Three ICTI Researchers awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship 2017-18

ICTI Researchers – Keerthi Thodiyil, Rishikesh Sreehari and Geo Mathew Thomas have been awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarships for international study and professional development. Geo will be attending MSc Engineering for International Development at University College London, Rishikesh will be studying MSc Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation at Heriot-Watt University and Keerthi will be pursuing MSc Biotechnology at the University of West of Scotland.

Geo, Rishikesh and Keerthi have been awarded the United Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan Scholarship, which will cover all fees, to-and-fro travel, visa expenses and also monthly stipend, worth up to Rs 35 Lakhs, during the 12 months’ Masters programme and research to be undertaken in the United Kingdom from September 2017.

“Three commonwealth scholarships have been awarded to ICTI researchers this year. That’s a fantastic number and demonstrates the high quality of socially relevant research happening at ICTI; and the contributions our researchers are able to make in changing lives of people.” says Aaron George, Director- ICTI and former Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Cambridge.

Geo Mathew Thomas graduated with BTech Mechanical Engineering in 2016. Joining the Research Scholars Programme at ICTI his research focused on digital empowerment of farmer producer organisation. He implemented ICTI’s online agro-marketplace project and provided digital literacy training to 100+ farmer producer organisations. “I feel excited and grateful to be awarded the commonwealth scholarship to study at UCL – one of the world’s best university” says Geo. “I look forward to an enriching research experience that will help me make significant contribution to international development”.

Keerthi Thodiyil holds BTech in Biotechnology of 2014 batch. Her research interest in public health and biotechnology enterprises motivated her to pursue the Research Scholars Programme at ICTI. Keerthi conducted study about drinking water problems and environmental health issues in Kuttanad region. At ICTI she coordinated initiatives to source new bio-technologies from partnering research labs and assisted rural entrepreneurs (women SHGs) to develop self-sustaining businesses in sanitation and supply of safe drinking water to local community. “I am very happy that I have been chosen for this scholarship and I feel honoured. I look upon it as an opportunity for me to study and do research about something that I love”, says Keerthi.

Rishikesh Sreehari graduated with BTech Mechanical Engineering in 2016. As a Research Scholar at ICTI he pursued research about promotion of innovation in universities and higher educational institutions. He developed ICTI’s Indovator initiative, a first-of-its-kind online initiative where people support innovators with crowdfunding. It empowers people to contribute for innovations that can create impact in their lives, and to review innovators solving India’s challenges for sustainable development. Rishikesh focuses on advancement of renewable energy technologies and training of technology transfer professionals. “I feel very grateful for being selected for the scholarship. I believe it is a great opportunity for me to travel, develop networks, learn new skills, and access world class research facilities. Upon return, it will help me make a real difference in the socio-economic development of India.”

ICTI’s Research Scholars Programme is a post-bachelor programme designed to provide research training opportunities for highly talented candidates. The research experience increases their competitiveness and helps them gain admissions and scholarships for Masters and PhD programmes in world’s best universities. The programme is designed for candidates with background in engineering or science. This programme aims to develop the next generation of research leaders and innovators.

International Center for Technological Innovations (ICTI) is a not-for-profit Open Innovation Centre promoting consortium research, technology development and dissemination in emerging countries. ICTI works in partnership with stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors in the emerging economies to make technological innovations commercially successful for the benefit of nation building, through capacity enhancement, technology transfer initiatives, new product development and enterprise building to create opportunities for inclusive growth, generate jobs and poverty reduction.

The Commonwealth Scholarships in the United Kingdom program is funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, enabling students from Commonwealth countries to pursue advanced academic study in the UK.

ICTI expands digital empowerment initiative for farmers and women

NABARD Chairman, Dr. Harsh K Bhanwala, Chief General Manager, Mr. Raveendra Nath and ICTI Director, Mr. Aaron George during inauguration of Gramavipani.com

International Centre for Technological Innovations (ICTI) has launched www.gramavipani.com – an online marketplace for farmer producer organisations. The project was funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development through grant support under farm sector promotion fund. Gramavipani.com primarily facilitate wholesale trade between farmer producer organisations and agribusiness enterprises.  The website was inaugurated at the Kerala Regional Office of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. NABARD Chairman, Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chief General Manager, Mr. V.R Raveendra Nath, ICTI Director, Mr. Aaron Joseph George were present. CEO of FarmerTree, Mr. Geo Mathew Thomas and Director, Mr. Abraham Joji also attended the inauguration function. “Presently around 100 farmer producer companies in Kerala collectively market their products through the web-portal.” says Mr. Aaron Joseph George, “the project will be expanded to all India level in next few months by on-boarding farmer producer organisations and farmer cooperatives in other states”.

Shebin C Babu, Soumya Rani George, Dhanya K Nair, Prajitha PS of FarmerTree Producer Co. Ltd.

With increasing penetration of internet connectivity (rise of smartphone users), growing popularity of mobile shopping, and dealing in daily consumption commodities, grocery e-stores do hold a potential in India. While the grocery e-commerce does holds a good opportunity, there are challenges in different areas of operations – technology, vendors, logistics and more. ICTI spinout FarmerTree Producer Co. Ltd., (a farmer producer organisation) operates an online supermarket– www.farmertree.com . The company focuses mainly on customers in villages and rural areas. “Customers can shop from a wide variety of categories and orders are delivered at doorstep on time. Our products are sourced directly from farmer producer organisations and farmer cooperatives,” says Mr. Shebin C Babu, Manager – FarmerTree. “By creating online food communities of women self-help groups and other customers, we make it easy to buy great food at wholesale prices directly from producers, by shopping together with friends, family and colleagues. Our goal is to provide safe, hygienic and healthy food at a fair price for producers and customers.”

Digital Literacy and e-commerce training programme for farmer producer organizations. Geo Mathew Thomas, CEO FarmerTree and Aaron Joseph George, Director ICTI

“One of the major challenges faced by FarmerTree is the low digital literacy amoung rural communities in India” says CEO, Mr. Geo Mathew Thomas. “Aligned with National Digital Literacy Mission and the Digital India campaign, we associates with ICTI and implement digital literacy initiatives to empower farmers, women and rural communities.” Training is provided to women self-help groups (SHGs) and farmer groups, in using computer, internet and digital devices. Advanced training in e-commerce and digital payments is provided to farmer producer organisations. Loans are also provided to entrepreneurial women and JLGs for purchase of computers and starting grocery distribution centres.

International Center for Technological Innovations (ICTI) is a not-for-profit Open Innovation Centre promoting consortium research, technology development and dissemination in emerging countries. ICTI works in partnership with stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors in the emerging economies to make technological innovations commercially successful for the benefit of nation building, through capacity enhancement, technology transfer initiatives, new product development and enterprise building to create opportunities for inclusive growth, generate jobs and poverty reduction.

FarmerTree Producer Co. Ltd., (FarmerTree) is a farmer producer company established under PRODUCE Scheme of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and incubated by the International Centre for Technological Innovations.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex development bank in India, headquartered at Mumbai with branches all over India. The Bank has been entrusted with matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India. NABARD is active in developing financial inclusion policy and is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

ICTI Indovator Awards 2016 Announced

Today at the International Centre for Technological Innovations we are excited to release the winners of the Indovation Award 2016. The award recognises young innovators working on projects to solve India’s sustainable development challenges. “The Indovator Awards is a unique people’s choice awards program launched by the International Centre for Technological Innovations” says Rishikesh S Hari, Research Scholar at ICTI. “Indovator is a first-of-its-kind online initiative where people support innovators with crowdfunding. It empowers people to donate for innovations that can create impact in their lives, and to review innovators solving India’s challenges for sustainable development.”

Arundhati Bhide of Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune received the Indovator Award for nurturing her project – Handheld Incision Tool. The Incision Tool is a handheld surgical instrument that allows a surgeon to manually control the depth and length of an incision. “This tool is ideal for application as a training tool for medical students and doctors in rural areas. The tool can be used in laparoscopy, to remove tumours in the vocal chords, reversal of vasectomy and tubectomy, and eye surgery, to name a few”, says Arundhati.

Arjun Sethunath, Bharath Prasad, Ben Emmanuel, Akhil Saju and Joyal Kurisinkal of Rajagiri School of Engineering & Technology, Ernakulam won the Indovator Award for their project – M.A.H.E.S.H: A Multi Functionality Helmet. MAHESH is the acronym for Multi Assistance Helmet Ensuring Safety for the Head. The team leader Arjun says, “Safety of our loved ones is what needs to be given top priority. If MAHESH goes into production, we believe that one will never read accident reports saying victim would have survived if he had a helmet on”.

Another team from the Rajagiri School of Engineering & Technology, Ernakulam received Indovator Award for the project – Low Cost Automatic Irrigation System using Raspberry Pi. The team includes Siddharth Mahesh, Jairam Sankar, Amogh Jayaraj, Aljin John and Ashok R Mohan. The project can help farmers implement low cost irrigation technique and improve plant health monitoring, and “thereby can improve agricultural productivity and income of farmers” says the team leader Siddharth Mahesh.

A total grant assistance of over Rs 100,000 has been sanctioned by ICTI for the three projects. The awardees would be utilising the money and contributions for scaling-up and commercialising their innovation. ICTI will be nurturing the teams by handholding them in raising further funding from government agencies and companies for research, new product development and technology commercialisation.

“Our founders at ICTI, believe that technological innovations are very important for addressing challenges in India’s sustainable development.” Says Aaron Joseph George, Director – ICTI. “There are a large number of innovations created in Indian universities particularly by youth. Indovator aims to provide them a platform to test public acceptability of their innovation.” Most funding agencies support only commercially viable innovations that has been tested and proven. Getting funding for basic research in early stages in very difficult, especially for young researchers who lack knowledge and experience in preparing strong research proposals that may be funded by government agencies. Such early stage research projects can be funded through philanthropic donations. Indovator offers innovators a crowdfunding platform to raise funds through generous donations from family, relatives, friends, colleagues, general public and organisations. Indovator motivates donors to support projects by offering tax deductions for donation u/s 80G, and doubles the impact of their donations by awarding additional matching funds through our sponsors.

ICTI Research Scholar – Nicku Mathew, wins prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship 2016-17

nicku-1ICTI Research Scholar, Nicku Abraham Mathew, has been awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship, considered among the most prestigious awards in the world for international study and professional development. He is amoung the only four awardees from across the globe who received the Commonwealth Queen’s Scholarship 2016-17. He will be studying MSc Leadership for Sustainable Rural Development at the Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom

Nicku received the United Kingdom Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan Scholarship, which will cover all fees, to-and-fro travel, visa expenses and also provide monthly stipend, worth over Rs 3 million, during the 12 month Masters programme and research to be undertaken at Belfast from September 2016.

Nicku graduated with BTech in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. As a Research Scholar at International Centre for Technological Innovations he gained opportunity to coordinate the Centre’s joint project with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture to implement ‘Producer Organization Promoting Institution’ – a start-up incubator for farmer producer companies. He has been rewarded on the basis of his leadership skills while handling the project and commitment for rural development by promoting farmer producer companies. “Farmers lack knowledge and business techniques that would help them maximise their incomes. Hence, supporting smallholder farming through Producer Companies is an effective way of stimulating economic development and reducing poverty.” says Nicku. Collectivization of producers, especially small and marginal farmers, into producer companies has emerged as one of the most effective ways to address the many challenges of agriculture but most importantly, improved access to investments, technology, input supply services and markets. Nicku also coordinates ICTI’s Indovator initiative providing matching grants and awards to engineering students working on research projects for India’s sustainable development.

In fact Nicku was selected for the Commonwealth Scholarship by 6 Universities. Besides Queen’s he was also offered scholarship by Durham University, University of Sheffield, University of Kent, University of Chester and Swansea University. He however choose to join Masters Programme at the Queen’s University Belfast, as he believes it would help him make a real difference in the lives of rural communities and India’s sustinable development.

ICTI’s Research Scholars Programme is a post-bachelor programme designed to provide research training opportunities for highly talented candidates. The research experience increases their competitiveness and helps them gain admissions and scholarships for Masters and PhD programmes in world’s best universities. The programme is designed for candidates with background in engineering or science. This programme aims to develop the next generation of research leaders and innovators.

International Center for Technological Innovations (ICTI) is a not-for-profit Open Innovation Centre promoting consortium research, technology development and dissemination in emerging countries. ICTI works in partnership with stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sectors in the emerging economies to make technological innovations commercially successful for the benefit of nation building, through capacity enhancement, technology transfer initiatives, new product development and enterprise building to create opportunities for inclusive growth, generate jobs and poverty reduction.

The Commonwealth Scholarships in the United Kingdom program is funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, enabling students from Commonwealth countries to pursue advanced academic study in the UK.