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Technological innovation is of little use if not translated into a viable product or service. And that is exactly what initiatives like TIME IS and FITT are attempting to do—bridging the gap between innovators and the marketplace.
India is witnessing innovative IT businesses mushroom across the country, as indigenous entrepreneurship efforts spur it on to become a global IT player. In this scenario, an endeavour like Technology Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship Information Service (TIME IS)—a joint project of the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board, Department of Science and Technology, government of India, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)—could go a long way in assisting budding entrepreneurs.
A portal (www.techno-preneur.net) launched in 2000, TIME IS has been designed to help innovators who wish to be entrepreneurs by collating information on funding options, the current policy environment, incentive schemes and the industrial infrastructure available in the country through both the central and state governments. Project appraisal methodologies adopted by various financial institutions are also highlighted.
TIME IS stems from the fact that it collates information from all those who have a stake in entrepreneurship —the government, financial institutions, chambers of commerce and industry, research and development organisations, educational institutions, technical training institutions, and the community at large.
Tools for technopreneurs
In a sense, TIME IS paves the way for an IT innovator to turn technopreneur by providing a useful set of online interactive tools and templates. These are useful for developing project profiles, feasibility reports, tax returns, calculating financial and profitability ratios, and estimating the market potential of a new product. Some of TIME IS’ services – offered both online and offline – are free, while others come with a nominal price tag.
TIME IS also identifies potential grassroots technology innovations from major Indian labs and companies for technopreneurs to pick up and convert into commercial projects. Its database contains hundreds of latest technologies from R&D institutions, and other organisations relating to various technology sectors.
Focusing on information
The focus on providing financial, managerial and technological information stems from the belief that a lack of information and guidance is a major stumbling block for those possessing the brains to develop a new technology, but not having the know-how to convert it into a saleable product. TIME IS has a panel of experts, listed in an online database, who advise TIME IS members on a range of issues – from marketability and feasibility to project reports, and so on.
The experts also select technologies to list on the TIME IS portal from those shortlisted by the staff, usually focusing on those technologies that they identify as in the line for being patented.
According to Manasi Shankar, information manager at TIME IS, while TIME IS’ staff searches for new innovations listed on the websites of leading institutes such as the IITs, innovators can also contact TIME IS to list their innovations. TIME IS would help the innovator document the technology so as to attract maximum interest from established industries. The completed project profile would then be included in the relevant online database.
TIME IS also disseminates information about new innovations through a monthly newsletter, which is sent to nearly 500 industrial and small-scale unit FICCI members.