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Atal Innovation Mission: Fostering Innovation for Sustainable Development

Atal Innovation Mission: Fostering Innovation for Sustainable Development

Sh. R Ramanan(Additional Secretary and Mission Director, AIM, NITI Aayog), Naman Agrawal(Innovation Lead, AIM, NITI Aayog), Himanshu Agrawal(Young Professional, AIM, NITI Aayog)

 

In the last few years, innovation in India has reached a tipping point, with social enterprises too leveraging it to the best of results. SKS Microfinance has successfully innovated the Grameen Bank Microfinance Model, which has figured out a unique way to ‘scale up’ the penetration and impact of the organization and acquired SKS a membership of 5.7 million, across 16 states in 11 years.

Akshay Patra is the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme—it reaches 10 million children across 5 states, six days a week. And they serve freshly cooked meals at Rs 1.50 per meal. This was achieved through a ‘technological innovation: to prepare meals on large scale in a short time’ and a ‘logistics innovation: to reach the meals to the schools’.

Others like Goonj -creating rural value from urban waste in a manner that is mutually dignified-and MV Foundation-a new way to take kids out of child labor and into schools-are offering non-linear solutions to the country’s developmental challenges.

ATAL INNOVATION MISSION

With the goal of fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, Atal Innovation Mission has undertaken six major initiatives in its first year of establishment:

  1. Atal Tinkering Labs: Creating problem-solving mindset across schools in India.
  2. Atal Incubation Centres: Fostering world-class startups and adding a new dimension to the incubator model.
  3. Atal New India Challenges: Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the needs of various sectors/ministries.
  4. Mentor India Campaign: A national mentor network in collaboration with public sector, corporates, and institutions, to support all the initiatives of the mission.
  5. Atal Community Innovation Centre: To stimulate community-centric innovation and ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
  6. ARISE: To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.

Brief on Activities Carried out under Atal Innovation Mission

 

ATAL INNOVATION MISSION

 

Recognizing this need, Government of India has setup Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. AIM’s objective is to develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of the economy, provide platform and collaboration opportunities for different stakeholders, create awareness and create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.

 

Five major initiatives taken in first year of establishment:

  1. Atal Tinkering Labs-Creating problem-solving mindset across schools in India.
  2. Atal Incubation Centres-Fostering world class startups and adding a new dimension to the incubator model.
  3. Atal New India Challenges-Fostering product innovations and aligning them to the needs of various sectors/ministries.
  4. Mentor India Campaign- A national Mentor network in collaboration with public sector, corporates and institutions, to support all the initiatives of the mission.
  5. Atal Community Innovation Centre- To stimulate community centric innovation and ideas in the unserved /underserved regions of the country including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  6. ARISE-To stimulate innovation and research in the MSME industry.

Brief on activities carried out under Atal Innovation Mission

 

1) Atal Tinkering Labs: at school level

Over the last two years, AIM has established thousands of Atal Tinkering Labs, enabling students from grade 6 to grade 12 access to innovative tools and technologies like 3D printers, robotics, miniaturised electronics, do-it-yourself kits. Nationwide, there are 4880+ operational labs in 650+ districts, with over 2 million students having access to them.

Hon’ble President of India Shri. Ram Nath Kovind with student innovators from Atal Tinkering Labs
Hon’ble President of India Shri. Ram Nath Kovind with student innovators from Atal Tinkering Labs

Below are some activities related to ATL operational excellence, proactive promotion of innovation and thought leadership, collaborations and partnerships, and new initiatives by AIM:

  1. 2000+ ATL teachers trained with corporate partners
  2. ATL Gandhian Challenge: launched in all schools along with UNICEF
  3. India Stamp Creativity Challenge: launched with UNICEF and In
  4. 2000+ ATL teachers trained with corporate partners
  5. ATL Gandhian Challenge: launched in all schools along with UNICEF
  6. India Stamp Creativity Challenge: launched with UNICEF and India Post
  7. PM India Innovative Learning DHRUV ProgrammeAIM invited as key partner by MHRD
  8. Russia AIM SIRIUS ATL Student Innovation Exchange finalized
  9. Singapore Inspreneur 3.0 ATL showcasing of top 6 innovations with MEA Minister and Singapore Finance Minister
  10. dia Post
  11. PM India Innovative Learning DHRUV ProgrammeAIM invited as key partner by MHRD
  12. Russia AIM SIRIUS ATL Student Innovation Exchange finalized
  13. Singapore Inspreneur 3.0 ATL showcasing of top 6 innovations with MEA Minister and Singapore Finance Minister

 

2) Atal Incubators: At Universities, Institutions, Industry Level level

To promote the creation of a supporting ecosystem for start-ups and entrepreneurs AIM has been establishing world-class incubators called Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) in universities, institutes, corporates, etc. To date, AIM has selected 102 universities, institutions, private players, each of which will foster creation and nurturing of 40–50 start-ups every four years. 50+ of them are already operational with 900+ operational start-ups and the remaining will be operationalised during this year.

Atal Incubator supported startups with Hon’ble Prime Minister of Singapore Sh. Lee Hsien Loong and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi at Insprenuer 2.0, Singapore
Atal Incubator supported startups with Hon’ble Prime Minister of Singapore Sh. Lee Hsien Loong and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sh. Narendra Modi at Insprenuer 2.0, Singapore

Below are some activities related to AIC operational excellence, proactive promotion of innovation and thought leadership, collaborations and partnerships, and new initiatives by AIM:

  1. Singapore Inspreneur: 3.0 ATL showcasing of top 6 innovations with MEA Minister and S’pore Finance Minister
  2. Indo French Knowledge Summit at Lyon: 5 AIC startups received immediate funding interest by VCs
  3. Youth-CoLab Sustainable Innovation Challenge along with UNDP–based on Gandhian values
  4. Entrepreneur World Cup National Innovation Challenge: CCAMP AIC start-up emerged as India winner
  5. Ongoing discussions and interests expressed for incubator and start-up collaborations by Indo German, Netherlands, Swedish, French, Australian Embassies, US India Business council, etc.
  6. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnership in AIC/start-up training
  7. UNLEASH Startups Challenge with Netherlands embassy support

 

3) Atal Community Innovation Centres: Serving Unserved and Under-Served Regions of India

To promote the benefits of technology-led innovation to the unserved/underserved regions of India, including tier-2, tier-3 cities, aspirational districts, tribal, hilly and coastal areas, AIM is setting up Atal Community Innovation Centres with a unique partnership-driven model, wherein it would grant up to Rs 2.5 crores to an ACIC, subject to a partner proving equal or greater matching funding. Over 300+ applications have been received across the country and 50+ ACICs will be established during the next two years.

Hon’ble Minister Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launches Atal Community Innovation Centre
Hon’ble Minister Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launches Atal Community Innovation Centre

Below are some activities related to ACIC operational excellence, proactive promotion of innovation and thought leadership, collaborations and partnerships, and new initiatives by AIM:

  • 300+ applications received to date and over 1300 registrations. ~25 ACICs to be operationalised during FY 2020–21

 

4) Atal New India Challenges: Product and Service Innovations with National Impact

To create product and service innovations having national socio-economic impact, AIM launched over 24 Atal New India Challenges in partnership with five different ministries and departments of Central government. As many as 52 winners were selected for grant aid and handholding by incubators/mentors of AIM, out of 950+ applications received.

Hon’ble Ministers at the launch of Atal New India Challenges
Hon’ble Ministers at the launch of Atal New India Challenges

Below are some activities related to ANIC operational excellence, proactive promotion of innovation and thought leadership, collaborations and partnerships, and new initiatives by AIM:

  • 24 ANICs launched, 5 Ministries supported
  • 26 winners selected and announced for first tranche disbursement, 26 shortlisted for handholding with incubators for subsequent disbursement
  • Proactive Meetings with ANIC Winners, Ministries / Scientists organized

 

5) Applied Research and Innovation for Small Enterprises (ARISE): To stimulate MSME Industry Innovation

To promote innovation in a phased manner in the MSME/start-up sector, AIM will be launching ARISE along with partner ministries so that great research ideas are converted into viable innovative prototypes, followed by product development and commercial deployment.

Commercializing innovations from Government R&D institutions into the market and the role of public & private institutions in innovation landscape of India,' featured renowned personalities at the Arise Innovation Demo Day
'Commercializing innovations from Government R&D institutions into the market and the role of public & private institutions in innovation landscape of India,' featured renowned personalities at the Arise Innovation Demo Day

 

6) Mentorship and Partnerships with Public, Private sector, NGOs, Academia, Institutions  

To enable all the initiatives to succeed, AIM has launched one of the largest mentor engagement and management programme, 'Mentor India: The Mentors of Change'.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant launched the 'Gems of Mentor India' book, a memoir of inspiring stories of AIM's Mentors of Change from across India.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant launched the 'Gems of Mentor India' book, a memoir of inspiring stories of AIM's Mentors of Change from across India.


To date AIM has over 10000+ registrations nationwide, with 4000+ of them allocated to ATLs and AICs.

 

What is even more promising is that other government agencies are also leveraging innovation for inclusive growth. The Defence Institute for High Altitude Research (DIHAR) in Ladakh has played a transformational role in accelerating the socio-economic development of the region. Many initiatives-such as solar energy-based low-cost greenhouses, zero energy-based storage—have transformed vegetable and animal productivity and output, and even raised the tree line above 13,000 feet.

 

Additionally, the Government of Karnataka partnered with the Azim Premji Foundation to innovate primary education in government schools. They have instituted an innovative process to assess the school’s capability to build student competencies rather than mere marks. This will lead to many more students passing out of primary schools with basic competencies. The growing innovation momentum in corporates, social enterprises, NGOs, and government agencies is beginning to have a significant impact. More and more organizations have embedded innovative cells in their organization’s structure.

 

This reinforces my belief that ‘Innovation is for India, what quality was for Japan; a transforming agent’. Let us build this momentum to the point it makes India the 'innovation capital of the world'.