Freedom to perform in government- case of TePP


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Nothing can be done in government- we hear it often. But is it true? Here is my first hand account of what I could do as government servant - promoting risk taking- the riskiest of all businesses.

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Freedom to perform in government- case of TePP

  1. 1. A.S.Rao<br /><br />`Freedom to perform’ in Government- case of TePP<br />
  2. 2. Preparing ground<br />2<br />Ground for new initiative `inclusive innovations’ prepared by Prof Anil Gupta who met and convinced many in Delhi about grass root innovators . With thousands of local innovations scouted and documented by Honeybee network,. he seeded the idea of nurturing innovators outside formal R&D.<br />Minister Prof MurliManohar Joshi, wanted a new initiative to be launched during the 50th year celebrations of Independence.<br />
  3. 3. Concept of TePP<br />3<br />Dr H. Bhojwani, Adviser, CSIR came up with TePP ( Technopreneur Promotion Programme) to support individual innovators ( name changed to independent innovators by me much later).<br />Idea accepted by then Secretaries of DSIR & DST, Dr R A Mashelkarand Dr VS Ramamurthy.<br />Adviser , KV Srinivasan, DSIR , RR Abhyankar DSIR and SajidMubhasir of TIFAC with support of Mrs Rama Murali, FA, DSIR develop it as a program with budget of Rs 50 lakhs to be shared equally by DSIR and TIFAC. Planning commission gave no objection on the condition additional funds/ manpower would not be sought. The budget is carved out of existing programs PATSER and HGT and people running those programs were given TePP work as additional responsibility. <br />Due to hype on funds flow to software sector, a decision was taken to exclude software innovations from TePP. ( This was fine tuned later to limit exclusion to dot com start-ups only)<br />
  4. 4. Start with fear and apprehension<br />4<br />Since money with a cap of Rs 5 lakhs is given to individuals as grant, all initial steps veered around ensuring beneficiaries do not walk away with public money. The focus was heavy on checks.<br />Low hanging fruit strategy was adopted by supporting initially Grass root innovators scouted and documented by Prof Anil Gupta.<br />
  5. 5. Slow grind<br />5<br />Unstated fears of dealing officials resulted in TePP becoming a ritual with monthly meeting where 20 officials with cumulative experience of 200 man years discuss and debate same proposal again and again. <br />In worst cases, same proposal(s) were discussed for 2 to 4 years, i.e in 20 to 40 meetings.<br />Yearly output touched low of 5 approvals.<br />
  6. 6. Second life<br />6<br />When I tool over on 2006, about 50 projects were approved in 7 years. In some cases the amount spent by officer on TA/DA exceeded the grant given to Innovator. <br />There was a move to bring in police verification of the beneficiaries.<br />There was no public invitation for proposals for fear of being flooded with ideas. RTI was not in place and information on beneficiaries was not placed on web. <br />
  7. 7. Scale -up<br />7<br />TePP has grown into a network programs with several incremental changes.<br />With support from Prof AnandPatwardhan, ED, TIFAC, the outer limit of support expanded to Rs 10 lakhs ( and next year to Rs 15 lakhs). <br />TePPScreening committee reconstituted with all external experts putting an end to inbreeding. Prof Amarnath, IITB , Head of incubator SINE ushered in positive energy in TePP. <br />
  8. 8. TePP Network<br />8<br />To make TePP accessible to all eligible innovators across the country, a network was created with TePP Outreach Centers (TUC). Started with ten and expanded to 30 centers by third year.<br />Conscious decision taken to develop capabilities in mentoring, a mix of DST incubators and universities/institutes selected as TUCs.<br />A standard package of work and compensation put in place for all TUCs with a recurring annual grant of Rs 8 lakhs plus a variable component of 10% of grant given to innovators. Project monitoring responsibility delegated to TUCs.<br />
  9. 9. Technology angels<br />9<br />Work of technical experts evaluating proposals and monitoring projects was recognised by enrolling them as Technology Angels on the panel of Ministry of Science & Technology.<br />Large number of ( over 100) experts with deep knowledge and right attitude added depth to technical evaluation making it possible for TePP to accept proposals from any area <br />
  10. 10. Support to start-ups<br />10<br />Initially small scale firms with limited turnover were made eligible. <br />Fine tuning and scale-up of grant amount to Rs 15 lakhs resulted in focusing on start-ups of promise rather than sick small firms.<br />TePP has the largest number( above 30)of start-ups at early stage among all funding agencies including angel investors/ VCs. With lateral entry in phase-11 where max grant amount is Rs 45 lakhs, TePP is positioned as pre-seed fund.<br />
  11. 11. Innovation funnel<br />11<br />All the three phases `Creativity/ ideation’, `innovation incubation’ and `enterprise incubation’ were shaped as distinct flows with entry and exit for each phase. Processes for accessing, screening, evaluation, monitoring, mentoring were customized for each phase.<br />The objective of Crazy idea phase was to unleash creative potential in a location specific manner. Innovation incubation is for technology proving whereas enterprise incubation is for business scale-up.<br />
  12. 12. Training<br />12<br />Very few in the country travelled thro the funnel from idea to market. This called for heavy training of innovators, network partners and officials.<br />Training programs at SPJIMR, bi-annual meetings, exhibitions, ejournal, blog etc resulted in moderate success.<br />More and more suggestions have started pouring in from TUC coordinators. <br />
  13. 13. All in 3 years<br />13<br />Much could be done in 3 years- creation of an innovation funnel to orchestration of a network with 50 partners, 80 technology angels, 100 business mentors.<br />Over 300 innovations supported with growth rate (in approvals) of 50% every year.<br />Quality of innovations made dramatic turn around inviting strategic investment by firms like Tatas and from angel investors.<br />TePP poised to grow with 100 outreach centers facilitating 5000 innovations.<br />
  14. 14. Working in government is not an insurmountable barrier… provided<br />14<br />There is personal conviction: Government can cultivate Risk taking attitude not by preaching but by taking risk and that is the intended purpose of risk capital provided by government under various programs like TAAS, PATSER, HGT, TePP. I was involved with the largest number of R&D/ Innovation projects and naturally had a large portfolio of failed projects followed by audit queries which help one to reflect back and improve the processes. Despite failed projects, I received promotions regularly and no officer ever lost even one day salary because R&D project supported by him failed. Speak out if you believe what you are doing is right- see my papers at SSRN (SSRN Author Page: )<br />
  15. 15. Working in government…contd<br />15<br />Convince your home team: When you believe in what you are doing, next logical step is communicating and convincing the world. What better place to start than your office. TePP has become shared vision when new secretaries, Dr T Ramasami and Prof Samir K Brahmachari got involved. Back up from Ms ShielaSangwan, FA, DSIR was a key motivating factor for TePP officials. TePP has small but motivated team and they excelled because I refrained from supervising them. My main task was dispelling the negative energy from the TePP environment.<br />
  16. 16. Converting network into a movement<br />16<br />TePP success can spiral into a movement celebrating creativity and thereby drawing more and more creative people into the process of dreaming and experimenting. <br />TePP is not about picking winners. It gives the innovators `Freedom to Fail’.<br />The tipping point will be reached when all stake holders become missionaries of faith in Indian Mind.<br />
  17. 17. Acknowledgement<br />17<br />Together we can make a difference.<br />Thanks to all those that joined me in this journey.<br />May they continue their travel on their path of conviction.<br />