Celebrating Raskar’s vision and leadership with 200 photos
REDX(Rethinking Engineering Design eXecution) is not a website— it is a platform — a place where there is dialog between users and active collaborators. The REDX bottom-up innovation platform designed for addressing big challenges worldwide is very effective. This model is poised to disrupt how innovation happens — and Raskar sets sights on launching peer-to-peer invention platforms for global impact — REDX!
For four years I have seen how these REDX efforts in cities, states, or regions present great opportunities to test and deploy ideas. This effort convenes people with diverse interests, skills and backgrounds — young engineers, business people and designers — to collaborate openly with government officials, business leaders and academics, as well as with researchers. Together they look for creative solutions to pressing local challenges that can be solved with new technology.
REDx philosophy has helped launch 5 hubs: Emerging Worlds Special Interest Group at MIT, LVP MITra in Hyderabad, REDX Mumbai at the WeSchool in Mumbai, REDX Kumbhathon in Nashik, and DISQ Center in Nashik.
LVP-MITra is the result of a unique collaborative program between the L V Prasad Eye Institute and the MIT Media Lab. The purpose of the center is to address the most pressing challenges in ophthalmology and vision science and is a platform for engineers, medical professionals, designers, technology aficionados, innovators and big dreamers to build the next generation of eye care technologies with potential to enable billions of people in India and worldwide to see.
REDX Mumbaiis the result of a collaboration with the Welingkar Institute (WeSchool). This lab has focused on affordable health diagnostics to impact the masses in the developing world — to create comprehensive health profiles for individuals and doctors. It is now poised to work across other sectors. Since 2014, WeSchool students and faculty have been providing industry research and product analysis, project direction and management for projects in Mumbai and in Nashik. 12 WeSchool management graduates have interned in both Mumbai and Nashik. REDX Mumbai is adding value to India’s “Make in India” vision.
DISQ (Digital Impact Square) Center is the result of a unique collaboration between MIT, local innovators and the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) Foundation that focuses on empowering citizens to help form a smart city. This new center is not a traditional incubator. The hypothesis is that startups are not an efficient model when you have to innovate for the masses. The goal is to crowd source a ‘palette’ of the most important challenges, vet them with citizen experts, and provide funding for a one year program (one year runway) for innovators to minimize the technology and adoption risks. The result is a model of open co-innovation that allows for the building of the best teams, creating breakthrough technologies, and guiding the deployment plan. This collaboration had notable results at the Kumbh Mela in August and September 2015, when 30 million people visited the city of Nashik (a city of 1.5 million citizens). 12 solutions were launched at the Kumbh Mela, including an epidemic tracker, crowd steering that used cell tower data to display heat maps of crowd movement, a foot stepper that used mats to track foot counts and enable authorities to avoid stampedes, a food distribution system, an interactive 3D map, and an app that presented all shops online. This effort contributed to this being one of the most successful major Indian festivals ever: no disease outbreaks, no missing persons, and no loss of life. Innovators in the DISQ Center are now working on challenges across many sectors: education and skills, financial and personal security, housing and transportation, food and agriculture, energy, water and environment, health and hygiene, citizen empowerment and transparency.
These 3 hubs are models to scale. REDX is a unique, bottom-up co-innovation platform designed for addressing grand challenges in emerging economies. Ramesh Raskar is dedicated to enriching people’s lives through disruptive high tech innovation. He combines the best of the academic and entrepreneurial worlds to achieve milestones in improving the lives and health of people in industrial and developing societies. The current innovation hubs, in collaboration with key stakeholders in industry, academia and government, are poised to address themes across many sectors, including food and agriculture, financial inclusion, energy and water, health and wellness, housing and transportation. Using digital technologies such as machine learning, Internet of Things, and mobile devices, the platform is creating digital solutions that will leapfrog current technology with potential to impact billions of lives.
I am familiar with the model of using venture capital and well funded teams to solve some of the worlds problems (I am currently an executive at Meta, an augmented reality silicon valley start-up that has raised 78 million dollars). Raskar’s REDX work shows that in many parts of the world you can use an opposite model to get traction. Start with an impact driven model where it’s not about forming teams: it’s not about venture capital, but about creating a platform for identifying problems. The spot, prob, grow, launch platform inverts the typical venture model.
Below are 200 photos I captured that document some of our work on this initiative. I am proud to have served on this talented team in the role of founding Managing Director for the Emerging Words Special Interest Group, making 10 trips to India in three years, working closely with the team here and there to help execute Professor Ramesh Raskar’s REDX vision. I am excited to see what is to come. I believe that this co-innovation model and platform can impact billions of lives.
Definition of REDX: REDX labsare vibrant ecosystems based on rolling out new and innovative citizen-based technologies to create a framework to support wide-ranging needs of urban populations. The bottom-up innovation efforts all utilize the same methodology, host camps or “buildathons”, maintain a year-round relationships with innovators, and where innovation work continues to progress. Each location is a hub of the area’s innovation ecosystem — bringing together innovators and various stakeholders from government, industry, and academia. Bottom-up innovation is a way to run quick experiments to create solutions in context, and to build platforms to solve pressing challenges in areas such as health, education, financial inclusion, food and agriculture, housing, transportation, and local business.