#StartUpIndia #IITMadras #RTBI #IITMRP #InstitutionalEcologies#OfIncubation #StateSupport #AlumniNetworks #RasaInvestmentsGroup#RIG

Author : Rasa Investments Group

Source : Facebook Archives

First Published Date : 15th July, 2018

Recently an Israeli friend , Gary Sussman , a PhD from LSE , who has worked with the start-up and technology incubator of Tel Aviv University for years told me that I must see the IIT Madras Research Park , and that there are innovations there which are leaving Israel behind in their ingenuity and costings of services and products .

It is India’s first university-driven Research Park (IITMRP).

An independent company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, promoted by IITM and its alumni, IITMRP assists research-focused companies and organizations to set up base and leverage IITM’s strong scientific expertise.

Breaking down the traditional barriers of innovation through its connectivity and collaborative interaction, IITMRP currently houses about 55 companies, including ten incubated by IITM.

IITM has sixteen academic departments and a few advanced research centres in various disciplines of engineering and pure sciences, with nearly 100 laboratories organised in a unique pattern of functioning.

Such ecologies of institutional support do not come up overnight . It is almost a 25 year journey .

To create something fundamental , that builds organic networks within education, research , innovation , prototyping , commercializing and scaling takes a lot of hard work , persistence , building and sustaining teams and patronage .

And deeply understand the value of the golden triad of industry personnel, faculty and students working together to give them a higher probability of successful innovation

In India it has come from the State and Alumni for institutions like IIT Madras.

I have known for years the RTBI or Rural Technology and Business Incubator for years , as a close associate L. Kannan’s two companies were Microspin Machine Works and Skillveri Training Solutions Pvt Ltd were incubated there along with his Indian ATM company Vortex Engineering Pvt Ltd in the earlier incubator called TeNeT .

IIT Madras as an institute has long favored setting up of entrepreneurial ecosystem as an answer towards bringing about sustainable development.

The earliest of them being the Telecommunication and Networking group (TeNeT) that was started in 1996 and the group focused on strengthening of Indian telecom/networking industry.

IITM’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) emerged from the Tenet group with a mission to design, pilot and incubate scalable business models/ventures with a rural/social focus leveraging on Information Communication and Technology (ICT).

The TeNeT group at the Electrical Engineering Department served as an early informal nucleus for entrepreneurial activities and incubated over 20 socially relevant companies.

It was led by Ashok Jhunjhunwala , Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering who is considered a pioneer in nurturing Industry-Academia interaction in India towards R&D, Innovation and Product Development.

He heads the IITM Incubation Cell and Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI). He founded and had been leading the Telecommunications and Computer Networks group (TeNeT).

Notable examples include Midas Communications, which pioneered the corDECT low cost wireless DLL technology and Vortex Engineering Pvt LtdATM that makes very low power consumption ATMs for rural sector applications.

The Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Madras (formerly CTides) (E-Cell) is a student hub for entrepreneurship related activities at IITM. Started in 1998 to encourage and support student-led entrepreneurship at IITM, E-Cell now serves as a platform for pre-incubation support (NIRMAAN program).

IIT Madras’ Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) is a registered not-for-profit society which was established in Oct 2006 as a formal business incubator with the inception support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and World Bank’s Infodev arm.

The aim of RTBI is to support rural and social inclusive start-ups, primarily those that enable scalable products and services for the under-served and bottom-of-the-pyramid segment.

Being housed in the thriving set-up of IITM’s Research Park facility, it provides an environment for research collaborations and interactions/linkages with other organizations in the ecosystem.

With the setting up of the new IITM Incubation Cell (IITMIC) in March 2013, RTBI is working very closely and actively involved in providing support and collaborating with them on different levels.

Apart from the core function of Incubation, RTBI also continually works to understand the thrust areas such as Agriculture, Education, Financial Inclusion, Health and Livelihood through its in-house domain research team.

This is of significant value to RTBI’s ecosystem as it gives a firsthand account of what are the needs and how technology innovation can address those needs and aid in transformation eventually.

Not just limiting to research, but also through various field trials and pilots, RTBI has gained greater insights into some of the needs of rural and other under-served societal segments and how ICT based solutions can address the same. The end goal is to scale such work into sustainable business models following sufficient validations through field trials.

The IIT Madras Research Park assists companies with a research focus to set up a base in the park and leverage the expertise available at IIT Madras.

The “knowledge and innovation ecosystem”, the Research Park breaks down the traditional, artificial barriers of innovation through its connectivity and collaborative interaction.

This helps the industry to create, integrate, and apply advancements in knowledge. The resulting synergy leads to matchless technological innovation and transfer.

Several other incubation-related activities have grown from the culture of entrepreneurship at IITM:

The Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CSIE) was founded in 2010 with a focus on teaching and research related to social enterprise in India

Founded from funds donated by the alumni of the 1981 batch, the Centre for Innovation (CFI) housed within the Central Workshop complex is a student body providing infrastructure, mentorship and support to nurture engineering innovation

IIT Madras Entrepreneurship Forum (IITMEF) is an initiative launched by the IITM Alumni Association to raise awareness and promote entrepreneurial activities among the IIT members, with aims to provide students with apprentice-ship in start-ups and mentorship and expert guidance.

Gary Sussman
Knysna Advisory

Kannan Lakshminarayan
Founder Director at Skillveri Training Solutions Pvt Ltd