AIT – A transformative program for researchers

Academia Industry Training (AIT) programme, a joint flagship platform curated by the Swiss and Indian government, continues to handpick and nurture the best of applied deeptech researchers into entrepreneurs. A one-week tailor-made immersive programme in India and Switzerland arms the researchers with the skills required to transition their ideas into products or services that are market-ready. In 2017-18, 10 Swiss and 20 Indian researchers attended the Indian leg of the AIT camp. The AIT Camp involves bringing Swiss and Indian participants together, training and evaluation of business model formulation specifically for India, precise value proposition, customer segmentation, pricing models, exploration of possible supply-chain for their scientific products in India. The partcipants are also exposed to subject matter experts in various areas like IP, legal, manufacturing, distribution, banking and finance, etc. through structured speed dating and one-on-one meetings. The participants of share their key learnings and takeaways from the program –

Adarsha K, CEO & Co-Founder – Ayu Devices, India

(Winner of AIT India grant of INR 10’00’000)

AIT in India provided us the opportunity to pitch to different stakeholders including investors. Sessions from experts about customer understanding gave us the link required for converting a research project to the creation of a venture. Interaction with centres like C-Camp and NASSCOM gave us a connection with the startup ecosystem in India.

AIT in Switzerland provided us a unique opportunity to meet the innovators from Switzerland and Brazil, and to understand the startup ecosystem in Switzerland. It is worth noting that all of the startups were solving global problems. It was inspiring to see the role of academic institutions like EPFL and centres like Biopole in bridging the gaps for the innovators in taking up their ideas and creating successful ventures out of them.

It all came to a great end on the last day of the event when all the innovators had to pitch in front of the juries. Our project won the AIT grant for the India section after a tough competition.

Vishwal Goel, Researcher – Ultra​ ​safe​ ​Lithium​ ​ion​ ​batteries, India

(Winner of AIT India grant of INR 10’00’000)

“Technology is the most important factor behind the success of any tech-venture- this was my understanding, as an engineer, before attending the AIT program. However, after attending the program, I have understood that technology is just one of the many factors. This transformation is what AIT is all about. It is an entrepreneurship awareness camp for the researchers/ engineers who want to commercialise their research. The program, through its multiple workshops, introduces the researchers to the unfamiliar aspects of starting up such as customer validation, fund raising, legal formalities etc. and thus enables them to think about the next steps.

My experience of the program has been amazing in many ways. Firstly, I got multiple opportunities to interact with successful entrepreneurs whose startup stories really bolstered my motivation to pursue entrepreneurship. Secondly, during the program I was able to pitch to and establish contacts with potential partners like Machani Group in India and Leclanche in Switzerland. Lastly, I was lucky enough to win the grant money of INR 1 million associated with the pitch competition which is held at the end of the program. In short, the program is an amazing, fun filled learning opportunity and is organised by very helpful people who really want you to succeed.”

Dr.  Ajay Bhagwan Patil, PostDoctoral Researcher -Chemical Processes and Materials Research Group, Switzerland

(Winner of Swiss AIT grant of CHF 10’000)

I really enjoyed the AIT experience in India and Switzerland. It helped me gain a lot of perspectives and establish a wide network with fellow entrepreneurs and industry experts. The key takeaway for me is the term “Scientrepreneur”, meaning scientists can also become entrepreneurs. AIT is the journey of becoming an entrepreneur by breaking barriers of your scientific complexities and learning the new language of business. It is another matter of pride for the scientists in us to see the technologies coming from our brains to touch the possibilities of reaching market and society.

About AIT

The Academia-Industry Training (AIT) is a joint initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Switzerland and Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. AIT aims to support scientists in transforming their high-level applied research into market application and discovering their entrepreneurial potential. By connecting scientists from top institutions in Switzerland and India, the program promotes an international network and enables access to one of the most promising markets and intellectual capitals in applied research.

On the Swiss side, the program is mandated by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to ZHAW ‘Leading House’. On the Indian side, it is mandated by Department of Science and Technology (DST), to SINE IIT Bombay. The program is organized with the partnership of venturelab, swissnex India and SINE IIT Bombay in Switzerland and India.