Panel 1
Entrepreneurship Curriculum Models

The challenges of the 21st century will require new innovative ideas and thinking. Beyond ideas, it will require new business models and new enterprises to create the requisite social and economic change. Are today’s institutions preparing students with these new innovative and entrepreneurial skills?

Faculty and institutions looking to advance entrepreneurial thinking in their curriculum face several challenges. Many students view their education as a pathway to a lucrative corporate career and are unwilling to challenge societal and family pressure. Even those that look to start a business tend to believe their technical skills are sufficient to build a successful enterprise. Many faculty are also reluctant to look beyond the academic courses to address their potential application or the impact of their subjects on the larger community or even how curriculum should evolve in the future.

In building entrepreneurship into the curriculum, how does one introduce the soft skills of visioning, communication and team building to students? What are successful models of learning that help strengthen emotional intelligence, creativity and design thinking? What innovative approaches to hands-on project-based instruction help spark innovation? How does one introduce lifelong entrepreneurial thinking in students that they can draw on regardless of their future career? This panel will draw on the expertise of a diverse group of practitioners to share the techniques that have helped them build successful entrepreneurial curriculum at their institutions.

Panel 2
Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Academic Institutes- Challenges and Solutions

Globally, leading universities have made significant impact in their respective communities, societies and countries by developing strong capabilities in innovation and entrepreneurship. In India, the first generation IITs at Kharagpur, Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Kanpur, along with other several major institutions have led the Indian effort to stimulate technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship. The IITs have built their capabilities on an academic and research base whose quality has been recognized worldwide. Until the past decade, the IITs and many other Indian universities have focused on teaching and research, resulting in limited impact of the work on society and industry.

Indian academic institutions now have an opportunity to broaden their perspective and begin building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will accelerate ideas from the lab to create societal and economic impact. Building such an ecosystem requires several key components to come together. A key first step is strategic commitment and support from senior academic management. Internally, a major challenge is convincing faculty of the value of entrepreneurial activities beyond traditional scholarship and research. In addition, one needs to build supporting partnerships and institutions that provide early support and funding, support resources, space and practical guidance through mentorship.

The panel consisting of directors and senior leaders from leading academic universities will share some successful (and not so successful) approaches and models within entrepreneurial academic institutions based on their experience. It will focus on the issues and challenges of building an ecosystem and discuss the measures that academic institutions in India could take to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is appropriate for them.

Panel 3
The Experience of I-NCUBATE Participants

I-NCUBATE is the flagship programme of GDC to enable faculty, researchers, and students bring their ideas from the laboratories to the marketplace. I-NCUBATE sensitises the faculty, research scholars, and entrepreneurs to the world of business by teaching them how to think about commercialisation of their technology and ideas. The key goals of I-NCUBATE are:

a. to help the faculty and entrepreneur obtain an evidence-based validation of their idea by interacting with over 100 potential customers;
b. to enable the faculty and entrepreneur formulate a Minimum Viable Product (MVP); and
c. to assist the entrepreneur in formulating a business model for creating value.

These are essential steps that one needs to take in the pre-incubation stage to ensure a smooth journey from an idea into a scalable and sustainable business venture. 25 teams from IIT Madras and IIT Bombay have enrolled in the first three cohorts of the I-NCUBATE program. Seventeen teams have successfully completed the program and a few key faculty will share their transformational experiences as part of the I-NCUBATE program. They will describe how it changed their perception of entrepreneurship and the clarity it has brought to their thinking and approach. The objective of this session is to encourage faculty and research scholars at colleges all over India to start thinking about how they could transform their research ideas into innovative business ventures that impact society at scale.

Panel 4
Crossing the Valley of Death – Views of Investors and Entrepreneurs

An overwhelming proportion of start-ups fail in their early stage because they are unable to cross what is called the “valley of death” – a problem that confronts all enterprises. The “valley of death” refers to the chasm that a start-up faces as it burns up its initial funding sources (founders’ savings, government grants, etc.) and is unable to raise more funds from other sources because it has not yet reached a level of maturity with its technology or business model. For faculty and research scholars, government grants and university budgets form the bulk of initial financing for developing translational research. These funds help in the initial development of an idea – maybe a working prototype in the lab or a paper publication in a journal are the farthest one gets to. The idea seems highly promising but starting a business venture is at best a gleam in the eye as personal funds prove insufficient. External investors may marvel at the idea but hesitate to fund as there are still several unknowns and risks.

But several successful entrepreneurs have gotten past the valley of death successfully. How have they done this? What can we learn from such entrepreneurs. What do seed investors and venture capital players look for in start-ups that give them the confidence to jump in? How can universities fine tune their ecosystems of innovation & entrepreneurship to strengthen their start-up ideas to better navigate across the valley of death?

This panel will consist of a cross section of entrepreneurs and investors who will share their perspectives and expectations about expected entrepreneurial outcomes when espousing translational research.

Panel 5
Sparking Innovation through Industry-Academia Partnerships

Most faculty desire to create deeper social and societal impact with their research. While many institutions in India now produce academic research that meets global standards, the percentage of these ideas that result in innovative solutions impacting business or the consumer is still quite low. The panel, consisting of representatives from corporations, commercial incubators and accelerators, will share their perspectives on how academic institutions can be more sensitive to corporate and consumer market opportunities and how faculty and researchers can cultivate innovative and entrepreneurial thinking as they conduct their research. It will also provide an opportunity to identify how academia might be able to help corporates in product development.