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AN ECOSYSTEM FRAMEWORK FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TO ENHANCE INNOVATION CAPACITY – THE SVES PARADIGM Mr K. V. Vishnu Raju, Chairman, Sri Vishnu Educational Society (SVES)& M.D. Anjani Portland Cement Ltd. Hyderabad, India Mr Ravichandran Rajagopal, Vice Chairman, SVES, Hyderabad, India Col Dr. T. S. Surendra, Principal, Padmasri Dr. B.V. Raju Institute of Technology (BVRIT), Narsapur, Medak District, A.P. Keywords: SVES (Sri Vishnu Educational Society), BVRIT (Padmasri Dr. B.V. Raju Institute of Technology), SVECW (Sri Vishnu Engineering College for Women), JKC (Jawahar Knowledge Centre) INTRODUCTION India has tremendous potential to innovate helped by its dynamic young population who constitute almost fifty percent of its 1.21 billion people (WB report 2007). The fact that only a small percentage of its youth force has received secondary education acts as a dampener to unleashing India’s potential to invent and innovate. It becomes imperative then to evolve a strategy that would first impel creation of knowledge followed by its commercialization, diffusion and absorption that would catalyze innovation through education, skills development, better communications and availability of finance for early stage development and most importantly through aggressive competition. Education, particularly higher education, has a significant role to play in promoting creativity and generating the right milieu to espouse the culture of innovation. This paper describes "An ecosystem framework for higher education to enhance Innovation capacity – the SVES paradigm" – a framework created in the Sri Vishnu Educational Society (SVES) Colleges of higher education in engineering, pharmaceutical and dental sciences, An Ecosystem conducive to the bolstering of the Innovation capacity or potential of an Institution would essentially involve the harnessing of existing and new knowledge followed by its exploitation resulting in enhanced economic performance and betterment of Society. An education system that fosters creativity and thinking out of the box, in addition to honing the entrepreneurial skills of the students, would be an essential ingredient of such an ecosystem. The Eco-System Framework of the Sri Vishnu Educational Society is centered on creating a student enabled environment in all its constituent educational institutions that, inter alia, would support innovation and innovators through policy interventions of the Management. Towards this end, the Society is making concerted efforts to create a veritable infrastructure of learning that would catalyze the holistic development of the student at the Diploma, U.G. and P.G. levels. SVES is also imparting vocational education to students under a Diploma Program in the Polytechnic College at


Bhimavaram. The training system is aligned to market needs to meet the pre-service training requirements of enterprises. The framework is so structured as to nurture innovative thinking amongst all students and help build effective linkages between knowledge creators and users – the Academia and the Industry.

WHO WE ARE We are part of the Sri Vishnu Educational Society that has in its ambit as many as twelve educational institutions located in three different Districts of Andhra Pradesh– Bhimavaram (West Godavari District), Mellacheruvu (Nalgonda District) and Narsapur (Medak District), near Hyderabad. The total strength of students is close to 13,000 in all the Institutions under the tutelage of more than 1100 qualified teaching & supporting faculty who impart quality instruction from K-12 to PG, that is at the primary, secondary and higher-education levels. The streams or disciplines are multifarious in that they are as diverse as Engineering, Pharmacy, Dental, Basic Sciences and Polytechnic. The Educational Institutions were set up in predominantly rural areas by Padmabhushan Dr B.V. Raju, a doyen of the Cement Industry - a former Chairman of CCI and the Founder Chairman of Raasi Cements – about fourteen years ago with the avowed aim of buttressing the economy of the rural communities and their concomitant induction into the industry mainstream. The vision of the Management of the Society focuses on creating a veritable milieu that facilitates the synergy of students, staff, industry and start-ups for mutual benefit. The ecosystem encompasses, inter alia, Incubation and Innovation Centres, Project Labs, Centres of Excellence, Entrepreneurship Development Cells, Institute Industry partnership cells, Community Centres and Student Activity Centres to aid the holistic development of the students, catalyze creativity and encourage thinking out of the box. Special efforts are made to bridge the gap between what the University curriculum offers and what the Industry needs by exposing the students to courses beyond the curriculum and developing their skills in specialist areas. Innovation has been the key driver to fuelling opportunities for students and this is made manifest in tangible outcomes such as participation and recognition in international competitions, internships in reputed companies, exposure to real time projects, updating of the knowledge base of both staff and students ultimately translating into good placements for students in renowned companies and admission into reputed Universities/Research Labs in India as well as abroad. The ecosystem is also conducive to developing the Gen Next entrepreneurs and leaders. Reposing implicit faith in the potential of its students, the Society has configured a regimen to create or add value to the student by harnessing his/her talent through systemic training in all its ramifications namely skill building, personality development, lateral thinking and career mapping. Such an ecosystem constitutes the key driver to the realization of what was envisioned by the founders of the


society especially in terms of knowledge creation, dissemination and absorption accentuated by an innovation ecosystem. The Universities in India could be categorized as Central, State, Deemed, Private, Agricultural, Open and National Institutes of Importance. With India’s economic growth and the proliferation of industries, the demand on the existing Institutes of higher education is also increasing. The demand-supply gap is becoming more pronounced. The paramount need to provide skilled and trained professionals to the mushrooming industries and corporate houses, in step with the growth in technology, is assuming considerable importance. Seized of this challenge, the MHRD has proposed, under the XI plan, to establish 8 new IITs, 7 additional IIMs and 30 more Central Universities (including 14 that would be World class. Presently there are about 3500 engineering Colleges all over India approved by the AICTE. The proportion of private engineering colleges among all engineering colleges is only bound to grow. It deserves to be highlighted that, as a logical corollary to this, the major contribution towards a knowledge economy and an innovation economy is bound to come mostly from private engineering institutions in future. INITIATIVES TO SPUR INNOVATION AND CONNECTING THE DOTS The paradigm created by the Sri Vishnu Educational Society (SVES) to give the much required impetus to the Country’s Innovation economy is unique for a private Institution. The satellite initiatives or arteries contributing to the Innovation DNA that serves to enhance the Innovation capacity of the SVES Institutions range from the setting up of the Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC) to the Innovation Centre, Technology Business Incubator, Centres of Excellence and the Interface with the Industry, Government and other Universities are detailed in succeeding paragraphs (See Fig 1)


FIGURE 1

* Campus connect *JKC *Internal

* UMASS L * Rowan Universi tyty * IITD

•

NEN - National Entrepreneurship Network

EDC Soft Soft Skills Skills

\

Academia

IIPC

Innovation Capacity Enhancement

Consultin g Labs * APRC * Solar PV

Communi ty Service * Vishnu FM * Vishnu TV

Startups Innovation Center

COE

* IBM * Microsoft ( MISC) * Synopsis * Xylinx * NI * NetEnrich


The IIPC also facilitates interaction with R & D Organizations for conducting joint research work involving the Scientists and Students. The Institute would provide services to the Industry in terms of library facilities, research information, lab facilities and facilities for the Industry where feasible. The Engineering Colleges of SVES are also members of the CII panel of Industries and Academic Institutions. This association offers a perfect platform to align the pedagogy with the requirements of Industry. Consultancy/Piloting Hub. At BVRIT, a Powder Research Center titled the “Anjani Powder Research Center” has been established in collaboration with a Cement Industry (Anjani Portland Cement Ltd). The Center offers consultancy and services to the Cement and Pharma Industries and undertakes limited research in powder technology relating to various aspects of particle production and characterization such as surface area, size, size distribution, shape, flowability, surface charge and cohesiveness. The Center has state of the art equipment and measuring instruments. The Industries involved include Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.,Everest Organics Ltd., Anjani Cements Ltd., J.K Laxmi cements Ltd., Soltex Petro Products Ltd., Mumbai, Associate Soap Stones Udaipur, Rajasthan. Students from different branches are associated with various projects that are multi-disciplinary in nature. BVRIT has developed expertise in solar photovoltaics (PV). The staff and students have evaluated, on a long term basis, different Silicon PV technologies (mono-crystalline, multi-crystalline, Edge Defined Film Fed Growth (EFG) and amorphous Silicon) for a local PV Industry. One of the alumni designed the Data acquisition system innovatively along with final year engineering students. This has convinced a Norwegian Company (Elkem Solar) to have PV modules made in a Hyderabad, India, based PV Industry using Elkem Solar’s Solar Grade Cells, evaluated at BVRIT in their Narsapur campus. This would afford the students and staff an excellent opportunity to test and evaluate technology that is cutting edge. A pilot program, that has been kick-started, seeks to provide real time experience to the students of Sri Vishnu Educational Society (SVES) in collaboration with NetEnrich, a US based IT services Company that has launched the “Network Operations Center” in the Bhimavaram Campus. The main objective of this center is to expose the students to remote infrastructure management. The students, drawn from various streams like Engineering, MCA, Polytechnic & degree will be trained under this innovative program. in various modules such as Operating Systems, Network & Security Management, Data bases, Application Servers & Shell Scripting etc. before they are put in operation. This training will bridge the gap between what the students learn in college and what the industry requires. Technology Business Incubator. BVRIT of SVES has been approved as a Technology Business Incubator by the Development Commissioner (MSME) - Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Government of India under the scheme ‘Support for


Entrepreneurial and Managerial development of SMEs through incubators’.The objective of incubator is to promote and support untapped creativity of individual innovators and to assist them to become technology based entrepreneurs. The avowed objective of the TBI is to promote/initiate, through seed capital, technology-led and knowledge-driven enterprises and catalyze their growth leading to the commercialization of research outputs. The TBI fosters the spirit of entrepreneurship among the younger generation. The BVRIT-TBI has a special focus in some thrust areas like Electronics &Electrical appliances, Nano materials/technology, Information technology, Assistive Technologies and Renewable Energy Technologies. 10 projects have been approved by MSME after due evaluation. The prototype building activity has commenced in respect of the approved projects detailed below. In all cases the entrepreneur is being assisted by our students who get excellent hands on exposure. Our students leverage the experience gained in the EDC and through the IIPC to start product/prototype building at the TBI. The experience at the TBI could launch them as Start Ups • •

IR Imager Night Vision Device ( Entrepreneur, Mr Chandrasekhar of EO2 Systems) Hybrid Solar Air Conditioning ( Entrepreneur, Mr Madhusudhan of Oorja Energy Engineering Services Ltd)

Smart Power Billing (Entrepreneur is Mr Arvind Reddy, alumnus of BVRIT)

Intra Oral Parallelometer Product (Entrepreneur is Mr Venkata Rajesh, an entrepreneur from SVES’s Vishnu Dental College, Bhimavaram)

Manually Operated Mobile Air Compressor for use in Dentistry (Entrepreneur -Dr R. Chaitanya from SVES’s Vishnu Dental College, Bhimavaram)

Effective Use of Spent acid waste from Pharma Plants ( Entrepreneur - Mr Harsha Varadhan, alumnus of BVRIT)

Digital Survey Tool (Entrepreneur – Mr Srikanth Thirumalasetty, T.I.E.S.)

Wind Solar Hybrid System for Drip Irrigation (Entrepreneur - Mr Venugopal, Prolific Energy Needs (P) Ltd)

Intelligent Micro Hydro Power Plant Automation System (Entrepreneur – Mr P. Sridhar, Blaze Automation Pvt Ltd, an alumnus of BVRIT of SVES)

Robotic Auto Sampler (Entrepreneur, Mr Ramesh Datla, ELICO)

Startups: Realizing that Innovation is the key impetus to the Nation’s economy and prosperity, SVES set up the BVRIT Innovation Center in Hyderabad in partnership with start ups (like Notion Ink , Blaze Automation and now Dhama Innovations) and also with established Companies such as Microsoft. The hallmark of this Center, that facilitates


innovation, is the involvement of students from the engineering and Computer education (MCA) streams. Notion Ink, started by incubatees fresh from IITs, came up with Adam, a tablet PC or Smartpad, that was launched recently at the CES, Las Vegas, is undergoing trials/evaluation and is expected to give Apple’s iPad a run for its money in the days to come with superior features in terms of power consumption, visible readout in the Sun etc. It deserves mention that the coding was done predominantly by the students of BVRIT using the Android Operating System. Dhama Innovation’s MD., Mr Kranthi Kiran, an alumnus of BVRIT, set up shop in the BVRIT IC after relocating from Ahmedabad. He has patented his invention that relates to temperature control of apparel using the Peltier effect (quick heating or cooling of the apparel). His temperature controlled jackets, wrist bands etc are in various stages of trial/evaluation by the Armed Forces in high altitude areas (Siachen, Leh etc) and has already attracted sizable capital from VCs and banks. Established in May 2009, the Innovation center is aimed at nurturing new ideas, providing the best of infrastructural requirements to meet the ever growing demands of technological advancements. The projects are multi-disciplinary in nature and leverage the domain knowledge of different disciplines. The students work on different technologies towards transforming their innovative ideas into products that suit the requirements of major verticals in the industry. Some of the innovative gadgets that were incubated at BVRIT - Innovation Center are products on Video Surveillance, Automated Irrigation System, Home Automation and Security Systems from Blaze Automation and the revolutionary tablet PC " Adam " by Notion Ink. The BVRIT City Center. The BVRIT City Centre has been established to offer the students a place in the city for training, internships, working with start ups, attending expert lectures and foreign language classes , using the library/internet and so on. It also offers, inter alia, basic training in Windows and Linux operating systems and related configurations for students of different streams of engineering. Several start ups and small companies are actively working in different cutting edge technologies. BVRIT students are actively involved with all the start-ups/industries such as a) Cybermotion Technologies Pvt Ltd, who specialize in Robotics, Control, Advanced Control sysyems etc., are training 16 students of BVRIT (12 from ECE & 4 from CSE) on VLSI and Embedded Systems. b) M/s Jugular Social Media: Jugular is an innovative Social Media Company building cutting-edge technologies and business models aiming to empower, influence and improve daily lives of the common man via solutions in key Consumer Industries. Jugular is a part of the Startup Leadership Program 2010, a British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur program awardee and an MIT Tech Review India 35 nominee in 2009. Jugular won the startup of the year award for consumer solutions in HeadstartITsAP annual events in 2010.


c) NanoSys. It is a research group in India working towards innovation & training in three prime areas of Nanotechnology, Computational Fluid Dynamics and Process Engineering and Simulation. It is a multi domain services provider, undertaking consultancy in engineering simulation, contract research and development in nanotechnology, consultancy for chemical process industries involving process development and design. d) Adnova. Adnova is a portal development company mainly towards the development of websites related to the medical field. It is executing projects from countries like US, US, etc Centers of Excellence: Centers of Excellence include a) The Microsoft i-Spark Center. An alliance has been established by SVES with Microsoft Corporation and the I Spark program was launched in October 2010. The Microsoft I Spark is a program initiated by Microsoft to help students transform their innovative ideas into products. The program is an insightful step towards bridging the gap between the industry needs and student readiness and, more importantly, it seeks to kindle the innovative spirit of students and catalyze technology adoption while strengthening the IT competencies among students. As a part of this initiative an IDEATION CONTEST is invariably conducted where students are provided an excellent platform to present their innovative ideas in various fields. The best ideas are selected, funded and guided by Microsoft. The projects that have been short listed and which are in the design stage relate to • • • • • • •

External Graphic Memory Self Charging Battery Robot Leg Automated Wheel Chair Mind Mouse Digital Slate Voice Language Translator

b) The Assistive Technology Laboratory. The Assistive Technology Program began in the year 2009 in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, Lowel, USA. Special laboratories were set up at BVRIT and SVECW. The avowed aim of the program was to provide our third year and fourth year U.G. students with hands on exposure to the design and development of products / prototypes, based mainly on micro-controllers and special ICs, for the differently - abled people. It was a small but definite step by Sri Vishnu Educational Society to mainstream people with disabilities into society. As they identified clients and started working on their assistive devices, the students were galvanized into action and leapfrogged into hitherto unprecedented levels of motivation. The defining moment had indeed arrived for the students to showcase their panache and creativity.


At another level, though, the demands on the program had a snowball effect. The faculty and the students, with their limited resources, were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the demand multiplier. It is in this context that an Innovation Research Park is proposed to be set up on 11 acres of land at BVRIT. One of the clients is an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patient. The last preserved movement in these cases is the eyebrow movement. This led to the design of a medical product that can assist such patients to communicate with the outer world to meet their daily needs. Mind mouse is designed to facilitate the patient to communicate. The software is loaded on a netbook with which the patient can express their needs and call at the time of help. The students then came up with an integrated wheel chair that was actuated and controlled by the simple movement of the patient’s head. Two students who are working on this project have entered the TI Analog Contest and their project has been selected for display in the final round of the contest. Other innovative products that have been either realized or are in the final stages of development include an electronic walking stick for the visually impaired, voice activated wheel chair, solar operated wheel chair, learning box etc for the differently abled people etc. c) IBM Center of Alliance. The IBM Center of Excellence was set up at BVRIT and SVECW. Guidance and support are extended by the IBM faculty on R & D projects, software related products etc. The IBM Software Center of Excellence has facilitated the training of faculty and staff on IBM tools. IBM has provided all the software tools and offered professional certification courses to the students from the engineering and MCA streams. Under the aegis of the IBM Academic Initiative Program, a veritable platform has been created for students and staff to familiarize themselves with cutting edge technologies and software tools through a repertoire of modules configured such as the IBM Tivoli Software. An innovative national level Software Development Program titled " The Great Mind Challenge " contest, aimed at solving real life business problems using emerging technologies & enterprise class software, is conducted every year. The BVRIT CoE is now an active participant in the new IBM Academic Initiative program viz . The IBM Community Program. The IBM Academic Initiative, via the IBM Developer Works now focuses on creating customized programs for each CoE. BVRIT was chosen to conduct technical sessions on IBM Software as the part of a path - breaking 27 cities campaign " IBM Devolution 2010 ". This drive under the aegis of IBM developer Works aimed at integrating the academia with skills from IBM developer Work. Inauguration of the IBM Innovation Lab is on the cards that would enable students to take up time bound innovative projects for various verticals in Industry. Interface with Academia. SVES is working closely with reputed Universities such as University of Massachusetts, Lowell (Assistive Technology), Rowan University, USA (Chemical Engineering), IIT Delhi (Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering),


IIIT Hyderabad (Computer Science and Green Buildings), and will soon have an alliance with Purdue University in the areas of Health Science and Renewable Energy Faculty Development. Faculty Development is an ongoing process with expert lectures, industry visits/exposure, AICTE Sponsored and SVES sponsored workshops (1-day to 2week), skill development programs, Faculty Development and Entrepreneurship Development programs. In addition, every Sunday an Expert lecture is organized in the City Campus titled “The Sunday Spark” on contemporary topics to keep the faculty and students abreast of the latest trends in Science, technology and Management. Community Service a) VISHNU FM. Radio Vishnu 90.4, established in Sri Vishnu Educational Society is working with a motto – for the community and by the community. Among many programs that it is developing, the community welfare and Primary health care are of high import. The program concentrates on general literacy for everyday life such as proper nutrition, education about health problems and their control, safe water supply and basic prevention and control of locally endemic diseases and injuries. The messages/programs developed by Vishnu radio can be broadly put under the following heads –Education, Personality Development, Social Responsibility, Health & Nutrition, Environment and Empowerment of marginalized b) Vishnu TV. The Bhimavaram campus of SVES has a TV ACADEMY exclusively for students. In order to improve communication and soft skills of students, VISHNU TV ACADEMY conducts programs in Education, Entertainment, Educare, Events and News Using this infrastructure students are making message oriented films which instill a sense of social responsibility. Among them SANKALP a campus film at Bhimavaram created by our students won the Viewers Award in the Short and Documentary film festival held at Hyderabad -2010. TANGIBLE OUTCOMES IMC RBNQ COMMENDATION CERTIFICATE: SVES is characterized by an Ecosystem

framework, that lends itself to enhancing the innovation capacity of the education system. The IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Commendation Certificate was awarded to SVES recently and this is the best testimony or validation of the SVES paradigm of the Ecosystem framework that, inter alia, provides a well rounded and holistic approach towards excellence in Education and Innovation. The IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award was instituted in 1996 to give special recognition to excellence in organizations and follow a very rigorous process of evaluation. The Award is based on the strengths of an Organization in the context of (1) Transparency in Governance & Ethics, (2) The need to create value for Customer, (3) The challenges of rapid innovations and (4) Capitalizing the Knowledge management.


SUCCESS STORIES Success stories that are emblazoned in the annals of BVRIT history include: Mr P. Sridhar, an alumnus of BVRIT, 2005 batch ECE, who imbibed the ethos of entrepreneurship in the college, has gone on to become the CEO of Blaze Automation that provides innovative solutions to home automation and green buildings, That he is an incubatee in our Technology Business Incubator deserves to be highlighted Mr Kranthi Kiran, an alumnus of BVRIT’s first batch of the Biomedical Engineering stream, has set up Dhama Innovations. He has patented his innovation relating to temperature controlled apparel. He functions from the BVRIT Innovation Center Ms Subhashini, 2009 batch BME alumnus, had that innovative bent of mind which caught the eye of Prof Alan Rux of UMASS Lowell. She had done her project titled “Smart Hat” for patients with spinal cord problem. Today she is working on cutting edge technology at UMASS Lowell as a research assistant. Ms Swarna Rekha, a 2010 batch alumnus, worked with a start up company, Blaze Automation, to come up with an automated irrigation system, patent for which is in process. CONCLUSION The Society is wholly committed to providing an enriched environment of learning to all the students passing through the portals of its educational institutions. The society reposes implicit faith in the potential of the students and has put in place a regimen to create or add value to the student by harnessing their talent through systemic training in terms of skill building, personality development, lateral thinking and career mapping. Identification and Enrichment of the innate talent of students – scholastic and otherwise is the hallmark of the society's ethos and constitute the key drivers to the realization of the requirements - both institutional and corporate – in congruence with what was envisioned by the founders of the society. In order to buttress its strengths and differentiators to stand out as the most preferred Educational Society, the society has set up centers of research and excellence such as the IBM Centre of Excellence, Anjani Powder Research Centre, Assistive Technology Laboratory, BVRIT Innovation Centre & Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning. Such initiatives serve to hone the analytical skills of students and to help them think ' out-ofthe-box '. One of the main focus areas of the Society, that has all its educational institutions in rural areas, is the institutionalization of early-stage small businesses by creating an ecosystem of resources and infrastructure to promote entrepreneurship and innovation amongst


students. Against this backdrop, the Society is committed to nurture the students to be next generation leaders as also team players consistent with the dynamic requirements of the Corporate World. The Society is of the firm conviction that the Ecosystem Framework envisaged encompasses all facets of the holistic development of students, who would contribute to the country’s Innovation Economy. References 1. Mark A. Dutz, Editor, Unleashing India’s Innovation Potential, Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, 2. Peter Haddaway, Fostering Innovation in Higher Education 3. Sheila Tobias, Kenneth R. Smith et al, Toward an ecosystem for Innovation – implications for Management, policy and higher education, INDUSTRY & HIGHER EDUCATION, Aug 2006 4. Prof Ashok Chandra, Framework for National Policies in Education & International Co-operation for fostering Innovation, Indo-EU Workshop on Partnerships in Innovation: Innovation Policy & Frameworks, 17 Dec 2009 5. Website: http://bvrit.ac.in/ , http://srivishnu.edu.in

AN ECOSYSTEM FRAMEWORK FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TO ENHANCE INNOVATION CAPACITY  

The Eco-System Framework of the Sri Vishnu Educational Society

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