set to come from non-government sources.

Science and technology minister Jitendra Singh described the establishment of the new body as a historic step that would lead to ‘democratisation of … research funding’.

The move was first suggested in 2019 by India’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council, which called for the creation of an independent agency modelled on the US National Science Foundation. However, concerns have already been raised over the new organisation’s independence, after lawmakers approved a structure that gives the prime minister and other government ministers key leadership roles on the agency’s governing board.