iCreate – Empowering Innovation in Industrial Automation
Published on : Saturday 10-02-2024
iCreate facilitates industry and MSME engagements with startups via vendor development, outsourcing, and in-sourcing models, says Avinash Punekar.
In the dynamic landscape of industrial automation, fostering innovation and nurturing groundbreaking ideas is paramount to staying ahead in the competitive market. iCreate, India's leading technology business incubator, stands as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs in the domain of industrial automation. This article delves into the idea behind iCreate, elucidates how individuals and businesses, especially MSMEs, can participate, explores the exciting array of projects available, and outlines what prospective contributors should bring to the table.
iCreate, short for International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology, was established with the vision of fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology development. As India's premier technology business incubator, iCreate acts as a catalyst for startups and innovators in the field of industrial automation. The core concept revolves around providing a nurturing environment where novel ideas can flourish, cutting-edge technologies can be developed, and the next generation of technology solutions can emerge.
iCreate was set up in 2012 as an autonomous institution, a 50:50 partnership between the Government of Gujarat and Gujarat Entrepreneurship and Venture Promotion Foundation (GEVPF), a private Section-25 company. It is a Section-8, not-for-profit company and operates from its aesthetic and purpose built, state-of-the-art, 40-acre campus on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The active support from the government, policy-makers and its dynamic leadership has seen iCreate emerge as India’s best, award winning incubator. iCreate has also created a name for itself in the global arena and has been the Secretariat for the Startup20 Engagement Group of the recent G20 Presidency of India. It has, over the last decade, supported more than 618 ideas/innovations. It is one of the rare technology business incubators that focuses on promoting entrepreneurship in tangible products and advanced manufacturing, and has Design-For-Manufacturability (DFM) built into its DNA.
iCreate operates on the principle that innovation is not a solitary endeavour. By bringing together a diverse community of innovators, thinkers, tinkerers, experts, mentors, and visionaries, the incubator fosters a collaborative ecosystem where ideas are shared, refined, and transformed into viable business solutions. iCreate plays a key role in enabling the ‘Mind-to-Market’ journey for innovators to take their idea, refine it, prototype and pilot it, and then take it to the market, along with access to various grants, funding schemes, and investor access. Our unique approach in creating entrepreneurs of tomorrow has given rise to several innovators who are making their presence felt in the numerous industries such as electric mobility, clean energy, SaaS, healthtech, drone technology and agritech.
As an institution dedicated to fostering innovation, iCreate engages with individuals, startups, and businesses looking to develop breakthrough technology solutions
leading towards the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The process of involvement is designed to be inclusive and supportive, offering participants the resources and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of technology entrepreneurship. Start-ups backed by iCreate are offering solutions that tackle challenges across both public and private sectors. From real-time condition monitoring and enhancing overall equipment efficiency to implementing autonomous robotic cleaning systems, inventory tracking solutions, and automated demand response mechanisms, to monitoring the health of Distributed Transformers, there's a wide array of innovative solutions available to meet industry needs and accelerate innovation efforts.iCreate’s offerings include:
· Various membership and incubation programs tailored to the needs of participants. Aspiring entrepreneurs can apply for incubation, gaining access to mentorship, infrastructure, and funding support.
· Regular events, workshops, and networking sessions provide opportunities for participants to collaborate with industry experts, fellow entrepreneurs, and potential investors. These interactions facilitate knowledge exchange and open doors to new partnerships.
· Training programs and skill development initiatives to equip participants with the technical and business acumen necessary for success in the industrial automation sector.
· Partnerships with industry leaders that provide access to cutting-edge technologies, research and advanced labs with facilities for prototyping, testing and benchmarking empower participants to turn their ideas into tangible products. This includes CISCO’s largest lab in India.
Centres of Excellence
While iCreate has been sector agnostic with a lot of Industry 4.0, IoT, Robotics and Automation related startups, it has also set-up a few centres of excellence in the Fintech and Electric Vehicles domains.
The EV CoE has fostered and engaged with over 4,500 innovators and startups over the last 3 years. It focused on EV components for electric cycles, 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers in the initial years. This focus resulted in the indigenisation of over 85% of the components. The products, technologies, and solutions developed by these start-ups are globally competitive in pricing and quality and have found widespread acceptance amongst Indian OEMs. Building on this success, iCreate is now focusing on various classes of EVs including the electrification of mining and construction equipment.
iCreate has initiated efforts to set up a Green Hydrogen Valley, addressing the complete value chain for Green Hydrogen including generation, storage, transport, and utilisation. Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Hydrogen ICE and Ammonia are some of the key areas of focus. The startups at iCreate have set themselves an ambitious target of achieving 1 MW indigenous electrolyser within the next 3 years.
With the aim of building India’s energy independence and leadership, iCreate is also actively looking at various energy storage possibilities, including battery chemistries like Sodium-ion and Metal Air batteries.
SoC (System of Chip) 42
The pandemic and resultant chip shortage brought out the need to have an indigenous alternative, which can help the Indian industry become more resilient to global shocks. This led to the development of the open-source RISC-V based SoC42 platform at iCreate, which is being made available to the industry for free. The SoC42 can be used by anyone to develop the heart and brain of modern machines and tools.
Centre for Indigenisation
The upcoming Centre for Indigenisation at iCreate will be a game changer for MSMEs. At the centre, we aim to build a repository of 10,000+ components/products that will substitute imports. These state-of-the-art product blueprints will be made available to the industry at attractive licensing terms, enabling them to manufacture products for Indian and global markets and become competitive globally.
Open Innovation Platform (OIP)
iCreate focuses on a wide spectrum of startups within the industrial automation domain. These startups are not only diverse but also address the current challenges and future needs of the industry. The OIP will enable industry partners to address their problem statements with innovative solutions from startups or researchers from institutions like CSIR and LRN. These problem statements will cover some of the following areas:
· Smart Manufacturing Solutions: Projects that leverage technologies such as IoT, AI, and robotics to enhance manufacturing processes, improve efficiency, and reduce downtime.
· Industrial IoT Applications: Initiatives centred around the integration of IoT devices and sensors to collect and analyse data, enabling predictive maintenance, real-time monitoring, and optimization of industrial processes.
· Robotics and Automation: Projects that explore the application of robotics in automating various industrial tasks, from assembly lines to warehouse management, with a focus on enhancing precision and speed.
· Cyber-Physical Systems: Innovations that integrate computer-based algorithms with physical processes, creating intelligent systems that can adapt and respond to changes in the industrial environment.
· Energy-Efficient Technologies: Initiatives aimed at developing sustainable and energy-efficient solutions for industrial processes, contributing to environmental conservation and cost savings.
iCreate also runs industry specific challenges supported by industry partners, which solicit solutions from a diverse range of startups, innovators, and R&D partners.
The power of innovation and creativity demonstrated by startups incubated at iCreate has enabled the industry to adopt game changing technologies and solutions in their businesses. These startups work in a number of different sectors and technology areas and help solve industry problems in a more efficient manner. These solutions range from digital twinning, AR/VR, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, robotics, automation, and industry 4.0, and also include cutting-edge AI/ML.
iCreate facilitates industry and MSME engagements with startups via vendor development, outsourcing, and in-sourcing models. Some of the startups have also seen strategic investments, acquisitions, and acqui-hires in the recent past.
iCreate also provides the option of indirect investment in specific startups via the iCreate Angel Fund, a Category-1 Alternate Investment Fund.
Research & Development Partnerships
iCreate has partnered with some of India’s leading R&D institutions, like the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) which has over 30 research laboratories and 5,000+ highly qualified and trained manpower with state-of-the-art facilities. We have also partnered with Lukasiewicz Research Network (LRN), Poland’s leading R&D institution with over 22 state-of-the-art facilities and 4,000+ scientists and researchers.
These partnerships enable Indian startups, MSMEs, and industries to avail themselves of the services of these organisations to solve their R&D problems in a cost-effective and time-bound manner. This in turn provides a significant advantage and boost to MSMEs that otherwise have limited access to high quality manpower and facilities for research & development.
Connect with iCreate
iCreate will be happy to engage with experienced individuals/innovators interested in taking up the entrepreneurial journey and provide them with complete incubation support. For MSMEs and businesses, iCreate provides access to open innovation platforms, repositories, R&D partnerships, challenges and several other opportunities and benefits.
Avinash Punekar is Chief Executive Officer, iCreate – India's best sector agnostic Technology Business Incubator (TBI). Avinash is an alumnus of IIT-Bombay (1985-89), is a leader with over 30 years of rich experience as a technologist, innovation catalyst, team-builder, and entrepreneur.
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