IIT Madras deploys CSR funding to great effect in societal projects, R&D and incubators

Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras faculty are researching transformational products and services that can serve humanity in ways not even thought of as yet. However, the translation from laboratory to actualization is frequently a difficult one.

IIT Madras invites the corporate sector to partner and contribute to the Institute start-up vision for the nation through CSR before the 31st March 2018 deadline for corporates under Government Regulations.

Speaking on the importance of CSR funding for Research, Prof. R. Nagarajan, Dean (International and Alumni Relations), IIT Madras, said, “Laboratory solutions need to be proven on the ground. Every solution for a critical need — be it in water, in energy, in sanitation, in education, in land use — needs to be researched and developed in an academic setting, but eventually implemented in needful communities.”

“It is in this latter phase that IIT Madras sees a huge need and opportunity for CSR funding,” added Prof. Nagarajan.

Social entrepreneurship is another front where CSR funding can make a significant impact. While support from Government in sustaining this process is crucial, the role of the corporate sector cannot be overstated, and the Companies Act, 2013 provides an ideal route for the latter through the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) channel.

Business houses from different parts of the country have come forward as partners to support socially relevant projects at IIT Madras using their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget. IIT Madras has received support for its Incubators and also for faculty R & D projects with social impact.

The funding obtained through CSR in funnelled into socially relevant projects by IIT Madras faculty. They’re spread across seven sectors, namely

Ø Agriculture and Farm Tech

Ø Water technology

Ø Education and Entrepreneurship

Ø Energy

Ø Health

Ø Environment

Ø Heritage

The projects taken up include

· Rural electrification project using a Solar-DC technology of IIT Madras. This is a five year project being taken up at an estimated cost of Rs. 135 cr.

· Sustainable water and energy management in agricultural activities and Bridging the Gaps in Supply Chain and Marketing of Farmers/Producer Organisations

· Urban Lake Integration for Water Utilization and Recreation,

· An Innovative ‘C-4’ Model for High School Student

Mr. Joseph Thomas, Vice President (Development, Development Office), IIT Madras Alumni Charitable Trust, International and Alumni Relations office, said, “We still need industry to understand that supporting a Technology and Business Incubator promotes innovation and job creation.”

The Bangalore-based Titan Company Limited, AMEX, Goldman Sachs, Chennai-headquartered Cholamandalam Investments and Finance Company Limited, and others have both provided support to the IIT Madras incubators that are recognised by Government of India.

Indian Additives Limited, Chennai, has supported water and waste management work in a nearby village a few kilometres away from their base of operation. This 3 year project was carried out by a team of Professors and students from IIT Madras.

Pune-based Aricent have partnered with IIT Madras National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL). The CSR support has been given to create free online course material, enable transcription into vernacular of some courses and support examination fees of deserving candidates. Around 56,000 students have benefited from the scholarship. Other companies are now coming forward to support NPTEL.

The TTK Group having its Corporate Office in Bangalore has supported the “TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2)”. The Centre conducts research related to human movement, the influence of orthotic and prosthetic devices on human movement, and the design and development of mechanisms, products and assistive devices for people with impairments. Additional support for this group has been provided by the Wellcome Trust for the specific development of a standing wheelchair.