Rural start-ups: making a policy and institutional highway


I inaugurated the GIC unit set up by  Subhash ola, a Presidential  Grassroots Innovation Award winner of NIF at Behror, midway, Delhi-Jaipur highway. He invented a very cost and energy efficient way of recycling steam to generate power, and/or improving efficiency in textile, food, pharma, plywood industry etc. Sixty per cent saving in water and fuel use was achieved by using good science and intuitively smart technology. Originally, he had developed a machine to do this for making khoya, milk product. Then he met several other partners like sunil swamy and a few other friends to expand the application of this in other domains. Subhas can generate power at less than rs 1.5 per unit,  three times cheaper than existing thermal Power plants. He has an order book of about one crore already and looking at the rate at which orders are pouring in from all over the country, including Surat in Gujarat, he hopes to achieve 10 cr rs turnover next year.

He is indeed one of the  fastest growing start-up at grassroots level in the rural areas. Thanks to the mentoring  support by NIF’s incubator Nifientrec funded  by Nstedb, DSTIndia, and an investment soon, Subhas is likely to achie his goal. His patent is yet to be granted like hundred more like him. There is yet no fast track in patent office for socially useful start-ups. Out of more than 800 patents filed by NIF, not one ten per cent have been granted yet. Surely, this is one step that can be immediately taken by the government. I will further suggest that let there be national IP pooling foundation which takes two to five percent equity in each patent in lieu of filing and examination fees. Of course such a privilege need to be given to rural or young start up in urban areas may be recommended by either academic or voluntary organization established in the field. Our filing rate will go up dramatically, and so may also licensing or commercialization rate. More the disclosure, lower the transaction cost of budding entrepreneurs and investors, few as they are though.

Coming back to subhash’s story, I had the opportunity of meeting his parents Chand Kaur and father Srinivas, both deserved a special commendation for letting subhash take risk, set up a large unit, and seedrems he thought he wasn’t capable of. His wife Roshni had put up with his ideiosyncraices. In fact there should be special felicitation for wives/spouses  of innovators, how much of roughness, curves and constraints they have to live with.

His enterprise will be scaled up soon. But how did he get in touch with Honey Bee Network. As I have explained in my recent book, Grassroots Innovations: mind on the margin are not marginal minds (2016), it is the volunteer like Jai Singh who connected him to honey bee network  On our own we would not have been able to find thousands of such innovators scattered all over the country. I am leaving in a day’s time for Chmba where I walk in Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh looking for innovators with my students. From Nov 27-dec 3, we pursue 38th shodhyatra in Nagaland ( we hope that more and more volunteers will join the honey bee network,


Dr Vipin kumar director, NIF and his team of Tushar, and other of National Innovation foundation deserve appreciation for this great start of their incubator NIFCIENTREC. Volunteers welcome.


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place