(GIST OF YOJANA) Innovation in Higher Educational Institutions  [FEBRUARY-2020]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Innovation in Higher Educational Institutions


Innovation in Higher Educational Institutions


  • The Innovation centres in institutions fosters team spirit and the ability to work beyond classroom lectures. They prepare the students to take collective ownership of outcomes and work on multigenerational products. Centre for Innovation (CFI) is one such platform for students in Madras which is encouraging them to generate ideas to innovate and invent.
  • With a vision to produce leaders, such institutes are undergoing paradigm shifts. In this article, an attempt is made to trace this transformation at institutes like where transformative start-ups were initiated from solutions developed through research and student projects.

Innovation as a Catalyst:

  • These innovation centres also fosters team spirit and the ability to work beyond classroom lectures. It prepares the students to take collective ownership of outcomes and work on multi-generational products. While individual merit brought them to these institutes, working on innovation and bringing complete products to life prepares these students for the real world. Innovation comes to life when their inventions are developed further in the context of the societal needs and wants. Similarly, higher educational institutes such as the IITs are also gradually transforming themselves in to research and development powerhouses catering to the needs of the country.
  • The quantum of students pursuing post baccalaureate degrees are now more than those entering at the undergraduate level. Further, many centres of excellence in various domains of national importance have been set up at these institutes.
  • The National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) originally set up with interdisciplinary faculty to promote advanced research in the domain of combustion has already started producing niche startups in areas like micro-gas turbine, emission sensors, electric planes etc.
  • With over 24 centres of excellence in various domains serving as a fertile ground for idea generations in IITM at alone various and similar institutes such of grouping national importance across the country, these higher education institutes are bursting at seams with solutions waiting from problems.

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Where are the Problems?

The innovation ecosystem can be divided into four buckets:

  • Ideate,
  • Pre-incubate
  • Incubate, and
  • Support.

Role of Pre-incubation:

  • Set-up in the year 2015 to help student teams from CFI, Nirmaan now works with students across the campus to help in their entrepreneurial experience.
  • The Nirmaan 4-stage process helps with problem identification, validation through primary market research, development of minimum viable product/solution and finally to launch the start-up. It is only at the last stage that the students are encouraged to register their company and take the plunge. Till that time, the pre-incubation facility serves as a sandbox for the teams to try out various approaches to unearth suitable problems that their solutions could solve. Teams are accepted in a cohort mode, which enables peer learning and are further paired up with experienced mentors from our distinguished alumni base.
  • However, out of many potential ideas from the CFI and other research labs, only a few are considered for the possibility of a start-up. This is primarily due to the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty surrounding the process.

Way forward:

  • It is heartening to see the rapid pace of the deep tech innovation ecosystem in India. Institutes of higher education, such as the IITs, are adapting to the evolving trend of rapid experimentation and development of technology for the society where it is embedded in. For these institutions, it is no longer sufficient to train and produce good employees.
  • It will be the mandate of these institutions to produce good employers in large numbers that will cater to the aspirations of the next generation India. Our institutions will have to imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurial thinking, which includes rapid adaptation to the societal needs, developing and scaling in resource constrained environments and serving as local points or nodes of innovation and entrepreneurship, to reach our national goal of a $5 trillion economy.

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