Virtual Institute Knowledge System

VI to Harness Mineral Resources

VI to Harness Mineral Resources

 

Introduction

Sri Lanka is gifted with many varieties of mineral deposits, most prominent among them being graphite, kaolin, apatite, mineral sand, mica, quartz, gems, gold and iron. Most mineral resources such as gold and iron had not been properly explored. All the other minerals are exported just as raw minerals. This procedure indicates that the entrepreneurs, who use these minerals as raw material in their industries, are not conversant with sufficient technical knowledge to upgrade them. High-tech industries to deal with these minerals could not be established up to now, because of the difficulty to harness the required expertise or the technology to set up such an industry. Although, Sri Lanka some expertise in these sectors, it has no system to streamline communication of such information to the entrepreneurs. This was not practicable, because all these require lot of expenditure that Sri Lanka can ill afford; besides, scientists are at times reluctant to disseminate their knowledge in a collective environment forgoing due appreciation or reward.

In order to overcome these barriers “Virtual Institute to harness mineral Resources” was introduced by the Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology & Innovation. Ahead of the explanations of how to achieve rapid economic growth in mineral resources of Sri Lanka through ‘Virtual Institute’, it is imperative to be aware of the main purpose and anticipated functions of establishing a virtual institute; namely, what does it really mean, how does it work, how does it benefit the country, etc. As such virtual institute can be defined, simply, as a research & innovation hub, where new ideas are originated, multidisciplinary research & development is fostered, diversity is valued and long-term professional networks are developed to create knowledge/research & development together with commercialization. This actually consists of a group of individuals with shared interests relying primarily on e-forms of communication working together to realize national goals and objectives. The goals and objectives of a ‘Virtual Institute’ are as follows:

• Linking geographically scattered research, industry expertise and resources ,leveraging complementary intellectual strengths.

• Establishing more productive and more collaborative (participatory) research & development set up to address multifaceted, diverse, national and provincial issues; through co-planning, co-designing and co-implementation.

• Creating an efficient system to augment a rapid process of innovation.

• Minimizing the delays incurred to reach the market by amalgamating complementary research and industrial expertise with the ultimate aim of transferring research & development outcome into business.

• Creating a mutual platform for building strong dynamic partnerships among technology experts and potential users; namely, investors and relevant stakeholders.

• Enabling partners to form a syndicate to exchange experiences, thereby, trying to avoid the duplication of effort.

• Optimizing the use of resources by overcoming geographical, spatial or temporal separations by rational application/share of unique research facilities scattered over specific locations.

As it is, the concept of virtual institute is an ideal proposition to attain the rapid development of mineral resources in Sri Lanka, thereby, achieving a higher GDP. By setting up this type of virtual institute for mineral resources, it is possible to cluster the different type of minerals. These clusters can even be subdivided into additional clusters such as the identification of certain localities of minerals, industries, entrepreneurs, scientists involved in this specific type of mineral research, funding institutes, etc. This way it is feasible to make a connection among the parties involved in a specific type of mineral. According to the mandate granted by the government to coordinate science and technology and innovation activities of the country, COSTI intends to launch this novel concept of virtual institute to make a rapid development in mineral resources sector by incorporating this mechanism.

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