AS the New Year approaches, a lot of new announcements are in store for students of the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), such as developments in research and new courses on the anvil.
Modelled along the lines of a research park-cum-incubation centre, Karmalkar said the idea was to encourage start-ups and bring end-stage product innovations into the market, where SPPU holds both intellectual property and equity rights. “Firstly, it will be open to students who have a feasible idea for research, we will provide them the required facilities for it as well as make arrangements for meals and other things. If it is successful and reaches the prototype stage, we will provide some funding for it. If that is successful, then the university will help with seed funding and seek out venture capitalists and investors to bring the innovation to product stage in market.
We are also expecting our faculty, who currently provide solutions to industry, to bring their projects here and eventually evolve them into marketable products. Not only will we have stake in IP, but our students can get apprentice jobs during research and product stage, along with stipend and experience, and the university will share equity as well. We will also encourage the small industry and start-ups, who don’t have a research set-up, to being their projects to this centre,” said Karmalkar.
Asked if projects have been identified already, Karmalkar said a few areas and projects have been identified for the centre and more proposals will be sought. “The three areas we will focus on are electric mobility, micro ATM in rural areas and water-related research. For electric mobility, we are in talks with a French company to develop a driver-less car. The company has already given a part of this project to the Singapore National University and we hope to be the first Indian university to collaborate on it. Our technology department had already developed a project of micro ATM for rural areas…but there were some hurdles… we can now do it through a research park. For water-related projects, we will be looking for proposals on STP design innovation and so on,” he said.
SPPU has already signed an MoU with the Melbourne University for a ‘blended’ BSc in the Environmental Science course this year. The next year is likely to see three new ‘blended’ courses in Physics, Chemistry and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences that start at the undergraduate level, said Karmalkar.
“We have decided to start these blended undergraduate programmes because the kind of students we get through colleges during post-graduation are not oriented towards research. If we start some undergraduate courses on campus, we can orient them in a particular manner,” he said.
A much-awaited course is the one on liberal arts which, said Karmalkar, will be offered from the next academic year. “We are in talks with a few people who were running a design and liberal arts degree school and are checking if they can come on board, as visiting faculty and on a consultancy basis. In any case, we hope to offer it from next year as there is a rising demand for it,” he said.