The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has received Rs 95 crore, the largest donation in its history, to set up a centre to develop hi-tech products and solutions for consumers and industry that lie at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
On the lines of the Tata Center for Technology and Design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, the Tata group has granted Rs 95 crore to IIT-Bombay for a period of five years to develop design and engineering principles suited to the needs of people and communities with limited resources. An MoU has been signed by both the parties, and the centre at IIT-Bombay, also called Tata Center for Technology and Design (TCTD), has started functioning from July.
On August 20 and 21, fellows from MIT and IIT-Bombay will come together for a brainstorming session under the aegis of the centre.
The focus of the centre would be to develop technology-driven solutions appropriate for the bottom sections of the consumer and business base, with a special focus on India, and development of human resources trained in identification of unmet technological needs, their solutions, and their placement in the market.
Speaking to the TOI, Prof Devang V Khakhar, director, IIT-Bombay, said the centre would focus on “frugal engineering”. “What we are going to do here is to come up with products which are high in technology but affordable. Students and faculties from all departments can participate as this is a virtual centre,” he said. “The centre will support research work for postgraduate and PhD scholars, although there is no bar for undergraduate students,” added Khakhar.
Tata fellows for the centre have already been appointed. The centre envisages designing items not only for consumers belonging to the low income group, but products like medical devices too. The institute has also singed an MoU with MIT to work on some projects under this centre, informed Khakhar.
The centre will have a three-pronged activity structure comprising research, academic and administrative activities. The areas identified for research would broadly include — water, healthcare, affordable housing, energy and environment, food and agriculture, human-powered mobility devices, education and crafts development. The Centre will also give students exposure to design, innovation and entrepreneurship by way of course work, laboratory work and projects. A year-long master’s dissertation will focus on development of a high-value product/ process for targeted consumers. Doctoral students enrolled with other disciplines will be able to pursue research in projects undertaken at the centre.