Section II Institutionalizing innovative culture in India: NIF


Section II. Institutionalizing innovative culture in India: NIF
The Union Budget of 1999 included the announcement for setting up of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF). The purpose was to build the National register of inventions, innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge, support value addition research by scientists as well as innovators at grassroots level, setting up incubators to convert innovations into products and enterprises and eventually make India a global leader in sustainable technologies.

NIF was set up in in February 2000 supported by Department of Science and Technology to achieve the goals essentially through a non-governmental spirit and by drawing upon the Honey Bee network and its collaborating partners. The objectives of NIF are:

Objectives

To help India become an innovative and creative society and a global leader in sustainable technologies by scouting, spawning and sustaining grassroots innovations.

To ensure evolution and diffusion of green grassroots innovations in a selective, time-bound and mission-oriented basis so as to meet the socio-economic and environmental needs of our society.

To provide institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining, and scaling up grassroots green innovations as well as outstanding traditional knowledge and helping their transition to self-supporting activities. It seeks self-reliance through competitive advantage of innovation-based enterprises and/or application of people-generated sustainable technologies at grassroots level.

To build linkages between excellence in formal scientific systems and informal knowledge systems and create a knowledge network to link various stakeholders through application of information technology and other means.

To promote wider social awareness, and possible applications, of the know how generated as a result of these initiatives in commercial or social spheres and encourage its incorporation in educational curriculum, developmental policies and programs.

NIF pursues each of five of the key functions described below through a National Coordinator. At present only two National Coordinators (NCs) are in place for Scouting and Documentation and Research and Value addition. Other three NCs are being recruited. The Intellectual property function is being looked after through four fellows hired for the purpose.


A Scouting and Documentation

Scouting and Documentation of the innovations is the first step towards the fulfillment of the mission of NIF. Scouting involves extensive fieldwork; travel in rural and urban areas, search for ‘odd balls’- the experimenters, local community and knowledge experts in the society. The key activities are::

  • To coordinate with various governmental and non-governmental agencies to mount national campaign to scout innovations with the help of grassroots level functionaries of education, agriculture, rural development, small scale industry, Panchayati Raj institutions, etc.
  • To screen, document and verify the claims about these innovations through various networks of scientific and other institutional initiatives as well as through Honey Bee collaborators, existing databases and field visits.
  • To generate incentive mechanisms for for innovators.
  • To provide assistance in forging decentralized networks of inventors/knowledge experts and strengthen the Honey Bee Network.
  • To obtain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) of the providers of knowledge.
  • To share the innovations permitted in public domain with the knowledge providers through Honey Bee newsletter and other media to enrich the repertoire of the local communities and informal knowledge experts and to support shodh yatras in different parts of the country.

B. Dissemination, and Database Management through Information and Communication Technology ( ICTs) applications

The entire effort of scouting and documentation leads to the development of a database of innovations and traditional knowledge aimed at building the National Register. The process involves using various Information Technology and database applications for horizontal networking among innovators and traditional knowledge experts as well as other stakeholders. In addition to this the multi-lingual approach to the database development is the main task ahead. The activities involved are:
  • To develop and maintain the National Register of Innovations (contemporary innovations and traditional knowledge), database management, electronic networking, web based management of value chain for grassroots innovations, coordination with various regional language portals and managing National Grassroots Innovation and TK Management Information System.
  • To develop multi language, multimedia kiosks at various public places, educational institutions and local bodies and help establish decentralised Indian language databases of innovations and Traditional Knowledge.
  • To coordinate dissemination and publication activities of NIF.
  • To manage the archive of all communications and maintain effective touch with latest trends in technologies which can be harnessed in support of grassroots innovators.


C. Value Addition and Research & Development

Most of the innovators and/or traditional knowledge experts need optimization in design process or product formulation through blending with modern science and technology inputs. Market prospects for many innovators will be very low without proper value addition. Efficiency gains can be made by creating technology networks. The Research and Development is a key focus of NIF. It provides a platform for the synergy between formal and informal science and technology, institutions and knowledge system. The tasks involved include:
  • To coordinate with public and private sector R & D institutions, people’s organizations and rural and urban innovators themselves to add value to local innovations.
  • To develop product development plans and help the grassroots innovators mobilize funds from TePP and other such programs within and outside the country.
  • To build product development teams on contractual basis to get the products and/or services developed through licensees ensuring appropriate benefit sharing arrangements.
  • To set up and help coordinate GIANs in different regions along with other national coordinator.
  • To obtain help of eminent scientists and technological experts from various fields as a part of the Research Advisory Committee, or otherwise which will guide the activities of NIF.


D. Intellectual Property Rights Management

The only resource in which poor people are rich is their knowledge. Protection of the intellectual property rights becomes necessary to ensure knowledge based approach to work. The activities necessary to achieve this goal are:
  • To coordinate with various intellectual property institutions and attorneys to mobilize pro bono or paid help for grassroots innovators to file patents, trademark and other means of IP protection and also directly file applications on their behalf.
  • To pursue with the government authorities, the possibility of NIFproviding thecertificate of inventions/unique Traditional Knowledge accompanied bymedium termprotection so asto reduce transaction costs of the IP offices and the innovators.
  • To coordinate with WIPO and other international patent offices to secure IP protection for grassroots innovators globally wherever applicable.
  • To provide assistance to innovators to enter into licensing arrangements with entrepreneursfor transferring technologies.
  • To help pool part of the license fee obtained from the innovators towards an innovation fund for supporting innovators.
  • To help in prior art search so that innovators can maintain their competitive edge.
  • To screen ongoing patents on Indian traditional knowledge so as to oppose the improperly granted patents, particularly dealing with knowledge/innovations/practices entered in the National Register.


E. Business Development & Micro Venture

Value chain for green grassroots innovation will require financial support at different stages of product cycle. Initially support is required for improving the attributes of the innovative product/prototype through R&D linkages. This initial market assessment has to be followed by micro venture support for converting innovations into enterprises. The various activities needed for the purpose are:
  • To coordinate with various entrepreneur/industry associations, management institutions and incubators to mobilize mentoring and management support for grassroots innovators and TK holder.
  • To coordinate with private and public sector industrial and financial institutions and associations to link innovations with investment and enterprise wherever possible.
  • To help promote various innovations and outstanding TK through market and non-market channels.
  • To encourage various industry associations and other developmental bodies to set up mechanisms for licensing innovations for business development and equitable benefit sharing with the innovators and TK holder.
  • To help raise resources for pursuing various activities or for innovation value chain.
  • To help set up the National Micro Venture Fund through public and private participation and mobilize incubation fund and venture capital for the innovators and TK holders.

A: Scouting and Documentation of Grassroots Innovations

To scout grassroots green innovators and traditional knowledge holders who had solved a local problem entirely through their own effort without any outside help requires a massive campaign around the country. The knowledge so documented requires Prior Informed Consent of the innovators and Traditional Knowledge holders, besides verifications in the case of those chosen for commendation, awards and support for value addition and commercialization. National Innovation Foundation has drawn upon a variety of approaches for scouting and documentation evolved by the Honey Bee network for its national campaign for over last decade and a half.

The documentation and dissemination are to some extent simultaneous processes. Hence, the dissemination of documented innovations and traditional knowledge became integral part of the most of the methods used for documentation of grassroots innovations. Honey Bee network has been able to mobilize large number of students from rural (and some urban) colleges, rural youths, grassroots functionaries of rural development and other departments of the state government, teachers and development workers and individual volunteers or what we may call ‘NGIs’(Non-Governmental Individuals) for documentation and dissemination.


Various methodologies and approaches used for documentation and dissemination are:


i) Survey of Odd Balls in the Villages through Students.

Initially about 100-120 student volunteers from various Gandhian institutions in Gujarat are selected every year by the Honey Bee Network for about two months during the summer vacation. They are given simple orientation training in small groups for scouting and documenting innovations and traditional knowledge. They are encouraged to appreciate the grassroots innovations created by their family members and neighbours in the village to begin with. The students are asked to narrate some of their own experiences, which were interesting, intriguing or inspiring. By underlining the ones that we find counter intuitive or less obvious, we convey what we are looking for. The process of training gets demystified and the purpose of scouting becomes clear because the examples of what we are looking for are drawn from the scout’s own experience. The students then survey different villages. They also collect addresses of a few farmers who either know about the innovator concerned and/or have fields adjoining the fields of the innovative farmer. We write letters to these contacts later to have a first round of confirmation. Later, another student/field investigator revisits each site to avoid any error in the process. The best scouts are given prizes in the annual Honey Bee network meeting.


ii) Organizing Competition for Scouting Innovations

Competitions have been organized in various parts of India among students and grassroots functionaries of the state government. Survey forms have been developed to seek brief information about the innovations scouted by the participants. Application forms, procedure and other details are explained through meetings in schools/colleges. Voluntary teachers coordinate such contests in their schools and ensure that students work in the spirit of fulfilling their curiosity to learn from informal knowledge experts in our society rather than to earn a small honorarium. For launching competition among the grassroots functionaries, workshops are organized to explain the purpose of scouting campaign, as well as to expose the participants about the earlier experiences in scouting. A committee of three persons evaluates the entries sent in by the participants and the winners are awarded prizes and certificates in the network meeting. Some of the outstanding innovators identified through competition are also honoured at such meetings. Many students and functionaries can participate in this activity. Revolving trophies are given to the best district official/development agency which scouts the most interesting innovations and traditional knowledge. We have not succeeded so far to institutionalize such a process in many states but efforts are on.

Though one finds that same or similar traditional knowledge and in some cases even innovations are recorded from more than one place, we do not discourage this. This helps us to learn about the capability of local communities and individuals to evolve sometimes similar solutions to same problems independently, autonomously and simultaneously. In some cases, such a knowledge or innovation may indeed have diffused from place to another. Our experience so far has been that many innovations/traditional knowledge are discovered from unexpected quarters within a very short span of time through such competitions.


iii) Scanning of Old Literature

There are many visionaries and experts at the regional level who did not get their due credit and recognition just because they did not publish in English. As a result many times it so happens that we end up giving credit for ‘reinventing the wheel’. One of the purposes of scanning the old, vernacular literature is to bring these unaccredited knowledge systems to light. We have collected old books from civil society, old institutions and stalls, NGOs and vendors of old books. We are trying to reprint some of these books. Particular mention may be made of a book by Gangaben, who became a widow at an early age and published a compendium of 2080 formulae for self employment based on local knowledge way back in 1898 in Gujarati language.

iv) Agricultural and Cultural Fairs

Agricultural fairs are vibrant traditional institutions in rural India where people assemble in large numbers either for religious or cultural celebrations. Honey Bee network members participates in such fairs by putting up stalls. Many innovative volunteers sometimes set-up and run these stalls. In addition a computer for accessing Honey Bee database, posters, leaflets and other publications in local languages are kept at the stall. Many farmers, artisans, community leaders and professionals visit the stalls and get information about the innovations developed by other farmers. While accessing this knowledge base, they also share their own innovations with Honey Bee network members.

v) Shodh Sankal - a local network of grassroots innovators

To generate lateral learning environment among the grassroots innovators, SRISTI has initiated the concept of Shodh Sankal - chain of experimenting farmers. The idea is to bring together experimenting farmers and discuss the results of trials that farmers have taken up on their own to solve various local problems. This discussion also enhances the esteem for local knowledge system. It is possible to generate `lateral learning’ among farmers by sharing innovative practices found suitable in one region with the farmers in another similar region after on farm testing/trials if necessary. This could help to speed up the process of technological change in regions where formal technology generation system has not been very successful, such as dry regions, mountainous regions and other disadvantaged areas. Even in less risk prone regions it cannot be assumed that an innovative technology will diffuse on its own just because some farmers in a village have evolved it.

vi) Shodh Yatra (journey for exploration)

Based on the experiences of several years, the network launched the concept of Shodh Yatra in 1998. The journey of exploration is organised on foot from one village to another for 8-10 days covering maximum of about 250 kms during extreme summer as well as winter. Innovative farmers, artisans, students and scientists join Shodh Yatra and walk with the objective of participatory learning and dissemination of information as well as spreading experimental and inventive ethics among communities. Local experts whether in traditional knowledge or contemporary innovations are honoured at their door step in these villages. Honey Bee database is shared with farmers in the local language through laptop computer and other publications. A mobile exhibition on medicinal plants, posters, artifacts, working models of innovations etc., are used for making the presentation more relevant to the local context. Biodiversity contests are organized among children while recipe contests are organized among women in some of the villages (particularly with focus on such food recipes in which at least one uncultivated plant has been used).

vii) Scouting through Innovators

Unlike the agricultural practices, the search for artisanal and farm machinery innovations is far more complex. One village may have several hundred farmers but only one or two artisans. To meet 100 artisans, one may have to survey 50-100 villages. However, over a period of time we discovered that social network of artisans is reasonably strong. Once we identified an innovative artisan or mechanic, we asked him to look for others of his kind. This process has helped in discovering many innovators.


viii) Scouting through Media

Many newspapers and magazines have written about the innovations and traditional knowledge recognized by Honey Bee network. Some of the innovators have approached us after reading about other innovators. This process is further strengthened through circulation of posters of competition among various institutions and stake-holders. A very small number of innovations are also scouted through internet where existing websites (www.sristi.org,www.nifindia.org,www.gian.org, www.honeybee.org, www.indiainnovates.com)
of the network have popularized the missions of NIF and other collaborating institutions.

Practices collected from various sources reflect a variety of knowledge systems, problem solving approaches, sectoral areas of technology, and above all a variety of ethical approach to evolution and dissemination of local solutions. The technological solutions have been recorded from various fields such as agronomy, plant varieties, plant protection, crop production, soil and water conservation, farm implements, veterinary and animal husbandry, poultry keeping, vegetative dye, forest and other natural resource management, leather tanning, energy generation, transport, general utilities, farm and small scale machineries, household utilities etc. The methods described above are complementary to each other and are some times followed together. The practices scouted or documented irrespective of the methods used, are verified by writing letters to the innovators and followed by a personal visit from the team. Innovators are encouraged to correct the practices and interpretation made of the information provided by them. Verified practices are stored in the computerized database with the names and addresses of the innovators as well as communicators. If the same practice is reported from other sources without variation, the names of the other providers are also added in the same record. However, all the scouting methods are not as effective in the same way in different regions. The success rate of a particular scouting method may not be the same at every place, it varies over time, space and of course the social group attempting to use these methods.


Scouting through the Network

The network collaborators and coordinators of GIAN play a very important role in helping to attain a record of respectable number of innovations and traditional knowledge through their active involvement with the network.

Lateral learning in the network: Experiences shared by the collaborators

In a recent meeting, various collaborators shared their experiences about different methodologies tried by them to scout innovations and traditional knowledge. It was stressed that our focus need not be only on number of entries but also on quality of entries. Similarly, mere documentation is not enough, conversion of innovations and traditional knowledge into products and enterprises was also necessary. There was a general consensus that the mobilization of entries through advertisements was much lesser whereas the results through network contact were much better. NIF’s experience at national level corroborated this. Out of about 13000 innovations/traditional knowledge examples, hardly 1600 practices/innovations were mobilized through the advertisement in the papers. It was also felt that before detailed documentation, the originality and social importance of the innovation should be ascertained. Those practices, which are well known in a given region, could be kept as open source technology available for wider use.

Mr.Vivekanandan (SEVA) Madurai organized workshops in different regions of Tamil Nadu and tried to scout other innovators and traditional knowledge holders through innovators themslves. He gave examples of several innovators who had only developed a concept or an incomplete product but after the documentation process, they felt inspired to complete the development of product. In some cases, the innovation was postponed in deference to the request from the affected people. For example, the innovator who developed coconut harvester did not develop it immediately when neighbours were affected. Later on, to meet his own needs, he completed the innovation by borrowing money at very high rate of interest. The trigger was the documentation process initiated by SEVA. The workshops of animal healers helped in uncovering even more traditional knowledge of animal husbandry and healing from those who came to learn.

Many people enquire as to what would be done after their knowledge is documented. A note clarifying NIF’s commitment, capacity and concern in this regard is being developed and shared in local language.

Dr. T.N. Prakash (PRITVI) mentioned the collaboration with Director of Agriculture, Karnataka through whom about 20000 pamphlets were circulated all over the state apart from thousands of posters. This approach led to generation of wide variety of ideas, innovations and traditional knowledge entries. While reviewing the campaign strategy, he mentioned that only ten per cent entries came in response to the poster based campaign, about thirty per cent came through NGO and readers of magazine like Adike Patrike, and fifteen per cent through personal visits after getting some leads from network members. An issue was raised that there should be a balance of resources spent on scouting vis-� -vis the follow up action on the scouted innovations and traditional knowledge. Several questions being raised in the media about the process of documentation were raised such as, (a) what is the sanctity of digital documentation when most people do not have access to digital technology, (b) if there are no IPR laws in the country which can safeguard TK, should documentation be done at all (c) if benefits cannot be ensured and IPRs cannot be protected, should documentation process be stopped for a while, (d) can the PIC note and its framework be really understood by the people and if not, what steps are being taken to facilitate its easy comprehension and compliance by people and NIF.

On digital documentation, it was explained that the long ranging controversy on bio piracy required patent office world wide to have access to digital information on public domain traditional knowledge so that no patents were issued on such knowledge. This has been a demand of global civil society for long time. TKDL (Traditional Knowledge Digital Library) thus ensures complete protection of Indian documented knowledge heritage in terms of biopiracy. So far as documentation processes are concerned, the purpose is not just the protection of IPR. Idea is to make India innovative and build bridges between excellences in informal and formal science. The public domain traditional knowledge can be disseminated among other communities to promote lateral learning and improve productivity and sustainability in the society. Further, till IPR system evolves, confidentiality has to be maintained in NIF. The information is shared with third parties only as per the PIC. In some cases, where scope for value addition exists, sharing is done on the basis of non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Every contractual staff or associate of NIF is expected to sign NDA. It is on the same pattern as all the collaborators and RAC members have been asked to sign the NDA. Documentation also helps in preventing the erosion of knowledge besides generating respect among the knowledge holders about this knowledge system. As mentioned earlier, some of the innovations got matured precisely because documentation process created pressure to perform. Such an ethic is extremely healthy and would help make India a more creative, productive and inter connected society. So far as the issue of PIC is concerned, the current complexity in the background has emerged because of the feedback received and the need to ensure fairness in the process. We have to share pros and cons of every option so that people can decide what they think is proper in the matter.

CCD representative mentioned that they have been planning to train the scouts so that quality of documentation can improve. He also mentioned that the traditional knowledge of healers required attention to their own system of validation and value addition.

Kamaljit (SRISTI-GYAN Kendra) shared his experience of scouting by first pursuing a ‘Shodh Yatra’ on cycle and scooter covering about 250 kms, including four states. The first round of ‘Shodh Yatra’ was done to identify the places where documentation was to be attempted. Initially he and his young colleagues began with booklets in Hindi but the response was not very good. Then they started with cassettes and the impression people got was that they had come probably to sell something. Slowly and slowly, they came to realize that they had to use mobile exhibition. They developed a new vehicle called as “Saksham” with NIF’s support, which provided the facilities of dissemination using multimedia technologies. This strategy worked very well because lot of people young and old came forward to see the odd balls in the exhibition and then volunteered to share their own experiences. Kamaljit and his team also made presentation to the young students who were attending national integration camp and through these young participants, got leads for new innovations. They have also set up a telephone help line through which they were answering questions of farmers using Honey Bee database. Sometimes, the process of documentation was quite frustrating. After visiting twenty villages over two weeks, they got only three innovations. The advantage of age that their group had was also sometimes disadvantage because they had to work harder to build their credibility. They also tried to show ‘Shodh Yatra’ films developed by EMRC, Ahmedabad in collaboration with SRISTI on cable TV. Several technology offers were received through this channel.

Mr. James (PEDES) in Kerala tried to use the NGO network to scout innovations. He mentioned that among other channels, the leads in the newspapers were very helpful for documenting innovations. Given higher literacy in Kerala and wider readership of newspapers, journalists had started giving more attention to local innovations here than perhaps elsewhere. About 50 to 60 innovations were documented through these leads. He also felt that if some of the innovations were commercialized quickly and also replicated widely, then the documentation process would become faster. He also suggested that some of the older innovations, which might have been commercialized locally, should also be documented so that through National Register, such knowledge would get disseminated in other areas. In cases where similar innovations or traditional knowledge were found in more than one place, we should document these from each place so that the diffusion of existing innovations or traditional knowledge can be understood.

Dr. Balaram Sahu has been well known science writer in Orissa and has recently started Oriya version of Honey Bee. He along with Mr .Ranjan Mahapatra are trying to coordinate the campaign in Orissa. He mentioned several ideas which could be taken up for scouting and documenting innovations; a) It would be useful to tap young minds at the school level to create awareness; in turn it would also help to bring forward their creativity amidst masses. Formation of innovative and eco clubs involving students from school and colleges could help, b) the art and posters made to popularize the innovations can also help, and c) slogans should be developed which capture the essence of NIF goals.

Ranjan Mahapatra (SHRISTI) suggested that self help groups of women should be involved. The administrative agencies can also help in the process of scouting. The connection between the scouting and livelihood support strategies of poor people was necessary.

Sunda Ram, an innovator cum scout has been pursuing the scouting process in Rajasthan. He tried several interesting innovations in scouting. He organised a contest on biodiversity-based knowledge among forest department officials, in which District forest officer, forest guards and community forest protectors participated.

Dr Vittala mentioned that GIAN NE has conducted several community meetings in Assam at Kamrup, Morigaon, Nagaon, Nalbari, Tezpur and Jorhat district, in Arunachal at Ziro, NERIST. Students are from all over northeastern region have been mobilized as volunteers for scouting.

Government officials are also supporting the scouting process by their official network. Recently GIAN-NE has scouted one innovator with the help of Mr. I. K. Baruah, ADC Morigaon. Ms. Vineeta Sharma, SP Morigaon has taken keen interest and circulated our Assameese version leaflets among all the police stations of the district.

Mrs. G. B. Marak, Social Welfare Officer, Ri – Bhoi district, Meghalaya is coordinating with GIAN – NE in organizing meetings in the district. Further, GIAN-NE has conducted scouting competition at Jorhat, Tezpur, North Guwahati and Nirjuli, Itanagar. GIAN-NE has scouted about 250 innovations during the last ten months.

Several other ideas, which emerged in the meetings, were:

a) Certain practices could be kept in open source if they were not unique depending upon the conditions imposed by the innovator concerned in the consent form.

b) Innovations even if they are old may be accepted and included in the national register but should not be considered for award.

c) Sometime grassroots innovators are unable to articulate the essence of their innovation. Therefore, it is necessary for the scout to try to explore and decipher the meaning of the practice through iterative discussions and perseverance. To achieve better results, scouts should be given proper orientation training for documentation

d) For intensifying documentation process, it would be helpful to recruit local correspondents (khabarpatri) based in villages (as tried by SRISTI recently) who may have inclination towards documentation of innovations and TK.

e) Innovators could also act as a scout. Whenever an innovator scouts another similar person, it becomes easier for him to identify the problem because of his familiarity with the subject matter. His assistance in the documentation process, improves the quality of documentation at times.

f) Innovators could be broadly classified into two categories: Grassroots people; having low academic background but vast experience and Professionals/trained; having access to state-of-art knowledge network system

g) It was agreed that PIC form and note would require considerable effort by the scouts in explaining to innovators and traditional knowledge holders. It is also necessary that regional workshops be organized for the purpose.

h) Local language versions of Honey Bee are providing a very useful and productive way of disseminating the campaign goals and Honey Bee network philosophy. NIF should support spawning of new versions in different regions.

i) Many of the Nodal Officers are playing a very important role in popularizing the NIF’s campaign and they need to be supported to strengthen links with various institutions to forge ahead with the goals of NIF.


Prior Informed Consent

It is now accepted worldwide that knowledge of the local communities and individuals should be accessed and used only through their prior informed consent. The issue of informed consent is not easy. NIF took lead in this regard and started developing a form for Prior Informed Consent (PIC). In the first round of the contest, the PIC form that was used revealed several areas of improvement. Subsequently, after discussions with the collaborators and knowledge providers, a new form has been developed. It is obvious that for the people who have never been even acknowledged, the concept of PIC is not only new but also intriguing. A detailed note has been prepared which highlights the plus and the minus side of saying, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to various choices given in the form. For instance, if an innovator suggests that his knowledge may be shared widely through Honey Bee newsletter and/or on website or through other public channels, we have to explain the advantages of doing so and also the disadvantages from the IPR perspective. After sharing these implications the knowledge provider is well within his rights to say yes or no to this or other options.

Till date we have received 444 consent forms from the innovators/innovators TK holders those who participated in the second competition. Apparently as is evident from the figures, majority of the innovators do not mind sharing their addresses with the interested members. About 92 per cent of them have agreed to share their addresses with others if necessary. Out of these, fifty per cent of the innovators have permitted to use their innovations free of cost if it is on individual basis. Regarding technology transfer, the option related to the choice of assigning technology where the innovators are supposed to be suggesting their proportion of sharing benefits, have not been uniformly distributed. It may therefore be inferred that either the innovators do not have proper clarity about their preferences or they are unable to understand the framework behind the suggested benefit-sharing model that NIF wants to set forth.

Further, it is considered necessary to have a mutual understanding between the innovators and NIF about that flexibility in the conditions that have been already specified in the form. If any need arises to modify any of the conditions specified in the consent form, NIF would like to have a agreement with the innovators that they would authorize NIF to change the options on their behalf with the prior consent of the innovator concerned. Likewise, if the innovator wants to cancel his conditions specified in their consent form, they may do so with prior notification to NIF.

Since PIC is a new concept, considerable investment will have to be made in creating awareness among various stakeholders. At this moment, we have no hesitation in accepting that complexity of the form and the options in the background note are not easy to follow by most people in villages. In the absence of any major effort to create awareness about PIC, NIF’s effort will remain limited in its overall impact. NIF will however, continue to make efforts to make this process as transparent and effective as possible.

B. Value Addition and R & D Linkages

NIF is trying various approaches in order to establish linkages with several premier research and technical institutions at the national level to add value to local innovations and attain a wider coverage for promotion and dissemination of the potential technologies.

The aim is to form a value chain around each innovation or traditional knowledge. The networking model for value addition mainly aims at setting up GIANs in different regions of the country and strengthening the current GIANs. Apart from routing support through GIANs, NIF is also supporting some projects directly where either the innovators are capable enough to develop the innovation into a product on their own or GIAN support is not available. Product development teams are contracted in some cases to help innovators augment their innovations. Further, NIF is trying to support the innovators through Honey Bee Collaborators and simultaneously strengthening the capacity of collaborators to take up the augmentation process further.


Projects Supported Directly by NIF

a) NIF has supported ‘Multi-cylinder Reciprocating Pump’ of Sakun Das. A prototype has been developed after the analysis of the concept by IIT, Delhi. It will be tested in the field.

b) Mr. N. V. Satyanarayana has received support from NIF directly for improvisation and testing of his innovation Micro Windmill.

c) Mr. C. V. Pathak, an entrepreneur and innovator has received technical and financial support from NIF.

d) With direct monitoring of NIF, Mr. Naresh Kamble is developing, disseminating and testing “Development of device that would prevent burning down the electric pump”.


Projects Supported through Collaborators

In addition to the work done by the GIANs, various Honey Bee Collaborators have also undertaken value addition work with support from NIF for the grassroots innovators.


Peermade Development Society, Kerala

Peermade Development Society of Kerala has supported two projects namely the ‘Low Cost Hand Pump’ by Reji Joseph and Ousapachhen, and ‘Cardamom Drying Chamber’ by Mr. P. J. Abraham. In case of Low Cost Hand Pump, an improved prototype has been developed and the innovator has been able to sell around twenty pieces in the nearby villages with this improved product.

In case of the Cardamom Drying Chamber, the innovator had earlier tried the concept through an old model. With the support from NIF and the fieldwork of Peermade Development Society, the innovator made a prototype to validate the concept. The improved version of the prototype has now been made which is much better than the earlier one. The Spices Board has been approached for testing the product and a TePP proposal has been submitted to mobilize support for further product development.


SEVA, Madurai

Out of the innovations from the first campaign, Seva, Madurai, has supported two innovations with the help of NIF namely; ‘the modifications to silencer’ by Mr. Akasi and ‘Relay Switch’ by Mr. Ponnuswamy, In the first case, two models have been made and are being tested to ascertain the extent to which the sound of the engine can be reduced. In case of the Relay switch, prototypes have been developed with modifications done by the innovator in collaboration with Small Industries Testing and Research Centre (SiTARC). The blending of the design in both the cases to make a good final product is in progress. The testing results from SiTARC and Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), Bangalore have been quite positive about the concept underline the innovation.

Another innovation supported by SEVA is Coconut Dehusker of Mr. Jayaseelan. NIF supported this innovation through the linkage with Industrial Design Center (IDC), IIT, Mumbai, which has undertaken to modify the product. The modification was done in terms of feeding, de-husking and improving the efficiency. A modified prototype based on the input from the innovator has been developed already.

For the second campaign, the efforts to add value have already started and NIF has already provided support to two innovations out of which one is an award winner and another is non-awardee. Part support has been already provided for the innovations “To Develop Prototype, Testing and Improvement of Power Tiller” by Mr. P. Thirumaran and “Air recycling mechanism in Compressor” by Mr. Ayyathurai.


Collaboration with IIT, Delhi

A cell was set up at IIT, Delhi with the voluntary help of Dr. Subir Kumar Saha, Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Prof. K. Athre, Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering. Three M. Tech research associates were assigned to work on the innovations. They had taken up the task of defining the problem arena and pursuing technological gap analysis for three innovations.

Discussions have been held with Prof. R. Sirohi, Director, IIT, Delhi to sign a MOU with NIF. This will help in taking more projects by IIT, Delhi students and setting up a centre at IIT, Delhi to add value to grassroots technological innovations.


Linkage with Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai

Two students of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, have taken up projects on Coconut Dehusker and Groundnut Pod Separator. NIF supported this project undertaken by IDC to modify the product. The modification was done in terms of feeding, dehusking and improving the efficiency. A modified prototype based on the input from the innovator has been already developed.
An informal student linkage with TECH-GC, IIT, Mumbai

Through TECH-GC, IIT Mumbai an idea competition was conducted and many students have shown interest in NIF pursuing their ideas. The students had organized a presentation on NIF to the entire first-year batch of IIT, Mumbai in September this year. The winners of the idea competition have been declared and there are plans for having a students club to work on grassroots technological innovations.

Setting up of GIAN-TECH at IIT, Kanpur

Students from IIT, Kanpur had taken up the task of validating around twenty innovations. They had visited the innovators in the summer vacation. This gave them the insight about grassroots innovations and also enlightened them regarding their role in society. They presented their experience to a larger student body. The Director, IIT, Kanpur, Prof. Dhonde has taken personal interest in the matter. With the support of Prof. Prashant p Sanjay G. Dhande, Director, IIT, Kanpur has agreed to set up a GIAN-Technology (GIAN-Tech at IIT, Kanpur). A draft MoU is being discussed so that those GIANs which do not have their own technical back-up can get technological support from GIAN-Tech.

To provide exposure to the innovators and encourage linkages with scientiss, technologists, designers, potential investors and entrepreneurs, NIF has supported the participation of innovators and traditional knowledge holders in various workshops, seminars and exhibitions, such as Indian Science Congress, Pune 2001 and at Lucknow in 2002; National Agricultural Machinery Exhibition, Bangalore 2002, CII Exhibitions in 2001 and 2002 at Ahmedabad, Kissan Exhibition 2002, Pune, etc. In all about 61 innovators (24 awardees and 37 non-awardees) were provided opportunity to show case their products in these exhibitions. Some of them got many interesting enquiries and even orders in these exhibitions.

A one-day workshop, ‘Srijan’ was organized at IIT, Delhi on 2nd March to provide a platform for interaction among formal and informal grassroots innovators. Six innovators participated in this workshop through the effort of GIAN-North. A design workshop was organized at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in collaboration with various other stake-holders under the overall guidance of Prof. Vijay Chandru of IISc.

C. Intellectual Property Rights Protection

NIF has set up an Intellectual Property Section. The Section consisting of four fellows who have started working since August 2002 towards the above objective. The Intellectual Property Section analyses the innovations to assess their viability for getting patent and other means of intellectual property protection.

Some of the premier Intellectual Property firms and IP institutions of the country have been contacted for mobilising voluntary for filing patents for innovators such as DP Ahuja & Co. (HQ at Kolkata), Surana & Surana (HQ at Chennai), Subramaniam, Nataraj & Assciates (Delhi), Anand and Anand, New Delhi. NIF has also been able to file patent applications in United States through a law firm Testa Hurwitz (THT) based in United States. It is hoped that the coming year would see more firms taking interest in working with NIF on pro bono basis.

To facilitate the protection for grassroots innovations and to create a nation wide, the I.P section has been working with the law schools around the country. Students from NALSAR University School of Law, Hyderabad have worked with NIF for last two years. The winter internship for three students from the law school on “Grassroots Innovation and their Intellectual Property Protection” has enabled the students from the school in gaining skills on patent drafting, conducting of prior art searches and drafting of various I.P agreements. One of the leading law schools of the country, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), has already expressed their interest in working with the I.P Department of NIF. Efforts are also underway to establish Intellectual Property Law Clinics in various law schools.

The concentration of the I.P section has not been confined just to the law schools. Three students pursuing the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur are working with the I.P section.

To provide training to the staff at NIF and also to create awareness on I.P protection, a workshop on “Intellectual Property Protection for Grassroots Innovations” was conducted by Mr. R. K. Gupta, Head of the Intellectual Property Management Division, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi.

Provisional patent applications for 27 innovations are ready for filing. IP section has also been providing advice on related aspects of Intellectual Property Law to other institutions, drafting non-disclosure agreements for the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad, drafting of exclusive marketing agreements between GIAN (West) and J. Support Industries, Kothamangalam, Kerala for marketing of an innovation, webserver collocation agreements and conducting prior art searches on entries for awards.

LIST OF PATENT, TRADEMARK AND DESIGN
APPLICATIONS FILED - 2002
Sr Innovation Law Firm Particulars Status
1 Aaruni Tilting Bullock Cart D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
2 Natural Water Cooler D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
3 Swastik Oil Expeller NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
4 Cotton Stripper Machine D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
5 Adaptive Agricultural Machine NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
6 Entech Oil Expeller Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
7 Adaptive Agricultural Machine Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
8 Convertible Three Wheel Tractor Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
9 Convertible Three Wheel Tractor D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
10 Fibre Optic Cable Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
11 Double Acting Pump NRDC, New Delhi Patent Ready
12 Aaron Fly Wheel NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
13 Auto Air Kick Pump for inflated tyres D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
14 Bicycle Sprayer D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
15 New Rotor Sprinkler Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
16 Device helping to Engage The Connecting
Rod Without a Check Nut
Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
17 Highly Efficient Low Wattage Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
18 Tamarind Cultivation And Processing Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
19 Wool Ginning Machine Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
20 Manual Milking Machine Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
21 Thermo Water Lifting Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
22 Hard Shell Dehusker for Coconuts Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
23 Gas Kit For Moped Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
24 Environment Friendly Oil Engine Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
25 Multi Cylinder Reciprocating Water Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
26 Low Cost Hand Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
27 Relay Switch Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
28 Coconut Harvester Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
29 Pooran Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
30 Banana Slicer Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
31 Multi Crop Thresher Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
32 Single Wheel Weed Remover Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
33 Device for Mowing and Ridging Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
34 Apparatus For Husk Threshing Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
35 Leaf Mat Making Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
36 Path finding Android Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
37 Portable power Generating Device Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
38 Adaptive Spraying Device Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
39 Self Propelled Weeder Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
40 Dish Washing Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi

Patent

Ready
41 Double Acting Reciprocating Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
42 Single Wheel Weed Remover Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Filed
43 GIAN D.P Ahuja & Co. Calcutta Trademark Filed
44 SHASHWAT D.P Ahuja & Co. Calcutta Trademark Filed
45 SHAKTI Bullet Shanti Anand & Anand, New Delhi Design Registration Filed
46 Kushal Sprayer NRDC, New Delhi Design Registration In process
47 Vanraj – Small Tractor Anand & Anand, New Delhi Design Registration In process


D. Business Incubation and Venture Assistance

Business and Micro venture

Given the limited resources of NIF there is no way, one can fulfil the aspirations of the thousands of the innovators and traditional knowledge holders without establishing a genuine risk capital fund. The transaction cost in dealing with large number of grassroots innovators & local communities, one has to find innovative ways of building value chain. To form the mentoring teams around each product for which business development has to be done, one has to find willing entrepreneurs or business managers who would help in market research, business planning, developing a proposal for raising micro venture finance and eventually help convert innovations or traditional knowledge into commercial venture. Several approaches have been used to accomplish this goal so far.

a) Involving Students for developing Business plans: Students of Sloan school of management and MIT took initiative to develop business plan as a part of their course for one of the awarded technologies. Similarly, four students of London Business School did a project with SRISTI on developing a micro-venture fund for social innovations that is those innovations, which may need social investment for their diffusion. Not every technology can diffuse through private enterprise. Students of IIM-A have also taken up several projects through GIAN to develop business and marketing plan and also for valuing intellectual property through SOMA (Student Organization For Management Assistance). In addition, the students of several other management schools are being involved for similar purpose. Idea is to take this activity up on a much larger scale through a network of business schools around the country.

b) A business plan competition is planned among the students of management schools on the basis of the information to be collected in advance from the awarded innovations so as to make it easier for these innovators to attract investible support.

c) Discussions have been held with SIDBI subsequent to the announcement by Hon’ble Finance Minister in the parliament in his budget speech about setting up a National Micro Venture Fund. Unfortunately, the amount offered ( one time contribution of Rs five crores with possible contribution of another Rs five crores from National Equity Fund) is too small an amount for the purpose. And thus NIF has conveyed its discomfort with this unrealistic proposal from SIDBI. It is really a pity that given such a large data base and so many successful examples of incubation from GIAN ( Gujarat ) and now GIAN-west, we still have to make an effort about the viability of such investments. However, we are confident that the pressure of expectations from thousands of innovators and traditional knowledge holders will eventually persuade the most skeptics about the viability of investment in creative and innovatiove technologies. There is no other way, to our mind of making India innovative.

d) It is hoped that after the postion of national Coordinator is filled in this regard soon, the portfolio will become stronger.


E. Dissemination and Database Management through Information and Communication Technology ( ICTs) applications

NIF has taken up several steps to augment the IT portfolio though we are still to have a full time National Coordinator for the purpose.

a) A Multi language Multi media Honey Bee data base has been contributed by SRISTI to NIF. This has been widely distributed by NIF along with information on the awardees of the first national Competition, to various stakeholders around the country and outside.

b) NIF has co-sponsored a portal on innovation viz., Indiainnovates.com being developed by students at IIMA as a part of their course requirements. This portal has already generated very encouraging response from IIMA alumni around the world who were requested to volunteer to help in building value chain around green grassroots innovations. This portal may eventually become one point stop for any individual innovator in India. Dr Mashelkar, Chairperson, NIF had suggested this idea two years ago when the stall on innovations at the Indian Science Congress, Pune, 2000 also entitled `India innovates’.

c) A village kiosk has been set up by Honey bee network in a village in North Gujarat and NIF has decided to replicate this experience in several villages where our collaborators are working. The key difference in the approach used by Honey Bee network and the rest of the efforts in the country as well as outside is that we do not think bridging digital divide should be our first priority. The first priority ought to be to bridge knowledge divide with in the local community. Once that has been bridged, the nature of approach and process used to bridge digital divide will be quite different than would have been the case without it. In this village, six data bases have been developed or are being developed each with identity of knowledge source being acknowledged: (i) biodiversity based knowledge of children and older people; (ii) design heritage in the village, such as the arrangement of utensils in the kitchen, design of old architecture, furniture, cradle for children, motifs on old clothes etc., all aimed at showing the creativity of women in their domain of control; (iii) agricultural and other resource management practices, (iv) riddles, sayings, folk songs and sayings about nature and other cultural matters collected through competition among children, (v) distinguished recipes particularly the ones which draw upon some uncultivated plants, and (vi) local innovations and traditional knowledge register.

d) NIF web site is being made more interactive so that users can get lot of information quickly and easily.

e) The software for National register has been developed and various collaborators have also been provided the database entry modules in local language with the help from Honey Bee network and SRISTI.

f) Demo Software for Technology Exchange ( for online bidding for technologies ) has been put up at the web site for testing. SRISTI is helping in maintaining this as well as innovation database on the web site with more than 1300 innovations and traditional knowledge examples.

g) A web based three-language innovation/Traditional Knowledge entry module has been put on the web site. However, so far only 141 entries have been received through web, all in English. About the same number of entries have also been received through email.

h) Two state government web sites viz., Punjab and Maharashtra have linked NIF site and information to diffuse our work widely. However, effort will be made to pursue such linkage with all the state governments.


Section II. Institutionalizing innovative culture in India: NIF
The Union Budget of 1999 included the announcement for setting up of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF). The purpose was to build the National register of inventions, innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge, support value addition research by scientists as well as innovators at grassroots level, setting up incubators to convert innovations into products and enterprises and eventually make India a global leader in sustainable technologies.

NIF was set up by Department of Science and Technology in February 2000 at Ahmedabad to achieve its goals essentially through a non-governmental spirit and by drawing upon the Honey Bee network and its collaborating partners. The objectives of NIF are:

Objectives

To help India become an innovative and creative society and a global leader in sustainable technologies by scouting, spawning and sustaining grassroots innovations.

To ensure evolution and diffusion of green grassroots innovations in a selective, time-bound and mission-oriented basis so as to meet the socio-economic and environmental needs of our society.

To provide institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining, and scaling up grassroots green innovations as well as outstanding traditional knowledge and helping their transition to self-supporting activities. It seeks self-reliance through competitive advantage of innovation-based enterprises and/or application of people-generated sustainable technologies at grassroots level.

To build linkages between excellence in formal scientific systems and informal knowledge systems and create a knowledge network to link various stakeholders through application of information technology and other means.

To promote wider social awareness, and possible applications, of the know how generated as a result of these initiatives in commercial or social spheres and encourage its incorporation in educational curriculum, developmental policies and programs.

NIF pursues each of five of the key functions described below through a National Coordinator. At present only two National Coordinators (NCs) are in place for Scouting and Documentation and Research and Value addition. Other three NCs are being recruited. The Intellectual property function is being looked after through four fellows hired for the purpose.


A Scouting and Documentation

Scouting and Documentation of the innovations is the first step towards the fulfillment of the mission of NIF. Scouting involves extensive fieldwork; travel in rural and urban areas, search for ‘odd balls’- the experimenters, local community and knowledge experts in the society. The key activities are::

  • To coordinate with various governmental and non-governmental agencies to mount national campaign to scout innovations with the help of grassroots level functionaries of education, agriculture, rural development, small scale industry, Panchayati Raj institutions, etc.
  • To screen, document and verify the claims about these innovations through various networks of scientific and other institutional initiatives as well as through Honey Bee collaborators, existing databases and field visits.
  • To generate incentive mechanisms for for innovators.
  • To provide assistance in forging decentralized networks of inventors/knowledge experts and strengthen the Honey Bee Network.
  • To obtain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) of the providers of knowledge.
  • To share the innovations permitted in public domain with the knowledge providers through Honey Bee newsletter and other media to enrich the repertoire of the local communities and informal knowledge experts and to support shodh yatras in different parts of the country.

B. Dissemination, and Database Management through Information and Communication Technology ( ICTs) applications

The entire effort of scouting and documentation leads to the development of a database of innovations and traditional knowledge aimed at building the National Register. The process involves using various Information Technology and database applications for horizontal networking among innovators and traditional knowledge experts as well as other stakeholders. In addition to this the multi-lingual approach to the database development is the main task ahead. The activities involved are:
  • To develop and maintain the National Register of Innovations (contemporary innovations and traditional knowledge), database management, electronic networking, web based management of value chain for grassroots innovations, coordination with various regional language portals and managing National Grassroots Innovation and TK Management Information System.
  • To develop multi language, multimedia kiosks at various public places, educational institutions and local bodies and help establish decentralised Indian language databases of innovations and Traditional Knowledge.
  • To coordinate dissemination and publication activities of NIF.
  • To manage the archive of all communications and maintain effective touch with latest trends in technologies which can be harnessed in support of grassroots innovators.


C. Value Addition and Research & Development

Most of the innovators and/or traditional knowledge experts need optimization in design process or product formulation through blending with modern science and technology inputs. Market prospects for many innovators will be very low without proper value addition. Efficiency gains can be made by creating technology networks. The Research and Development is a key focus of NIF. It provides a platform for the synergy between formal and informal science and technology, institutions and knowledge system. The tasks involved include:
  • To coordinate with public and private sector R & D institutions, people’s organizations and rural and urban innovators themselves to add value to local innovations.
  • To develop product development plans and help the grassroots innovators mobilize funds from TePP and other such programs within and outside the country.
  • To build product development teams on contractual basis to get the products and/or services developed through licensees ensuring appropriate benefit sharing arrangements.
  • To set up and help coordinate GIANs in different regions along with other national coordinator.
  • To obtain help of eminent scientists and technological experts from various fields as a part of the Research Advisory Committee, or otherwise which will guide the activities of NIF.


D. Intellectual Property Rights Management

The only resource in which poor people are rich is their knowledge. Protection of the intellectual property rights becomes necessary to ensure knowledge based approach to work. The activities necessary to achieve this goal are:
  • To coordinate with various intellectual property institutions and attorneys to mobilize pro bono or paid help for grassroots innovators to file patents, trademark and other means of IP protection and also directly file applications on their behalf.
  • To pursue with the government authorities, the possibility of NIFproviding thecertificate of inventions/unique Traditional Knowledge accompanied bymedium termprotection so asto reduce transaction costs of the IP offices and the innovators.
  • To coordinate with WIPO and other international patent offices to secure IP protection for grassroots innovators globally wherever applicable.
  • To provide assistance to innovators to enter into licensing arrangements with entrepreneursfor transferring technologies.
  • To help pool part of the license fee obtained from the innovators towards an innovation fund for supporting innovators.
  • To help in prior art search so that innovators can maintain their competitive edge.
  • To screen ongoing patents on Indian traditional knowledge so as to oppose the improperly granted patents, particularly dealing with knowledge/innovations/practices entered in the National Register.


E. Business Development & Micro Venture

Value chain for green grassroots innovation will require financial support at different stages of product cycle. Initially support is required for improving the attributes of the innovative product/prototype through R&D linkages. This initial market assessment has to be followed by micro venture support for converting innovations into enterprises. The various activities needed for the purpose are:
  • To coordinate with various entrepreneur/industry associations, management institutions and incubators to mobilize mentoring and management support for grassroots innovators and TK holder.
  • To coordinate with private and public sector industrial and financial institutions and associations to link innovations with investment and enterprise wherever possible.
  • To help promote various innovations and outstanding TK through market and non-market channels.
  • To encourage various industry associations and other developmental bodies to set up mechanisms for licensing innovations for business development and equitable benefit sharing with the innovators and TK holder.
  • To help raise resources for pursuing various activities or for innovation value chain.
  • To help set up the National Micro Venture Fund through public and private participation and mobilize incubation fund and venture capital for the innovators and TK holders.

A: Scouting and Documentation of Grassroots Innovations

To scout grassroots green innovators and traditional knowledge holders who had solved a local problem entirely through their own effort without any outside help requires a massive campaign around the country. The knowledge so documented requires Prior Informed Consent of the innovators and Traditional Knowledge holders, besides verifications in the case of those chosen for commendation, awards and support for value addition and commercialization. National Innovation Foundation has drawn upon a variety of approaches for scouting and documentation evolved by the Honey Bee network for its national campaign for over last decade and a half.

The documentation and dissemination are to some extent simultaneous processes. Hence, the dissemination of documented innovations and traditional knowledge became integral part of the most of the methods used for documentation of grassroots innovations. Honey Bee network has been able to mobilize large number of students from rural (and some urban) colleges, rural youths, grassroots functionaries of rural development and other departments of the state government, teachers and development workers and individual volunteers or what we may call ‘NGIs’(Non-Governmental Individuals) for documentation and dissemination.


Various methodologies and approaches used for documentation and dissemination are:


i) Survey of Odd Balls in the Villages through Students.

Initially about 100-120 student volunteers from various Gandhian institutions in Gujarat are selected every year by the Honey Bee Network for about two months during the summer vacation. They are given simple orientation training in small groups for scouting and documenting innovations and traditional knowledge. They are encouraged to appreciate the grassroots innovations created by their family members and neighbours in the village to begin with. The students are asked to narrate some of their own experiences, which were interesting, intriguing or inspiring. By underlining the ones that we find counter intuitive or less obvious, we convey what we are looking for. The process of training gets demystified and the purpose of scouting becomes clear because the examples of what we are looking for are drawn from the scout’s own experience. The students then survey different villages. They also collect addresses of a few farmers who either know about the innovator concerned and/or have fields adjoining the fields of the innovative farmer. We write letters to these contacts later to have a first round of confirmation. Later, another student/field investigator revisits each site to avoid any error in the process. The best scouts are given prizes in the annual Honey Bee network meeting.


ii) Organizing Competition for Scouting Innovations

Competitions have been organized in various parts of India among students and grassroots functionaries of the state government. Survey forms have been developed to seek brief information about the innovations scouted by the participants. Application forms, procedure and other details are explained through meetings in schools/colleges. Voluntary teachers coordinate such contests in their schools and ensure that students work in the spirit of fulfilling their curiosity to learn from informal knowledge experts in our society rather than to earn a small honorarium. For launching competition among the grassroots functionaries, workshops are organized to explain the purpose of scouting campaign, as well as to expose the participants about the earlier experiences in scouting. A committee of three persons evaluates the entries sent in by the participants and the winners are awarded prizes and certificates in the network meeting. Some of the outstanding innovators identified through competition are also honoured at such meetings. Many students and functionaries can participate in this activity. Revolving trophies are given to the best district official/development agency which scouts the most interesting innovations and traditional knowledge. We have not succeeded so far to institutionalize such a process in many states but efforts are on.

Though one finds that same or similar traditional knowledge and in some cases even innovations are recorded from more than one place, we do not discourage this. This helps us to learn about the capability of local communities and individuals to evolve sometimes similar solutions to same problems independently, autonomously and simultaneously. In some cases, such a knowledge or innovation may indeed have diffused from place to another. Our experience so far has been that many innovations/traditional knowledge are discovered from unexpected quarters within a very short span of time through such competitions.


iii) Scanning of Old Literature

There are many visionaries and experts at the regional level who did not get their due credit and recognition just because they did not publish in English. As a result many times it so happens that we end up giving credit for ‘reinventing the wheel’. One of the purposes of scanning the old, vernacular literature is to bring these unaccredited knowledge systems to light. We have collected old books from civil society, old institutions and stalls, NGOs and vendors of old books. We are trying to reprint some of these books. Particular mention may be made of a book by Gangaben, who became a widow at an early age and published a compendium of 2080 formulae for self employment based on local knowledge way back in 1898 in Gujarati language.

iv) Agricultural and Cultural Fairs

Agricultural fairs are vibrant traditional institutions in rural India where people assemble in large numbers either for religious or cultural celebrations. Honey Bee network members participates in such fairs by putting up stalls. Many innovative volunteers sometimes set-up and run these stalls. In addition a computer for accessing Honey Bee database, posters, leaflets and other publications in local languages are kept at the stall. Many farmers, artisans, community leaders and professionals visit the stalls and get information about the innovations developed by other farmers. While accessing this knowledge base, they also share their own innovations with Honey Bee network members.

v) Shodh Sankal - a local network of grassroots innovators

To generate lateral learning environment among the grassroots innovators, SRISTI has initiated the concept of Shodh Sankal - chain of experimenting farmers. The idea is to bring together experimenting farmers and discuss the results of trials that farmers have taken up on their own to solve various local problems. This discussion also enhances the esteem for local knowledge system. It is possible to generate `lateral learning’ among farmers by sharing innovative practices found suitable in one region with the farmers in another similar region after on farm testing/trials if necessary. This could help to speed up the process of technological change in regions where formal technology generation system has not been very successful, such as dry regions, mountainous regions and other disadvantaged areas. Even in less risk prone regions it cannot be assumed that an innovative technology will diffuse on its own just because some farmers in a village have evolved it.

vi) Shodh Yatra (journey for exploration)

Based on the experiences of several years, the network launched the concept of Shodh Yatra in 1998. The journey of exploration is organised on foot from one village to another for 8-10 days covering maximum of about 250 kms during extreme summer as well as winter. Innovative farmers, artisans, students and scientists join Shodh Yatra and walk with the objective of participatory learning and dissemination of information as well as spreading experimental and inventive ethics among communities. Local experts whether in traditional knowledge or contemporary innovations are honoured at their door step in these villages. Honey Bee database is shared with farmers in the local language through laptop computer and other publications. A mobile exhibition on medicinal plants, posters, artifacts, working models of innovations etc., are used for making the presentation more relevant to the local context. Biodiversity contests are organized among children while recipe contests are organized among women in some of the villages (particularly with focus on such food recipes in which at least one uncultivated plant has been used).

vii) Scouting through Innovators

Unlike the agricultural practices, the search for artisanal and farm machinery innovations is far more complex. One village may have several hundred farmers but only one or two artisans. To meet 100 artisans, one may have to survey 50-100 villages. However, over a period of time we discovered that social network of artisans is reasonably strong. Once we identified an innovative artisan or mechanic, we asked him to look for others of his kind. This process has helped in discovering many innovators.


viii) Scouting through Media

Many newspapers and magazines have written about the innovations and traditional knowledge recognized by Honey Bee network. Some of the innovators have approached us after reading about other innovators. This process is further strengthened through circulation of posters of competition among various institutions and stake-holders. A very small number of innovations are also scouted through internet where existing websites (www.sristi.org,www.nifindia.org,www.gian.org, www.honeybee.org, www.indiainnovates.com)
of the network have popularized the missions of NIF and other collaborating institutions.

Practices collected from various sources reflect a variety of knowledge systems, problem solving approaches, sectoral areas of technology, and above all a variety of ethical approach to evolution and dissemination of local solutions. The technological solutions have been recorded from various fields such as agronomy, plant varieties, plant protection, crop production, soil and water conservation, farm implements, veterinary and animal husbandry, poultry keeping, vegetative dye, forest and other natural resource management, leather tanning, energy generation, transport, general utilities, farm and small scale machineries, household utilities etc. The methods described above are complementary to each other and are some times followed together. The practices scouted or documented irrespective of the methods used, are verified by writing letters to the innovators and followed by a personal visit from the team. Innovators are encouraged to correct the practices and interpretation made of the information provided by them. Verified practices are stored in the computerized database with the names and addresses of the innovators as well as communicators. If the same practice is reported from other sources without variation, the names of the other providers are also added in the same record. However, all the scouting methods are not as effective in the same way in different regions. The success rate of a particular scouting method may not be the same at every place, it varies over time, space and of course the social group attempting to use these methods.


Scouting through the Network

The network collaborators and coordinators of GIAN play a very important role in helping to attain a record of respectable number of innovations and traditional knowledge through their active involvement with the network.

Lateral learning in the network: Experiences shared by the collaborators

In a recent meeting, various collaborators shared their experiences about different methodologies tried by them to scout innovations and traditional knowledge. It was stressed that our focus need not be only on number of entries but also on quality of entries. Similarly, mere documentation is not enough, conversion of innovations and traditional knowledge into products and enterprises was also necessary. There was a general consensus that the mobilization of entries through advertisements was much lesser whereas the results through network contact were much better. NIF’s experience at national level corroborated this. Out of about 13000 innovations/traditional knowledge examples, hardly 1600 practices/innovations were mobilized through the advertisement in the papers. It was also felt that before detailed documentation, the originality and social importance of the innovation should be ascertained. Those practices, which are well known in a given region, could be kept as open source technology available for wider use.

Mr.Vivekanandan (SEVA) Madurai organized workshops in different regions of Tamil Nadu and tried to scout other innovators and traditional knowledge holders through innovators themslves. He gave examples of several innovators who had only developed a concept or an incomplete product but after the documentation process, they felt inspired to complete the development of product. In some cases, the innovation was postponed in deference to the request from the affected people. For example, the innovator who developed coconut harvester did not develop it immediately when neighbours were affected. Later on, to meet his own needs, he completed the innovation by borrowing money at very high rate of interest. The trigger was the documentation process initiated by SEVA. The workshops of animal healers helped in uncovering even more traditional knowledge of animal husbandry and healing from those who came to learn.

Many people enquire as to what would be done after their knowledge is documented. A note clarifying NIF’s commitment, capacity and concern in this regard is being developed and shared in local language.

Dr. T.N. Prakash (PRITVI) mentioned the collaboration with Director of Agriculture, Karnataka through whom about 20000 pamphlets were circulated all over the state apart from thousands of posters. This approach led to generation of wide variety of ideas, innovations and traditional knowledge entries. While reviewing the campaign strategy, he mentioned that only ten per cent entries came in response to the poster based campaign, about thirty per cent came through NGO and readers of magazine like Adike Patrike, and fifteen per cent through personal visits after getting some leads from network members. An issue was raised that there should be a balance of resources spent on scouting vis-� -vis the follow up action on the scouted innovations and traditional knowledge. Several questions being raised in the media about the process of documentation were raised such as, (a) what is the sanctity of digital documentation when most people do not have access to digital technology, (b) if there are no IPR laws in the country which can safeguard TK, should documentation be done at all (c) if benefits cannot be ensured and IPRs cannot be protected, should documentation process be stopped for a while, (d) can the PIC note and its framework be really understood by the people and if not, what steps are being taken to facilitate its easy comprehension and compliance by people and NIF.

On digital documentation, it was explained that the long ranging controversy on bio piracy required patent office world wide to have access to digital information on public domain traditional knowledge so that no patents were issued on such knowledge. This has been a demand of global civil society for long time. TKDL (Traditional Knowledge Digital Library) thus ensures complete protection of Indian documented knowledge heritage in terms of biopiracy. So far as documentation processes are concerned, the purpose is not just the protection of IPR. Idea is to make India innovative and build bridges between excellences in informal and formal science. The public domain traditional knowledge can be disseminated among other communities to promote lateral learning and improve productivity and sustainability in the society. Further, till IPR system evolves, confidentiality has to be maintained in NIF. The information is shared with third parties only as per the PIC. In some cases, where scope for value addition exists, sharing is done on the basis of non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Every contractual staff or associate of NIF is expected to sign NDA. It is on the same pattern as all the collaborators and RAC members have been asked to sign the NDA. Documentation also helps in preventing the erosion of knowledge besides generating respect among the knowledge holders about this knowledge system. As mentioned earlier, some of the innovations got matured precisely because documentation process created pressure to perform. Such an ethic is extremely healthy and would help make India a more creative, productive and inter connected society. So far as the issue of PIC is concerned, the current complexity in the background has emerged because of the feedback received and the need to ensure fairness in the process. We have to share pros and cons of every option so that people can decide what they think is proper in the matter.

CCD representative mentioned that they have been planning to train the scouts so that quality of documentation can improve. He also mentioned that the traditional knowledge of healers required attention to their own system of validation and value addition.

Kamaljit (SRISTI-GYAN Kendra) shared his experience of scouting by first pursuing a ‘Shodh Yatra’ on cycle and scooter covering about 250 kms, including four states. The first round of ‘Shodh Yatra’ was done to identify the places where documentation was to be attempted. Initially he and his young colleagues began with booklets in Hindi but the response was not very good. Then they started with cassettes and the impression people got was that they had come probably to sell something. Slowly and slowly, they came to realize that they had to use mobile exhibition. They developed a new vehicle called as “Saksham” with NIF’s support, which provided the facilities of dissemination using multimedia technologies. This strategy worked very well because lot of people young and old came forward to see the odd balls in the exhibition and then volunteered to share their own experiences. Kamaljit and his team also made presentation to the young students who were attending national integration camp and through these young participants, got leads for new innovations. They have also set up a telephone help line through which they were answering questions of farmers using Honey Bee database. Sometimes, the process of documentation was quite frustrating. After visiting twenty villages over two weeks, they got only three innovations. The advantage of age that their group had was also sometimes disadvantage because they had to work harder to build their credibility. They also tried to show ‘Shodh Yatra’ films developed by EMRC, Ahmedabad in collaboration with SRISTI on cable TV. Several technology offers were received through this channel.

Mr. James (PEDES) in Kerala tried to use the NGO network to scout innovations. He mentioned that among other channels, the leads in the newspapers were very helpful for documenting innovations. Given higher literacy in Kerala and wider readership of newspapers, journalists had started giving more attention to local innovations here than perhaps elsewhere. About 50 to 60 innovations were documented through these leads. He also felt that if some of the innovations were commercialized quickly and also replicated widely, then the documentation process would become faster. He also suggested that some of the older innovations, which might have been commercialized locally, should also be documented so that through National Register, such knowledge would get disseminated in other areas. In cases where similar innovations or traditional knowledge were found in more than one place, we should document these from each place so that the diffusion of existing innovations or traditional knowledge can be understood.

Dr. Balaram Sahu has been well known science writer in Orissa and has recently started Oriya version of Honey Bee. He along with Mr .Ranjan Mahapatra are trying to coordinate the campaign in Orissa. He mentioned several ideas which could be taken up for scouting and documenting innovations; a) It would be useful to tap young minds at the school level to create awareness; in turn it would also help to bring forward their creativity amidst masses. Formation of innovative and eco clubs involving students from school and colleges could help, b) the art and posters made to popularize the innovations can also help, and c) slogans should be developed which capture the essence of NIF goals.

Ranjan Mahapatra (SHRISTI) suggested that self help groups of women should be involved. The administrative agencies can also help in the process of scouting. The connection between the scouting and livelihood support strategies of poor people was necessary.

Sunda Ram, an innovator cum scout has been pursuing the scouting process in Rajasthan. He tried several interesting innovations in scouting. He organised a contest on biodiversity-based knowledge among forest department officials, in which District forest officer, forest guards and community forest protectors participated.

Dr Vittala mentioned that GIAN NE has conducted several community meetings in Assam at Kamrup, Morigaon, Nagaon, Nalbari, Tezpur and Jorhat district, in Arunachal at Ziro, NERIST. Students are from all over northeastern region have been mobilized as volunteers for scouting.

Government officials are also supporting the scouting process by their official network. Recently GIAN-NE has scouted one innovator with the help of Mr. I. K. Baruah, ADC Morigaon. Ms. Vineeta Sharma, SP Morigaon has taken keen interest and circulated our Assameese version leaflets among all the police stations of the district.

Mrs. G. B. Marak, Social Welfare Officer, Ri – Bhoi district, Meghalaya is coordinating with GIAN – NE in organizing meetings in the district. Further, GIAN-NE has conducted scouting competition at Jorhat, Tezpur, North Guwahati and Nirjuli, Itanagar. GIAN-NE has scouted about 250 innovations during the last ten months.

Several other ideas, which emerged in the meetings, were:

a) Certain practices could be kept in open source if they were not unique depending upon the conditions imposed by the innovator concerned in the consent form.

b) Innovations even if they are old may be accepted and included in the national register but should not be considered for award.

c) Sometime grassroots innovators are unable to articulate the essence of their innovation. Therefore, it is necessary for the scout to try to explore and decipher the meaning of the practice through iterative discussions and perseverance. To achieve better results, scouts should be given proper orientation training for documentation

d) For intensifying documentation process, it would be helpful to recruit local correspondents (khabarpatri) based in villages (as tried by SRISTI recently) who may have inclination towards documentation of innovations and TK.

e) Innovators could also act as a scout. Whenever an innovator scouts another similar person, it becomes easier for him to identify the problem because of his familiarity with the subject matter. His assistance in the documentation process, improves the quality of documentation at times.

f) Innovators could be broadly classified into two categories: Grassroots people; having low academic background but vast experience and Professionals/trained; having access to state-of-art knowledge network system

g) It was agreed that PIC form and note would require considerable effort by the scouts in explaining to innovators and traditional knowledge holders. It is also necessary that regional workshops be organized for the purpose.

h) Local language versions of Honey Bee are providing a very useful and productive way of disseminating the campaign goals and Honey Bee network philosophy. NIF should support spawning of new versions in different regions.

i) Many of the Nodal Officers are playing a very important role in popularizing the NIF’s campaign and they need to be supported to strengthen links with various institutions to forge ahead with the goals of NIF.


Prior Informed Consent

It is now accepted worldwide that knowledge of the local communities and individuals should be accessed and used only through their prior informed consent. The issue of informed consent is not easy. NIF took lead in this regard and started developing a form for Prior Informed Consent (PIC). In the first round of the contest, the PIC form that was used revealed several areas of improvement. Subsequently, after discussions with the collaborators and knowledge providers, a new form has been developed. It is obvious that for the people who have never been even acknowledged, the concept of PIC is not only new but also intriguing. A detailed note has been prepared which highlights the plus and the minus side of saying, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to various choices given in the form. For instance, if an innovator suggests that his knowledge may be shared widely through Honey Bee newsletter and/or on website or through other public channels, we have to explain the advantages of doing so and also the disadvantages from the IPR perspective. After sharing these implications the knowledge provider is well within his rights to say yes or no to this or other options.

Till date we have received 444 consent forms from the innovators/innovators TK holders those who participated in the second competition. Apparently as is evident from the figures, majority of the innovators do not mind sharing their addresses with the interested members. About 92 per cent of them have agreed to share their addresses with others if necessary. Out of these, fifty per cent of the innovators have permitted to use their innovations free of cost if it is on individual basis. Regarding technology transfer, the option related to the choice of assigning technology where the innovators are supposed to be suggesting their proportion of sharing benefits, have not been uniformly distributed. It may therefore be inferred that either the innovators do not have proper clarity about their preferences or they are unable to understand the framework behind the suggested benefit-sharing model that NIF wants to set forth.

Further, it is considered necessary to have a mutual understanding between the innovators and NIF about that flexibility in the conditions that have been already specified in the form. If any need arises to modify any of the conditions specified in the consent form, NIF would like to have a agreement with the innovators that they would authorize NIF to change the options on their behalf with the prior consent of the innovator concerned. Likewise, if the innovator wants to cancel his conditions specified in their consent form, they may do so with prior notification to NIF.

Since PIC is a new concept, considerable investment will have to be made in creating awareness among various stakeholders. At this moment, we have no hesitation in accepting that complexity of the form and the options in the background note are not easy to follow by most people in villages. In the absence of any major effort to create awareness about PIC, NIF’s effort will remain limited in its overall impact. NIF will however, continue to make efforts to make this process as transparent and effective as possible.

B. Value Addition and R & D Linkages

NIF is trying various approaches in order to establish linkages with several premier research and technical institutions at the national level to add value to local innovations and attain a wider coverage for promotion and dissemination of the potential technologies.

The aim is to form a value chain around each innovation or traditional knowledge. The networking model for value addition mainly aims at setting up GIANs in different regions of the country and strengthening the current GIANs. Apart from routing support through GIANs, NIF is also supporting some projects directly where either the innovators are capable enough to develop the innovation into a product on their own or GIAN support is not available. Product development teams are contracted in some cases to help innovators augment their innovations. Further, NIF is trying to support the innovators through Honey Bee Collaborators and simultaneously strengthening the capacity of collaborators to take up the augmentation process further.


Projects Supported Directly by NIF

a) NIF has supported ‘Multi-cylinder Reciprocating Pump’ of Sakun Das. A prototype has been developed after the analysis of the concept by IIT, Delhi. It will be tested in the field.

b) Mr. N. V. Satyanarayana has received support from NIF directly for improvisation and testing of his innovation Micro Windmill.

c) Mr. C. V. Pathak, an entrepreneur and innovator has received technical and financial support from NIF.

d) With direct monitoring of NIF, Mr. Naresh Kamble is developing, disseminating and testing “Development of device that would prevent burning down the electric pump”.


Projects Supported through Collaborators

In addition to the work done by the GIANs, various Honey Bee Collaborators have also undertaken value addition work with support from NIF for the grassroots innovators.


Peermade Development Society, Kerala

Peermade Development Society of Kerala has supported two projects namely the ‘Low Cost Hand Pump’ by Reji Joseph and Ousapachhen, and ‘Cardamom Drying Chamber’ by Mr. P. J. Abraham. In case of Low Cost Hand Pump, an improved prototype has been developed and the innovator has been able to sell around twenty pieces in the nearby villages with this improved product.

In case of the Cardamom Drying Chamber, the innovator had earlier tried the concept through an old model. With the support from NIF and the fieldwork of Peermade Development Society, the innovator made a prototype to validate the concept. The improved version of the prototype has now been made which is much better than the earlier one. The Spices Board has been approached for testing the product and a TePP proposal has been submitted to mobilize support for further product development.


SEVA, Madurai

Out of the innovations from the first campaign, Seva, Madurai, has supported two innovations with the help of NIF namely; ‘the modifications to silencer’ by Mr. Akasi and ‘Relay Switch’ by Mr. Ponnuswamy, In the first case, two models have been made and are being tested to ascertain the extent to which the sound of the engine can be reduced. In case of the Relay switch, prototypes have been developed with modifications done by the innovator in collaboration with Small Industries Testing and Research Centre (SiTARC). The blending of the design in both the cases to make a good final product is in progress. The testing results from SiTARC and Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), Bangalore have been quite positive about the concept underline the innovation.

Another innovation supported by SEVA is Coconut Dehusker of Mr. Jayaseelan. NIF supported this innovation through the linkage with Industrial Design Center (IDC), IIT, Mumbai, which has undertaken to modify the product. The modification was done in terms of feeding, de-husking and improving the efficiency. A modified prototype based on the input from the innovator has been developed already.

For the second campaign, the efforts to add value have already started and NIF has already provided support to two innovations out of which one is an award winner and another is non-awardee. Part support has been already provided for the innovations “To Develop Prototype, Testing and Improvement of Power Tiller” by Mr. P. Thirumaran and “Air recycling mechanism in Compressor” by Mr. Ayyathurai.


Collaboration with IIT, Delhi

A cell was set up at IIT, Delhi with the voluntary help of Dr. Subir Kumar Saha, Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering and Prof. K. Athre, Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering. Three M. Tech research associates were assigned to work on the innovations. They had taken up the task of defining the problem arena and pursuing technological gap analysis for three innovations.

Discussions have been held with Prof. R. Sirohi, Director, IIT, Delhi to sign a MOU with NIF. This will help in taking more projects by IIT, Delhi students and setting up a centre at IIT, Delhi to add value to grassroots technological innovations.


Linkage with Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai

Two students of Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, have taken up projects on Coconut Dehusker and Groundnut Pod Separator. NIF supported this project undertaken by IDC to modify the product. The modification was done in terms of feeding, dehusking and improving the efficiency. A modified prototype based on the input from the innovator has been already developed.
An informal student linkage with TECH-GC, IIT, Mumbai

Through TECH-GC, IIT Mumbai an idea competition was conducted and many students have shown interest in NIF pursuing their ideas. The students had organized a presentation on NIF to the entire first-year batch of IIT, Mumbai in September this year. The winners of the idea competition have been declared and there are plans for having a students club to work on grassroots technological innovations.

Setting up of GIAN-TECH at IIT, Kanpur

Students from IIT, Kanpur had taken up the task of validating around twenty innovations. They had visited the innovators in the summer vacation. This gave them the insight about grassroots innovations and also enlightened them regarding their role in society. They presented their experience to a larger student body. The Director, IIT, Kanpur, Prof. Dhonde has taken personal interest in the matter. With the support of Prof. Prashant p Sanjay G. Dhande, Director, IIT, Kanpur has agreed to set up a GIAN-Technology (GIAN-Tech at IIT, Kanpur). A draft MoU is being discussed so that those GIANs which do not have their own technical back-up can get technological support from GIAN-Tech.

To provide exposure to the innovators and encourage linkages with scientiss, technologists, designers, potential investors and entrepreneurs, NIF has supported the participation of innovators and traditional knowledge holders in various workshops, seminars and exhibitions, such as Indian Science Congress, Pune 2001 and at Lucknow in 2002; National Agricultural Machinery Exhibition, Bangalore 2002, CII Exhibitions in 2001 and 2002 at Ahmedabad, Kissan Exhibition 2002, Pune, etc. In all about 61 innovators (24 awardees and 37 non-awardees) were provided opportunity to show case their products in these exhibitions. Some of them got many interesting enquiries and even orders in these exhibitions.

A one-day workshop, ‘Srijan’ was organized at IIT, Delhi on 2nd March to provide a platform for interaction among formal and informal grassroots innovators. Six innovators participated in this workshop through the effort of GIAN-North. A design workshop was organized at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in collaboration with various other stake-holders under the overall guidance of Prof. Vijay Chandru of IISc.

C. Intellectual Property Rights Protection

NIF has set up an Intellectual Property Section. The Section consisting of four fellows who have started working since August 2002 towards the above objective. The Intellectual Property Section analyses the innovations to assess their viability for getting patent and other means of intellectual property protection.

Some of the premier Intellectual Property firms and IP institutions of the country have been contacted for mobilising voluntary for filing patents for innovators such as DP Ahuja & Co. (HQ at Kolkata), Surana & Surana (HQ at Chennai), Subramaniam, Nataraj & Assciates (Delhi), Anand and Anand, New Delhi. NIF has also been able to file patent applications in United States through a law firm Testa Hurwitz (THT) based in United States. It is hoped that the coming year would see more firms taking interest in working with NIF on pro bono basis.

To facilitate the protection for grassroots innovations and to create a nation wide, the I.P section has been working with the law schools around the country. Students from NALSAR University School of Law, Hyderabad have worked with NIF for last two years. The winter internship for three students from the law school on “Grassroots Innovation and their Intellectual Property Protection” has enabled the students from the school in gaining skills on patent drafting, conducting of prior art searches and drafting of various I.P agreements. One of the leading law schools of the country, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), has already expressed their interest in working with the I.P Department of NIF. Efforts are also underway to establish Intellectual Property Law Clinics in various law schools.

The concentration of the I.P section has not been confined just to the law schools. Three students pursuing the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur are working with the I.P section.

To provide training to the staff at NIF and also to create awareness on I.P protection, a workshop on “Intellectual Property Protection for Grassroots Innovations” was conducted by Mr. R. K. Gupta, Head of the Intellectual Property Management Division, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi.

Provisional patent applications for 27 innovations are ready for filing. IP section has also been providing advice on related aspects of Intellectual Property Law to other institutions, drafting non-disclosure agreements for the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad, drafting of exclusive marketing agreements between GIAN (West) and J. Support Industries, Kothamangalam, Kerala for marketing of an innovation, webserver collocation agreements and conducting prior art searches on entries for awards.

LIST OF PATENT, TRADEMARK AND DESIGN
APPLICATIONS FILED - 2002
Sr Innovation Law Firm Particulars Status
1 Aaruni Tilting Bullock Cart D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
2 Natural Water Cooler D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
3 Swastik Oil Expeller NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
4 Cotton Stripper Machine D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
5 Adaptive Agricultural Machine NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
6 Entech Oil Expeller Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
7 Adaptive Agricultural Machine Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
8 Convertible Three Wheel Tractor Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
9 Convertible Three Wheel Tractor D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
10 Fibre Optic Cable Testa Hurwitz, Boston, USA Patent Filed
11 Double Acting Pump NRDC, New Delhi Patent Ready
12 Aaron Fly Wheel NRDC, New Delhi Patent Filed
13 Auto Air Kick Pump for inflated tyres D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
14 Bicycle Sprayer D.P.Ahuja & Co, Calcutta Patent Filed
15 New Rotor Sprinkler Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
16 Device helping to Engage The Connecting
Rod Without a Check Nut
Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
17 Highly Efficient Low Wattage Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
18 Tamarind Cultivation And Processing Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
19 Wool Ginning Machine Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
20 Manual Milking Machine Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
21 Thermo Water Lifting Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
22 Hard Shell Dehusker for Coconuts Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
23 Gas Kit For Moped Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
24 Environment Friendly Oil Engine Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
25 Multi Cylinder Reciprocating Water Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
26 Low Cost Hand Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
27 Relay Switch Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
28 Coconut Harvester Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
29 Pooran Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
30 Banana Slicer Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
31 Multi Crop Thresher Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
32 Single Wheel Weed Remover Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
33 Device for Mowing and Ridging Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
34 Apparatus For Husk Threshing Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
35 Leaf Mat Making Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
36 Path finding Android Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
37 Portable power Generating Device Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
38 Adaptive Spraying Device Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
39 Self Propelled Weeder Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
40 Dish Washing Apparatus Anand & Anand, New Delhi

Patent

Ready
41 Double Acting Reciprocating Pump Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Ready
42 Single Wheel Weed Remover Anand & Anand, New Delhi Patent Filed
43 GIAN D.P Ahuja & Co. Calcutta Trademark Filed
44 SHASHWAT D.P Ahuja & Co. Calcutta Trademark Filed
45 SHAKTI Bullet Shanti Anand & Anand, New Delhi Design Registration Filed
46 Kushal Sprayer NRDC, New Delhi Design Registration In process
47 Vanraj – Small Tractor Anand & Anand, New Delhi Design Registration In process


D. Business Incubation and Venture Assistance

Business and Micro venture

Given the limited resources of NIF there is no way, one can fulfil the aspirations of the thousands of the innovators and traditional knowledge holders without establishing a genuine risk capital fund. The transaction cost in dealing with large number of grassroots innovators & local communities, one has to find innovative ways of building value chain. To form the mentoring teams around each product for which business development has to be done, one has to find willing entrepreneurs or business managers who would help in market research, business planning, developing a proposal for raising micro venture finance and eventually help convert innovations or traditional knowledge into commercial venture. Several approaches have been used to accomplish this goal so far.

a) Involving Students for developing Business plans: Students of Sloan school of management and MIT took initiative to develop business plan as a part of their course for one of the awarded technologies. Similarly, four students of London Business School did a project with SRISTI on developing a micro-venture fund for social innovations that is those innovations, which may need social investment for their diffusion. Not every technology can diffuse through private enterprise. Students of IIM-A have also taken up several projects through GIAN to develop business and marketing plan and also for valuing intellectual property through SOMA (Student Organization For Management Assistance). In addition, the students of several other management schools are being involved for similar purpose. Idea is to take this activity up on a much larger scale through a network of business schools around the country.

b) A business plan competition is planned among the students of management schools on the basis of the information to be collected in advance from the awarded innovations so as to make it easier for these innovators to attract investible support.

c) Discussions have been held with SIDBI subsequent to the announcement by Hon’ble Finance Minister in the parliament in his budget speech about setting up a National Micro Venture Fund. Unfortunately, the amount offered ( one time contribution of Rs five crores with possible contribution of another Rs five crores from National Equity Fund) is too small an amount for the purpose. And thus NIF has conveyed its discomfort with this unrealistic proposal from SIDBI. It is really a pity that given such a large data base and so many successful examples of incubation from GIAN ( Gujarat ) and now GIAN-west, we still have to make an effort about the viability of such investments. However, we are confident that the pressure of expectations from thousands of innovators and traditional knowledge holders will eventually persuade the most skeptics about the viability of investment in creative and innovatiove technologies. There is no other way, to our mind of making India innovative.

d) It is hoped that after the postion of national Coordinator is filled in this regard soon, the portfolio will become stronger.


E. Dissemination and Database Management through Information and Communication Technology ( ICTs) applications

NIF has taken up several steps to augment the IT portfolio though we are still to have a full time National Coordinator for the purpose.

a) A Multi language Multi media Honey Bee data base has been contributed by SRISTI to NIF. This has been widely distributed by NIF along with information on the awardees of the first national Competition, to various stakeholders around the country and outside.

b) NIF has co-sponsored a portal on innovation viz., Indiainnovates.com being developed by students at IIMA as a part of their course requirements. This portal has already generated very encouraging response from IIMA alumni around the world who were requested to volunteer to help in building value chain around green grassroots innovations. This portal may eventually become one point stop for any individual innovator in India. Dr Mashelkar, Chairperson, NIF had suggested this idea two years ago when the stall on innovations at the Indian Science Congress, Pune, 2000 also entitled `India innovates’.

c) A village kiosk has been set up by Honey bee network in a village in North Gujarat and NIF has decided to replicate this experience in several villages where our collaborators are working. The key difference in the approach used by Honey Bee network and the rest of the efforts in the country as well as outside is that we do not think bridging digital divide should be our first priority. The first priority ought to be to bridge knowledge divide with in the local community. Once that has been bridged, the nature of approach and process used to bridge digital divide will be quite different than would have been the case without it. In this village, six data bases have been developed or are being developed each with identity of knowledge source being acknowledged: (i) biodiversity based knowledge of children and older people; (ii) design heritage in the village, such as the arrangement of utensils in the kitchen, design of old architecture, furniture, cradle for children, motifs on old clothes etc., all aimed at showing the creativity of women in their domain of control; (iii) agricultural and other resource management practices, (iv) riddles, sayings, folk songs and sayings about nature and other cultural matters collected through competition among children, (v) distinguished recipes particularly the ones which draw upon some uncultivated plants, and (vi) local innovations and traditional knowledge register.

d) NIF web site is being made more interactive so that users can get lot of information quickly and easily.

e) The software for National register has been developed and various collaborators have also been provided the database entry modules in local language with the help from Honey Bee network and SRISTI.

f) Demo Software for Technology Exchange ( for online bidding for technologies ) has been put up at the web site for testing. SRISTI is helping in maintaining this as well as innovation database on the web site with more than 1300 innovations and traditional knowledge examples.

g) A web based three-language innovation/Traditional Knowledge entry module has been put on the web site. However, so far only 141 entries have been received through web, all in English. About the same number of entries have also been received through email.

h) Two state government web sites viz., Punjab and Maharashtra have linked NIF site and information to diffuse our work widely. However, effort will be made to pursue such linkage with all the state governments.