Thursday, October 30, 2008

Announcing the Innovation to Market Programme

Over the years, we have realised that linking Innovations to the Markets is imperative to address the unmet needs of the rural customers and create the accompanying social impact.

To address this particular challenge as also to make Rural Innovation Network (RIN) financially more sustainable, we are proud to announce the launch of 2 new initiatives as part of the 'Innovation to Market Programme' which is funded by HIVOS, headquartered in Netherlands.

The programs are as follows: -

  1. Innovator to Entrepreneur program - Link Innovators to Entrepreneurs to take Innovations to the Market
  2. Rural Innovation Fund – Market research, Fund positioning & Legal entity creation

The 1st program will be the responsibility of Rajeev Surana whereas RIN will be appointing a new Chief Investment Officer (CIO) to undertake the 2nd program.

We take this opportunity to thank our Team members, Board Members, Advisors, Funding agencies and all those involved with RIN for their continued support and are confident that the above programs funded by HIVOS will help us move closer to realise our vision of empowering Innovators to serve rural markets and create significant social impact.

Special thanks are due to Mr. Muralidharan from HIVOS – Bangalore office for encouraging us to undertake these programs to address specific gaps in the Innovation Ecosystem.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KAVI: Making every voice heard

Cerebral Palsy also known as CP is often described as "An intelligent mind captured in a disobedient body". This is a non-progressive condition caused due to damage in some parts of brain especially during child delivery. This leads to loss of proper functioning of motor nerves which are responsible for neuro-muscular coordination leading to various problems including speech impairment. The muscles become stiff (spasticity) and reflex movements are absolutely uncontrolled making it impossible for a person to carryout normal days work and making him dependent on someone else. Though the learning abilities and intelligence level remains normal. According to a study conducted by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that cerebral palsy has the second highest economic cost amongst all birth defects. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, as the damage to the brain cannot be reversed, but it can be managed by different interventions.

In order to maximize one's potential; education in some form is a must. Many initiatives have been taken in last few years in terms of providing education and training to a person with CP. Technology has played a major role worldwide to overcome few of these challenges, but most often these technologies are restricted to urban areas. Unfortunately for the rural dwellers with CP, technologies have failed to address the problems of rural areas in terms of affordability and accessibility. The conventional ACC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) systems like flip-charts having alphabets, eye-pointing, graphical tablets etc are typically used in India. All these methods are slow, cumbersome and are not very interactive. Attempts have been made to create computer softwares for this purpose. But since computers are expensive and consume more electricity, these kinds of technologies could never address the rural needs.

KAVI, designed by Invention Labs, is an AAC device focusing on children with Cerebral Palsy with speech impairment. The main goal of this innovation is to empower these children in rural India to join mainstream schools without any inhibitions or loss of self-respect. This will in turn lead to greater economic productivity and improved social perception. KAVI is a handheld assistive device with an LCD screen which has been designed, keeping in mind the special requirement of children with CP in rural areas. It has two main components: AVAZ is interacting software which generates sentences based on the click signals sent to the system which is then read out to an interlocutor. It allows children to compose sentences rapidly and hence effective communication. This also allow teachers to structure their instruction with the students with more creativity and to come up with innovative ways of conveying concepts to disabled children. ADITI is a contactless switch with a large surface area making it easy to use for a person with poor motor control skills. KAVI runs on a nickel metal-hydride battery which makes it environment friendly and safe to use. The device itself is portable which can also be mounted on a wheelchair. The design gives a very playful feel to make it easier for children to accept the device.

L-RAMP is very pleased to welcome Invention Labs and their KAVI product into our incubation programme. In the coming months, Invention Labs will be carefully studying the wants and needs of people with Cerebral Palsy with the goal of using the study results to move KAVI towards commercialization.

For further details contact:
Mobile no: 9600152349

Thursday, October 9, 2008

L-RAMP organising seventh PIP

L-RAMP is organising seventh Pre-Incubation Programme for innovators on Friday the 10th October 2008 at IIT-Madras. The purpose of the PIP is to enable the innovators to innovate better and to create an impact in the society through their innovations. About 30 innovators are expected to be attending the programme. Identified experts will take sessions on Problem identification & solution, Low cost prototyping, Finding investment, Protection of intellectual properties, Licensing & Technology transfer and the twelve common mistakes committed by the innovators. We hope that the participants shall implement these learnings in the idea to market journey of their innovations.

L-RAMP Award of Excellence - Details and Application Procedure

RIN and IIT Madras present the L-RAMP Award of Excellence

We know that you're an innovator at heart and love coming up with several interesting innovations. At Rural Innovations Network (RIN), we salute your creative spirit and endeavour to showcase the same. In assocation with IIT Madras we now bring you the L-RAMP Award of Excellence. A recognition and mentoring programme that seeks to identify, honour and incubate select technological innovations that significantly impact rural lives. So all you budding Einsteins and Kalams, if you have an innovation that makes a positive difference to rural lives, do enter the L-RAMP Awards. Rest assured, we will help you in every way we can, technically, financially and morally in transforming your dreams into reality. There's more! We also have awards for individuals and organizations who encourage and support rural innovations. So if you are an enterprise, media company, investor, journalist or an individual and if you have encouraged rural innovations, do let us know.

  • Grassroot Innovator Award (for Tamil Nadu based innovators who have no access to technology, funds or markets)
  • Young Innovator Award (for Tamil Nadu based innovators below 21 years of age)
  • Woman Innovator Award (for Tamil Nadu based woman innovators)
  • Enterprise Award (For innovation-based and commercially viable enterprises)
  • Investor Award (For providing novel financial support in transforming an innovation to a viable enterprise)
  • Media Award (For featuring issues related to innovations, in print & electronic media)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (For lifetime contribution to innovation and entrepreneur development)
How to Apply
For the Grassroot Innovator Award, Young Innovator Award or Woman Innovator Award
Provide the following details in English or Tamil, neatly typed in A4 size sheets
  1. Describe your product.
  2. How is your product new or innovative?
  3. How will your product solve a problem in society?
  4. Personal details (name, gender, age, education, profession, complete postal address and phone number)
For the remaining categories
Print out the downloadable application form from the L-RAMP website.

Due Dates
The last date for receiving applications is November 5th, 2008. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted directly.

Address for mailing applications
Send your completed application to:
The Coordinator, L-RAMP Award of Excellence 2008
2nd Floor, IC&SR Building
IIT Madras
Chennai 600036
Phone: 044-22578389

The materials provided along with the application will not be returned. L-RAMP will be committed to maintain confidentiality of your application.

L-RAMP announces the 4th annual L-RAMP Award of Excellence

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Space technology vs. Rural technology

At yesterday's Engenious event, held as part of Shaastra 2008 and sponsored by RIN, we had a very interesting panel discussion led by various members of Tamil Nadu's innovation community.

One of the panel discussants was speaking on the difficulty of encouraging students to take up projects for rural development, especially on the perception that rural technology is boring. He shared an interesting perspective he'd heard from somebody else (and I paraphrase here):

Rural technology and space technology have a lot in common.
  • You have to design for an inhospitable environment with harsh environmental conditions
  • Once deployed, service or maintenance is very difficult/impossible to undertake
  • The challenges being faced are very difficult (and often similar, such as creation of energy, sanitation and communication)
  • The products/services often cannot depend on existing infrastructure
The great thing about rural technology, and the key point that makes it so interesting, is that you must meet all of the above challenges and with two extra difficulties:
  • It must be delivered at an extremely low cost
  • There is a wide variety of customers to satisfy, each having different needs and wants
I thought it was a great perspective to share with students and one which I will surely use in the future.