Cultivating curiosity, creativity and collaboration: supporting young tech students

Cultivating curiosity, creativity  and collaboration: supporting young tech students

I met during the last few days, hundreds of creative people in India and outside. Young and old, highly trained and not so educated, students and  professionals,  bubbling with energy and wanting to make a difference. What was the common refrain: a) how can they get technical advice to do better, b) will somebody like to take my idea to market or help me to do so, c) can i get small funding top improve my prototype and get it properly  tested, d) how can i know more about similar efforts elsewhere, e) what i shall do get patent, and so on….

National innovation Foundation can answer these questions for the innovators from informal sector or from children. But when it comes to formal sector, or professional or technology student, we have only platform developed by sristi.  But it can not yet fund these ideas. Some day it will. Till then it can only help encourage and link creative people with each other and mentors.  There are a large number of  incubators and perhaps they also have constraints which prevent them from helping more than a dozen or more creative people. We are talking of tens of thousands of  creative people having ideas for commercial or social diffusion. But why is it so difficult for us to support such creative people. Gujarat, which is one of the most prosperous states but files only a few hundred patents a year, can easily surpass all the states.  When i saw the innovations show cased by diploma engineering students only from three or four polytechnics  from Surat, Mehsana and Baroda, part of Gujarat Technical University, i was convinced that we are very working very hard in the state in suppressing the creativity of our young body and girls. Despite huge educational fees and other funds lying with Gujarat Technical University, the management is not allowed to invest in the ideas of students, provide assistance to file patents, and incubate these ideas to take them forward. Why should it be difficult for state and central government to invest in the idea of young technology students? Learning from experience in Gujarat, Punjab Technical University is reported to have already sanctioned about 3.5 corers rupees per annum to provide prototyping assistance to final year students with maximum amount of Rs 25000 per student.  Dr Samir Brahmachari, DG CSIR and Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was so motivated by the review of the exhibition organised in  IIMA campus that he felt that there existed a natural synergy between CSIR-800 mission of CSIR  and what GTU was trying through partnership with of sristi.

CSIR is likely  to set up an Innovation Complex at Ahmedabad  which will hopefully fill an important gap in the innovation eco-system. By that time state government might also recognise the potential of our young technology students in different disciplines and decide to invest in them through a non bureaucratic channel of system hungry for results.  We also need to set up social  innovation sanctuaries  in inner cities and remote areas of every state to nurture, and network the ideas of common people, promote collaborative learning and foster social and ethical networks. The growth impulses from such a model are bound to be more inclusive and intimate.

Anil K Gupta