Technology Licensing Offices (TLOs) and incubators have existed in Higher Education (HE) institutions for quite some time in the Western economies. A large proportion of these institutions are research oriented universities with significant scientific and technological research that can be commercialized through licensing and enterprise creation. In developing economies like India both TLOs and incubators are of recent origin and their structures are still evolving. The issues relating to the efficacy and sustainability of incubators in HE institutions are still not resolved. These issues presumably need to be analyzed in the context of the nature of the economy and the type of HE institutions.
A large number of incubators have been set up in the Indian HE institutions to help create innovation driven startups. Most of these are located in engineering and technology institutions. It is not entirely clear how these educational institutions view the incubators. Are these just an extension of TLOs where commercialization is undertaken through enterprise creation rather than licensing? Are these mechanisms to bring in entrepreneurial culture in the research endeavours of the institutions? Or are these seen as mechanisms to create learning opportunities on campuses that can contribute to research and teaching? How do policy makers view them? As an essential element of university-industry linkages that contributes to innovation driven entrepreneurial eco-system? Or as a mechanism where a variety of market failures relating to new enterprise creation can be addressed? For industry, can they provide the vehicle for innovation based competitive advantage? For example, can the transition of the Indian IT sector from the services driven sector to product or innovation sector be facilitated by incubators in HE institutions? Based on some ongoing research on incubation models in UK and Indian educational institutions, the presentation would explore some of these questions.
If incubators are seen as mechanisms to achieve some or all of the above objectives, one needs to understand issues relating to the sustainability and efficacy of incubators. What does efficacy and sustainability of incubation activity mean in the context of HE institutions? Does this change with the stage of development and/or the nature of HE institution? Worldwide, very few incubators are financially self-sufficient. Their sustainability is dependent on funding from the government and university. Is financial sustainability of incubators in nations like India essential? If yes, how can it be achieved? Can Foundations help? What can the corporates do? Can incubators find innovative ways to raise resources? In this broad context, the presentation would share the experiments being undertaken at CIIE .
Prof. Rakesh Basant is M. Phil., Ph.D (Economics), Professor of Economics at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) and Chairperson, Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIMA. His current teaching and research interests focus on firm strategy, innovation, public policy and regulation. Prof. Basant’s recent work has focused on capability building processes in industrial clusters, FDI in R&D, academia-industry relationships, strategic and policy aspects of intellectual property rights, incubation models for innovation driven start-ups, emerging entrepreneurial patterns and eco-system in India and economics of strategy. He was a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee (also known as Sachar Committee) to write a report on the Social, Economic and Educational Conditions of Muslims in India. In continuation of this work, part of his current research focuses on issues relating to Muslims in India in a comparative perspective with a focus on higher education and affirmative action. He has taught at Universities abroad and worked as a consultant to several international organizations.