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Home Publications EFFECTIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FOR INNOVATION – AN INDIAN EXPERIENCE
EFFECTIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FOR INNOVATION – AN INDIAN EXPERIENCE
Sangeeta Baksi, Nirmala Kaushik, PR Basak & Soumitra Biswas
ABSTRACT

Innovation is the key factor for productivity, growth and international competitiveness of the industry. In order to provide an impetus to technology innovation especially among the small & medium enterprises (SMEs), Government of India has directed considerable efforts especially to promote flow of knowledge from the national laboratories and institutes of higher learning for technology development & commercialization by the industry.

With the objectives of promoting key technologies in the country, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) was created as an autonomous organization under the aegis of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Towards facilitating SME-led technology development efforts in early stages of the innovation chain, TIFAC had initiated a few programmes of national importance on home grown technology, advanced composites, bioprocess & bioproducts etc for promoting public-private partnership for generating market-driven projects with potential applications in areas such as chemical, bio-medical, pharma & nutraceuticals, transportation, tourism etc. TIFAC programmes have made significant and measurable impact on partnering industries by improving their turnover and profitability.

INTRODUCTION

The technology development, its further adaptation and application have never been a very straightforward process. A successful technology innovation requires a strong interactive mechanism complete with the feedback loop for various stakeholders viz. industry, extraneous knowledge sources, inspection & certification agencies and most importantly, the users or the market. However, the problems become acute in rapidly changing technological and economic environment. 

Innovation Cycle

 The small & medium enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in Indian industry. They constitute 15 million units, contribute 6-7% of total GDP and employ 30 million people. More importantly, 40% of the industrial production in India comes from the SMEs.

Technology innovation has been the key to their survival and success. Finance has been recognized as an important driver for innovation process for the SMEs and the cost of funds should be attractive enough for them for investing in projects involving technological risks. They are often beset by multi-faceted problems, which include the following:

  • inadequate infrastructure facilities
  • availability of skilled labour
  • access to market
  • in-house technical & managerial capabilities
  • long product development cycle
  • extraneous knowledge support
  • lack of standards & certification process in some cases
  • their internal resistance to change….

In order to mitigate such problems and effect a seamless technology development process for subsequent commercialization, the requirement of a well-defined strategy had strongly been felt by the Government of India.

Four decades of planned development have elevated India to a stage, where the country demonstrates some remarkable strength in modern technologies for achieving development goals.

There exists a chain of national laboratories, specialized R&D agencies in defence, atomic energy & space, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), universities & other academic institutions of higher learning, which are capable of providing world-class expertise, technically trained manpower and technology support to the industry.

The institutes have been pursuing application-oriented research, which led to amassing an excellent knowledge pool. However, the extent of knowledge flow from such centres of excellence to the industry for its actual exploitation for the prototype development and reaching out to market has rather been limited. Various policy interventions were directed and organizational structures along with the fiscal incentives were designed by the Government from time to time to bridge the gap.

2.0    TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION APPROACHES FOR EFFECTIVE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

Keeping in view of the critical need for technology innovation, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) was conceptualized as a unique knowledge networking institution in India for facilitating novel technology developments for the key sectors of economy. TIFAC was established as an autonomous organization under the aegis of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.

Towards facilitating SME-led technology development efforts in early stages of the innovation chain, TIFAC had initiated a few programmes of national importance on home grown technology, advanced composites, bioprocess & bioproducts etc. The programmes were conceptualized with the basic premise of promoting public-private partnership for generating market-driven projects with potential applications in areas such as chemical, bio-medical, pharma & nutraceuticals, transportation, tourism etc.

2.1 Home Grown Technology Programme

The programme on Home Grown Technology (HGT) was initiated by TIFAC with a view to support the Indian industry to achieve competitive strength through technological innovation. HGT support mainly focused on small & medium enterprises (SME) with the objective of encouraging them to carry out significant innovations at pilot production level.  The scheme helped SMEs experiment with new technology, provided encouragement for taking up risk and supported efforts by technology intensive start-up companies.

2.2 Advanced Composites Programme

As a follow-up of a detailed sectoral analysis coupled with a technology assessment exercise, composites were identified as an important performing material in India with a wide array of applications touching a large number of people from different walks of life. The increasing demand for materials with higher strength-to-weight ratio has led to the cognizance of composites.

The Advanced Composites Programme, initiated by TIFAC, aims to promote various composite applications. In view of the application potential of composites, a fast paced indigenous product development & its induction was felt necessary for the key sectors. Other aspects such as usage of natural fibre in composites, development of new fibre & resin system, recyclability/reusability of composites and their effective disposal were also addressed.

2.3 Bioprocess & Bioproducts Programme

The Bioprocess & Bioproducts Programme of TIFAC has been conceptualized as the major technology initiative at the national level. While catalyzing technology innovation in the sector, the programme focuses on the development & demonstration of select technologies for conversion of Indian biomass to fuels, chemicals and other value added products with a view to optimal utilization of bio-resources.

The programme also aims to promote indigenous technology capabilities in the sector with the involvement of wider cross section of stakeholders in the national & international arena.

3.0 INNOVATION MANAGEMENT MODELS

While implementing its technology development programmes, TIFAC had experimented with varied innovation management models. They are explained hereunder:

3.1 Model - I : Laboratory based Technology Development

Initially the projects were conceived wherein the technology development activities would be undertaken by a national R&D lab. While the projects would be financially supported by TIFAC and the participating industry, the funds were released to the R&D lab working on the project. The industry partner was required to absorb & upscale the technology for commercialization once the product gets developed successfully.

Though the projects were conceptualized on a tri-partite basis, the R&D laboratory played the pivotal role. A few of the products targeted development of high-technology applications warranting extremely critical testing & certification regime. In fact, the criticality of testing requirement and product acceptance were not assessed properly prior to project conceptualization.

The project evaluation & monitoring mechanism did not foresee any involvement of users or certification agencies. Thus the product development process distanced itself from the market and when the prototypes were developed successfully, their induction by the users was difficult.

The participating industry was not much inclined to the aforesaid mechanism, especially for providing funds to the R&D lab. As the lab was the centre of all actions, the industry had perceived that they were extraneous to the entire development process.

Moreover, all the assets were being created within the lab premises with the financial support from TIFAC and the industry – this was not an attractive proposition for the industry. As the project involved very sophisticated level of technology development followed by critical testing procedures, the development cycle experienced many bottlenecks and delays.

  The industry partner lost interest in the project in due course as the project showed no promise or possibility of early commercialization.

3.2 Model – II : Lab Oriented Technology Development with Extraneous Industry Involvement

The experience of taking up the technology development activities at the R&D lab did not meet with much success as explained above. This prompted the programmes to involve user agencies more proactively in the project to the extent of sharing the development cost along with TIFAC. 

In this new approach, the financial support was still extended to the national R&D labs and the industry partners were not directly involved in the project.

The knowledge partner (R&D lab), identified for the project, had sufficient expertise in product design & development, selection of raw materials and necessary product testing. The user agency had identified the product to be developed under the project and shown interest in participating in TIFAC mode of project implementation.

They took a very active part in the project by extending financial assistance to the R&D lab to the tune of 50% of the total project cost and the balance was provided by TIFAC as technology facilitator. The user agency helped in finalizing the design approach, carrying out necessary in-house testing & field trials for prototype approval.

Such an involvement by the user agency was expected to play a catalytic role for early induction of the product. On successful technology development and transfer of technology licensing rights to the user agency, they also ensured repayment of funds to facilitating agency, TIFAC.

This technology innovation approach was followed in case of development of FRP sleepers for railway girder bridges under the Advanced Composites Programme. The Research & Development Establishment (Engineers), Pune was identified as the R&D lab and Research, Design & Standards Organization (RDSO), Lucknow acted on behalf of the user agency (Indian Railways) for the project.

Composite sleepers were designed to replace the existing wooden sleepers on girder bridges. The sleepers were successfully tested and finally accepted by the Indian Railways due to excellent vibration absorption, extended life cycle, considerable weight saving and improved maintainability.

However, there was no direct involvement of the industry in the entire development process. While the R&D lab designed the product and finalized its fabrication process, they could not develop the prototype for lack of advanced fabrication equipment.

  Hence, the technology was required to be transferred to competent composite fabricators with good technical capabilities for prototype development and its large-scale replication in case of commercial induction. Though industries were identified at later stage for the prototype development, they were not fully geared to adopt and absorb the technology from the R&D lab. This led to delay in entire product development cycle.

3.3 Model – III : Industry Centric Innovation

Based on earlier experiences of mixed successes, a new strategy was adopted and the policies in TIFAC programmes were reoriented considerably for ensuring an active involvement of the industry in the entire process of technology development.

  It was realized that successful technology development model should be industry centric, keeping the industry at the heart of all the actions namely, product conceptualization & design, assets creation for prototype development & in-house testing and finally large-scale replication for wider induction.

This called for extraneous knowledge support from the leading centres of excellence across the country and brought the industries closer for technology absorption, development & dissemination.

The knowledge partner provided design support to the industry in terms of engineering drawings, advice on raw material selection, fabrication process, testing etc. for successful development of the prototype. The programme involved faculty members from the renowned institutes such as IITs and scientists from national labs.

In order to reduce technology development cycle, the programme started involving key persons from the user groups, certifying agencies etc. in the project monitoring mechanism for effective project management, technology support, product evaluation etc.

The project review team provided a right mix of expertise on design, process, machine/equipment, testing & quality assurance. Such user driven project monitoring has been the cornerstone of project management initiatives by TIFAC and it has greatly helped in improving the market reach of products and their acceptance in the shortest possible time.

Thus, the projects were more focused with clear time bound objectives and most of them were completed with successful product development.

With the modified priorities in the programmes, the Technology Development Assistance was extended directly by TIFAC to the industries on repayable basis. The major thrust was on generating market-driven projects with potential applications in sectors such as railways, telecom, building & construction, bio-medical etc.

With this change in focus, industry’s participation was intensified and many new projects with novel applications were initiated.

TIFAC has generally adopted a two-pronged approach for such technology innovation programmes. The tri-partite arrangement involved the knowledge partner (usually public funded research labs/academic institution), the industry partner implementing the project and TIFAC as the facilitator by providing soft development finances.

In some cases for SMEs with strong in-house knowledge base, a bi-partite arrangement was worked out between the industry and TIFAC for technology development & demonstration projects.

Supported by the Technology Development Assistance from TIFAC, the industries had set up advanced fabrication system in-house and testing & quality control facilities for manufacturing products meeting the international standards & quality norms.

This greatly contributed to the capability improvement for the industry and generated confidence among the users in product acceptance. In some cases, the industry partners have achieved strong and profitable growth (+10% to 30% of sales increase per year generating 10% to 40% of return on capital employed).

 

 

 4.0 SELECT CASE STUDIES

Based on the most successful technology innovation approach as discussed under Model-III, a few case studies concerning projects with the need for developing the desired products, process for their development and outcomes are described below.

4.1 Composite interiors for driver’s cabin in diesel locomotive

The driver’s cabin in its present design is too cramped for free movement & comfort for the operators. The consoles appear cluttered with not so well designed placement of several dials & gauges. The Indian Railways have been seriously contemplating ways and means for an ergonomic improvement of driver’s cabin interiors along with an aesthetic appeal for the diesel locomotives.

In view of the long felt needs by the Indian Railways for modernizing the driver’s cabin interiors, the project was launched under the Advanced Composites Programme in partnership with M/s. Black Burn Co. Pvt. Ltd., Kolkata. The Industrial Design Centre (IDC) of IIT-Bombay extended knowledge support in terms of prototype design & development, preparation of various design drawings, assistance during fabrication of full-scale prototype etc.

For a user oriented development approach, the experts from Railway Board, RDSO, DLW, DLMW and Western Railway were inducted in the project review & monitoring activities. The new design of the cabin as evolved has addressed comfortable seats for drivers, clear visibility while operating the locomotive, heat & sound insulation etc.

In addition, the safety features such as increase in roof height inside the cabin, scientifically designed illumination of the cabin etc. were addressed. The modifications as suggested by the users were incorporated at various stages of project implementation.

On acceptance & approval of the full-scale mock-up of driver’s cabin, the drivers’ cabins of two diesel locomotives were furnished with composite interiors for extensive field trials. The diesel loco maintenance unit of Indian Railways was quite satisfied with the newly furnished diesel loco driver’s cabin, which had created quite a conducive workspace.

The total product development cycle spanned across 2 years to accomplish complete design of interiors, prototype development, field trials, finalization of technical specs. and acceptance by users.  Efforts are underway in inducting the composite interiors on large-scale by Indian Railways.

4.2 Composite houseboat for tourism

Houseboat is a recent innovation positioned as the unique attraction for a tourism industry in Kerala, a southern Indian state. A houseboat is traditionally made of resinous wood and it takes 8-10 trees (70-80 years old) to build one. Apart from denuding the forest cover, building a traditional houseboat is extremely manpower intensive and nearly 40 man months of skilled labour are required to shape it up.

The wooden hull is highly prone to decay due to its continuous contact with water calling for regular tarring of the hull and frequent outages of the houseboat. The superstructure outer surface thatched with woven bamboo mat requires replacement every year due to an excessive fungal attack in a moist environment.

Thus the cost of maintenance becomes quite prohibitive for the houseboat and for the tourists to enjoy that ‘ultimate in luxury’, the cost of occupancy rises! All these made houseboat a good candidate to be developed in composite material for corrosion resistance, ease in fabrication and maintenance free service.

The development of composite houseboat was taken up as a project under the Advanced Composites Programme of TIFAC in partnership with M/s. Samudra Shipyard Pvt. Ltd., Cochin for improved aesthetics, boat stability, comfort level and maintainability.A multi-agency approach was adopted for seeking expertise in hull design, testing, fabrication assistance, design of superstructure, interiors, amenities etc.

NGN Composites-Chennai, a consulting agency working in composites technology development, had assisted in mechanical design & fabrication of hull, deck & superstructure. The Dept. of Ocean Engineering of IIT-Madras had provided hydrodynamic design of boat hull, bulkheads, ballasts and conducted the necessary tests for boat stability.

The Industrial Design Centre (IDC) of IIT-Bombay had extended design support for developing a superstructure with improved space utilization, aesthetics and ergonomics of the living area with the detailed design of bedrooms including design of panels, partitions & other interiors.

The important milestone of IDC’s contribution has been modular design approach of the entire superstructure. The Department of Ocean Engineering & Naval Architecture-IIT, Kharagpur had provided necessary technical guidance while monitoring the project right from the beginning.

As the project dealt with the development of house boats for tourism sector, senior professionals from the Department of Tourism (Govt. of Kerala) & also the leading tour operator for house-boats were also involved as experts in the project monitoring.

The sandwich hull with polyurethane foam core was fabricated in composite. The decking for the houseboat has always been a problem area with a whole lot of wooden planks being used in the conventional ones. This problem was addressed by using moulded composite gratings.

The entire superstructure was made into five modular parts requiring only three moulds for fabricating the half modules. The superstructure was configured to accommodate two bedrooms each measuring 4.00 m x 3.50 m. The houseboat components such as the hull, deck and superstructure consumed about 19.20 tons of composites, thus making it one of the largest composite products in the country.

The composite houseboat has been a small step in technology development but this would go a long way in saving the environment. Involvement of the multi-agency expertise and a user-oriented approach have been instrumental in reducing the product development cycle limiting the entire exercise to under one year.

With very long coast lines along the peninsula, large natural inland water bodies and long rivers, development of composite boats of various forms & functions in India would certainly assume importance and attract investment in the near future.

4.3 Development of artificial limbs for physically handicapped

In India, commonly used artificial legs are exoskeleton type made of high-density polyethylene.  These artificial limbs are more of a cosmetic replacement rather than a functional one. Though these appear like natural limbs, they cannot impart normal gait to a person. While, the imported endoskeleton types of limbs are available in India, they are very expensive.

On assessing the present scenario towards improving design, functional needs & aesthetics of the artificial limbs in India to cater to societal needs a project on developing endoskeleton type below the knee composite artificial limbs was launchedin collaboration with Mohana Orthotics & Prosthetic Centre, Chennai with technology support from IIT-Madras and Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai.

The consultants helped in design, prototype development and complete testing of composite limbs. The product was developed and tested for accelerated life span in 2 years of project implementation. Extensive field trials were also undertaken for assessing the users’ feedback.

The indigenously developed artificial limb has high modulus, long-term dimensional stability, high fatigue resistance, long-term bio-stability, excellent abrasion resistance and bio-compatibility. The unique design of this composite limb permits walking, cycling, climbing and even driving a vehicle by a person physically challenged otherwise. 

A whole lot of innovative technology inputs from the knowledge partners were instrumental in developing a user friendly & world-class artificial limb with excellent market potential in India and abroad. TIFAC had been instrumental in promoting the product among various limb fitting clinics & hospitals as well as by procuring them in large numbers for their distribution to earthquake victims of Gujarat.

Such indigenously developed below-knee artificial limb cost maximum Rs.3,500/- only against Rs.40,000/- for the imported ones. The endoskeleton type below-knee artificial limb developed by Mohana Orthotics was awarded the prestigious National R&D Award 2001 by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India.

4.4 Filament wound composite road tanker

Traditionally used steel tankers for transportation of liquids are prone to corrosion resulting into contamination, high maintenance cost and limited life span. Rubber lining done inside to resist corrosion does not last long and re-doing of rubber lining adds to higher cost. This had been a critical issue for transporting corrosive chemicals like acids & alkalis.

Composite or glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) road tankers are most ideal for transportation of corrosive liquids due to their lightweight and corrosion resistance. While such containers had been in use extensively in advanced countries, their application did not pick up in India mainly due to the lack of good design, technological capability and manufacturing facility in the country.

On assessing the merits and market potential of such composite road tankers over the conventional ones, a project for design & development of composite road tankers using filament winding technique was launched under the Advanced Composites Programme in partnership with Modern Engineering & Plastics Pvt. Ltd., Mettur (Tamil Nadu) and technology support from NGN Composites, Chennai, led by an expert formerly from IIT-Madras.

The technology consultant carried out the mechanical & structural design of the composite tankers keeping in view the safety, functionality and durability requirements along with the design of the collapsible mandrels. Further, NGN Composites assisted in filament winding of the tankers and designed the tanker mounting mechanism on the vehicle chassis.

The project review team comprised a well-known transportation agency owning a large fleet of steel tankers from southern India and a reputed heavy vehicle manufacturing industry with an objective to promote bulk procurement composite road tankers.

During the project implementation, the industry partner had acquired adequate technical capability and set up modern indigenous facility for 4-axes CNC filament-winding machine for fabricating the road tankers. The prototype composite road tanker with capacity of  ~15 KL was successfully fabricated and subjected to on-road trials for about 5000 Kms. to assess its road-worthiness.

Composite road tanker works out to be an economically attractive proposition based on its superior life cycle with zero maintenance. The additional carrying capacity due to saving in tare weight with the use of composites makes it even more cost effective. The partnership project has led to the development of a new composite application in India.

4.5 Enzymatic conversion of racemic molecules for stereospecific active pharma      ingredients (API)

The project on optimization of process parameters for synthesis of three low-volume, high-value stereo–specific or chiral products by biosynthetic route has been launched by TIFAC under Bioprocesses & Bioproducts programme in partnership with M/s Hi-Tech Bio Sciences India Pvt. Ltd. (HTBL), Pune.

While HTBL would be involved in process scale-up, technology demonstration & product marketing, they have sought knowledge support in terms of molecular biology work, enzyme expression studies, development of membrane reactor system for enzyme recycling, kinetics and immobilization of enzymes. The following molecules are being developed for the first time in India under the project:

  • 11-hydroxy Canrenone : An important intermediate for the manufacture of eplerenone. The hydroxylation at 11 position of Canrenone cannot be performed chemically and calls for biotransformation.  
  • Eplrenone : An aldosterone antagonist used in the management of chronic heart failure. It is similar to spironolactone and is specifically marketed for reducing cardiovascular risk in patients following myocardial infarction.
  • S Indolene 2 carboxylic acid : An important chiral intermediate in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals such as perindopril and similar long-acting ACE inhibitors

The technology development activities are being monitored by a team of experts inducted from academia, pharmaceutical industry and a leading financial institution making a significant difference.

The innovations involved in the project are development of economical & sustainable sources of enzymes, isolation of fungal isolate & development of process for bioconversion of steroids, use of molecular biology tools for over expression of enzymes and their utilization.

The total estimated demand for 11- hydroxy -Canrenone is in the range of 3 to 4 tpa, which is being imported at around Rs.40,000 to 45,000 per kg. The present domestic demand for eplerenone is around 2 tpa costing about Rs.300,000/- per kg. The total estimated demand for S - Indoline 2 Carboxylic Acid is estimated to be more than 25-30 tpa with a price tag of Rs.20,000/- per kg.

4.6 Development of Pharmaceutical Grade Chitosan and Value-Added Formulations

Chitosan is a modified natural carbohydrate polymer derived from chitin, which occurs principally in the shells of shrimps and crabs. Shrimp and prawn processing wastes causing severe environmental problem can be effectively utilized for extracting chitin & chitosan as value-added products.

Development of pharmaceutical grade chitosan by enzymatic route is being attempted for the first time in India under a project launched in partnership with India Sea Foods, Cochin under Bioprocesses & Bioproducts programme of TIFAC.

ATIRA has been roped in the project as the knowledge partner for the process development & optimization. India Sea Foods has also collaborated with two leading medical research institutions (SCTIMST & AIMS) for clinical trials and efficacy tests for chitosan.

The firm has been producing commercial grade chitin & chitosan from shrimp & prawn waste and exporting them mostly to European countries. Three products viz. pharmaceutical grade chitosan, carboxymethyl chitosan and chitosan based cream & other formulations are being developed under the project.

Both chitin and chitosan are biocompatible, biodegradable and nontoxic material capable of activating host to prevent infection and accelerate healing of the wound.

In general, chitin based products provide improved healing of surgical wound through faster healing process with smooth scars. Besides its application as powder, chitosan-based dressings and bandages has also been produced and marketed in USA, for the US army for haemostatic application. The product is an ideal one for cosmetic cum medi-care products.

Chitosan, initially developed at ATIRA at the laboratory scale and subsequently produced at bench scale at India Sea Foods, was thoroughly evaluated at DRDE for toxicity, skin irritation, mutagenicity etc. and was found to be quite acceptable with good wound healing property.

4.7 Development of eco-friendly natural dyes

The recent trend of higher preference for natural dyes has been fuelled by increased public awareness about environmental issues and import restrictions by developed economies on use of some synthetic dyes.  The global demand for natural dyes world over is about 10,000 tonnes which is equivalent to 1 % of the world consumption of synthetic dyes and is expected to rapidly grow in near future.

  Due to complex composition of natural dyes, they are very sensitive to pH, temperature, water hardness, and presence of metals etc. Limitations of shades and comparatively poor fastness are other hurdles in the rapid growth of natural dyes.

To address these issues especially to establish standard methods of dyeing to get required shades, a project was launched by TIFAC under Home Grown Technology programme in association with M/s Alps Industries Ltd., Ghaziabad with technology support from IIT-Delhi.  The company had significant strengths in textile business with an integrated textile unit (fibre to finished products under one roof).

Based on the encouraging research results from IIT-Delhi, the company took up the project under its own R&D unit. The academician from IIT-Delhi joined the company on sabbatical to lead the technology development activities of natural dyes under the TIFAC project.

The project was initiated with an objective of producing six fully standardized eco-friendly natural dyes from herbal/natural resources, evaluating natural colours for eco-friendliness, improving the fastness properties, better consistency of the product and its applicability on the fibre.

The company developed eleven eco-friendly natural dyes extracted from fruits, leaves, flowers, seeds and also some insects. The colouring matter from fenugreek, golden dock and lac was extracted and applied for the first time in the country and patent applications were filed for the process.

A trademark has been registered by the company for natural colours. The procedures for the extraction of colouring matter in aqueous medium for cotton, silk, wool, nylon, jute and polyester were standardized.

A Super Critical Fluid Extraction system was successfully established to develop entire new range of natural dyes for use in the food and pharmaceutical industries to increase the market for the natural dye. The involvement of experts from academic institutes and large user groups (textile manufacturing companies) in the review & monitoring mechanism for the project helped achieve its objectives towards commercialization.  

Development of such eco-friendly know-how & product had enhanced company’s goodwill among international buyers and it lead to increased market share. The company started exporting to C.I.S countries, Russia, Pakistan, Switzerland and others.

4.8  Haemo-concentrators for open heart surgical applications

The technologies related to bio-medical devices in general have higher gestation periods and thus, they need persistent efforts from the developers and entrepreneurs to bring them to the market place. Being critical in nature, most of these technologies are subjected to extensive clinical trials and ethics committee clearance.

Thus the marketing of bio-medical technologies requires enormous efforts and resources. Although many new entrepreneurs could be enthusiastic for working on novel technologies in the medical fields, they very often have to overcome enormous barriers to actually make their efforts a success.

Haemoconcentrators are on-line ultra filtration devices used during open heart surgery wherein the patient’s circulating blood volume undergoes considerable dilution due to priming fluids added in various devices that need to be interconnected with the patient’s vascular system. Apart from essential blood compatibility and bio-safety requirements, the device should perform with high filtration efficiency and withstand trans-membrane pressure without leaks.

The project, supported under Home Grown Technology programme of TIFAC, has been a joint technology development effort by SIDD Life Sciences Pvt. Limited and SCTIMST.  The project objectives included development of prototypes for adult and infant, testing and validation and setting up a facility for producing 2000 units per annum.

The development stages included modeling using software, prototyping using machined components out of acrylic, mould making, quality assurance of prototype – leak test of fibre, performance testing – sieving coefficient, in vitro evaluation, ultrafiltration rate, development of clinical mode and clinical trials.

Under the project, in vitro evaluation had been conducted as per ISO standard and clinical models were developed. Further, the haemoconcentrators developed (0.7 sq.m and 0.3 sq.m) were tested in actual usage scenario at MMM Hospital, Chennai with satisfactory performance.

The project review & monitoring team included highly acclaimed scientists & practicing cardio-thoracic surgeon inducted from the leading medical institutes/hospitals of India with good knowledge of the functions & performance of haemo-concentrator.

4.9 Manufacture of heat pipe based heat sinks
Heat pipes are devices capable of quickly transferring heat from one point to another with almost no loss. In a heat pipe the evaporation-condensation cycle of a working fluid in closed loop is used to transfer heat from the source to the sink. A heat pipe comprises three basic components viz. container, working fluid and the wick or capillary structure.

The heat-pipe heat sinks are configured for applications in power electronics devices like diodes, thyristors, field effect transistors etc.

The technology for manufacturing of heat pipe based heat sinks was developed by the ARCI,  Hyderabad, a state-of-the-art R&D facility in advanced materials and associated processing technologies.

ARCI had set up a pilot plant for manufacturing of heat pipe heat sinks at ARCI Technology Park, Hyderabad. The technology was scaled up M/s Capri Cables Pvt. Ltd. under the Home Grown Technology Programme of TIFAC.

The project on manufacture of heat pipe based heat sinks aimed at setting up a pilot manufacturing facility of heat pipes with a capacity of 40,000 units per annum. ARCI provided continuous technical guidance, R&D support, characterization and testing services to the entrepreneur.

The company channelised its efforts for commercialization of heat pipe technology basically for two major applications for heat dissipation and energy recovery.

During the project implementation, the project advisory & monitoring team involving experts from IITs and user groups played a major role and their suggestions enabled the company introduce better design and manufacturing techniques for production cost optimization, saving of raw materials, and better performance.

The team also helped in re-designing fins & tubes spacing for tailored applications, and suggesting a contoured profile in the aluminium block to optimize heat transfer & save material cost etc. The company has started receiving orders, and the project is expected to experience significant commercial success with orders from some of the major users such as BHEL.

5.0 CONCLUSION

Various programmes under TIFAC have been truly successful experiments in innovation management in Indian context. The early innovation management approaches as described in this article had their efficacies and significance in specific cases. Building on the experiences of initial models of innovation management practices, the mechanism of industry centric innovation had emerged most successful in catering to near-term deliverables.

The projects conceptualized following this approach were concluded successfully with products reaching out to the users. The key attributes for the industry centric model such as attractive scheme of financial assistance, technological risk sharing and knowledge-based project monitoring by experts coupled with the market intervention by reaching to the user agencies had all helped the projects record their achievements in a short span.

The programmes had roped in a good number of academicians with excellent expertise in product design & process technology and effectively utilized their knowledge in realizing the applications. While this model of technology innovation was proved quite successful, it had suffered from a few limitations too.

Especially under the Advanced Composites Programme, some of the products, which were developed, directly substituted the conventional materials. In such cases, the projects and partnering industries gradually gravitated towards those products & technologies whose commercial successes were well predicted. This was more prompted by a committed repayment plan by the industries over a predetermined timeframe for the financial assistance extended by TIFAC.

The major fall out of the industry centric model has been generation of less & less projects catering to novel applications with high technology content and risks involved. Towards reorienting the innovation programmes with higher technology content, the industry centric model may warrant a few modifications.

Under the changed scenario, the initial phase of technology development could be carried out in national research labs/academic institutes with financial support from the government on grant-in-aid basis. An industry partner may be inducted into the project for outsourcing certain activities viz. process scale-up, prototype fabrication under guidance from the project beneficiary (research lab/academic institute) primarily aimed at developing a technology transfer package.

Once the technology is developed successfully with attractive economic returns, the next phase could be implemented in partnership with an industry. The Phase-II of the project could be supported on 50% cost basis with repayable funding at cheaper rate for capital assets for manufacturing & product testing and other associated capability building for technology commercialization.

It may be noted that not all the innovation development projects supported at national labs/academic institutes may turn into economically viable propositions. Some of the projects may just result into knowledge creation.  Such models could prove to be quite useful by minimizing the risk exposure especially for the partnering industries. 

However, the corner stone of the industry centric model of developing an effective networking among the academia/research institutions, standards & certifying agencies as well as the experts from the actual users would continue to play the extremely vital role in any innovation approach for faster knowledge development and user acceptance.

Glossary of Terms

ACE - Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme
AIMS – Amrita Institute of Medical Science
ARCI – International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials
API - Active pharmaceutical ingredients
ATIRA - Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association
BHEL – Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited
CIS – Commonwealth of Independent state
DLW – Diesel Locomotive Works
DLMW  – Diesel Locomotive Modernization Works
DSIR – Department for Scientific & Industrial Research
DRDE – Defense Research Development Establishment
HDPE – High Density Polyethylene
ICF – Integral Coach Factory
IIT – Indian Institute of Technology
IJIRA - Indian Jute Industries Research Association
IPIRTI - Indian Plywood Industries Research and Training Institute
IS – Indian Standards
MDF – Medium Density Fibre
MMM – Madras Medical Mission
NCL - National Chemical Laboratory
PVC – Polyvinylchloride
RCF – Rail Coach Factory
RDSO – Research Design and Standards Organization
SCTIMST – Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology
SIDD - South India Drugs and Devices
STR – Schedule for Technical Requirements

About the Authors

Ms. Sangeeta Baksi is employed as Scientist in the Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC), New Delhi. She has post-graduate qualifications (MS & M.Tech) in Material Science & Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA and in Polymer Science & Technology from IIT, Delhi respectively.

 Ms. Nirmala Kaushik, M.Sc (Chemistry) from University of Poona, has been working in TIFAC as Scientist-D.

Mr. P R Basak, B.Tech in Chemical Engineering, is employed as Principal Scientific Officer in TIFAC.

Mr. Soumitra Biswas has post-graduate (Master's) qualifications in Chemical Engineering and Business Administration from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Management Calcutta respectively. He is currently employed as Adviser at TIFAC/Department of Science & Technology (Govt. of India), New Delhi.

The views expressed by the authors are their own and they do not necessarily reflect those of the organization they belong.