Ericsson Innovation Awards were initiated last year in association with the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) to recognise the spirit of innovation among students across seven IITs in Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Mumbai, Roorkee and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi. Projects from IIT Delhi and IIT Roorkee were selected this year for the awards. “The rapidly rising ubiquity of mobile phones and broadband in India is fuelling innovation as never before,” Chris Houghton, head of India Region, Ericsson told Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
India’s entrepreneurial environment is vastly different from the one that prevails in Europe and the Silicon Valley, with a lot of hurdles faced by start-ups here. Do you see it changing now?
Yes the change is quite dramatic. Just like Silicon Valley, India is starting to reap the benefits of concentrated pools of creativity, in which the physical proximity of a wide range of ideas helps individuals sharpen their own thinking. The rapidly rising ubiquity of mobile phones and broadband in India is fuelling innovation as never before.
I think the pace of innovation is going to grow dramatically going forward. What we are experiencing today is really the tip of the iceberg. Globally, and through society, new behaviours are being established and old trends are gaining scale and depth through ICT. The drivers of change can be grouped into people, business and society.
Business drivers such as a more mobile workforce are leading to radical advancements in efficiency, whether it’s across the production line or in the back office.
At people level, we see how technology is enabling increased capability for collaboration, driving us towards highly engaged culture where we are empowered like never before.
Do you think start-ups from some of the leading technical institutes have that big, bright idea to make it big in the market place?
The IITs are a hotbed of talent and enjoy global repute. We received an overwhelming response from students across seven IITs for Ericsson Innovation Awards. A total of 67 projects were submitted. Healthcare, education and Green IT were key themes for these projects. Some
examples of the projects include a human security device that can use any form of communication to alert your loved ones when in a distress situation; Location wise traffic analysis based on social network data.
What are the initiatives that Ericsson has put in place to spur tech entrepreneurship in India?
We initiated Ericsson Innovation Awards last year in association with the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) to recognise the spirit of innovation among IIT students across seven IITs in Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Mumbai, Roorkee and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi. 10 proposals were shortlisted in the month of March 2015. Each shortlisted proposal was given an incentive by Ericsson to complete the initial prototype within two months. The two winning projects: Guardian and Smart Earphone will be supported by Ericsson India financially to the extent of R10 lakh each towards incubating the winning projects at any IIT approved technology business incubators.
What can be done to promote tech entrepreneurship in India?
India has all the key ingredients for becoming a technology and knowledge powerhouse. A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that is conducive to innovation will provide a strong impetus. Public and private sectors needs to come together to help nurture talent and promote innovation in the country.