University of Madras as a Centre of Innovation

Today’s Hindu carries an article that heralds the University of Madras becoming a centre of innovation. This is a very significant development, as universities act as catalysts for innovation in the developed countries, particularly the US which is at the forefront of innovation. Universities such as MIT and Stanford are well known for the innovation they foster, resulting in greater competitiveness and growth of the economy. Sergei Bryn and Larry Page, for example, developed their search engine as an MIT research project before launching it as Google. The rest, as they say, is history.

Universities as centres of innovation gain multiple benefits: The university attracts the best and the brightest students and faculty because of the opportunity it affords for cutting edge research; it can incubate promising research projects into viable commercial ventures that can earn the university income to fund its growth & development; it enables both students and professors to gain experience at the cutting edge of their chosen fields of technology spawning further innovation and projects and increases the interaction with and sets up a symbiotic relationship with industry who increasingly view the university as a development partner for research & development.

Such centres of excellence develop products or processes that can be patented, so that the patents are also a source of income if licensed out to industry. Today’s article is about the Technology Business Incubator of the university’s Department of Science & Technology’s patents for specific bio and pharma products that they want to commercialize. In effect, the university is looking for small & medium enterprises that they can work with to test, refine and prototype products that can be scaled up for commercial production and sale. The university can even fund this process, as well as its seed marketing to enable the product to succeed. The idea is to earn income for the university either as a revenue share with the company, or through royalty payments.

This is an exciting new phase for the venerable institution, and is definitely a step towards keeping it vibrant and at the forefront of education and development in future. What is also heartening to note is that the university is being funded in these efforts by the University Grants Commission under the ‘university with potential for excellence’ scheme. It is clear that the university is viewing this seriously over the long term as it is planning a new 2.5 lakh centre for the Technology Business Incubator at its Taramani campus. The IIT Madras has incubated a number of its projects commercially, and now with the University of Madras also becoming such a centre of excellence, the city can hope to grow further as a centre of innovation and economic development.

2 Comments so far

  1. Patricia Seybold (unregistered) on November 25th, 2006 @ 3:48 am

    David, Great news about the new Centre for Innovation at the University of Madras! I hope they’ll include customer-led innovation in the curriculum–so many of today’s innovations are coming from the outside in!

    In my recently published book, Outside Innovation, I chronicled about 20 examples of customer-led innovation. But I didn’t have access to good examples from India. I’d love to add some to my repertoire and to include them in my blog and to the additional case studies that I continue to chronicle on the topic.

    I would appreciate any good examples of customer-led innovation that you or any of your readers can send my way!

    Patty Seybold

    best way to contact me is via my blog:

  2. Saravanan (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    Bit late here but facts needs to be corrected.
    1. Google is *not a MIT research project*. It is a doctoral thesis for Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford and not a research project sponsored by Stanford.
    2. Sergey Brin is the correct spelling for Sergei Bryn.

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