Last Saturday, Pune played host to a number of science and technology innovators from around the country, as a part of the Innovations 2010 conference.
Overall it was an interesting conference, a little hat ke. There was much less software/IT/web-2.0 kind of stuff, and much more basic science and technology. Also, it was not all targeted towards startups; which means that they also highligh individual innovators’ ideas that are not necessarily going to become a big business (for example, a method for cleanliness at a railway station), and also some interesting ideas from larger companies (e.g. the rapid DFM review and collaboration solution for injection molding from Geometric). Such innovations are not normally included in places like proto or headstart.
The event was kickstarted with a keynote by Sanjay Nayak, CEO of Tejas Networks, which is a Bangalore based optical networking startup. Tejas, which has been around for the last 5 years or so, is profitable and has revenues close to $150m. That is quite an impressive feat from an Indian high-tech startup, selling products from India worldwide. It is also a shining example to the naysayers who keep on saying that Indian product companies cannot sell products in the US. I hope that more people follow Tejasâ lead and venture into the space. Sanjay mentioned that India itself is a great market for petrochemical and telecom markets, and if you design products that satisfy the needs of these markets, you will have the advantage of selling close to home in the markets you know; something that your gadzillion dollar competitor does not. That said, it is imperative that the products you build are international class; in other words, you must implement internationally standard processes and techniques to make this happen. One thing that is lacking in India is government support â by making a policy that Indian Govt agencies/companies must buy from Indian product companies if the product quality is on par, the government will give a significant boost to innovation in the high-tech space. Instead of innovating for MNCs, people will start innovating for their own companies.
The Main Course – The Innovations
Here is a list of the innovations that were presented. These are mainly short, one or two line descriptions of the main innovation. You’ll notice that there are a bunch of Pune companies in this list.
Electronically driven supercharger
Rajeev Ranadive, Automotive Robotics, Pune Company
Customers like powerful dynamic cars, but don’t want to pay for it. More accurately, they want extra power during acceleration or climbing. Not really required all the time. And turbochargers run all the time, which is a waste. Instead, they have a electrically driven supercharger which provides the extra power only when needed, and at low engine speeds, it charges the battery. Hence it require lower electrical input, and higher mechanical output.
This company was also at proto.in Pune, but here they presented a different innovation. Which is pretty cool.
HyCator Cavitating Reactor Engine
Anjan Mukherjee, HyCa Technologies
HyCa was pretty much a repeat of their proto.in, Pune, presentation, so not repeating it here.
Generating electricity from ocean waves.
S.G. Kanitkar, Enviro Abrasion Resistent Engineers Pvt. Ltd., Pune Company
Their system is called ANEESH (Adaptive Near-shore Energy Extraction and Supply Hydrokinator. This mechanism has lower initial set-up expenses (“capital costs”) than solar or biomass energy, and cost and capacity utilization factor is comparable to other renewable energy sources. They have a prototype that is 1.5m x 4m x 6.5m which generates 2 kW of power. They need collaborators for electrical systems and electronic controls to complete the full system. In addition, they want people who can liaise with government bodies to ensure that they get past the appropriate regulatory hurdles.
Avoiding crap at the railway station.
Rajendra Ladkat, individual inventor, Pune inventor
The current method is just a hole in the train compartment and the crap ends up on the tracks everywhere and anywhere, including the railway stations. Ravindra has invented a simple mechanism which ensures that the waste matter is discharged only when the train is going at high speeds, which is a much better place to discharge it than when the train is stationary. It is a simple vertical HDPE pipe, with sloping sides and two flexible flaps. The flaps open when the train speed goes about 40kmph. Trial was conducted in Pragati express in Jan 2009, and the trial was found to be satisfactory by all stakeholders. Economics: 9000 passenger trains with 40000 comparments (which means 1,60,000 potential installations). This totally costs 48cr (contrast with Rs. 4000 cr. allocated by government for green toilets.) He is looking for business collaborators.
Design for Manufacturability tool for CAD/CAM software
Bhaskar Sinha, Geometric Software, Pune Company (mostly)
DFM = Design for Manufacturability. Designers can check for manufacturability in their CAD tool itself. When the designer is creating a design in CAD, the tool will check and validation the design from a manufacturability point of view. It points out problem areas and indicates what constraint was violated by the design. Contextual help at this point gives the user information about best practices (and this can include knowledge from the customer company itself.) (@aparanjape thinks that this kind of functionality should be there in major CAD/CAM products, so it’s not really clear what the innovation here is.)
Non-duplicatable material for security (ID cards, etc)
Raman Nanda, Bilcare, Pune Company
NonClonable security technology, from Bilcare. Consider ID cards, driving licenses, ration cards, health cards, NREGA cards. Any of them can be duplicated. Bilcare has used nanomaterials and micromaterials to develop a material that has a unique “material fingerprint”. This is invisible to the naked eye, but machine readable. And since it is at the micro/nano scale, it is not duplicatable. It cannot be reproduced, even by the original manufacturer (or Bilcare). This technology can be integrated with any security technology, like barcodes, RFID, or magstrips. They claim this requires significantly lower total cost of ownership, since this technology does not require any electronic parts in the card. It requires the scanner (i.e. the device that is used to check the identity) to be connected to a central server.
Tree Climbing Device
Mushtaq Ahmed from Kashmir, and Sham Antoorkar from Ahmedabad
They have invented a simple mechanical (non-electronic) device that can be used by unskilled people to climb trees/poles/etc easily and safely and allows resting while climbing. Mushtaq invented the device and Sham make some changes to make it commercially viable. The plan is to launch it by March 2010.
Rotory variable compression ratio engine
Das Ajee Kamath, Gyatk
You can’t put petrol in a diesel car, or diesel in a petrol car. VCR = Variable Compression Engine, would allow you to put any fuel in any engine. And this is an idea that companies all over the world have been working on for 20+ years – but it has significant limitations. Gyatk has invented a rotory VCR, which overcomes the limitations. They have a working prototype, and patents in 40+ countries, and engagement with two major auto companies in the country.
Health emergency alert system for Seniors
Umang Salgia, Wellcore Corp. Pune Company?
A device that seniors can wear on their body and it can automatically detect emergency situations, or the person can manually activate it, and it sends an alert to the appropriate person/organization. It monitors vital signs, motion, blood pressure etc. And the alert also gives the location of where the emergency happened.
I think Wellcore has a development center in Pune. (Given that both founders are Pune folks, I’d guess that it is mainly a Pune company, but I cannot find any information on their website, or anywhere else on the web. Can somebody confirm?). It is interesting to note that Wellcore also presented at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show, at Las Vegas, the biggest electronics conference in the world) this year, and was chosen as one of the top ten products by this website.
Document sharing with remote control of secure information
Rahul Kopikar, Seclore Systems
A system that allows sharing of documents but where the original document creator retains control of the sensitive information in the document. At a later stage, if the document creator can revoke the permissions and the document will become unreadable.
You, me and Disaster, a card game for increasing disaster management awareness
Peeyush Sekhsaria, Handesign, Bangalore
There is a need to get individuals and communities involved in understanding disaster management. Hence this is a card game that allows people to understand disaster management in a fun settings. Serves like a facilitation tool for teachers, trainers, social workers etc.
Making rain – a low cost way of seeding clouds and causing rain
Shreehari Marathe, individual inventor, Nanded Maharashtra
Seeding clouds to cause rain involves spraying clouds with appropriate minerals. Conventionally done by aircraft. Shreehari invented a way of doing this by burning tyres and putting the salt on it. The smoke carries the salt to the clouds and results in rain. (For reasons I cannot pinpoint, this idea is causing a bad science alert for me. I wonder whether this idea has been proved under scientific, controlled conditions. It is possible that this whole idea suffers from confirmation bias, and other such statistical anomalies.)