The International Institute of Information Technology- Bangalore (IIIT-B) which was established in 1999 has played a crucial role in the growth of Bengaluru’s IT story. It created a talent pool for companies to dip into, and in the process opened up opportunities for deserving youth. Today, it has one of the most composite innovation centres that offer young minds the opportunity to engage with the world around them in socially productive ways.
Professor S. Sadagopan
IIIT-B was jointly created by the Karnataka Government and the IT Industry in 1998 to contribute to the growing IT ecosystem by focusing on education and research, entrepreneurship and innovation. Headed by the visionary academician, Prof. S Sadagopan, it has engaged with all stakeholders, including the startup community, since its inception. It has a high profile governing body drawn from prominent companies and industry bodies.
The IIIT-B Innovation Centre, set up in 2009 by Prof S. Rajagopalan, is a startup hub for ICT4D (Information and Communications Technologies for Development) research, innovation and entrepreneurship, housed within the IIIT-B campus in Bengaluru’s Electronic City. Its focus is on nurturing social innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs and helping them to be successful, and in creating innovative, socially relevant and impactful solutions and ventures.
“We had identified start-up innovation as our focus, when we started IIIT-B. When IIIT-B Innovation Center was started, we also started giving funds to the startups, in addition to facilities such as space, IT support, connecting them with funding agencies, regulators and legal support”, says Sadagopan.” The heads of incubation at the Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore serve on the board of IIT-B’s Innovation Centre.
IIIT-B Innovation Centre is focused on creating a digital social Innovation ecosystem, that nurtures social innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs to become responsible citizens of the future.
IIIT-B was jointly created by the Karnataka Government and the IT Industry in 1998
(IIIT-B) has opened up opportunities for deserving youth
There is no ‘right prediction’, but what I find fascinating is the fact that finally, Indians are solving India’s problems…- Prof. S Sadagopan, Chairman & Founder-Director, IIIT-B Innovation Centre and Director
As one of the startup incubation centres approved by governments of India and Karnataka, the Innovation Centre initially received and invested (pre-seed/seed) TIDE (Technology Incubation & Development of Entrepreneurs) grants from the Government of India in startups with potential. Incorporated as a not-for-profit company, its primary objectives were to support and incubate external ventures, promote commercialisation of intellectual property, and encourage industry to set up R&D centres to facilitate a symbiotic working relationship between professionals and amateurs.
By 2014, its operations had been streamlined and nurtured over 20 startups. The same year, the centre launched a civic-tech focused initiative named IMACX (IOT to Mobility Apps for Community Excellence). “Our 15+ years of experience in the field of innovation propelled our decision to turn the spotlight on socially-relevant start-ups. The fact that we had a fully visually impaired full-time student who graduated in 2017 and started pursuing startup opportunities vindicated our focus,” says Sadagopan.
Born out of the Government of Karnataka’s Vision 2020 Initiative, IMACX was envisioned as an initiative that nurtures startups that address the needs of citizens and governments through technology. The focal areas of attention are the individual (social inclusion, accessibility and assistive solutions for the disabled); community (public safety and law and order) and nature (prevention, preparedness, response and recovery during natural disasters).
The IMACX Accelerator was launched in 2015 to help civic-tech startups that focus on healthcare, education, transportation, energy, governance and culture. Being a zero-fee, zero-equity, cohort-based, 100-day early-stage accelerator programme, it focused on startups that used cutting-edge technologies and business models. It has helped more than 30 startups to date, including Fields of View, nSmiles, Videoken, Morning Cart, Ziroh Labs, GreendZine, Healthelife. IMACX has also started collaborative social innovations from 2017 to help generate solutions that would benefit from the research activities within IIIT-B. IMACX Studios was rolled out as a plug-n-play facility to offer each startup independent office space for a small team.
IMACX has also started collaborative social innovations from 2017 to help generate solutions which would benefit from the research activities within IIIT-B.
The Centre offers young startups with mentorship, space, funding, legal support, infrastructure and regulators to enable them in their journey of creating innovative, socially-relevant and impactful solutions and ventures.
The IMACX TIRAC Fund, a product-focused, seed-stage fund, was established in late 2018 to enable the creation of sustainable, scalable and impactful solutions. The institute and its Innovation Centre receive multiple research and innovation grants from governments, corporates (including CSR) and university research grants, which are channelized into future innovation projects.
For 2019, IMACX’s focus is set on ‘Cognitive Computing + Platform Economics’ – machine learning, natural language processing, speech and image recognition and human-computer interaction.
Prof. S Sadagopan, Chairman & Founder-Director, IIIT-B Innovation Centre and Director has wide research interests that include Operations Research, Multi-criteria optimization Decision Theory, Simulation, Enterprise Computing, Programming Languages, Databases, Multimedia and e-Governance. An author, a columnist and a speaker, he is a Fellow of IEE (UK) and Computer Society of India. He has won several awards including the Fulbright Fellowship. He consults widely across different industry segments including auto, manufacturing, banking, IT and social sector.
Asked for his view on the industry sectors that are poised to do well, Prof. Sadagopan says, “There is no ‘right prediction’, but what I find fascinating is the fact that finally, Indians are solving India’s problems. Our generation went to USA & Europe to solve their problems through their universities and corporations; the next generation created companies that created jobs to serve companies that solved the problems of the world, including India. It is only the current generation that is getting bold to solve India’s problems – TravelKhana or PayTM, IDFreshFood, are my pet examples. Deep tech startups, next generation unicorns and global MNCs from India are to be expected from India and in all sectors, none excluded.”