Wednesday, 31 January 2018

How Industry And Academia Must Work Together For Mutual Benefit

The collaboration between industry and academia has been a hot topic of debate ever since the industrial age dawned with the invention of the steam engine. So much so that one may be forgiven for believing that there exists a conflict of interest between the two. You might think that industry and universities seek different objectives.

The narrow view is that industry focuses only on its survival in the brutal market whereas universities are more focused on imparting knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Industry is driven by material success, unlike universities that engender a culture of research and development to their students. This so-called conflict of interest is what makes the relationship between industry and academia a somewhat tenuous one at times. But this is the wrong way to look at this linkage. Rather this is a truly mutually-beneficial arrangement that is essential to the long-term success of both parties.

This is a symbiotic relationship in the truest sense. The practical view is that the world of academia serves as a proving ground to create the talent pool that industry needs in order to progress. They provide well-trained, enthusiastic, energetic, and inquisitive students who are eager to make their mark in the industry. In turn, before the students are industry ready, the universities expect industry to provide them with practical exposure and an opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge to practice.

There are also ample opportunities for learning from each other. Corporate veterans have the benefit of experience and practical knowledge and the universities and students have exposure to new methodologies and a flood of innovative ideas. Students can learn from the guidance that industry can provide. This helps them expand the scope of their knowledge and temper it with a bit of real-world realism. Industry, in turn, can incorporate these fresh ideas and methodologies into their own ways of working. Every now and then, industry needs that breath of fresh air to sweep out age-old ideas and obsolete methodologies.

Creating a mutual relationship is vital for both industry and academia. Such collaborations provide:

  1. Amalgamation of Different Cultures

Many companies look forward to tie-up with different universities for their academic and internship programmes which brings different cultures together. Students from different universities get to share space and ideas with each other. This amalgamation of students from different educational backgrounds and culture proves beneficial for the industry. As for students, they get exposure to the working culture in different industries and learn from the leaders out there.

  1. Industry-Ready Workforce

Among the biggest challenges for a growing economy like India is the availability of talent to take up key industry roles. The key issue is volume – with growth comes the need for hundreds of thousands of keen minds and active hands. As academia strives to educate these students industry must strive to train them. The end objective is a steady pipeline of people with both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills that industry needs.

  1. Research and Development

Academia is well placed to help solve the pressing problems of industry with inventions and innovative approaches. This calls for a collaborative effort to identify the key issues that must demand attention. An ongoing partnership is needed as academia seeks opportunities to apply scientific rigour to isolating the problems, addressing the root causes, and providing workable solutions. This may also call for funding from industry as some of these issues may take time and effort to address.

If a true partnership is forged, the benefits are many.
  1. For Industry:
·         Creating an enduring talent pool
·         Having access to student research at university level
·         Long-term relationship with students
·         Optimizing the work methodologies in line with the latest trends
·         Saving resources on employee training
·         Creating a brand value in the market

  1. For Students:
·         Exposure to the actual working of an industry
·         Securing their future with assured employment
·         Enhancing work and management skills
·         Funding and real-world testing opportunities for their research

The industry can collaborate with universities in many different ways such as:

  • Internships: Allowing students to work for a short period of time to gain insights into how the real world functions and to get experience on the job.
  • Job-integrated study programs: Providing learning and personal development opportunities for their existing staff for specific courses as required or demanded by the job.

In our rapidly changing times, such collaboration is going to get increasingly more important. It’s a coming together of complementary forces that have so much to offer to the betterment of the other party that any other way would just be illogical. And say what you will, neither Industry nor Academia can be accused of following a path that is illogical!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

What are Pune’s startups expecting from 2018?

2017 is now behind us and 2018 brings us fresh expectations and new hopes. For the startups in Pune, the year 2017 was a tumultuous one with some being able to find their feet in the market while some still struggling to do so.

1.To scale globally

Though some startups in Pune have made it big, there are only a few startups that have truly made it on the international scene. It’s true that some local startups fail to scale globally because they aren’t ready for it. For a startup to smoothly transition into the international market is needs an international-quality pool of talent. Startups in Pune are hoping to choose from some fresh and talented pool of candidates to scale into the foreign markets. Internationally-skilled labour could really help Pune startups enter into foreign markets and add a fresh perspective to the way of doing business in 2018.

2.To encourage and support female entrepreneurs

While it’s necessary to take risks in business, but taking too many could really hurt a startup. According to Dutch neurobiologist Ruud van den Bos’s research, men took increasingly higher risks when they were under pressure leading to a spike in the cortisol levels. Women on the other hand, actually handled a slight increase in cortisol much better, leading to better decision-making. Is that a strong enough case for more women entrepreneurs?With a lot of upcoming and talented female entrepreneurs in the city, it’s important to encourage and support them. This will lead to a very healthy startup ecosystem in Pune. Woman-power could be the secret ingredient that takes Pune to the top startup totem in India, in the coming years.

3.Work-life balance

The entrepreneurs of many leading startups are hoping to spend some more time on themselves. Taking care of themselves will allow them to be healthy which in turn would enable them to give their hundred percent to the startup. A good work-life balance reduces the levels of stress and also brings out the creativity in a person. Also, healthy work-life balance gives entrepreneurs time to introspect, offering them with a fresh perspective to handle various challenges related to their startup. Pune’s entrepreneurs want 2018 to be their healthiest year yet!

4.The role of the government

Pune’s startups are hoping that the government will offer more support. Many startups are yet to benefit from the government’s Startup India programme. Recently startups have also become concerned by the IT notices related to the funding they have received. In a sign of the lower-than-expected impact of Startup India, the programme launched in early 2016, has so far seen only 5,350startups officially recognized under it, of which only 74 have availed tax benefits so far. Startups are hoping to get more support from the government in the form of incentives and subsidies, as it would lead to a healthy economy driven by innovation and enterprise. They hope the government will look at having dedicated support for start-ups that would provide incubators at zero or low cost, training facilities for potential employees or consultants, concessions in sales tax and other local taxes, and so on

5.Skill development programmes

Startups hope that a new way is established in our city (as well as others!) where training is provided across levels to young people who aspire to open startups. This means opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain valuable insight into the world of startups. With this knowledge, not only will more and more young people venture into startups but also will understand the steps they need to take to become successful. Creative solutions are needed – for eg. universities could insist that their students do an internships at a startup. This would mean a win-win for both the students, who will learn and grow a lot from this experience, and the startup ecosystem.

6.Backing the growth of startups for India’s digital transformation

The Indian government truly understands the impact that digitization will have on India and the people of the country. The government knows that digitization will drive the economy and also fuel innovation. With nearly 200 million smartphones users, 331 million Internet users, and 219.3 million bank accounts, India is very much on its way to a digital economy. Beyond e-commerce, a whole range of startups is working in almost every sector and contributing to the process of digital transformation.

The problem that startups face is delivering in scale across the country. This is where the government can step in. They can offer point solutions like setting up intelligent data centers and intelligent cloud system, all across the country with the security system to protect them. With such support, India’s startups will undoubtedly help the government achieve the objective of digitally connecting the entire population. They will accelerate the process of digitization and create the backbone for future smart cities. It is these tech startups with their machine learning and analytics capabilities will be able to provide real-time value and information that will make the cities Smart. They will create the ecosystem for IoT enabled devices to interact with Bots and deliver a completely digital experience.

India’s startups in general and Pune’s startups, in particular, have the passion, the energy, and the vision to make 2018 truly transformational. The ride will be an exciting one – strap yourself in & enjoy!