Grassroots innovations are essentially technological solutions generated by common people to tide over persistent problems. The solutions to such problems are either not available or unaffordable by a large section of the society in developing countries like India. The possibility of developing successful business models based on these innovations is very high because they originate from people having first-hand experience of all the issues involved. These innovations are thus need-based, simple, cost-effective and sustainable.
The basic goal of Business Development department of NIF is to build a value chain around these innovations to facilitate their transition into self-supporting sustainable enterprises. The ultimate objective is to make these innovative products available to the masses through the market mechanism or otherwise. It has to be underlined here that if these innovations exist and that they need to be taken further they would require a hand-holding support and healthy eco system in place, which is replicable and can connect these innovations with enterprises and help them flourish.
While innovations have propelled entrepreneurship, yet the risk taking abilities in under represented segments of technologies or new technologies have not witnessed an increase. However, with the Government declaring this decade as the decade of innovation and taking bold steps to support innovation movement in the country, things seem to improve.
The innovators from the informal sectors generally do not have a sound financial background. They mostly come up with frugal innovations to fill the technological gap between need and supply. Mostly, they are not capable to scale up the production and/or marketing of their innovation because of fund constraints. Loan as an option is also not available due to the lack of a guarantor or a collateral for mortgage generally required by banks and other financial institutions. Whatever little resources they may have, may not be sufficient for mortgaging, or they may not like to take risk with it as their livelihood depends on it. They may have been successful in converting their ideas into prototypes but then the story almost ends there.
Venture Capital Firms do not consider supporting them due to their limited fund requirement of a few thousand rupees to maximum 25 lakh while banks may not be ready to take risk without proper documentation or without collateral or a guarantor. Realizing the need of extending risk capital to grassroots innovators, NIF established a dedicated risk fund for such innovators named as Micro Venture and Innovation Fund (MVIF) of Rs 4 crore for ten years with the support of SIDBI in October2003, which got operationalised in January 2004. Under the scheme, support from MVIF is made available to innovators and entrepreneurs who are associated with NIF for technology commercialisation.
The uniqueness of MVIF of NIF is the first and only of its kind micro venture risk fund in the world, which extends financial support to grassroots innovators under a single signature on a simple agreement of understanding without any collateral or a guarantor. Unlike micro finance or conventional venture funds, MVIF invests in risk areas with high failure probability, investing in those technologies and products for which either market does not exist or may be very limited. Apart from financial returns, one of the key criteria for selection of a technology for MVIF support is social return or social value created for the benefit of society at large.
NIF extends the MVIF support to the innovators directly as well as through their regional incubators i.e. GIAN and GIAN Cells. The team at Business Development (BD) department of NIF conducts initial market assessment and makes the investment plan and the proposal, which is presented to the Fund Management Committee (FMC). The FMC evaluates and gives recommendations on the proposals submitted by BD Team. Under MVIF, on case to case basis, we are offering funds with reasonable moratorium period with monthly and also seasonal repayment with consideration of about 12.5% interest. The approval procedure is unique, fast and hassle free for the innovator as we are not demanding innovators to submit anything except simple request about their requirement. The NIF team do all documentation and provide mentoring and all kind of hand holding support to the innovator. The FMC also advises the BD team about project monitoring, commercialization strategy and suggests mid-term corrections if any. A local mentoring team also facilitates proper utilization of funds and guides the innovator from time to time. Out of total four crore fund, till date, we have supported total 191 projects and the total sanctioned amount is Rs.3,87,06,637 (Three Crores Eighty Seven Lakhs Six Thousand Six Hundred and Thirty Seven only), Disbursed Amount is Rs. 3,40,37,637 (Three Crores Fourty Lakhs Thirty Seven Thousand Six Hundred and Thirty Seven only) and the total repayment amount is Rs. 2,13,01,676 (Two Crore Thirteen Lakhs One Thousand Six Hundred and Seventy Six only).
For detail summary please visit : MVIF assistance to the projects sanctioned
Mostly, the grassroots innovators are not capable of scaling up the production and/or marketing of the innovation due to limited entrepreneurial skill at the national or international level. Whenever NIF finds an innovator capable of becoming an entrepreneur, it provides mentoring and financial support to the innovator for enterprise development to meet their demand. In order to commercialize the product successfully, it is essential to involve the entrepreneur in the value chain. Depending upon the innovator's interest, the stage of innovation and the interest of entrepreneur, NIF adopts any of the following routes for business development and commercialisation activity. Innovator develops technology, licenses to entrepreneur: The technology can be transferred to an entrepreneur, either on an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis for a pre-defined territory, which could be as small as a district of a state. Innovator comes up with prototype and entrepreneur gets involved in developing a commercially viable product at this stage itself. Idea Licensing : the Idea of an innovation is licensed to an entrepreneur for a different application.
NIF have successfully achieved 67 technology transfers. To see details, Please Click Here List of technologies available for licensing. To see details, Please Click Here Technology Transfer Process: Initially, entrepreneur has to sign the Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) in order to disclose the knowhow and maintain the secrecy of technology and to protect the right of innovator after transfer of technology negotiation fails. We offer the technology by two ways i.e. Exclusive and Non-exclusive rights of manufacturing & / or marketing against the monetary gain in form various mode of payment basis. The amount is depending upon the geographical boundaries like district or state level basis. Entrepreneur has to choose the option depending upon his business interest and capacity of payment. NIF would act as a nodal agency for offer and negotiation for execution of agreement and its follow up. Towards the cost of Technology , entrepreneurs has to pay money either by way of down payment (one time lump sum payment at the time of agreement) or it can be a combination of down payment and royalty on Sales turnover of the business.The financial offer may vary depending upon the nature of rights (exclusive / non-exclusive) and geographical area / territory. Based on interest and offer from the party, we will make counter offer of payment to be made towards technology cost to be paid by the entrepreneur. After negotiation and mutual understanding for payment and other terms, an agreement will be executed between innovator, NIF and entrepreneur.
Technology Transfer List Click Here
NIF involves students in several main and sub-processes in the aggregate incubation process of promoting grassroots innovations. The basic objective to involve students in NIF activities is to create an institutional platform where students can contribute in the process of incubation of grassroots innovations. By involving students, NIF could target to reach as many innovations as possible across country. At the same time, students get a real-life learning opportunity to put classroom theories into practice at virtually no cost to them. While for the educational institutions, the real problem was to look for live projects for students primarily from industry, which was becoming increasingly difficult given the mushrooming of institutions and visible trend of industry to flock around few best institutions for such needs. In essence, it was a win-win situation for students, institutions and NIF.
We expect students to helps us in following tasks:
- Documenting technical information about innovation from the innovator
- Inputs for technical benchmarking
- Collecting market inputs from the originating geography of the innovation
- Conducting market research for demand assessment
- Developing a business plan
- Scout potential licensees; entrepreneurs & generating interests among them
We at NIF involve students in followings ways:
- Volunteer - We seek help from engineering and management students who would like work with us for research and value addition task like prior art search, concept testing, technical documentation, prototyping, and market research, making business plan, technology valuation etc.
- Summer Internship - We may provide the internship offer to the students. Interested students are requested to contact us by sending their CV with details of internship period , request letter from college etc.
“Students’ Club for Augmenting Innovations (SCAI) at grassroots” is students’ forum facilitated through National Innovation Foundation to involve students from different education institutes to scout, valorize and diffuse innovations and example of traditional knowledge on commercial/non-commercial basis. The purpose is to generate a new model of knowledge management for sustainable development based on creativity and innovations at grassroots. So far, SCAI exists in 30 different management, engineering and social educational institution. National Innovation Foundation solicits students’ participation in making this countrywide innovation movement a success.
SCAI's primary activities include:
- DISHA- a national level annual business plan competition wherein the students are invited to prepare business plan on innovation and examples of traditional knowledge from NIF database.
- DISHA-Social: A diffusion plan for mixed return and open source technologies wherein the in students are required to prepare social diffusion plan involving NGOs and CVOs.
- SAAKAR- to scout for entrepreneurs who have the ability and inclination to start a business enterprise on innovations from NIF’s database.
- Mentoring and incubating ongoing projects.
- Taking up specific technologies for value addition in technology institutes either as student projects or jointly by students and faculty.
- Market research and technical benchmarking for specific technologies being incubated in different GIANs (Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network).
- Organizing seminars and workshops in which clearing house can be organized among entrepreneurs, investors and innovators.
- Pursuing scouting and documentation of innovations and traditional knowledge in the neighborhood of the respective colleges or during vacation near the places where students live.
Since inception, the BD Team along with its incubation partners have successfully licensed and commercialized a number of grassroots technologies to different entrepreneurs in India and across the globe.
The proceeds of which was shared with the innovators and other stakeholders as per the Prior Informed Consent Framework.
This is an innovatively designed bullock cart to overcome the shortcomings of traditional carts by having an additional wheel to balance the load, along with a tilting mechanism, based on a rope and pulley system which can be controlled by a lever located alongside the cart driver.
This innovation was developed by Mr. Amrutlal Agarwat of Gujarat and exclusive marketing and manufacturing right was licensed to three different entrepreneurs, M/s Shiva Iron works of Ahmedabad, Gujarat for Ahmedabad district, M/s Ambica Agro Industries of Bhavnager for Bhavnager and M/s Kishan Industries of Mehsana, for the three districts of Mehsana, Bansakantha and sabarkantha for a consideration of Rs 21000, 23000, 40,000 respectively.
Air Kick Pump
It’s a device to inflate tyre tubes of two wheelers or any vehicle having kick start or auto start mechanism so as to enable the rider to reach nearby help station or repair shop. In this device air inside the compressor, while kicking, is utilized and transferred to the tube. Also a pinch of polymer granules is inserted to seal the leakage in the tube. This innovation was developed by Mr. Arvindbhai Patel
All India license for the technology has been sanctioned to M/s Mouldwell Enterprise, Maharastra for Rs 37,500 down Payment + 2 % Royalty for the first five years / 1% for the next five year /0.5 for the nest five.
Beauty Care Umbrella
This umbrella helps in protecting the user from UV radiation (up to 85 per cent), thus effectively guarding against darkening of the skin and sunburns while adding a glow to the skin of the user.
The technology for the muga silk based beauty care umbrella has been transferred for an upfront fee of Rs 2 lacs for marketing rights in India and Rs 3 lacs for abroad along with 6 per cent royalty. Also a benefit sharing arrangement has been finalised in which a share equivalent to 10 per cent and 5 per cent would accrue to the Innovator and GIAN- NE respectively on future sales. In addition, the licensee has agreed to purchase the “muga “cloth from the innovator at market price.
Cassava Peeling Machine
A Peeling machine for cassava made out of stainless steel and food grade rubber components. It has peeling capacity of 5-6kg per minute. Machine is easy to operate and maintain.
The technology was transferred for an upfront technology transfer fees of Rs 85,000 and 2 per cent royalty in addition to a share of 30 per cent and 3 per cent national equity stake for the innovator and NIF North East Cell respectively.
This technology was developed by Mr. Prabhatbhai Vaghani from Gujarat wherein Where in spraying pressure is generated though conversion of energy derived from the movement of ones feet, with the help of a cylinder and piston mechanism. The technology was licensed to M/s International Technologies, C/o William Wilkinson, P.O. Box 73, Salem, NJ 08079 for a consideration of USD 5000, having exclusive market and manufacture sprayers for the whole world except India right.
Gas Conversion Kit For Four-Wheelers
The technology developed by Mr. A.N. Manoharan from Madurai for using LPG gas as fuel, has been licensed to an entrepreneur from Mumbai. An upfront fee of Rs. 33,000 has been paid to the innovator and remaining amount will be given after successful validation of the technology. The entrepreneur and the innovator are working together on the technical validation and initial response has been highly encouraging. Further the entrepreneur has plans to get the technology certified by ARAI, Pune.
Natural Water Cooler:
A low cost, energy efficient, environment friendly water cooler, which cools water naturally based on principle of heat exchange. The cooling process does not require external power source for operation. The technology has tremendous potential in dry and hot climatic conditions (i.e. tropical) where electricity is not available.
The non-exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights for the Natural Water Cooler for the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan were transferred to a young entrepreneur from Mehsana for a down payment of Rs. 1 lac. and a royalty of 2.5 per cent of sales for a period of five years.
Sprayers (Hand-driven sprayer, Khushal sprayer, Auto Compression Sprayer)
A portfolio of three sprayers developed by Mr. Gopalbhai Sutariya, Mr. Khemjibhai , Mr. Arvindbhai R Patel to an entrepreneur Mr. Nileshbhai Satyasia, Satyasia Industries for Rs 1,58,000 down payment + 5 % royalty for 5 year.
Unique Coupling Device
The device enhances the efficiency of power transmission, which can be integrated in automobiles, pumps, generators as couplers in power transmission system or any other equipment where energy is transferred from a driver shaft to a driven shaft.
The technology know how of the Power disc, has been transferred to a local entrepreneur, Mr. Deepak Das of Guwahati for an upfront payment of Rs. 80,000 to the innovator. He contributed a sum of Rs. 20,000 towards Innovation Promotion Fund initiated by NIF North East Cell. The NIF North East Cell and the Innovator are supposed to get ten per cent share in the equity as a part of a goodwill agreement.
The 10 HP tractor is a small, low cost and highly efficient tractor which has the potential of filling a vital demand gap which exists in the Indian market today. While the smallest tractors currently available in the market are in the 24 HP range and generally cost upwards of Rs. 2.25 lacs, there is a large chunk of farmers, especially those owning small land holdings, who cannot afford to buy these tractors.
The Technology has been acquired by M/s Parmal Farmatics Pvt, Ltd, Gujarat for an upfront transfer fee of Rs 3 lacs and 2.25 per cent royalty with 20 per cent equity stake in the proposed marketing company to be set-up for distribution and exclusive dealership to innovator for two districts in Gujarat. Further a confirmed order of Rs 1.25 lacs for producing the first tractor has been given to the innovator.
Zero Head Water Turbine
A low cost, energy efficient design to harness energy of flowing water current to pump water and generate electricity. Linear flow of the river current is converted into centrifugal force, which drives the turbine. The product generates electric energy from flowing river water and simultaneously pumps the water for irrigation or other like purposes.
This technology was developed by Mr. Nirpen Kalita and supported by NIF through MVIF, has been was transferred to a local entrepreneur, Mr. Kailash Agarwal of Tinsukia for an upfront payment of Rs. 1 lac, along with Rs. 1,000 per piece sold. He contributed a sum of Rs. 20,000 towards Innovation Promotion Fund at NIF North East Cell.
Commercialization Of Innovation:
Bamboo Splinting Machine
A small device which increases productivity of bamboo labourers engaged in making bamboo splint making device, developed by Mr. Usman Shekhani was test marketed with MVIF support in one of largest bamboo producing states of India i.e. Assam. A total of 100 units were sent to NIF North East Cell for exhibition and test marketing. Several product demonstrations were conducted in the International Bamboo Festival during December 13-17, 2004. Based on the high demand estimation, Viraasa, a NGO joined hands with NIF North East Cell in further commercialization of the technology in NE region. Lately a demand of 10,000 units has been indicated by NIF North East Cell, which innovator will not be able to meet. Hence, licensing arrangement to manufacture units in North East is being worked out.
Garlic Peeling Machine
An innovatively designed machine for peeling of garlic, an essential ingredient in pickle and herbal formulation. 20 such machine has been sold in the southern part of the country, with few business queries coming from Pakistan and United states.
Improved Treadle Printing Machine
The innovator was supported for business development under MVIF by NIF. NIF North East Cell facilitated the appointment of marketing franchisee in Assam to an entrepreneur Mr. Ishan Baruah for an upfront fee of Rs 25,000 and 4 % royalty to NIF North East Cell. Innovator has already supplied five machines in NE.
Lemon Cutting Machine
A cost effective, food grade, machine for the pickle industry having innovative design for continues feeding, to facilitate cutting of large quantity of lemon in uniform shape and sizes in the process increasing efficiency. It can be operated by one person. The machine is designed to optimize safety. Incubation support was provided under MVIF through SEVA. By the end of December, 2004, three machines were commissioned and accordingly innovator repaid Rs 15,000. Five more orders are under process.
A manual operated, low cost milking machine which has been receiving attention from the rural community engaged in animal husbandry. Substantial business query has been generated for the purchase of the machine, which has been forwarded to innovator, who is capable of manufacturing 25 machines in a month.
Remote Operated Device For Fire Cracker
A remote operated device for firing fire-cracker developed by Mr. Balram Singh Saini was identified by Mr. Bharat Bhai Vyas for a new application. Therefore; he contracted a project to the innovator for the development of a special purpose fire cracking device for occasions such as marriage, festivals etc. He has signed an agreement to acquire marketing rights of this technology for national market through a separate agreement. He has given a signing fee of Rs 11000 and remaining Rs 14000 on completion of the task. The initial prototype development was supported by NIF through MVIF