Techpedia, an initiative at SRISTI aims at putting the problems of micro, small and medium enterprises, informal sector, grassroots innovators and other social sectors on the agenda of the young technology students across the country. For over last sixty years, India has not utilized much the technological outputs of millions of students. But no more. Can a knowledge society really afford to ignore the huge talent distributed in thousands of polytechnics, diploma and degree colleges of engineering, pharmacy, medical science, agriculture etc.? SRISTI is providing a platform for the industry and academic institutions to collaborate, co-create and foster distributed and horizontal innovations. Most of the ideas mentioned here have been implemented in the state of Gujarat in close cooperation with Gujarat Technical University and initial results are extremely encouraging.
Key goals are :
- Promotion of originality among technology students by making it impossible for them to do what has been done before. This will be possible only when they can find out what has been done before. Techpedia.in already has 1.4 lac technology projects done by 3.5 lac students from more than 500 colleges in India.
- Connecting the technical students with the problems of informal and unorganized sector and grassroots innovators
- Putting the technical problems of MSMEs on the agenda of students so that affordable solutions can be generated in a real time.
- To harness collaborative potential of students across disciplines and colleges to solve persistent problems of our country in formal and informal sector
- Explore kho kho model (relay) of product development. Idea here is that if one student group has brought the solution of a particular problem to a specific stage, then next group within that department or somewhere else should be able to build upon it to take it forward.
- To pose challenges to students to address unsolved problems of our society. Gandhiji had announced an award of 7700 pounds, ( approx Rs one lac ) to redesign charkha-spinning wheel. Today the value of this prize will be more than Rs10 crores. Industry association, government and others can offer attractive prizes for solving those problems which have remained unsolved so long.
- Developing high tech capabilities through network platforms so that India becomes a hub for high tech outsourcing for the world in future and does not serve only the low tech needs.
- Promoting both IPR protected and open source technologies and eventually develop techpedia.in into an online virtual incubator.
- Creating real-time online NMN (National Mentoring Network) to harness skills, insights and experience of senior tech experts for mentoring young students.
It is obvious that no one institution or university can accomplish any of these goals. We have to create a collaborative culture so that problems of small enterprises, informal sector and local communities in disadvantaged regions can be solved in a time bound manner. Every time a student solves a real life problem, he /she does not merely become a better technologist but also a better human being. It is true that not all student groups will be able to solve a complex technical problem in six to ten months. Many will just fail. The universities will have to develop a culture, which does not punish an honest failure. Else, the risk avoidance culture will never evolve among our young minds. Likewise, not all expertise for guiding a student team may be available at the same college or department. Mentors from various sectors, retired scientists, and fellows of national academies should be able to guide the projects in which they have interest. Techpedia.in is thus an aggregator of aspirations of young students to make India a creative, collaborative and compassionate society. Soon, an erp solution would be put in place that so that various stage sof progress can be tracked on line. Even for recruitment, companies can track the chosen projects if allowed by the students and faculty team and thus select bright hard working teams. They can pose their problems at the portal too. Each university can develop it sown tracking system if it so wishes.