IIT Madras hosts first Deshpande-Gopalakrishnan Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Chennai: In an endeavour towards linking academia to market place and create a process so that more and more faculty and students are willing to go through the entrepreneurship route, the first Deshpande-Gopalakrishnan Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship was held at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) between 28th and 30th January 2018.

This symposium was organized by the Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre (GDC) for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at IIT Madras, with the support of IIT Bombay and the Deshpande Foundation.

Addressing the inaugural function held on Sunday, Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Chairman of the Deshpande Foundation, co-sponsor of GDC and an IIT Madras Alumnus, said, “As a country, India spends over Rs. One Trillion per year on Research and Development. It is critical for the innovation ecosystem in India to be able to translate a good part of this R&D spend into scalable products and services that positively impact society. One of the principal objectives of GDC would be to develop and implement initiatives working with leading technology institutions nationwide that transforms and scales research from the academic labs into successful businesses that positively impact society.”

Established in 2017, the core objective of GDC is to foster innovation in academic campuses and bring about a transformation by which scientific and technological ideas can move from an institute’s laboratories to the marketplace by way of sustainable business ventures.

The Symposium attracted like-minded practitioners, administrators, and academicians focused on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship across the academic environment besides early stage entrepreneurs and students looking to start their own ventures.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. “Kris” Gopalakrishnan, Co-sponsor of GDC and former CEO of Infosys who is also an IIT Madras Alumnus, said “GDC will also support special projects that can potentially create a transformative and positive impact on society. Such projects can be at the ideation stage or they could be running ventures that need some business reconfiguration to grow to full potential.”

The three-day symposium featured four keynote talks and five topical Panel discussions in an interactive forum, which were participated by eminent personalities from the academic and the industry including Mr. Gopichand Katragadda, Group CTO, TATA Sons Ltd, Mr. K. Subramanian, Executive Director – R&D, Powergear Ltd, Mr. S. Krishnan, IAS, Principal Secretary to Government, Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, among others.

The topics for the panel discussion were:

1. Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem – Challenges and solutions

2. Entrepreneurial Curriculum models

3. PPP to drive innovation and entrepreneurship

4. Funding Innovation across the spectrum – what do funders expect?

5. Innovation in Research methods – How to cultivate I&E thinking and Creativity in research scholars and Faculty?

Speaking about the GDC, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “GDC is designed to fill in specific gaps in the innovation system of IIT Madras, in the specific areas of pre-incubation and nurturing initiatives that have a very high positive impact on society.” Prof. R. Nagarajan, Dean (Alumni and International Relations), IIT Madras, said, “The innovation and entrepreneurship at IIT Madras is one of the best in the country, and it is being significantly strengthened by the support of alumni, willing to give freely of their time, talent & treasure.”

At the beginning of the Symposium, an MOU was signed between IIT Madras and the University of New Brunswick (UNB), Canada. The MoU between UNB and IIT Madras covers exchange of students of faculty for research collaboration & education purposes. Post-doctoral Fellows are also included in the scope, and will be prioritized.

Throwing some light on the future course of action for GDC, Prof Krishnan Balasubramanian, Dean (ICSR), IIT Madras and Professor-in-Charge, GDC, said “Our first set of programmes will be launched in March 2018. This will be a pilot programme of about 5-6 teams, each comprising of a faculty member, entrepreneur and a mentor, who will interact with about 100 customers each to validate their customer value propositions and business models.” This exercise will aid in reducing the startup failure rate.