DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT OF KARNATKA
HARNESSING INNOVATIVE POTENTIAL OF YOUTH
Meeting of Principals of Engineering Colleges, First Grade Colleges and Polytechnics on Establishing Innovation Clubs for Finding Innovative Solutions for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Non-formal and Social Sectors through Project Works of Students of Technological University , General Universities and Polytechnics.
Participants Present: List is enclosed in Annexure.
Innovation is the driving force of national economic through creation of new wealth by promoting entrepreneurships in the country. In continuation with the meeting of all the Vice Chancellor of Universities in Karnataka, Heads of Industry Associations and some entrepreneurs last month one more meeting of all Principals of colleges and polytechnics in Bangalore was called to introduce them to the roadmap for establishing Innovation clubs in Universities, colleges and polytechnics by Prof. Anil Kumar Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad. The constitution and establishment of innovation clubs was expected to be an important outcome. Prof K M Kaveriappa, Executive Director, Higher Education Council welcomed the Principal secretary and all the principals present and requested Principal Secretary to chair the meeting and conduct the proceedings. Principal Secretary thanked all the Principals for heeding to the call despite short notice and for assembling in large numbers. He specifically asked whether there are any issues that they wanted to express and needed to be addressed by the Government. Some of the Principals mentioned that there is a need for training the new incumbents to teaching profession; lack of permission from industries as well as the university for students’ project works in industry; and need for curriculum restructuring providing scope for creativity and experiential learning rather than overemphasising memory based learning and evaluation; need for introducing self learning and problem solving for which short semesters can be introduced. Principal Secretary briefed about the special purpose of calling the meeting and the need for thinking innovatively to usher in era of innovation by incorporating the innovative activities towards solving persistent problems and long standing issues in the society involving the youth by harnessing their innovative potentials. He requested Prof Anil Kumar Gupta, faculty, IIM, Ahmedabad, to address the Principals about the roadmap and tasks to be undertaken for establishing the Innovation Clubs in higher educational institutions.
Prof Anil Kumar Gupta while addressing the Principals of various colleges in Bangalore emphasised that in order to unleash the growth impulses in the industrial and social sectors, promotion of innovation is inevitable. The innovations can be triggered by the MSME Entrepreneurs, officers in Public Administration, local bodies, various developmental agencies, communities and individuals. Many of these innovations do not get further developed for want of technical or institutional support. At the same time, there are a lot of unmet needs or technological institutional challenges of these sectors which have not been addressed for want of strong linkages between academia, industry, social sectors and public administration.
In this context, Prof Gupta reiterated the need for transforming the current approach of project work to avoid repetitive projects far removed from the problems and issues of the real world. The useful projects are also not made available for the benefit of needy MSME entrepreneurs, communities and society at large. He wanted that no student should do what has already been done before, should focus on innovative and challenging problems that have remained unsolved for long. The premium on originality has to be thus high. He also regretted that even the solutions found elsewhere are not available when we want and where we want them as there is no database of such solutions or projects in the State. The problems encountered both in urban and rural areas are aplenty and crying for urgent solutions. Problems of siltation of tanks, sanitation, energy conservation, sustainability are perennially afflicting our rural society. Similarly solid waste disposal, waste segregation, transportation, water scarcity and efficient energy utilization are haunting the urban society. He insisted on engaging the young students of Technological and General Universities, and also polytechnics to solve the persistent problems of MSMEs, Social Sector or Public Delivery Systems, and called upon authorities of Government and the Universities to reorient the Higher Education to make it more productive and purposeful.
He briefed about his experience in Gujarat where the initiative of www.techpedia.in developed by SRISTI provides a platform for building linkages between msme and developmental sector and academic institutions through GTU. The vibrant inclusive innovation eco-system requires challenging the youth in the Higher Education to identify the problems, try to benchmark them and eventually attempt solutions for improving productivity, generating employment, conserving environment and improving the general well-being of the Society. This effort is noteworthy wherein 10000 real life problems of MSMEs were identified by GTU students during summer visit to MSME clusters and solved in situ by around 30000 students of engineering colleges and published on website.
It is proposed, therefore that the students of Technical Universities as well as General Universities are mobilised to identify unsolved social and industrial problems as a part of their curriculum and encouraged to attempt solutions through mentoring and guidance by faculty and industries in their final year project work.
There are about 4.5 lakh MSME units across 30 districts of the State, whose problems and innovations have to be spotted and supported with technical solutions. There are 220 technical colleges, 291 polytechnics and more than 2,000 general colleges. The students of Technical Colleges will visit the MSME clusters, social sector departments/agencies, rural and urban local bodies to identify the problems during summer vacation. They will benchmark these and try to work upon them in the final year.
Each college will have an innovation club to pursue four goals i.e. search, spread, sense and celebrate. The Hon'ble President of India has already launched such a National Innovation Club at Nagaland Central University that has provided a direction to the nation. In this decade of innovation, National Innovation Council, National Innovation Foundation and voluntary organisations such as SRISTI have taken upon themselves a challenge of engaging youth for social and industrial reconstruction. Each Innovation Club, therefore, will become a hub for searching creative solutions and innovations in their hinterland. They will spread existing innovations in those regions; they will sense the unsolved problems and challenges in the industrial and social sectors. They will also celebrate the outstanding achievements in various sectors by inviting achievers to the colleges and learning from their life struggles, to get inspired to innovate in solving social and economic problems. Some of the members of the Innovation Club may also become Entrepreneurs by taking up the technological innovations to the next level. The mentoring of these Clubs will be done locally by the colleges and centrally by a Central Innovation Management Committee (CIMC)at the State level in the Department of Higher Education.
The initiatives for innovation are being spearheaded through the National Innovation Council chaired by Mr. Sam Petroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister, National Innovation Foundation, chaired by Dr. R. M. Mashelkar and organisations like SRISTI, Honeybee Network. Prof. Anil Gupta, Faculty at IIM, Ahmedabad, member of the National Innovation Council and the Executive Vice-Chair for National Innovation Foundation has taken personal interest to replicate the experience of techpedia.in implemented in Gujarat for building similar linkages in Karnataka through SRISTI, techpedia.in. While in Gujarat, they had focussed only on linking technical colleges with the MSME Clusters, in Karnataka, the Government proposes to link technical as well as general colleges with not only MSME clusters, but also with social sectors. The Government believes that innovations have to be promoted in all sectors of Society and involvement of youth will bring freshness in approach and an irreverential attitude towards the persistent inertia in various sectors.
The key advantages of linking academia industries and social sectors are:
a) Promotion of originality so that no student does what has been done before;
b) Connecting the unsolved problems of MSME, public delivery systems, grassroots innovators, informal sectors with the Technical and General Universities;
c) Redefining the current systems of minor and major projects so that students get credit for not only identifying the problems and benchmarking them but also for addressing them in a most affordable manner;
d) Harness collaborative potential of students across disciplines, departments, colleges, and sectors;
e) Recognising that one team of students may not develop a complete solution in one or two terms, developing a relay model of project development so that two or three teams over two or three years in same college or different college may develop a concept into usable product of or service;
f) Challenge can be posed to the students emanating from industries and other segment of societies, public systems, etc., for which attractive rewards can be announced;
g) The aspirations should be to develop this platform as a potential hub for global outsourcing of high-tech problems in future. A mentoring network will have to be developed to guide the students particularly in those colleges where adequate faculty competence may not exist in the specific problem areas. Mentors from public and private sectors can be invited to not only guide students but also to offer their facilities for experimentation and solving the problems.
Student should be encouraged to develop IP protected solutions as well as open source solutions. A fund may be created to support protection of IP, acquisition of IP to make it open source for social and industrial applications; to incubate student ideas which can become enterprises, and pooling of various related project ideas into new products and services.
The innovations can take place not only in technological fields but also in social, economical, cultural, educational and institutional fields. First Grade colleges must be encouraged to develop innovative approaches to solve persistent socio-cultural problems. Various faculties can create entrepreneurial opportunities for artists, teachers, artisans, mechanics, and herbal healers through appropriate mechanism of value adding and value creation.
On the pattern of National Innovation Club all the colleges are required to establish innovation clubs (with proper Kannada word) to primarily pursue four goals, namely,
a) Searching innovative ideas in public service system, MSME, Panchayats, farming/fishing communities, social sectors etc. These innovations should be benchmarked with prior knowledge and practices so as to identify unique contributions.
b) Spreading innovations: the students will share existing solutions within the state as well as outside by common people, NGOs, or other institutions including state government to trigger experimentation, infuse enthusiasm for self-reliant innovation based entrepreneurial development,
c) Sensing and benchmarking unsolved social or technological problems: It is crucial to map such problems in MSME, farms, homes, communities, delivery systems etc., to reinforce the the ability of younger generation to innovate and not live with unsolved problems indefinitely. Without benchmarking, aspirations will not rise and willingness to accept innovations may also not rise.
d) Celebrate: assumption is that there are outstanding teachers, public officials, farmers, artisans, entrepreneurs or even traders who have brought about some extraordinary social change in the local region through own individual or collaborative efforts. Our society did not develop a culture of celebrating achievements of local change agents till outsiders do it. This has to change. Each academic institution will invite such social and technological and entrepreneurial change agents and innovators to colleges and hear their stories, offer them token recognition, citation or a shawl or express gratitude and thus create a positive feeling of recognising unsung heroes of our society.
Prof Gupta identified the following tasks for Vice Chancellor of Universities and all Principals towards establishing Innovation clubs in their respective University or colleges, namely,
Vice Chancellor of each University shall appoint a University Nodal Officer for managing University Innovations club and coordinate activities of College innovation clubs, and all Principals shall appoint a College Nodal officer for establishing and managing the activities of College Innovation Clubs in the colleges.
Identifying the nodal officer in each college and Universities for liaising with MSME social sectors, and other agencies for organising visits of the students and pursuit of their projects. The Nodal Officers shall work with Panchayats, local bodies, District Commissioners, Secretaries of Zilla Panchayats, social delivery systems, artisans, MSMEs, during summer vacation and visit the individuals, communities and the authorities to explore their real life problems, social problems, economic problems, managerial problems, and technical problems. The identified problems will be pooled and a group of students would be assigned to study the problems vis avis current literature and patents.
Universities shall set aside funds for Innovations at Universities and college level.
The University Innovation Nodal Officer in collaboration with Registrar Evaluation of respective University shall pool all the projects done by the PhD, PG, UG and Diploma students during last three years or more will be coordinated by VTU for engineering colleges, Davanagere University for Social Science projects, and DTE for Polytechnics before 31.5.2013.
The board of studies of VTU as well as General Universities and DTE will take up specific agenda item for approval to provide i) Credit for defining problems during summer vacation, benchmarking them and prior art search and developing synapses for final year project ii) credit for final year project starting in seventh semester to be completed by eighth semester iii) ultimately up to 24 credits may be provided to project related work. Including internships of six months.
Universities shall hold a meeting of joint board of studies to work out the mode and means of including innovative project works and credits to be awarded for each of stage namely problem identification and synopsis writing with the help of mentors and guides and finally for project work in the final year.
The university shall map and enlist all the mentors and guides along with their areas of expertise and interest, college-wise and discipline-wise, so that pool of expertise from different places and colleges would be available for the inquisitive students for mentoring and guiding their project work.
There shall be faculty defined problems and student defined problems that can be taken up for project work with the cooperation of guides and mentors.
Each college will nominate ten best projects in different domains for recognition at the level of University, State and at National Level.
The outstanding projects selected by committee of experts under VC VTU and VC Davanagere will be showcased in an innovation Expo in July every year.
The student teams of all selected projects would be offered financial and mentor support for product development, entrepreneurship development, IP protection and wherever necessary, to showcase in product trade fares.
The faculty member who has guided these projects will also be recognised and also through commendations recorded in their personal files/service records for future promotion and also encouraged for future participation in conferences arranged locally or abroad.
The grassroots innovators as well as other innovators may be appointed as adjunct faculty in various Universities also as to provide first hand exposure to the students and faculty about the innovators to think and act.
The workshop of the principals and MSME representatives, ATI and Social sector representatives will be organised in early June to create awareness about the goals and implementation issues of techpedia. in.
A camp will be organised with the help of IP firms and experts facilitated by SRISTI to file patents for the shortlisted projects of last year and this year. The goal is to file at least 1000 to 2000 patents every year.
Prof S C Sharma, Vice Chairman, KSHEC, suggested that there are a large number of sick units in the State and the problems plaguing these sick industries also can be studied by a group of students especially from group of students from engineering background in an interdisciplinary approach.
Mr Ramsubramanian mentioned that his organisation works in collaboration with the most of colleges under VTU and has established Innovation Centres in many colleges and he would be glad to work together joining hands with techpedia.in and State agency in promoting innovation culture.
Principal Secretary directed both the Innovation Officer of VTU and Director DTE to immediately hand over and upload the soft copies of abstracts of theses, dissertations and projects works carried out by students during the last three years.
The meeting ended with thanks to Chair and all the Principals.
(Dr. RAJNEESH GOEL)
Principal Secretary to Government
Higher Education Department