23rd September 2017 witnessed IIT Delhi’s first ever Industry Day. Organised as a means to strengthen the bond between IITD and industry and also showcase cutting-edge research at IITD, the Industry day was inaugurated by Prof. Anurag Thakur, Associate Dean of Corporate Relations, IIT Delhi in the presence of three distinguished guests. He greeted the hall of more than 400 industrialists from a plethora of streams – medicine, automobile, defence etc. After a video which highlighted the statistics as to why and how IIT Delhi is an institution with a lot of potential for investment, our honourable Director, Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao delivered a captivating speech on the essence of Industry Day and why it was such an important initiative. The objective was to provide a common platform for the industry, academia and research community to come together to discuss the problems faced by the industry and form partnerships to create effective solutions. Earlier, the academia was expected to do the cutting edge research and industries were expected to produce and develop products. With time, this need has shifted and the expectation has changed to industries also engaging in research and academia developing products to help the society. This shift needs the gap between academia and industries to be bridged. The collaboration includes enhancement of industry visibility in academic curriculum, training of PhD students to research for industry and the industry sponsoring a part of student’s fees by collaborating with the college under a joint programme with the government.

Prof. Rao also talked about how the engagement for industry projects can be done through consultancy projects, long term or open ended sponsorship for projects, construction of endowed labs for the needs of the industry, the possibility of a collective sponsorship project to build a Centre of Excellence – a multi-disciplinary research lab catering to one or more branches under experienced faculty, and several more such alternatives and schemes. The Director’s presentation was followed by an enlightening speech by Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member of Niti Ayog, who explained the goals and achievements of the day through his real life experiences and wisdom. The inauguration ended with a high tea following which all the industrialists were guided to the projects under the health, defence, energy and environmental departments.

Spread across five LH rooms, these thematic sessions were organised on topics that stand at the crossroads between industry and research – Defence, Affordable Healthcare, Energy, Smart Cities and Environment.

Defence

This session primarily focused on how industries may work hand in hand with DRDO and Ministry of Defence to strengthen national security. This event hosted some of the most prominent people in the field of defence and industrialists working in the defence sector. The session began with welcome remarks and introduction of speakers by Prof. Naresh Bhatnagar, IIT Delhi. The first speaker to be invited on stage was Dr VK Saraswat, former Director General of DRDO and Chief Scientific Advisor of Minister of Defence and currently a member of NITI Aayog. His talk revolved around the current scenario of defence in India and contribution of foreign and indigenous sources in defence procurement.  Next speaker was Air Marshal Ajit Bhonsle, recipient of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and a member of UPSC. He discussed in detail about ‘Defence preparedness and Opportunity for Indian Industry.’ He talked about how government policies can promote indigenous procurement and suggested ways by which Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises may become part of production process.

Dr. V.K. Saraswat

Later, Dr Mayank Dwivedi, Director, Directorate of Industry Interface & Technology Management (DIITM), DRDO and an IITD alumni, talked about ‘Role of Defense R&D in Manufacturing Sector.’ He discussed product realisation process of DRDO and how the private sector can contribute.

The last speaker was Dr RamaGopal V Sarepaka, Scientist at CSIR with extensive research experience in Optical Precision Instruments. He discussed the ‘Role of Applied Optics in Defense & Internal Security.’ In his engaging speech, he told about the history of use of optics in warfare either as Directed-energy weapon or in surveillance or in communication. He ended his talk by telling about the difficulties R&D teams go through while actually designing any technology.

Energy

The thematic session on ‘Energy’ was coordinated by Prof. K.K. Pant of the Chemical Engineering Department, IIT Delhi.  His research group works on heterogeneous catalysis, Reaction Kinetics and development of sustainable Processes for renewable energy and chemicals.The event started with the first

The event started with the first speaker, Dr Praveen Rai, the Deputy Director of  Economic policy at FIPI, giving a presentation on the topic ”Future of energy sources in India”. He touched on the need for alternative fuels and reduction in energy consumption in today’s energy-driven world. The next speaker, Dr S. S. V. Ramakumar, Director of IOCL R&D Centre, talked about the game changers in the field of fuels and energy production. Things became interesting when he talked about the disruptive theories and estimates that are being made by people like Elon Musk who promote green fuels. He backed his claims with data showing the increase in demand for fossil fuels and a consequent rise in the number of oil refineries. The next set of speakers consisted of Prof. K. K. Pant, who talked about the current research pertaining to the energy sector that is being conducted at IIT Delhi, and Dr Anjan Ray, Director of CSIR-IIP, Dehradun who talked about the questions that need to be raised and answered during our search for new fuels. Their talks were followed by enlightening presentations by Dr R.R. Sonde, Executive VP of Thermax Ltd. and Dr Rajiv K. Tayal, Executive Director of IUSSTF, both discussing the economic perspective to the aforementioned topics in addition to the heavily discussed energy consumption scenario.

Environment

The thematic session on ‘Environment’ was coordinated by Prof. A.K. Keshari and chaired by Prof. T. R. Sreekrishnan. After the welcome remarks by Prof. Keshari, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Member of Atomic Energy Commission of India and a Padma Bhushan Awardee, talked about the environmental challenges faced by India, the pressing need for a holistic approach for treatment of water, energy, environment, food and agriculture-related issues, and how waste management is an extremely powerful tool in today’s degrading world. His presentation was followed by a presentation on ‘Sustainability Challenges faced by Heavy Industries’ by Ms Madhulika Sharma, Chief Corporate Sustainability at Tata Steel Ltd. She discussed how finding economically viable solutions that reduce carbon footprint, enhance waste utilization and material efficiency, and reduce water consumption is the responsibility of all heavy industries in the country. The next speaker, Dr B Sengupta, Former Chairman of Central Pollution Control Board, gave a detailed and enlightening presentation on ‘State of Environmental Concerns in Indian Industries’ wherein he talked about municipal waste management, fly ash management, hazardous waste management, biomedical waste management, and E-waste management. Then Prof. Keshari highlighted IIT Delhi’s research projects focused on the environment, most notable ones being life cycle assessment of PET bottles, development of drone technology for environmental assessment, fractured and weathered quartzite system, and a sewer rehabilitation system. The next set of distinguished speakers were Mr. Manmeet Singh, Director at KPMG and Dr. Sushil Gupta, Former Chairman of Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) who gave presentations on ‘Industry Academia Collaborations and Career Opportunities in Environment’ and ‘Groundwater use in Industries –Boon or Bane’ respectively. The last speaker of this engaging session was Mr. Chandan Bhavnani, Executive VP of Yes Bank, who discussed the opportunities for CSR initiatives and financing in water and environmental sectors. The session culminated with a vote of thanks by Prof. S.K. Mishra, IIT Delhi.

Smart Cities

The thematic session on ‘Smart Cities’ was coordinated by Prof. B.K. Panigrahi of Electrical Department, who also opened the session with his welcome remarks, and chaired by Prof. M.P. Gupta. The first presentation on ‘Indian Smart Cities’ by Mr. Venkatesh Valluri, Founder and Chairman of Valluri Technology, gave a detailed insight into the intricate web of technology, society and leadership necessary for the development of smart cities in India. This was followed by a presentation on the application of technology to make smart cities more efficient and sustainable by Ms. Dipakshi Mehandru, Policy Advocate at DELL and an engaging talk on Industry-Academia collaboration for Smart Cities by Mr. Sameer Sachdeva, Deputy Director of MAIT. Another speaker for the occasion was Mr. Kishore Kar, Chief Business Officer of the Computer Society of India. The caption for his talk was Internet of (insecure) Things and he talked about ‘Cyber Security in Smart Cities’, the need to work towards an improved level 4 and level 5 cybersecurity infrastructure and the current concerns revolving around Privacy issues, National Security, loss of reputation and revenue etc. The final guest speaker for this session was Mr. Dupinder Sekhon, CEO of Kritikal Solutions and also a former Ph.D. student at IITD.  He talked about a very “hot topic” – IoT innovations for Smart cities. Proposing Auto-driving and connected cars, features such as tail light detection, rain detection, traffic signal detector, pedestrian and surrounding detector, and Smart Helmets with automatic accident alerts, Bluetooth, and high-energy backup, he further extended his idea to build Smart Ports or Smart Warehouse which detect vehicle, person managing the goods, and the goods inside the vehicle upon entering the port to avoid loot of goods and ensure quality of the goods.  Prof. Panigrahi concluded the session with a captivating report of smart cities-related research being conducted at IIT Delhi. The highlights of this report were Campus traffic monitoring, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Smart energy magnet, Waste treatment Lab (Study of resources recovered from Waste), IoT simulator to connect the campus by Prof. S.R. Sarangi, LC3 development by Prof. Shashank Bishnoi, and Real-time monitoring of emerging contaminants in Yamuna River by Prof. Arun Kumar. At the end of the seminar was a Q&A session which saw important questions like ‘Why we are only trying to make urban areas smarter and neglecting the rural section of our country which faces problems like energy shortage?’ A really good question met with a satisfactory response by the speakers.

Affordable Healthcare

The ‘Affordable Healthcare Thematic Session’  primarily focused on how biologists, engineers and entrepreneurs can work hand in hand taking support from the government of India to make the healthcare facilities accessible and affordable for all.

“Accessibility, equity, quality, regulation and the affordability of technologies are the main challenges faced in Health Sector,” said Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan, Padma Bhushan Awardee, presently the president of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) and the first speaker of the night. He also discussed the possibility of storing the medical history of every patient in a single database in future and regarded this as a major breakthrough in the field of healthcare. He mentioned that the scope of affordable technologies in healthcare is of prevention, diagnostic screening, therapeutics, rehabilitation, analytics and training. “Surely we cannot do innovation, product development, manufacturing and marketing only by ourselves. We have to go out and look for ideal partners. As far as innovations are concerned, coming to IIT Delhi campus is the only ideal solution!” said Dr. Sanjay Singh CEO, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd.

Prof. Anurag S. Rathore , Department of Chemical Engineering , IIT Delhi , talked about the importance of assessing the quality of biotherapeutic drugs in the Indian market and stability of biotherapeutics. He summarised his talk by mentioning that stronger engagement industries help us commercialize the developed technologies and products. The next guest speaker, Dr. Renu Swarup Managing Director, BIRAC, talked about the importance of empowering and enabling innovation. “Whenever we interact with the academia and try to connect them with the industry, this may not be true for IITs, but the smaller universities, they avoid signing the legal agreements with the industries for few known reasons. At BIRAC’s legal cell, we go through their research papers and assure them of providing fruitful industry academia collaboration “said Dr Renu. Mr. Kunal Khanna, VP of Commercial Excellence & Strategy at Cipla, discussed why price control has limited the possibilities of improving patient access. Later, Ms. Kavitha I. Rodrigues, CEO of Zumutor Biologics Inc., talked about the Start-up environment in Healthcare. “We have shown large scale improvement when it comes to Start ups in India. Today, India ranks third in global startup scenario“. To culminate the session, Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan calmly answered all the queries put forward by students, professors and journalists.

Poster Competition and Demo Session

After two and half hours of enlightening sessions and a delicious lunch, it was time for the poster competition and demo presentation. Officially, the projects were divided into 5 themes namely, Defence, Environment, Affordable HealthCare, Smart Cities and Energy. The projects aimed to fuse the recent scientific developments with the available technical expertise to provide innovative solutions to the problems plaguing our nation. These projects were judged by a group of esteemed faculty members from IIT Delhi. The students attempted to explain the worth of the projects diligently to the judges as well as other students. Top 3 posters from each category were awarded in a prize ceremony by the Director himself and Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Deputy Director, IIT Delhi. This was a great learning experience for the students, especially the B.Tech ones, as they got to know about the current status of research in IIT Delhi and what the industry demands from them. This unique amalgamation of the industry stalwarts and the students of IIT Delhi is one that was warranted for many years and hopefully continues for many years to come.

Ranging from Automated Irrigation System using Arduino and Data Remote Sensing with IOT to Low Cost Air Purifiers and Soil pH/Humidity sensors, there were also over 15 demonstrations for the audience to witness and admire.

The Prize Ceremony

After a long day of discussions on industry-academia collaborations and presentations of research projects by IITD students, the first ever Industry Day came to a close with a Vote of Thanks by Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao and Prof. Anurag Rathore. The Industry Day might be behind us, but it surely left a lot to think about for the upcoming generation of innovators and industry leaders.

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