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BW Businessworld

The Reality Behind Innovation

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If you see Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries or Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, in a realty show soon, don't' be surprised. The National Innovation Council, under Prime Ministers' Office will launch a reality show to attract big business houses, personalities and venture capitalists, which is scheduled to go on air by January 26, 2012. Effort is on to attract people with innovative ideas that will help them to get not just an entry into the reality show, but also find venture capitalists and top business houses to fund those ideas.

If all goes well, the council hopes to fix the missing puzzle in converting ideas and innovations, into a commercial success in the country. Venture capital and marketing support will be available to all the ideas and innovations that people can come up with.

In order to get mass-based viewership for this reality show, the council has already tied up with Doordarshan. A senior director in Prasar Bharti said, DD has been approached to provide support to launch this reality show, but it is a non exclusive arrangement."

The council has thus left open the opportunity to reach out to all segments using the visual media. "We have joined hands with DD and are also discussing it with a few private channels," said Sam Pitroda, Chairman of the National Innovation Council. "We cannot share the details of the reality show, but can assure you that it will be a big hit," says Saurabh Srivastava, member of the council.

Pitroda said that council cannot give a guarantee that an idea/innovation will be a commercial success and the money invested by the company or VC will bring major returns to them. "I am sure if 10 ideas are seeded, at least one could be a commercial success."

The National Innovation Council's first report was unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday. The idea of an India Inclusive Innovation Fund (IIIF) was proposed to Finance Ministry to support the efforts of the council.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced Rs 100-crore seed money to set up an India Inclusive Innovation Fund in the financial year 2012-13. This fund will be capitalized to an eventual target size of Rs 5,000 crore over a number of years. Pitroda says: "We wanted the government to bless it, now we will actively look for anyone willing to invest on the ideas/innovations."

IIIF also aims to increase skills, productivity and competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises through innovation, develop communications and advocacy for innovation, develop an institutional framework for innovation, set up challenge funds for innovations, especially that have solutions for  inclusive participation and to nurture innovation through education.

The most attractive step that council has taken to nurture innovations through education is to soon set up a Meta University, the first such university in the world that will allow students to simultaneously pursue different subjects from different universities in the country.

India dreams to become an innovation hub. It certainly has a long road to travel before the dream can be achieved. Setting up Meta University is one of the series of steps that government plans to start over the next few
years.

Pitroda said, information technology and broadband will play a critical role in helping convert ideas and innovations into a commercial success. The council plans to launch an ideas and innovation portal, where anyone with an idea can post their ideas.|

"Rest assured if the idea is good, it will find takers, if it does not get a taker, it must not be a good idea," says Pitroda.

Currently 19 states have set up State Innovation Councils and 19 ministries have set up Sectoral Innovation Councils. This, the report said will help to develop the innovation roadmap for the decade. The Government has declared 2010-2020 as the ‘Decade of Innovation'.