Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rural Innovations Network: a profile

When Basil (Paul Basil, RIN's Founder & CEO) decided to target innovations and innovators, it was a journey from the scratch with the idea of keeping it simple. “We decided to focus on areas relating to water, agriculture, dairy and energy, while other areas were looked on case-for-case basis,” he says.RIN’s role was anything but simple in translating ideas to reality. “We had to first search for the innovators, identify those innovations which could work. Then we realised that we needed the resources to incubate them, before we help with patenting and technology transfers.”

Also, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that undertake the manufacturing of the product themselves wanted help after the technology transfer for the initial sales push. “In such cases, we find venture capitalists that could partner the entrepreneur and sometimes ensure that the retail buyer has enough money to acquire the product,” Basil points out.

This learning came through stages, but Basil got a good hindsight into the cycle. Innovators were identified through business plan competitions for social entrepreneurs organised by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS); through innovation patent gazettes; the more recent Lemelson Recognition and Mentoring Programme (L-RAMP) Innovation Awards Programme by RIN-IIT Madras advertised in local language papers and scanning databases of other social networks.

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