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Monday, December 31, 2012

Government of India initiative on Nanoelectronics

India took a major initiative in the 11th Plan to start and strengthen many activities in nanoelectronics, including creation and support of several Centres of Excellence in Nanoelectronics and a nation wide Indian Nanoelectronics Users’ Programme. In the 12th plan it is proposed to scale it up multi-fold through the innovation council, with emphasis on nanoelectronics to cater to India’s expanding requirements in consumer, societal, security, strategic, energy and agricultural areas, and thereby gain technology leadership and economic maturity with more than 10% GDP growth target. With this objective , Department of Electronics and Information Technology, MCIT has formed a sectoral innovation council in order to promote innovation in the area of Nanoelectronics.

Some of the application areas where the Nanoelectronics innovation can have a significant impact are:
1. Societal Electronics: There are many new applications of low-cost nanoelectronics which can transform Indian society, including smart cards (UID), low cost medical diagnostic devices,
pathogen sensors, water purification, environmental sensors, sensors for agriculture and distance education through smarter phones. One needs to realize that, more than half of India’s population is under the age of 25, and one million people a month are expected to join the labour force over the next decade. Therefore we need to develop technologies that help youth excel & acquire skills, which is a pressing need in the country. It could be low cost tablets, training material, distance education tools, IT, or learning aids.
2. Rural Electronics: India’s massive agricultural sector employs about 60% of the population,
yet accounts for only about 17% of total GDP. We need to use innovation/technology as a vehicle to improve productivity in our agricultural sector. It could be by way of sensor networks for agricultural applications or assisting the farmer with low cost easy to use sensor technologies for soil health monitoring. Food security is emerging as the foremost consideration for the inclusive growth of India. The needs in this sector are very specific to our environment and circumstances and the solution should emerge indigenously. Applications of Nanoelectronics in Agriculture is a completely unexplored territory worldwide. An example application is soil health monitoring sensor network which would have a real time sensing and remedial action to assess soil moisture, micronutrients etc. There are several potential applications in enhancing the growth and productivity of this sector.
3. Medical Electronics: Healthcare is a major concern in India and rural health infrastructure is
hardly existent. For example, 14 million persons are infected with TB in India and more than 300,000 deaths occur every year; about 2 million cases of malaria are recorded every year, by 2015 close to 5 million infected with AIDS; 17.1 million lives are claimed by cardiovascular diseases, with 82% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries like India. India is home to about 40 Million diabetic patients. Add to this: 42% Indians live on $1.25 per day ; 22 Million population pushed below poverty line annually due to healthcare expenditure. We need low cost medical diagnostic technologies, medical equipment, point-of-care systems to address these pressing needs.
4. Consumer Electronics: The large and growing Indian markets in telecom, computers, automobiles and entertainment make it possible to envisage nanoelectronics fabrication in India at the large scales required. The presence of such a sector will also provide the capability of chip fabrication for strategic applications.
5. Strategic Electronics: Security is such a major concern in India. There are hardly any technologies that can prevent recurrence of terrorist attacks, the type that happened in the recent past. The technologies that are protecting our airports are vastly inadequate. Vapour phase or stand-off detection of explosives, sensor networks for explosive detection covering the vital installations, protection of transport systems, detection of chemical warfare agents are all problems that are currently looking for a solution. Nanoelectronics can play a vital role in providing a solution to these problems. Besides explosive detection, there are important requirements for IR detectors and imaging, high-speed and high-power electronics, and lasers, all of which are critical in defence, space and homeland security applications. In addition, strategic requirements often mandate that chip fabrication be in a secure domestic foundry.
6. Energy Electronics: Compound semiconductors offer solutions for high speed electronics, semiconductor lighting, optoelectronics etc. where silicon based solutions are inadequate or not available. Energy is an area where innovation can create a profitable playing field in the solar PV marketplace. India is a fertile testing ground for many of these technologies and offers huge markets, if there are cost effective solutions. This could be by way of developing the new nano-based photovoltaic cells that will be critical for the National Solar Mission, or through the widespread use of smart energy meters, and efficient lighting, including white light emitting diodes and organic LEDs.
For further details:
Dr. G. V. Ramaraju
Senior Director & Group Coordinator (R&D in IT)
Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY)
Ministry of Communications & IT (MCIT)
Government of India
Electronics Niketan, 6, CGO Complex
New Delhi – 110003
Telefax: - (011) 24365415
Email: -

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013

India is all set to embrace a new STI policy, salient features of new policy are:
  • The policy seeks to focus on both people for science and science for people and combine the benefits of excellence and relevance.
  • India’s STI system needs to deliver solutions to address the pressing national challenges of energy and food security, nutrition, affordable health care, environment, water and sanitation and above all employment .
  • Change ratio of public to private sector investments in R&D from the current 3:1 to 1:1 within the next five years.
  • India should aim to increase its share of scientific publications from the current 3.5% to over 7% and quadruple the number of papers in top 1% journals from the current levels by 2020. Citation impact of Indian publications must improve and match at least the global averages.
  • within the next five years the total number of FTE ( Full Time Equivalent) of R&D personnel must increase by at least 66% of the present strength.
1. A National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation will be established as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative for investing critical levels of resources for innovative and ambitious projects.
2. The focus of the policy environment will be:
  • Facilitating private sector investment in R&D centres in India and overseas.
  • Permitting multi stakeholders participation in the Indian R&D system.
  • Treating R&D in the private sector at par with public institutions for availing public funds.
  • Bench marking of R&D funding mechanisms and patterns globally.
  • Aligning Venture Capital and Inclusion Innovation Fund systems.
  • Modifying IPR policy to provide for marching rights for social good when supported by public funds and for co-sharing IPRs generated under PPP.
  • Exploring newer mechanisms for fostering Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and science-led entrepreneurship.
  • Providing incentives for commercialization of innovations with focus on green manufacturing.
  • Prioritizing critical R&D areas like agriculture, telecommunications, energy, water management, drug discovery, material science including nano technology, climate change and space technology and promoting interdisciplinary research,
  • Promoting innovations through mechanisms including “Small Idea-Small Money” and “Risky Idea Fund” to support innovation incubators
  • Supporting STI driven entrepreneurship with high scaling coefficients and viable business models,
  • Investing in young innovators and entrepreneurs through education and training.
Treating R&D in the private sector at par with public institutions for availing public funds.
This idea giving in-house R&D units, SIROs and MNC R&D centers equal opportunities would be a game changer. Hope Secretary DST and DSIR would take this as a major challenge and implement it on priority. 

A PASSION TO BUILD India's Quest for Offshore Technology: A Memoir by Anil Kumar Malhotra

KG gas: In search of expertise
As per reports Reliance Industries has shut its seventh well  B4 on the main producing fields of Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1&D3) in KG-D6 block "due to high water cut/sanding issues," according to a status report of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). RIL has so far drilled 22 wells on D1&D3 fields but has put only 18 on production so far. D1&D3, which started gas production in April 2009, had touched a peak of 55 mmscmd in August 2010 before beginning of water and sand ingress in wells.The company had closed six wells since end-2010 and last month the seventh well was shut.

It appears there is no expertise in the country to carry out technology audit (assess the reservoir capacity, optimum production rate,technological challenges and solutions). In this background, reading the book on Bombay High offshore production was highly educative.
Capacity building in technical consultancy  
The author, graduate from IIT, Kharagpur, master from MIT and doctorate from University of California, Berkeley gives a first hand narration of how Engineers India Limited was groomed by enlightened policy makers & bureaucracy and delivered by competent public sector engineers.
Manmohan Pathak a MIT graduate was first Indian Managing Director of Engineers India Limited (EIL) in 1969- a joint venture initiated by Bechtel to build fertilizer plants. But Manmohan had a dream to build EIL as a company that would provide service for any kind of process plant concept to commissioning. The author a researcher with patents and papers on offshore structures was spotted and invited by Manmoha to start Offshore Engineering Department (OED) in EIL. The planning commission entrusted to EIL the responsibility to evaluate various options for India's first offshore terminal at Salaya. From this first assignment, the idea grew that OED could act as the consultant to IOC in the selection, design , fabrication and installation of the system and thereby ensure that the closely held technology in this area could be transferred to India.
The rational for selecting a consultant in preference to an institute or lab was spelled out by author.A consulting organisation is best placed to provide the country with increased skill and bargaining power when foreign technology is purchased, since technological packages can be broken down in a more meaningful manner, thus leading to competitive prices since maximum local participation in goods and services can be built into the total package being developed developed for a project. A cadre of professionals trained in the handling of the new technology over a short period can provide valuable staff support to the government, the domestic industry as well as national oil company in future development.
EIL started as subcontractor to French soil consulting firm TLM in 1973 to carry out studies for ONGC Sagar Samrat.  ONGC discovered oil offshore of Bombay Highway in 1974 and ONGC with NB Prasad as Chairman reatined EIL/ Crest consortium to carry out a design review of the $100 million turnkey contract awarded to McDermott. With the success of first well project, ONGC bagan entrusting design of simple well platforms to EIL.Crest combine. Next milestone was work in 1978 on ONGC's first major processing platform in Bombay Hig, the BHN platform. EIL designed the platform using offshore industry standards and norms. A turnkey contractor was selected to fabricate it in Dubai under EIL supervision. Moving on EIL helped Mazagaon Shipyard (MDL) to set up facilities and fabricate offshore platforms designed by EIL.Finally when ONGC decided to build India's fisrt gas based LPG plant with $100 million investment , EIL became the primary contractor with foreign consultant Kellog international for deign vetting and performance guarantee.
Concluding remarks by author
Life had indeed come a full circle. Thirty five years ago , the civil servant chief executive of the national oil company had told me that we were a nation of beggars and that developing offshore technology indigenously was beyond our ken and capabilities. Thirty five years later, another civil servant, the chief executive of another state owned oil company was telling me that we did not need to develop any frontier technology and that we could buy it instead-equipment, materials and even management.  

Order copy:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

7th Annual Conference of the Indian STEPs and Business Incubators Association [ISBA] ISBA-2013

KIIT-Technology Business Incubator (KIIT-TBI)is  hosting  7th Annual Conference of the Indian STEPs and Business Incubators Association [ISBA] ISBA-2013 Incubation: Adding Dimensions, Spurring Growth Date:7-9th February 2013
Venue: KIIT University, Bhubaneswar
The event will bring together around 400 people representing from Indian Academia, R&D, Innovators/young startup companies, industries, technology providers, funding agencies, mainly Angel investors, venture capital funds and private equity and supporting government departments i.e DST, DBT, TDB, DSIR, DIT, TIFAC, and MSME along with many invited delegates from international Science Parks, business incubators, business consultants and financial institutions under one platform. This annual gathering fosters a bonding and sharing of contemporary thoughts in the fields of innovations, their management, execution and graduation to successful enterprises. 
Last date of registration: 20th January 2013 
For details visit

Sunday, December 16, 2012

India: A Fab-Less Wonder: Case of SMDP

From IPod to I Pad, millions of electronics goods have rolled out of China, the global manufacturing hub. India’s share of global electronic product market is less than 3%. Taiwan had $72 billion of investment in Fabs, where as India stands out as one the aspiring nation with no Fab. Yet, top 25 global semiconductor companies now have a presence in India through their captive centers, working in cutting edge technology nodes. Among the top twenty U.S. semiconductor companies, only two have not established a design center in India. While, Government of India is not successful in attracting manufacturing, appear to have made a significant contribution by focusing on talent supply. Department of Information Technology (DIT) implemented Special Manpower Development Programme in the area of VLSI design and related software (SMDP) and trained over 20,000 engineers. This paper is about SMDP as case study and is based on Impact Assessment of SMDP-II assigned by DIT on IIMA.

This paper was presented in the Forum for Knowledge Sharing annual meeting held at SIU, Pune on 30th November. Download the paper from SSRN

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Q&A By Abhishar team of IIITM, Gwalior

Abhishar is a student publication of IIITM, Gwalior. Vol 2 of November 2012 includes Q&A with me. See them below:

1. What do you presume to be like an X-factor in innovators for the  screening process?

Prior work and due diligence.student innovators could start business with  entry barriers for competitors provided the business is related to their  project/ institute IP.

 2. Whilst observing dozens of technopreneurs for so many years now, which  property would you consider was rarest amongst them?

Speed of conversion from proof of concept to commercial product. Being first timers, the technopreneurs do not have access to commercial enterprises production know-how.And commercially successful products need to be made of currently available commercial components/ sub-assemblies.

3. What was the prime advantage you considered the IP mapping project  would bring to the Indian education sector?

Awareness- the students need to know what someone in their institute knows and what students of other institutes knew. Prior-art is global and students should routinize tracking. 

4. In the thick of a number of successful entrepreneurs, whose name would  you consider worth mentioning as a source of inspiration for our readers?

Inspiration comes from innovators students can relate to in their field to emulate.If their dream is electronic gadgets , then Steve of Apple inspires millions. 

5. During your tenure at IIMA, which part of the curriculum did you reason was the most vital?

Integrating incubator with regular academic programs is an initiative with long term impact to transform great educational institute into a great entrepreneurial university.

6. In your view, what is “Innovation”?

The product sold in large numbers is innovation.Innovation adds to the stock of public knowledge when large number of users benefit from it.

7. What are the critical success factors for a start up in an IT domain?

Time to market- concept to beta version should be completed in less than 6 months and with boot strapping. 

8. In your view what are the three technical innovations that affected lives of millions all over the globe?

Internet, semi conductors and vaccines.

9.. Which is your favorite movie?

Like the (rare )Indian science fiction movies.The current favourite is `Eega in telugu/Makki in Hindi'

I am puzzled that most students do not connect with their academic projects/ learning in B plans of their dream start-up. Teaching may be generic but learning is specific. Can it not be leveraged  when starting enterprise?