Over six months after Mumbai University’s Incubation Centre was inaugurated by Nobel Laureate Sir Richard John Roberts, the space earmarked for the centre is yet to be officially handed over to the office of the director of innovation, incubation and linkages. The space of over 40,000 sq ft allotted to the centre in the Green Technology building at the university’s Kalina campus is presently being used by the examination department, sources said.
It is for this reason that construction of the incubation centre has been delayed, and internal modelling and redesigning of an additional 10,000 sq ft space allotted to the centre in the ground floor of the university’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology building hasn’t been possible. “It is an internal administrative issue and is interlinked. Since the new exam building is yet to be fully operational, the examination department has been functioning out of the Green Technology building. Once they shift to the new building, the incubation centre will be able to access it,” said a university official.
MU spokesperson Leeladhar Bansod told The Indian Express, “The exam house is ready to move from the Green Technology building soon. Several proposals for the incubation centre are already being discussed. We are also in the process of forming a section 8 (non-profit) company for the centre, as mandated by the Maharashtra State Innovation Society.”
When contacted, director of innovation, incubation and linkages Dr Samir Kulkarni told The Indian Express, “We have submitted our requirements to the university’s engineering department and will soon begin developing the space. As per our initial plan, the incubation centre will constitute a work area, tinkering lab, conference and meeting rooms, among other things. Administra-tion support to incubatees, including legal services, human resource, taxation compliance and accountancy services, are components that have been planned.”
The Maharashtra State Innovation Society, which is under the state government, is yet to sanction the approved fund of Rs 5 crore for the centre. The Society has completed drafting a standard operation protocol (SOP), which specifies the amount to be utilised under different heads. The draft SOP has been shared with all incubation centres including at MU, which will work on the proposal for utilisation of funds, which will then be approved by the Society, sources said. Rs 5 crore will be disbursed over five years.
Meanwhile, in a first for Mumbai University, the centre recently initiated an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cell based on the proposal received from the state government’s Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Comm-ission. According to the proposal, the cell includes one MU coordinator, two faculties from MU from a research background and two from affiliated colleges. Kulkarni, the director of innovation, incubation and linkages, is the cell’s chairman. “The cell has been formed to inform inventors from the university about IPR and help them file patents. We will help them in understanding the procedural aspects of it,” said Kulkarni. The centre also appointed a CEO, who began his tenure on Wednesday, Kulkarni added.
The MU has identified sectors such as renewable energy, semiconductor devices, polymers and magnetic materials, biotechnology, e-commerce and retail, artificial intelligence, information technology, process intensifications, stimulation and optimisation as areas where incubatees will work on innovations.
While the centre has begun receiving applications from interested candidates and organisations, these are yet to be processed.