Good institutes not just keep waiting at their gates for employers to embark upon their campus but instead, impact students’ lives by giving them an enabling platform to open their own start-ups. At least, 5% of total number of students, passionate into turning entrepreneurs, must be inspired, supported n’ turned into successful entrepreneurs. It is so much essential to the idea of ‘job creation’ and “Aatmnirbhar”.
Over 90% of HEIs are currently struggling in turning their “Innovation and Entrepreneur Cell” as fruitful/productive platforms. During my visits to many good universities, I have often found IQAC teams much like ‘lost and disoriented gentlemen’ unable to find a way-forward, in pursuing this specific quality initiative. They lack solution, funds, drive, direction and impetus in setting up and running quality Incubators and Accelerators. It remains mostly on papers. In a reputed university, I found incharge of an Incubator scrambling some students to sit in a room which had an impressive board outside. When it came to briefing, he shamelessly claimed even those start-ups as his own achievement which otherwise, were purely the outcomes of innocent unsupported students. Whom do we fool? Why can’t we put our act together? The condition is even worse in Management and Degree colleges. Health sciences and the discipline of Law and such others, teach us how “on job skills” are so much critical to self-employment. Are you skilling enough?
5 Points Necessary to succeed in setting up and running an Incubator
1. You need Money. If yours is a private institute starved of funds, YOU need to approach industry, a philanthropist, a Trust, a Wealthy guy to open a Lab/A centre for Excellence/ Incubator/Chair on their names. Who’s that YOU I’m referring to ?. I say, ‘you’ as faculty, staff, IQAC team, VC/Director/Principal, Founder/s. Cross the road for the sake of your students or invest your money /plough back students fee. You can’t have the cake and eat it too. Invest liberally.
2. Create a detailed policy on how your Incubator/Accelerator will work to include, vision, mission, objectives/goals, tasks, composition of Management. Students’ Enrolment, faculty/experts, infra, software, project selection n’ mentoring, Angel Investors, IPR, industry scalability, ownership, and more.
3. Unless an Incubator is directly funded and run by a reputed industry, you will always need experts from the industry to guide students’ projects. Don’t make a mistake of asking your out-of-touch faculty to guide niche technology projects merely to save money. Often, this way, you can end up ruining these projects badly, particularly projects requiring cutting-edge technology being evolved continuously.
4. Private and Autonomous institutes must Link and count Incubator projects by students in the course credits. Government institutes too must make similar incubator credit policy, in addition to an internships.
5. Create an annual festival of large scale, involving MSMEs, Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists and Ministries and get your students to demonstrate their projects in a good glare of social, digital and print media. Create incubator Group on the Facebook and generate discussions. Let your incubator facility be used by other universities and colleges. Reach out to Incubators set by the Government in your cities for students’ exchange and to build synergy and superior outcomes. Take your projects in national competitions and globally. Sponsor your students and help them set up business by funding co-working spaces. There is lots and lots you can do. Make a beginning today and be counted 👍
-Prof JR Sharma, a practitioner in Incubators.