Techpedia.in ( www.techpedia.in ): an update
Techpedia, an initiative at SRISTI ( a NGO, sristi.org ) aims at putting the problems of micro, small and medium enterprises, informal sector, grassroots innovators and other social sectors on the agenda of the young technology students across the country. For over last sixty years, India has not utilized much the technological outputs of millions of students. But no more. Can a knowledge society really afford to ignore the huge talent distributed in thousands of polytechnics, diploma and degree colleges of engineering, pharmacy, medical science, agriculture etc.? SRISTI is providing a platform for the industry and academic institutions to collaborate, co-create and foster distributed and horizontal innovations. Most of the ideas mentioned here have been implemented in the state of Gujarat in close cooperation with Gujarat Technical University and initial results are extremely encouraging.
Key goals are :
a) Promotion of originality among technology students by making it impossible for them to do what has been done before. This will be possible only when they can find out what has been done before. Techpedia.in already has 1.4 lac technology projects done by 3.5 lac students from more than 500 colleges in India.
b) Connecting the technical students with the problems of informal and unorganized sector and grassroots innovators
c) Putting the technical problems of MSMEs on the agenda of students so that affordable solutions can be generated in a real time.
d) To harness collaborative potential of students across disciplines and colleges to solve persistent problems of our country in formal and informal sector
e) Explore kho kho model (relay) of product development. Idea here is that if one student group has brought the solution of a particular problem to a specific stage, then next group within that department or somewhere else should be able to build upon it to take it forward.
f) To pose challenges to students to address unsolved problems of our society. Gandhiji had announced an award of 7700 pounds, ( approx Rs one lac ) to redesign charkha-spinning wheel. Today the value of this prize will be more than Rs10 crores. Industry association, government and others can offer attractive prizes for solving those problems which have remained unsolved so long.
g) Developing high tech capabilities through network platforms so that India becomes a hub for high tech outsourcing for the world in future and does not serve only the low tech needs.
h) Promoting both IPR protected and open source technologies and eventually develop techpedia.in into an online virtual incubator.
i) Creating real-time online NMN (National Mentoring Network) to harness skills, insights and experience of senior tech experts for mentoring young students.
It is obvious that no one institution or university can accomplish any of these goals. We have to create a collaborative culture so that problems of small enterprises, informal sector and local communities in disadvantaged regions can be solved in a time bound manner. Every time a student solves a real life problem, he /she does not merely become a better technologist but also a better human being. It is true that not all student groups will be able to solve a complex technical problem in six to ten months. Many will just fail. The universities will have to develop a culture, which does not punish an honest failure. Else, the risk avoidance culture will never evolve among our young minds. Likewise, not all expertise for guiding a student team may be available at the same college or department. Mentors from various sectors, retired scientists, and fellows of national academies should be able to guide the projects in which they have interest. Techpedia.in is thus an aggregator of aspirations of young students to make India a creative, collaborative and compassionate society. Soon, an erp solution would be put in place that so that various stage sof progress can be tracked on line. Even for recruitment, companies can track the chosen projects if allowed by the students and faculty team and thus select bright hard working teams. They can pose their problems at the portal too. Each university can develop it sown tracking system if it so wishes.
Recent accomplishments in past 4 months:
In collaboration with Gujarat Technical University (GTU), Techpedia has linked its over 500 colleges consisting of engineering, diploma, MBA, MCA and Pharmaceuticals colleges with 166 industry clusters across Gujarat. These innovation zones are facilitating close interaction and cooperation between the industries, students and faculties. The idea is to create a platform where industries can pose real life problems which would then be solved by students as a part of their academic course. This will enrich the learning process of students, inculcate entrepreneurship and provide industry with solutions to their problems. During this process, it has been observed that such a platform often brings forth low cost, innovative solutions.
- To facilitate this process, GTU has integrated the process into the norms of academic evaluation. It has proposed to award 6 credits in a semester for two consecutive semesters. Two credits would be awarded to student for identifying an industry problem (Industry defined problem) and four credits for coming up with a solution to that problem.
- The capacity of each Sankul /cluster is being built by involving faculty members, professionals, students and owners of industries as stakeholders in the process. It is encouraging stakeholders in each Sankul/cluster to develop a program of activities through joint efforts. At the end of a year, the activities/program will be reviewed. Both students and faculty members will work jointly with industries to determine the Industry Defined Problems (IDP).These may relate to improving the quality of the existing products, or modifying the process to reduce energy consumtion or reduce waste or to innovate new products.
- Twwenty five GTU innovation Sankuls/Clusters, involving 250,000 students, 10,000 faculties and more than 300 Innovation centers in Colleges across Gujarat are being linked to SMEs in industrial estates. All the pre-Final year students have been directly linked to industries.
§ Seventy five prominent industry leaders have joined the above Innovation movement as Chairpersons /Dy Chairpersons (Industry). Every Sankul is jointly managed by a Chairperson (Academia) and a Chairperson (Industries). More than 1000 industries/MSMEs have become directly involved through membership of the 25 GTU Innovation Sankul/cluster Committees.
§ 50,010 technical students in the final year mapped 7,000 MSMEs across the state for benchmarking industrial needs and process challanges (Equal no of reports are received from Diploma Engineering students). The students have also mapped the innovations from SMEs and mapped the IDPs (industry defined projects) which will also be converted as their final year projects during 2011-2012 across the state in 202 Engineering colleges in Gujarat.
§ 8890 professors are proposed to be mapped according to their area of expertise to create 50 sectoral innovation councils to take care of innovation drive in particular sector of engineering and allied science. The agenda of these sectoral innovation council has been declared in early July. Council include stakeholders from industry/MSME, academia and expert mentors. For instance, the sectoral innovation council in Energy and Environment is mapping the potential for energy conservation or augmentation in 200 SMEs in Gujarat in next 5 months. Already 25 cases have been finished by now by diploma engg students.
§ 72 GIDCs (industry clusters in Gujarat) out of 92 fully operational clusters in Gujarat have been linked to 25 innovation sankuls and students and faculties have participated in Industrial Shodh Yatra in all these SME clusters as a part of summer of innovation agenda to locate the SME issues which can be taken up as final year projects by 50,000 young minds both in BE and DE (Diploma). An algorithm has been designed to harness the efforts of half a million human month’s effort by these young students mentored by both faculties and enterepreneurs from MSMEs in a single state of country.
§ More than five dozen socio-technical issues related to socially backward regions of the country have been converted as final year project in engineering colleges involving quite a number of Grassroots innovations. The above effort has been scaled up both horizontally and vertically to motivate the young minds of the country to solve real life issues of not only MSMEs/Industries but also to address issues of socio-technical needs of most back ward rural sectors/spaces. Idea is to ensure that the effort becomes more holistic, inclusive and consistently strivies for making a linkage between formal and informal sector-knowledge ecosystem and developing young minds to become more meaningful techno entrepreneur in days to come by solving real life issues of MSME and society.
Ten key interventions
|1.||Creating User Defined Innovation Eco-system|
|2.||Mapping of Industrial Needs and Academic research, Exchanging mentors from industry and academia/ formal and informal domain|
|3.||Distributing and democratizing innovation management process by creating 300 innovation centers|
|4.||Industry-Academia cluster development involving industrial estates and GTU colleges|
|5.||Creating sustainable motivation for students and researchers to scale the output|
|6.||Developing relay model of innovation and student entrepreneurship module development at very early stage.|
|7.||Emphasis on process innovation and Socializing Technologies|
|8.||Protecting IPR, Intellectual property rights and bringing Saraswati and Laxmi together (promoting knowledge economy along with innovations.)- Fifty Senior Professors have started creating framework within the university by now to monitor the above.|
|9.||Promoting Frugal/Gandhian Innovations exclusively in Diploma Education Ecosystem.|
|10.||Harnessing the numerous months of efforts of research for productive innovation creation by young technical students and faculties by vertical integration of skills, time and existing resources.|
Innovation Clusters which were developed by early July 2011 by Sristi’s Techpedia.in and GTU among 72 SME clusters in few clusters more than 50 Teams from various Engineering discipline had undergone Industrial Shodh Yatra as below:
|1. Readymade Garments, at Ahmedabad||9. Wrist Watch & Components at Rajkot|
|2. Drugs & Pharmaceuticals, at Ahmedabad||10. Power looms, Diamonds, Gems & Jewellery, Jari at Surat|
|3. Dyes & Intermediates, at Ahmedabad||11. Pottery & Ceramics at Surendranagar (Than) & Wankaner|
|4. Re-rolling Mills at Bhavnagar||12. Ceramic Products at Thangadh and Morbi|
|5. Plastic Industry at Dhoraji||13. Petrochemicals at Vadodara|
|6. Brass Parts at Jamnagar||14. Diesel Engines, at Rajkot|
|7. Chemicals at Vapi & Ankleshwar||15. Electric motors, at Rajkot|
|8. Ferrous Castings, at Rajkot||16. Machine Tools, at Rajkot
Major Innovation Clubs/ centers at SME clusters under the Innovation Council. A team of 50 Co-Chairmen, 160 Directors in 5 major disciplines, 440 Principals and 4000 students are direct members and change maker of this movement who take part from each activity of scouting-documentation and development of each IDP from MSME or social sectors. Each Sankul/Innovation Cluster is having on an average 3200 students and 558 faculties and nearly 3-4 SME clusters surrounding it. 20 members from MSME are specially nominated by Sankul Co-Chair in each Sankul from 5 major disciplines of Engineering and applied sciences. The policy inputs are scouted from each innovation club and discussed at each Sankul level to develop an inverted and inclusive model of innovation management ecosystem.
Anil K Gupta