Tag Archives: innovation

Innovations 2010: Event Update

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.

Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter
Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter. Click on the logo for other PuneTech articles about Innovations.

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.

I missed the keynote presentation by Sanjay Nayak of Tejas Networks. However, Abhijit Athavale has covered it on his blog. Excerpt:

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.)

How can we improve students and industry collaboration on innovative projects? (Answer & win prizes)

Update: The contest is over (but the discussion can still continue!) Abhay Patil, who judged the contest, had this comment about the contenst:

On behalf of IITB Alumni Association (Pune Chapter) – organizers of Innovations 2010 – let me thank PuneTech and it’s members for this set of insightful, passionate and well articulated responses. You literally made our day and have given us enough high quality stuff to digest before we plan the next edition of Innovations!

I will share the ‘verdict’ of the organizers with Navin shortly. You would agree that this exercise is not just a ‘competition’. We should/ would figure a way to move forward with these inputs. Thanks again!

After looking at the quality of the answers, the IITBAA(Pune) has decided to increase the number of prizes to 5, so we have 5 winners: Manish, Ruchika, Abhishek Nagaraj, and Vijay Patil. Vipul gets a special prize for the best student answer. Congratulations and thanks, your free passes are in your email.

Now for the next steps – actually implementing some of these ideas…

We are giving away two passes for Innovations 2010, worth Rs. 1000 500 each (Update: after this article appeared, Innovations appears to have dropped the ticket price down to Rs. 500), for the best answer to the problem laid out in this post. Read on for details.

Earlier today, we wrote about the Innovations 2010 event happening in Pune next Saturday, and while it is great that we have interesting innovations to showcase in events like this, it is a cause for worry that a country of a billion people cannot come up with more innovation; especially when you consider that we probably have more high IQ people than the entire population of the United States.

One of the problems, as I see it, is the lack of collaboration between our best students and Industry. We have lots of smart students wasting away in a bureaucrat controlled education system. They have time on their hands, and even motivation to work on interesting stuff (if you manage to catch them at the right stage). What they don’t have, is the experience and guidance necessary to work on the right problems. I’ve seen many bright students working on difficult, but ultimately pointless problems/projects, because nobody pointed them in the right direction.

Click on this icon to see all PuneTech articles related to tech education in Pune
Click on this icon to see all PuneTech articles related to tech education in Pune

By contrast, there are enough bright people in industry who are full of brilliant ideas, but who are too busy with their delivery schedules, and they just don’t have to time to implement and try out any of their ideas. Connecting the two sets of people is an obvious solution, that many groups of have tried without much success, for many years. There are lots of initiatives, like Peepaal Campus, projects4students , but I don’t see any of them really achieving critical mass. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I feel that one of the issues is the fact that many of these initiatives are focused on B.E. projects of 4th year engineering students – and that, in most cases, is a waste of time. By that time, most of the students have lost any interest/motivation in doing a good job of the project. Most BE projects, which are supposed to represent a year’s work for 3 to 4 people, are worthless, and could be done by a passionate/motivated student in 2 weeks. For a more detailed discussion of the problems with motivating 4th year students with industry projects, see this interesting discussion on ForPune.com.

But, let us not give up. Cynicism is over-rated. I think we can still do something. At least in Pune, a few people getting together can make a difference.

So, here is the challenge:

Suggest a specific, detailed, implementable initiative that a few of us can start in Pune, to get students and industry to work together on innovative projects. To improve your chances of winning, give a proposal that is:

  • Specific (as opposed to general handwaving)
  • Detailed (as opposed to short one or two liners)
  • Implementable right now (as opposed to a 10-year plan)
  • Implementable by us – people like you and me (as opposed to something the Government is supposed to do for us)

Leave your proposal as a comment on this article, or you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere and leave a link (or a trackback/pingback) here. Extra credit if you’re willing to be one of the persons who will implement the suggestion! The best two entries get one Innovations pass each. Of course, you’re encouraged to enter even if you’re not interested in the Innovations pass. (In that case, please indicate that in your entry, so we can give the pass to the next best entry.) The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, 5 January, 2010, midnight, IST.

Innovations 2010: Showcasing the best science and technology in practice – Jan 9

On next Saturday, 9th January, Pune will play host to a number of innovative inventors from across the country, as part of Innovations 2010, the flagship event of the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter. This is an event that showcases some of the best science and technology innovations in India (whether they are from startups, large companies, or elsewhere), that have been implemented in practice. The innovations showcased could be in the form of processes, products or applications from varied fields such as medicine, agriculture, mechanical/electronic/chemical technology, IT products, etc. In the past, everything from solar powered pivot irrigation by a lone inventor, to integrated system for ethanol production from sorghum, by Pune’s Praj Industries, to wi-fi security by AirTight networks, to stem cell therapy for pre-eclampsia, has been featured.

Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter
Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter. Click on the logo for other PuneTech articles about Innovations.

In addition, the event also is a great place for “networking”, i.e. meeting a whole bunch of very interesting people in one place. About 200 to 300 people from all over the country, interested in science, technology, innovation and commercialization of the same will be there – and our experience has been that this is a rather different crowd from the usual suspects that end up in the more usual web-2.0 / proto kinds of conferences that are more normal.

Last year, we had an article about what to expect at Innovations 2009, and why we think you should attend. Most of that advice remains intact, so you should take a look at it to decide whether you’re interested.

Registrations for Innovations 2010 are open, and at Rs. 1000, it falls exactly at the borderline of PuneTech’s policy of only writing about events that are free, or don’t cost too much. What this means is that, in our editorial opinion, this event will be worth it, in spite of the price tag. (But do remember, PHPCamp, which is a free event targeted towards PHP developers, will also be big, and is on the same day. You should check that out too. (Expect a more detailed article about PHPCamp in a few days.))

PuneTech is also giving away two free passes to Innovations 2010 in a contest, so be sure to check that out.

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Pune engineer’s solar-powered crop irrigator covered by MIT Technology Review

Pune-based Padmakar Kelkar has developed a solar-powered crop irrigator that can be a huge boon for farmers in these times of failing monsoons and 14-hour rural power cuts.

I had no idea what pivot irrigation is, so I looked it up in wikipedia, and to save you the trouble, I’ve copied the relevant paragraph here:

Center-pivot irrigation (sometimes called central pivot irrigation), also called circle irrigation, is a method of crop irrigation in which equipment rotates around a pivot. Central pivot irrigation is a form of overhead (sprinkler) irrigation consisting of several segments of pipe (usually galvanized steel or aluminium) joined together and supported by trusses, mounted on wheeled towers with sprinklers positioned along its length. The machine moves in a circular pattern and is fed with water from the pivot point at the center of the circle. The outside set of wheels sets the master pace for the rotation (typically once every three days). The inner sets of wheels are mounted at hubs between two segments and use angle sensors to detect when the bend at the joint exceeds a certain threshold, and thus, the wheels should be rotated to keep the segments aligned. Centre pivots are typically less than 500m in length (circle radius) with the most common size being the standard 1/4 mile machine (400 m). To achieve uniform application, centre pivots require a continuously variable emitter flow rate across the radius of the machine. Nozzle sizes are smallest at the inner spans to achieve low flow rates and increase with distance from the pivot point.

MIT’s Technology Review (India Edition) covered this a couple of weeks back (the same article also appeared as a featured innovation in DARE magazine). Kelkar’s technology was one of the featured innovations in the IITB-Alumni Association’s Innovations conference in 2008 that happens every year in Pune. (By the way, Innovations 2010 is happening in a couple of weeks – you should consider attending).

The TechReview article points out the advantages of this irrigator:

The solar panels charge the battery, and this in turn runs the machine when there is no sun. “We have run the machine 19 hours continuously without solar energy at all,” says Kelkar. The use of solar panels could be a boon for farmers in those states that get ample sunlight but not enough electricity.

Other advantages include water savings of about 30-50 percent over other pivots, zero land erosion, 30-50 percent more yield, higher return on investment, and minimum labor requirements. Compared to the drip irrigation, Kelkar’s pivot is more cost-effective. “Drip irrigation may cost around Rs 35,000 an acre, whereas my machine costs around Rs 45,000 an acre. But the cost in case of drip irrigation includes laying it out in the field every time and taking it out once it gets damaged, and you may have to spend another 15 percent every year. On a long-term basis, the cost of my machine comes out to be much less,” he adds.

Having already spent 20-25 lakhs of his own money in developing the technology, Kelkar is now looking for funding to start commercial production. One of the sources he is considering is the Government of India’s Technopreneurship Promotion Programme (TePP). (PuneTech had covered TePP about an year back.

In his efforts at finding funding, he is being helped by Pune’s Venture Center. You can see all of our coverage of Venture Center’s activities here. Thanks to @kaushikgala for tipping us. Also, you can follow MIT Technology Review’s India Edition here.

The Venture Center Library for Entrepreneurs and Innovators in Pune

Pune’s resource for startups, the Venture Center has yet another service that could be valuable for Pune’s startups. The Venture Center Library has been created specifically to support and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in and around Pune. They are targeting entrepreneurs, scientific researchers, technology innovators, IP & technology commercialization professionals and venture investors to take advantage of their collection of books, periodicals, reports and research services.

Click on the Venture Center Logo to see all PuneTech articles about Venture Center
Click on the Venture Center Logo to see all PuneTech articles about Venture Center

Here are key features of the Venture Center Library:

  • ~ 1000 books – with an emphasis on technology innovation, commercialization & entrepreneurship
  • Many *good* magazines (MIT Tech Review, SciAm, etc.)
  • Book collection listed online & searchable: http://www.vcenterlibrary.org/book.php
  • Increasing data base on electronic articles and e-books
  • Open Mon-Sat, ample parking
  • Internet access, scanning, etc. available
  • Events featuring books, videos, etc. http://www.vcenterlibrary.org/events.php

If you just want to browse/read books at the library itself, it is free until the end of 2009, and after that it will cost Rs. 400 per year. If you want to check out books, there’s a Rs. 2000 refundable deposit and a Rs. 400 yearly fee – which allows you to check out 2 books for up to 14 days each. Look here for details of membership and fees.

About Venture Center

Venture center is an incubator mainly targeted towards startups in biotech, chemical and material sciences. It has been set up using government funds, and is housed in NCL‘s premises, but is planned as an independent entity that needs to become self-sustaining in a few years (based on taking equity/fees from the startups it helps). Check out the venturecenter tag on PuneTech for all PuneTech articles about Venture Center.

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Nominations open for Innovations 2010 – Showcase your ideas

Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter
Innovations is an annual conference to showcase new ideas from across the country. It is hosted by the IIT-Bombay Alumni Association, Pune Chapter
Innovations is an annual event hosted by the Pune Chapter IIT Bombay Alumni Association in January every year, with the aim of helping innovators and entrepreneurs of India to create and expand the ecosystem around them. The event showcases the select few innovators to an elite gathering of VCs and experts. Innovations 2010 is the fourth event in their series and will feature presentations by 16 selected innovators from around the country.

The focus of Innovations is on novel ideas in practice, primarily originating from Science and Technology. In the past, innovations in the form of processes, products and applications from varied fields such as medicine, agriculture, mechanical/electronic/chemical technology/ Information Technology etc. have been showcased. The innovations to be showcased are selected by a panel of experts drawn from various application areas. They also work with the selected innovators to fine tune their presentation and bring out the unique features.

While the event is arranged by the IITB Alumni Association in Pune, the innovators and participants can be from anywhere. The innovator can benefit from peer recognition, an introduction to the IIT alumni network & mentorship if required. Some of the past innovators were able obtain funding to take their product to the next level. Other interested parties and investors get an opportunity to learn about new ideas and applications and to network.

Note: this is not necessarily a “startup” event. Innovators from all fields, irrespective of their educational qualifications, age group or affiliations to any organizations are welcome to submit their entry. Your entry may be a process, product, design, method, application or even a business model or a model of social entrepreneurship. Innovations from all fields are welcome. Entries are sought from individuals, research/academic institutions, NGOs, or corporate entities (with an annual turnover less than Rs. 50 Crore). Eligibility criteria for submitting an innovation entry are

  • Innovation must be a truly novel idea
  • Must be based on the application of science / technology
  • The idea should have been introduced in practice

Nominations can be submitted at the innovations website. The last date for nominations is October 30th. The actual event will happen on 9th January, 2010, in Pune.

Related links:

Innovation Flow – The Science of Flowing Ideas and Inventions into Innovation – 27th Aug

NCL, India, is a research, development and consulting organisation with a focus on chemistry and chemical engineering. It has a successful record of research partnership with industry. It has over 200 scientists at its campus in Pune.
NCL, India, is a research, development and consulting organisation with a focus on chemistry and chemical engineering. It has a successful record of research partnership with industry. It has over 200 scientists at its campus in Pune.

What: Innovation Flow – the science of flowing Ideas and Inventions into Innovation by M.V. Shankar, Principal Scientist, Dow Chemical International Pvt Ltd, Pune. This is the 6th talk in the NCL Innovations Seminar Series.
When: Thursday, 27th August, 4:00pm
Where: Second Floor Lecture Hall, Main Building, National Chemical Laboratory, Pashan Road
Registration and fees: This event is free for all to attend. No registration required.
Details: Event Page

Abstract of the talk – Innovation Flow

Most of us make our daily living by generating creative ideas, solving tough technical problems and translating our ideas into inventions. Now what would give us greater satisfaction? – Innovation, i.e taking our insightful ideas and breakthrough inventions successfully to the market. How good are we at Innovation? – the present statistics are quite discouraging – typically, for every hundred good ideas, ten may lead to breakthrough inventions and one to an innovative product that meets a critical need of the customer. To accelerate the Innovation process and to maximize the Return on Innovation, we need a systematic Innovation process that will (a) focus and structure our ideation efforts (b) align our ideas to solve a critical need and ensure that the Customer sees added value and most importantly (c) give us the satisfaction of seeing our idea through the end of the Innovation Funnel.

As an inventor, I have often wondered how to bridge the gap between invention and innovation. When I got into managing technology programs, I struggled to defend and nurture those promising out-of-the box ideas that tend to get killed in conventional stage-gate processes. To create an effective Innovation strategy, I wondered how I can balance the capabilities of emerging technologies and the needs of emerging markets. I studied many Innovation processes, creativity tools, consulted with Innovation experts, researched many Innovative organizations (Google, 3M, Apple, Toyota, P & G etc) and also learnt from facilitating Innovation in R&D organizations (GE, Tata and Dow). I found that the secret to successful innovation lies in systematically growing the innovation potential of ideas.

I evolved my Innovation approach based on TRIZ – Theory of Inventive Problem Solving – to address primary concerns like:

  • How do we make sure that we are solving the right Problem?
  • How to balance Imagination Vs Knowledge and come up with creative, yet technically feasible, solutions?
  • How to learn from creative ideas and smart solutions that have solved similar problems in other domains? How to integrate this knowledge into our solution?
  • If our technical expertise / domain knowledge alone is not sufficient for Innovative Problem Solving – then what other new skills do we need to learn?
  • Is there a systematic approach to sail the Idea through various barriers and translate it in to an innovative product?

The discussion will address these prominent questions that come to our mind whenever we hear the word Innovation. I will introduce creative thinking tools like 5 Whys, 9 Windows, Reversal of Assumption, 4-Quadrants etc. We will also discuss TRIZ-based Innovation tools like Ideal Final Result (IFR), Function Maps, Contradictions, 40 Inventive Principles, Technology Evolution Trends and Evolution Potential.

About the speaker – M.V. Shankar

Shankar MV is a Physicist turned Materials Scientist. He is Principal Scientist at Dow R&D Centre, Pune. Prior to joining Dow, he has been a lead scientist at GE R&D, Bangalore for eight years. He has ten patented inventions and an award winning new solid state illumination product based on his invention. His expertise is in electronic and optical materials. He has designed and developed novel luminescent materials for application in White LEDs. He has been actively learning, practicing and teaching systematic innovation methods and TRIZ-based innovative problem solving tools. He facilitates cross-pollination of ideas, innovative problem solving and the creation of strategic intellectual property across technology domains.

His interests include physics, philosophy, psychology, creativity and technology entrepreneurship.

Contact info: Dr. Shankar MV, Email: Shankar.Venugopal07@gmail.com

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TZen: Community Powered Innovation with the PlanetAikon platform

planet-aikon-logoPlanetAikon is a forum that allows “community powered innovation”. It is a Pune-based startup which allows its members to “connect, collaborate and co-create”. It strives to be a unique innovation ecosystem bringing together a community of ideators, contributors and sponsors – in other words, it connects the guys with the bright ideas, the guys with the money, and the guys with skills and time to implement the idea.

This is the story of TZen, one of PlanetAikon’s success stories. It is written by Prateek Dubey and originally appeared on the PlanetAikon Blog, and is republished here with permission.

TZen – The Tool whose Time has Come

Hi- I am Prateek Dubey and I have a Story to share with You – The Story of Tzen

The Inspiration and the Rationale

It all started when Zensar Technologies Testing Center of Excellence decided about 2 yrs ago to develop a test tool which will be used for Manual Testing for Projects in Zensar and to encourage use of Test Tools among associates. Add to that the prohibitive cost of branded Testing tools and the Training & Upgrade costs associated with it were the significant business drivers which strengthened our resolve to build such a tool.

Zensar Technologies Limited
Image via Wikipedia

We developed our first Test Tool prototype which was a Test Management Layer over an Opensource Defect Management Tool called “Bugzilla”, which was based on technologies like CGI, perl and mysql.

We soon realized that our prototype was not going to fulfil the future requirements of Test Management, as CGI was slow and handling large data in an efficient way was a challenge. This was the time when we started a new prototype which was based on new AJAX Technology. An article about a newly introduced web services concept called REST sparked further ideas. After a month of design and re-design we finally had a draft design ready. We chose php for implementing our web services to support the development of a quick, easy to understand and highly responsive tool. We wanted this application to be a full-fledged WebTop Application, keeping in mind that we were designing it for the future. We came up with a prototype which was named “TZen” by our project manager Vishal Wani. Vishal encouraged us to do a Demo of our Prototype to some internal projects. The Demo was an instant hit as nobody had ever seen a Web Application which loaded only once and then ran on the browser as a Desktop Application.

With Vishal’s and Testing Practice Head Prem Apte’s continued support, we started development of our product with help from Testing Community in Zensar. As we developed TZen further we were facing serious technology challenges as “Ajax” was a new technology and we were at par with rest of the world in exploration of the same. Thus, every time we ran into an issue we had to resolve it mostly by ourselves. We were also using Technologies like Yahoo UI library and Dojo, it took us around 6 months to come up with a first fully functional TZen prototype. We deployed it at various projects and got a lot of feedback on our implementation, TZen was still very basic in functionality and we still had a lot of work to be done. During this time we had a lot of organizational changes in team and finally we were left as a 2 member team from a 4 member team.

Reinventing TZen with Community Powered Innovation

TZen went slow for about 6 months until recently when it got revived by a Zensar Opensource Innovation initiative with the help of Planetaikon Platform. We started with significant doubts about what we could achieve through an Open Community involvement. But with support of NASSCOM (under their Innovation Initiatives) and the leadership at Zensar we soon found ourselves inundated by requests from individuals from other companies to join this initiative.

  1. We had the usual initial teething issues as folks were adapting to working on a on-line collaborative co-creation platform (as against meeting face-to-face or the “business-as-usual” of e-mail exchanges).
  2. We got a lot of feedback from participants which led us to shortlist 27 (twenty seven) new features to the existing version of our tool.
  3. Those who contributed did so because of their passion to create something and did so in after-office hours and on weekends. In approximately 5 months time we were able to come up with our Release 1.1 with those 27 additional features which we have again contributed back to the community.
  4. Our Vision is to develop TZen into the most successful Opensource Test Management Platform. Our Team size has now grown to 66 (Sixty Six)!
  5. TZen is designed ground up to be Opensource and Agile development compliant product. It can be developed quickly and tested easily. This was recently re-integrated when a small set of students with only a few days of TZen exposure, created a “Commenting System” for TZen , which is going to be featured in the next TZen release again a validation of the value that communities can provide

TZen – A Snapshot

TZen provides most features that a Test Management Tools must have. These include:

  • Requirement Management
  • Test Plan Management
  • Test Case Management
  • Test Execution Management
  • Defect Management (integrated with Mantis)
  • Reports and Exports at various levels

The Road Ahead

As we progress, we look forward to the community to help us take this product to new heights. Some of the features we plan to include are

  • Extensive graph and Chart support
  • Flexible Imports
  • Custom Fields
  • Server pull services and more….

TZen has got a lot of business, technical and innovation opportunity ready to be explored and taken forward, improvements at every level are in progress.

We are now throwing open another call to professionals who are keen to participate in taking TZen to its next high. We are looking for Php 5 developers, Testing Domain Experts, Usability Domain Professionals and Testers.

Come add to our adrenalin and let us show the world how the audacity of Ideas can be supported by the passion of communities.

Join us @TZen on Planetaikon. We are counting on YOU.

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Pune-based SMSONE runs SMS news service for rural communities

Ravi Ghate talking about SMSONE. Click here if you cannot see this video.

From Mid-Day:

A Pune-based company has been running a SMS newsletter service for mobile phone owners in rural Maharashtra dedicated to local news for the last two years. This service reaches out to nearly 300 communities spread across 25 districts in the state.

And most importantly it has become a source of income for the rural youth, who call themselves ‘mobile’ journalists. They are paid Rs Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 per month.

“I had no job before I started this SMS newsletter in Parbhani. This venture has given me name, fame and a steady income,” said Ahmed Siddique, editorial coordinator for Parbhani district, who joined SMSONE Media Services Pvt Ltd last year.

“The concept was awarded the social innovation award by the The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) on February 11,” said said Ravi Ghate of SMSONE, who began the newsletter by training 300 unemployed youth in mobile journalism.

See the full article. The video embedded above has the founder Ravi Ghate giving a good overview of how the whole thing works.

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Free Mentoring Workshop for Startups with Baba Kalyani, R Sriram etc.

Innovations 2009

TiE Pune in conjunction with Innovations 2009 is conducting “From Innovations to IPO” – a free workshop for mentoring startups on Sunday 9am to 2:30pm, at the Dewang Mehta Auditorium at Persistent Systems on S.B. Road.
TiE has limited free seats for the i2i Event, strictly on first come first served basis. To avail of the offer, please contact Namita Shibad on +919822495752. You can also register with her at namita.shibad@gmail.com.
When one asks any entrepreneur what he needs to get going, the answer we get is “MONEY”. This is true for almost all young companies looking to start out. But, what most do not recognize is that besides Money, there is so much more to getting going that, when the shots hit, they knock you over. There are issues on Marketing, making of a Business Plan, options for funding – remember that a Balance Sheet must look different if you are going for either Debt or Equity, and so many more unthought-of obstacles. Hence, this workshop aims to offer guidance in both management and technology for the entire spectrum of businesses across verticals.

9.30am to 9.45am – a brief introduction to the world of TiE, followed by a Suzuki Violin presentation by very little children.
9.45am to 10.45am – a Financial Workshop by Mr. Nikhil Khattau a Private Equity Investor, who also is on the boards of Marico, Midday, Nagpur Power & Industries, Paymate, Geodesic Techniques, and with Mayfield Services. Mr. Khatau will take you through the making of a Business Plan. He will also take financials of ‘X’ company as submitted to an Investor, and project them against the same financials, reworked so as to appeal to that Investor.
10.45am to 11.45am – an important session on Marketing by the Guru. R. Sriram co-founder Next Practice Retail, and the man who started Crossword, will share his experiences and insights on Customer Based Innovation – for a decisive competitive edge. He will also talk about the ‘all-important’ Branding aspect of Marketing.
11.45am to 12.15pm – Tea
12.15pm to 1.30pm – The Chief Guest of the Mentoring program, Baba Kalyani will share his experiences and insights into `Building a Modern, Global and Sustainable Enterprise.
There will be a small Question and Answer session at the end of each session.
1.30pm to 2.30 pm – Lunch will be served.

There 5 tech events happening in Pune this weekend. Check out the PuneTech calendar for details.

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