Interview

What are the growing opportunities in Innovation & Entrepreneurship for students? | Abhay Jere

Journey of Abhay Jere as a CIO, Ministry of HRD, Govt. Of india –

The journey is very exciting. Apart from my life sciences research which I used to do at persistent, I was very keen on doing national level hackathon and state level hackathons and in that context I got in touch with Ministry of HRD before years back and we did our smart India hackathon 2017 which was the first edition and it was a grand success. So subsequently the government wanted me to device more plants for creating, promoting innovation ecosystem within educational institutions. That was the reason why the post was got created and after interview and due process I got hired as Chief Innovation Office for Ministry of HRD. As Chief Innovation Officer, we are trying to come up with a holistic approach for promoting innovation ecosystem within educational institutions especially higher education institutions. So we are doing policy interventions, three days back we actually announced students national policy for start-ups of students and faculty especially. If faculty or students are keen on doing their own start-ups what should be their guiding framework so that national policy for start-ups was announced. Then we are doing initiatives like smart India hackathon, then we are scouting large number of great ideas from students to whom we can give support and funding to convert them into start-ups. We are handholding about 1500+ institutions through our program called Institutional Innovation Council and on monthly basis we are guiding them to ensure that the Innovation ecosystem gets nurtured in their campuses. Apart from that one very interesting initiative which we are doing is atal Innovation ranking, so after doing all these efforts we want to measure what kind of impact we are creating and for that we started ARIIA through which we measure the Innovation index of an educational institute.

There is huge opportunity for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for students. At any given time point in India, we have 80 lac students who are doing engineering and technology and every student is expected to do some cool projects for six months to one year in their 4 years of academic course. We have seen that large number of great ideas are coming out while they are doing these projects and some of the ideas have potential to be converted into Entrepreneurship or start-ups. So MHRD and All India Council for Technical Education I’d working quite aggressively with these institutions to identify these great ideas and fund them for example. Last month we started scouting drive and we are initially identified about 1600 projects from across India. Those projects were screened for identifying which ideas would be great and could be taken forward. And eventually after three rounds of screening, we had 43 ideas shortlisted for demoying to honorable HRD Minister and now MHRD and AICT will explore on how we can fund these 43 ideas and handhold them so that it can be converted into start-up.

Innovation cell was established in MHRD to comprehensively look at a mechanism to develop a mechanism so that innovation ecosystem gets developed within our higher educational institute so we are looking at policy interventions, interventions through events, we are handholding institutions and finally we are also measuring the impact of all our efforts through atal Innovation ranking.

Smart India hackathon is very different in one sense and very similar in other sense. When we talk about the similarity the format is similar where we ask students to create solutions in 36 hours or 48 hours similar to what corporates do but how different Smart India hackathon is where we ask students to solve problems which are relevant to India. For eg- We go to institutions like ISRO or Department of Atomic Energy or Ministry of Railways and identify the problems which these ministries are facing and we give it to the students and we request students to actually come up with innovative solutions. If we like the solutions the ministries work with these students to ensure that the solutions get deployed within those ministries.

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