GTU: Bringing Innovation In Professional Education

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Prof (Dr) Navin ShethIndia needs to evolve strategic and timely interventions to address basic issues and to develop cost effective and eco-friendly technologies by reengineering ancient wisdom, says Prof (Dr) Navin Sheth, Vice chancellor, Gujarat Technological University, in conversation with Dipen Pradhan of Elets News Network (ENN).

Gujarat Technological University (GTU) was the first to adopt “Student Startup & Innovation Policy (SSIP)” introduced by the Government of Gujarat. How the policy is contributing to students’ innovation?

Gujarat Technological University (GTU) conceptualises and encourages students to nurture engineering education and entrepreneurial skills among them. With this vision, university had established GTU Innovation Council in 2010. Initially, the council has supported small initiatives to understand the mindset of students. Gradually the centre came into its current form wherein, we have over 25,000 footfalls. Out of these, most of the students were those who started their entrepreneurial journey right from the college. This journey was difficult for them as they had to bootstrap their ideas and had to sustain in their market research stage. This policy will help those students who are still in the preincubation stage and they will get financial assistance for patent filing and prototyping as well.

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How is the Gujarat Technological University helping student startups to get funds for their innovation?

Efforts of GTU Innovation Council was very appealing for Government authorities as well. Industries commissionerate of GoG released a Scheme to assist innovation and startups financially. Under this policy, nodal institutes were appointed to facilitate student startups with “Seed Fund”. Out of 33 nodal institutes, GTU appointed few to provide financial assistance upto Rs 21.2 lakhs of the seed fund to student startups for their innovation. GTU Innovation Council has also conducted various crowd funding event which helped students in their early seed funding stage.

GTU innovation council (GIC) intends to create a sustainable and supportive ecosystem for processes around the needs of discrete innovations and innovators.

What role is the Gujarat Technological University playing to foster Student Startup ecosystem in the affiliated colleges and university?

GTU innovation council (GIC) intends to create a sustainable and supportive ecosystem for processes around the needs of discrete innovations and innovators. In this ecosystem, young students are placed at centre stage with all necessary support systems to help them during different phases of their innovation journey. At GIC, we have been creating interventions, incentives, institution building mechanisms with involvement of stakeholders to support innovators and startups. Institutional mechanisms include: innovation clubs at college levels, innovation sankuls at cluster level, innovation council and allied intervention at central level Innovators, faculty members, industry clusters, startup ecosystems, stake holders, civil society persons, and subject matter experts are engaged to help the needy people. As part of building the ecosystem, we are creating platforms through various conferences, symposiums, festivals, for budding innovators to showcase their creativity and an opportunity to interact with suitable stakeholders. Various pedagogy reformations have also been introduced to induce a culture of innovation at college and departmental level.

How the infrastructure at Gujarat Technological University help technology startups harness their ideas and innovation.

Interventions like blended learning, 100 activity points and other such initiatives have been introduced to further democratise the innovationentrepreneurship support process. We have been continuously engaging various community stakeholders to support experienced innovation, entrepreneurship journey and develop new processes and programmes. Various annual forums and regional activities have also been introduced to benefit student innovators and startups by bringing them on common platform. GIC has also institutionalised various awards/citations/ appreciations at university level to benchmark and appreciate the achievements of startups and the best innovators. Sectoral innovation councils have been introduced to create innovation hub around a particular sector. In our innovation ecosystem development strategy, we are adopting geographical and sectoral interventions to bring inclusion in the entire process. We are trying to unite experts and institutions through our various activities to develop an ecosystem for nurturing startups. With intervention of ICT platforms and similar digital tools we are integrating, engaging and rejuvenating all stakeholders together through virtual means so that a sustainable culture is built. IDP/UDP are a couple of key tools to engage young minds for problem solving and creating innovations. In the process of developing the ecosystem, we are also building capacity, skill, institutional mechanisms and various incentives for all stakeholders so that our innovation ecosystem remains lean, agile, frugal and responsive while catering to the needs of discrete innovators in different space, time and sector.

Since its inception, how many Student startups has the Gujarat Technological University produced. What are the eligibility criteria for students to receive grant and funding for their innovation?

In the tenure of last 7 years, GTU Innovation Council has supported around 150 + startups, and since December 2015, after the section 8 company was formed and approved. We have funded 14 startups and 48 remaining startups are still on board with us for availing the mentoring assistance. We have disbursed around 1 crore of fund to the student startups in last one year. We at GTU Innovation Council welcome all the ideas irrespective of their domain/sector. Our internal process of converting ideas to products, give them proper guidance and environment, and after the Preincubation phase those startups who sustain get the financial assistance and rest all are mentored to become market feasible products.

In our innovation ecosystem development strategy, we are adopting geographical and sectoral interventions to bring inclusion and access in the entire process. We are trying to unite experts and institutions through our various innovation activities to develop an organic and complete ecosystem is created and nurtured.

How many colleges affiliated to Gujarat Technological University are following the footsteps of the university to harness student’s creativity.

GTU has around 450 + colleges wherein all the pedagogical interventions for cultivating the culture of innovation are been conducted. These interventions succeed only when they are considered in pedagogy. GTU had its own largest online literacy course – MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) on Startups, wherein local case studies of student startups are included and this course is compulsory for third semester engineering students. University plays a vital role in defining the guidelines for each policy as we have a rich experience of seven long years. Each of our initiatives have shaped into policy for the university/state or other states of the country. Student Startup policy of GTU has been adapted by Andra Pradesh University, Kerala University, Punjab University and now it is implemented by AICTE at the national level.

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