A dream factory not too far in the distant future


Madhumathi D. S. | The Hindu | 3 February 2013


Innovation push: M.K. Sridhar, member-secretary and executive director of the Karnataka Jnana Ayoga; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon; and M.N. Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary, Commerce and Industries, at the presentation of the Amulya 2012 awards in Bangalore on Saturday. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.


Have you dreamt of a magic gizmo that would make the garbage heap outside your house vanish? Of a smartphone that runs on without needing a charger? Or perhaps a vehicle that can rapidly wheel you home through Bangalore’s traffic maze every day?


Not too far in the distant future, you may be able to trade those zany ideas into usable products at a place near Bangalore. You name it, and a research institute, modelled like Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, will convert such incredible ideas into tangible products. The Karnataka Innovation Council says it plans to create its local version on 250 acres of land at Muddenahalli, the birthplace of the industrialisation icon, Sir. M. Visvesvaraya.


It is still early days yet for the local ITRI-like plan, but the State is serious about having an ideas-to-products entity near Bangalore and to make it among the world’s innovation zones, according to M.N. Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries. A committee, headed by C.N.R. Rao, is crafting the details of the plan while Mr. Vidyashankar has led a team of technopreneurs from the State to Taiwan four times in the past year.


“Soon, there will be a day when we will need innovation on demand. At ITRI in Taiwan, you can get prototypes of an idea in six months and churn out products [almost at will]. We are trying to replicate the ITRI model and make Bangalore and Karnataka the innovation hub of the country,” Mr. Vidyashankar told The Hindu on Saturday on the sidelines of a patent awards event of the Innovation Council. No other city in the country has the kind of R&D lab density — 376 labs — as the city has, he said, adding Pune and the National Capital Region, each with around 100 labs, come in next.


Bangalore also needs to emulate Taiwan’s art and pace of patenting — almost five U.S. patents a day, he said. The scientist-rich ITRI describes itself as a non-profit, applied research and technology services organisation that has spawned a few names in semiconductor and IT products space.


The Innovation Council, a part of the Karnataka Jnana Ayoga (Knowledge Commission), gave away Amulya 2012 awards to 36 ‘ideators’ from the State, including individuals and small and medium enterprises.


Five of them got a cash award each of Rs. 25,000 for getting an Indian patent post-January 2011; 31 others received Rs. 15,000 each for filing a patent.


Biocon Chairperson and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw gave away the awards.


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