After a not-so promising start at the beginning of this decade, India has been climbing up the Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings in the last couple of years—moving to from 81 in 2015 to 60 in 2017.
According to a 2016 Capgemini study, India was the best innovation destination in Asia and the third best in the world. The increase in innovation investment in the region was attributed in part to “the government and other public-sector initiatives that seek to establish India as digitally empowered society and nurture innovation.”
The improvement in the country has been remarkable say experts although a lot of grassroots innovations seem to be falling under the radar.
What is the India Innovation Growth Programme 2.0 (IIGP)?
Initially set up by Lockheed Martin Corporation, Industry Chamber FICCI and the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas, Austin in 2007, IIGP has continued to nurture brilliant ideas and concepts from innovators across the country in the ten years since.
This year’s edition was launched in March 2018. Established by the Department of Science and Technology (Government of India), IIGP 2.0 (launched in 2017) has a funding of $2 billion and will go on till 2019. Along with Lockheed Martin and Tata Trusts, the programme aims to drive industrial and social innovation using tech-based solutions. IIT Bombay and MIT are partners as well.
Fortunately, IIGP has achieved some measure of success unlike so many government initiatives that never see the light of day. The Second Impact Analysis Report by Ernst & Young (2015) stated that the long-running public-private partnership
- Mentored and supported (funded, incubated, accelerated) over 400+ innovators
- Generated 300+ commercial agreements
- Led to economic value of $900 million for the country
Developing entrepreneurship, along with fostering innovation, is an important focus area of the programme. By 2020, the Indian economy is expected to become the third largest, and creating top-quality solutions, which are affordable and accessible, to better life and taking Indian innovations to the global market are indubitably key cornerstones of the growth strategy.
How does IIGP hope to spur innovation?
It holds two types of challenges, comprising three phases of ideation, innovation, and acceleration, to meet social and industrial innovation goals.
This year, in the University Challenge, there are 13 focus areas ranging from space debris and IoT to sustainable energy and AR/VR. Mentored by IIT Bombay, the top 30 teams, 15 for social and 15 for industrial, go to the ideation phase.
At a down-select event, ten of them are granted ~USD15k to get the prototype/proof of concept to be ready for the next step at the end of a year. IIGP 2.0 partners mentor the top four teams at an IIM Ahmedabad boot camp. Four winners are given ~USD38k, helping them go to the last phase: acceleration.
Periodic reviews and workshops prep them to be as good as startups to enter the innovation phase via the through the Open Innovation Challenge, which has 11 focus areas in the industrial sector and 10 in the social. After the first level of screening, 50 of the tech community participants enter the IIM Ahmedabad boot camp, followed by an innovator’s competition. The fortunate top 10 receive seed funding, incubation support, and mentoring, a visit to the MIT campus, and get meetings with investors. The top 4 “work in parallel” with the top 4 from the university challenge to vie in the last phase. These teams travel to meet MIT experts for further guidance to take the PoC to the market. (The website has all the information about the programme—benefits, partners, focus areas, impact analysis reports, evaluation criteria, awards.)
What does this mean for India’s transformation?
Touted as the “foremost technology acceleration platform,” IIGP has done much to make India’s startup ecosystem as vibrant as is it is now. Many innovators have been given complete support and resources to take their products from ideation to commercialization. For instance, more than a few have been scaled further through XLr8AP (Andhra Pradesh technology business accelerator), FICCI, and the University of Texas, and the Millennium Alliance Program. This programme which stresses on innovations with significant social impact or cutting-edge technologies, has made great strides in terms of technology commercialization and capacity building.
After all, India is happily riding a giant entrepreneurial wave now. PM Modi’s Startup India campaign and the Make in India initiative are hoping to be growth engines, create millions of jobs and enhancing the lives of people at all levels of the society.
Let’s look forward to some unicorns!