Vice President of India, inaugurated the new facility of IIT Madras Centre forInnovation (CFI) in the presence of Thiru K. Ponmudy, Minister for Higher Education, Government of Tamil Nadu, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, and Mr. V. Shankar, Founder, CAMS Pvt. Ltd and Distinguished Alumnus Awardee of IIT Madras, besides students, faculty and other officials of IIT Madras.
The new facility is located in the recently-constructed Sudha and Shankar Innovation Hub, which is dedicated to supporting and encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) activities of the students and researchers.
The Sudha and Shankar Innovation Hub is IIT Madras’ first architect-designed built space dedicated to student-led activities. It is funded by both alumni as well as government contributions besides the institute.
Besides CFI, the Sudha and Shankar Innovation Hub also hosts Nirmaan, a pre-incubator that supports to convert student-led technology projects into successful start-ups while the Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GDC) supported by Jaishree and Desh Deshpande and Kris Gopalakrishnan, the Institute’s main body for faculty, staff and students to gain ‘hands-on’ training in and exposure to start-up creation.
The Sudha and Shankar Innovation Hub was constructed with the generous support of alumnus, V Shankar (1981, B.Tech – Mechanical Engineering), Founder, CAMS Pvt Ltd. IIT Madras conferred the Distinguished Alumnus Award upon V. Shankar for his exemplary commitment to excellence in the finance industry and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Speaking at the inauguration function, Vice President of India, Jagdeep Dhankhar said, “Prof. V. Kamakoti is the Director of IIT Madras during ‘Amrit Kaal,’ the 75th year of Independence. He along with the faculty will be creating those warriors who will shape the destiny of India in 2047 – they are before me.”
Further, Vice President said, “Alumni are the spinal strength of an Institution. Institutions grow on the shoulders of the alumni, their laurels and their contributions. Let us in this country have a mechanism for a structured evolution of alumni in all institutions. Those alumni and institutions will certainly take care of our economic nationalism and our growth trajectory… I would want this great institution (IIT Madras) to take the lead in having a model platform for all alumni. This model can change the world.”
This inauguration carries a huge meaning. It indicates the changing ecosystem and the new profile that India is indicating to the world at large. This gathering before represents both a diverse India and the spirit of India. There is an energy, vibrancy and positivity here.” Vice President also added.
Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar also interacted with the various teams of CFI and took their questions on the future of the nation and the importance of start-ups for the nation’s economy.
One of the oldest such academic bodies, the CFI is a pioneering student-led ‘Tinker Lab’ involving about 10 per cent of the students, making it the largest such activity on campus. Since its seeding by the 1981 batch, CFI has grown to host 15 Hobby clubs and 6 competition teams with additional teams providing support on branding and engagement, finance, and web-ops/ coding.
The competition teams work on futuristic and cutting-edge themes including Hyperloop, electric vehicles for racing, solar-powered cars, autonomous ground vehicles, sounding rockets, and space rovers. The Hobby clubs are dedicated to themes that students are passionate about, including astronomy, mathematics, analytics, bioinformatics, 3D printing, techno-art and Blockchain. CFI teams have won national and international accolades, including representing India at global fora.
Speaking earlier, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “During the last 14 years, the CFI has had tremendous impact on both innovation and start-up culture at IIT Madras. Nearly, 6,000 students have benefitted from learning various skills at this centre and approximately 1,000 student projects have been completed. In addition, about 50 start-ups can trace their roots back to the CFI. With the growing appetite in student community for innovation and entrepreneurial activities, this centre needed major expansion to cater to current and future needs.”
Earlier, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, delivered the welcome address.
With a cohort run every six months, Nirmaan recruits teams of pre-startups that work on specific themes in the deep-tech domains including robotics, AI/ML, Blockchain, sensors and hardware. Seeded by the batch of 1992, from its launch seven years ago, Nirmaan has housed more than 140 Entrepreneurial teams, and Nirrmaan pre-incubated teams such as Tan90 (cooling solutions), Modulus (modular housing), GalaxEye (space imaging) , UrbanMatrix (drones) and Involve (peer-learning) have gone on to raise funding and created a strong impact in their domains.
Launched in 2017, the GDC is designed to give thought leadership and networking impetus to help build entrepreneurial systems and processes in STEM universities across India. It has been funded by grants from three illustrious alumni of IIT Madras Dr. Gururaj Deshpande, Mrs. Jaishree Deshpande and Mr. ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan. GDC works with STEM universities across India to implement an innovative ‘Lab to Market’ mission: by helping faculty, researchers, students, and entrepreneurs to commercialise research ideas, and develop robust start-ups that positively create impact at scale.