After having incubated several successful start-ups by its students, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi is now focusing on turning its teachers into entrepreneurs. The institute has launched the Faculty Innovation and Research Driven Entrepreneurship (FIRE) scheme under which academicians would be given one year of paid and two years of unpaid leave to work on their start-up idea.
The Director, IIT-Delhi, V Ramgopal Rao informed, “It is mandatory for our faculty members to be involved in the research. Our aim is to incubate start-ups by engaging over 20 per cent of the faculty members. Over 50 faculty-led start-ups exist currently on the campus. Every successful start-up by our students has been mentored by our teachers.”
The institute has at present nearly 600 faculty members.
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The FIRE scheme will focus on deep-technologies, with an initial funding of Rs 50 lakh per startup idea by the institute. IIT-Delhi, said the director, is also encouraging faculty to apply for funding from the industry. He said, “Today’s startups will become tomorrow’s big firms. We look at the funding support as investment.”
The start-ups work as a bridge between the industry and academia as the two work together on a project, he remarked, adding that at any given point there would be over 100 start-ups on the IIT campus. “We have generated more start-ups in the past five years than in 50 years. Out of the 24 unicorns (startups valued over $1billion) created by Indians, over 14 are by IIT-Delhi students,” pointed out Rao.
Quoting a report by Tracxn, a startup analysing firm, Rao informed that the startups founded by IIT Delhi graduates have raised $13.3 billion. For those whose start-ups don’t take off, the institute provides a ‘differed placement’ under which students can return to institutes after two years to appear for placements.
Rao also informed that IIT-Delhi will increase its research spending to Rs 500 crore from an average of Rs 400 crore annually. The teachers’ research on start-ups will also benefit PhD students, he noted. The institute launched a PhD incubation centre recently to encourage students to research and develop start-up technologies.
“Start-ups are the new models through which the industry and academia can work together,” he commented.