Where there is entrepreneurship, there is innovation, and together, these two constitute a formidable force in shaping the economy of a country. It creates jobs, products, processes and fosters a sense of teamwork, creativity, vision and ambition. India boasts a massive force in terms of labor, and with this in mind, the Government of India brought forth an initiative called the Atal Innovation Mission, which aims to promote the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the country. It was set up by the National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog.
Objectives of the Atal Innovation Mission
- The focus is on innovation, and hence the policies and plans will be developed around that idea for the various sectors.
- Provides a platform for and establishes collaboration opportunities for various stakeholders.
- To act as an umbrella structure, encompassing and overseeing the entire innovation ecosystem of the country.
The Atal Innovation Mission has introduced a few major programs in line with its vision of entrepreneurship promotion as well as the promotion of innovation.
1. Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL)
- To promote creativity and innovation in the minds of school children.
- Children as young as 12 years of age gain access to technological innovation.
- The concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths are taught through various tools and equipment of the like.
- ATL Community Day, School of the Month Challenge, ATL Festival, Tinkering and Innovation Marathon are some of the programmes under ATL.
- Financial aid of Rs. 20 lakh is given to each school
a. One time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh.
b. The operation cost of Rs. 10 lakh over a period of five years.
2. Atal Incubation Centres (AIC)
- Promotes and encourages innovative startups to become more scalable, sustainable and more stable.
- To set up world-class incubators in all the 110 smart cities as well as the top 5 educational institutes in each state so as to give rise to successful, sustainable startups in every state.
- Incubators will be equipped with the necessary infrastructure, experts as mentors in their respective fields, ability to access seed capital etc.
- Up to Rs. 10 crore will be available in the form of financial aid over a period of 5 years in order to cover the capital expenditure and operational expenses so as to establish the AIC.
3. Atal New India Challenge
- To promote the design and development of innovation-driven products based on cutting edge technologies.
- Areas of focus are specific areas of importance on a national basis –
a. Energy storage
b. Climate-smart precision agriculture
c. Universal drinking water
e. Predictive Maintenance of Rolling Stock
f. Smart mobility and Electric mobility
g. Waste management recycling and reuse
- Selected applicants of the Atal New India Challenge will be eligible for a grant of Rs. 1 crore, on a milestone basis.
- For the Atal Grand Challenge, a grant of Rs. 30 crore is available.
4. Mentor of Change Programme
- To guide and mentor students at the ATLs and AICs set up all over the country with a vision to enable them to develop the skills of strategic thinking, creation and innovation.
- Mentors are required to spend at least 2 hours a week in these labs.
- Areas of focus include:-
a. Technical Know-how – The knowledge of being able to use technology in an efficient and effective manner.
b. Innovation and Design – The ability to design and create products on a solution-based approach.
c. Inspiration – Self-motivation, leadership, critical thinking etc.
5. Atal Community Innovation Centre
- The main aim is to cater to the underserved/unserved regions of India so as to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship as well as creativity and innovation.
- The Community Innovation Centres are set up in areas that lack infrastructure and facilities, areas that have an unfavorable environment for creativity and innovation.
- The areas include the underserved/unserved regions of Tier I cities, Tier II and Tier III cities, J & K, smart cities, North East region, Aspirational Districts, Rural and Tribal areas.
UGC and AICTE affiliated Universities / Colleges
Voluntary and other organisations
Educational Institutions like ITIs & other technical diploma colleges
6. Atal Research & Innovation for Small Enterprises (ARISE)
- To promote research and innovation and increase the competitiveness of Indian startups and small enterprises including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
- Key objective – Provide a steady stream of innovative products of which the first potential buyers will be the Central Government Ministries/Departments.
- This programme is driven by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and four ministries:-
a. Ministry of Food Processing Industries
b. Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
c. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
d. Ministry of Defence
- For startups to develop a minimum usable prototype, Rs. 50 lakh in the form of financial assistance/grant has been specifically earmarked and set aside.
- Instils collaboration with various ministries in order to catalyse research, innovation and find solutions to certain sector-related problems.
Achievements of the Atal Innovation Mission
- Established more than 350 collaborations for the development of the innovation ecosystem of the country.
- Atal Tinkering Labs have reached nearly 5000 in number across over 660 districts pan India providing access to over 2.5 million students.
- More than 10,000 mentors have signed up, at least 50% of those being directly involved in the ATLs and startups.
- The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) in collaboration with the AIM has launched an Artificial Intelligence-based educational module for school-going students.
- AIM has set up one of the largest mentoring networks in India called Mentor India.
India has the might of a large human resource base that can be utilised efficiently and effectively given the right tools and education in the field of science and technology, paving the way to great strides in innovation. AIM is helping India ensure that the resources are being put to right use, slowly building the country into a force to be reckoned with in the field of technology and innovation.