Many innovations fail to reach the market, purely due to lack of adequate support and guidance. CIIE hopes to eliminate this technology-market disconnect.

The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) was set up in 2001 by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). The idea of creating such an organisation emerged in 1998 during a meet that included innovators, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, technology administrators and academia. “We felt it was the need of the hour and a national challenge worth taking, considering that innovative technology-based start-ups can impact the growing economy of the country,” states Kunal Upadhyay, CEO, CIIE. The aim of the Centre is to provide managerial support and expertise to foster innovative technologies for speedy commercialisation and to build viable business ventures, reducing the time taken by such technologies to reach the marketplace and eliminating the technology-market disconnect.

 

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The Gujarat government, IIMA and the Wadhwani foundation provided the facilities at CIIE, while the Technology Development Board (TDB) and the Department of Science and Technology, government of India (DST) provided the seed funding.

A nationwide proactive search-cum-competition (Anveshan) for hi-tech and mass impact innovations is conducted by the Centre, with the aim to convert those selected into commercial enterprises. The selection process involves various rounds of evaluation and verification of the IP (intellectual property) status of the product or service. Some of the projects that are currently being incubated at CIIE are GlobalTech, Whirlybird Electronics and Voice Pitara. The Centre also runs a few programmes in association with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Department of Information Technology, government of India.

Supporting innovation

CIIE focuses on two types of innovations: those that are in the high tech domain and innovations that have mass application. Through programmes like Anveshan, the incubator actively scouts for individual innovators in the public, private and informal sectors. Selected innovators are provided office space and access to the incubator’s infrastructure and network resources that help in commercialising their innovation in a limited time period. {quotes}The centre seeks to facilitate the transition of promising high-tech and mass-impact innovations into commercially viable enterprises.{/quotes} One of the core beliefs of the centre is that managerial support is critical for the success of technology-based enterprises. The support services offered are in tune with this objective.

“We sign an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with incubates for providing incubation support and form a mentoring team according to the needs of the project, to commercialise the technology. The incubation period is usually for 20 months and we expect to commercialise the technology during this period. The incubate exits the incubator thereafter,” explains Upadhyay.

The incubator provides the fundamental infrastructure and allied services. Infrastructure support comprises office space, telecom, back office support, library, computing and network facilities and a canteen. Assistance in market research, business plan development, and consultancy on legal and financial matters is also provided. Besides, depending on the actual needs, living expenses and travel assistance are made available to the incubating firms.