In the recent past, there has been a spurt in grassroots innovation utilising the traditional knowledge bank. Grassroots innovation is ideation and development with only frugal resources at the innovator’s disposal. India has a distinctive expertise in developing and marketing frugal innovations to the world. An outstanding example of frugal innovation would be Dr. Devi Shetty who made cardiac surgeries extremely affordable by applying mass production techniques without compromising on the standard of healthcare. A more endearing term used by us Indians is jugaad innovation.
Most recently, BBC documented the success story of a farmer in rural Haryana who on an average used to lose 30-40% of his produce owing to its perishable nature. To counter this problem he developed a machine to process the produce in his backyard and market it immediately – a cost-effective local solution using frugal resources to solve a local problem. With the help of National Innovation Foundation (NIF) the farmer patented his innovation and now markets it in Africa and Latin America. Such innovations may occur at a farm, in a manufacturing unit, or any such environment with a scope to creatively alter a product or service to increase its efficacy i.e creation of value added technologies. NIF operates across a diverse set– from the farmer to young inventors innovating gadgets for women’s safety. To accelerate such innovations, the Foundation runs a Grassroots to Global program. Facilitating the use of our indigenous knowledge bank i.e. identifying, nurturing, sustaining and scaling up such innovations are NIF’s driving principles. More specifically, it helps innovators get due rewards, in the diffusion of existing technologies through various channels, and providing innovators with risk capital for incubation (Micro Venture Innovation Fund at NIF has provided risk capital for 178 projects). NIF was launched in 2000 with the aim to develop, nurture, and protect emerging innovations at the grassroots level in India. It has assisted in filing more than 555 patents, out of which 39 have been granted in India and four in the USA, which is a commendable figure. Prof. Anil Gupta of IIM-A, a prolific figure in the grassroots innovation field heads the Foundation.