Recently, the UGC has notified that the Universities across the country have been classified as category – I, II and III Universities based on NAAC – Grade and NIRF – Rank obtained by them. Universities which have secured a CGPA of more than 3.5 / 4 are placed under category – I universities with NAAC Grade – A. They are accorded with full academic autonomy and to introduce innovation and reforms in the university without the need for prior approval from UGC. Sri Ramachandra University has secured NAAC – ‘A’ Grade with a CGPA of 3.62 / 4 and the NIRF – Rank of 39. Hence we are placed under category – I Universities.
NAAC, under the revised Quality Institutional Framework (QIF) being implemented from July 2017, has introduced the new key aspect called, "Innovation Ecosystem" under criterion – III – Research" for universities. This requires the presence of "Innovation – Incubation Centre" if they are to be considered as high quality universities. The NIRF also is providing better weightage, if the Innovation - Incubation Centre is present and if the startup entrepreneurs are facilitated.
In this context, it was placed before the BOM of SRU that, Sri Ramachandra University has established a Central Research Facility in 2007 to gain recognition as a Centre of Excellence in Medical Research. It is the "A to Z gateway" for research for students, researchers and Faculty members, to take care of all logistics of research planning, research projects, Accounts and Finances, research documentations, besides providing a centralized sophisticated equipment facility and the University – Industry Liaison Centre with IPR / Patents Cell to the entire University.
This facility, in a plinth area of 25,000 sq.ft., has Clinical Trials Division, Epidemiology Research Division, Project Development and Documentation Unit and a University Sophisticated Instrumentation Laboratory besides a centralized administrative office. All high-tech equipment for the genomics (including next generation sequencing), cell biology, spectroscopy, chromatography, radio-isotopy, Confocal microscopy, Flow cytometry, NMR facilities along with walk-in-cold room (4ºC), cryopreservation unit (-80ºC), cold room (-20ºC) etc. are available.
Under the above narrated context, it was proposed to elevate the "Sophisticated Instrumentation Laboratory" and other facilities of CRF as ‘SRI RAMACHANDRA INNOVATION INCUBATION CENTRE (SRIIC), as an ideal Research and Development Innovation Ecosystem of the University. It is conceived that the proposed centre will function on the creativity and motivational mechanism to facilitate academia-academia / academia-industry and industry-industry collaborations. The ecosystem created would nurture ‘startup’ culture among the young entrepreneurs and work as a catalyst for product (drugs etc.,)/ process development, acquiring patents for inventions leading, paving the way for technology-transfer and commercialization. (Fig.1)
It was also proposed that the SRIIC activities will have six verticals (Fig. 2)
In order to evolve ‘SRIIC’ as a resource - generating and ‘ladder-based growth model’, with minimum budget, the conceived plan is to have a multi-dimensional approach to maximally utilize the space, equipment and infrastructure available. The avenues to be utilized would be the following: (a) Services to SRU R&D projects / PI projects and projects of Ph.Ds and PGs; (b) Space and infrastructure to MSMEs as ‘incubatees’ and young entrepreneurs as ‘startups’ (c) Co-ordination for the conduct of sponsored clinical trials (d) Conduct of sophisticated high-end molecular and genetic investigations for patients from Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre (e) Renting of equipment(s) to industry clients (f) providing laboratory space to companies on collaboration based financial terms. (g) Equipment user services to outside academic, R&D institutions and industries. (h) Conducting Industry – academic based BIRAC/DST sponsorship projects and (i) Attempting to establish the BIONEST-Bioincubator BIRAC/DBT of Government of India.
The BOM has approved the proposal on 15.07.2017. Preparations for making the SRIIC functional are underway. The most important requirement is the norms and guidelines to be adopted for facilitating Startups and Incubatees to utilize SRIIC facilities.
Accordingly, the “Startup / Incubatee Agreement” is developed along with its Annexures. (Annexure-I)