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When will India have its own ‘Expert Labs’ ?

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Two days back, at the Web2.0 expo, a respected blogging pioneer and six-apart founder, Anil Dash announced to the world the launch of ‘Expert Labs’   – a not-for-profit technology incubator, that will focus on providing value to the US government and any start-ups that are focussing on government projects by focussing on cloud technologies.

Anil Dash

Expert labs has been launched by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and aims to work at all three levels of policy, technology and science communities – bringing leading luminaries of the field together using web2.0 technologies and building thriving expert communities.

Dash said that the new initiative’s name reflects its goal of bringing three distinct communities of experts together: “We’re going to tap into the expertise of the policy community to identify what questions need to be answered,” he explained. “We’re going to tap into the technology community to collaboratively build platforms that help get those questions answered, and finally, we’ll tap into the science and technology communities to provide the answers themselves.”

Policy-makers could use social networking to solicit expert input on draft legislation, Dash noted, just as Internet users now routinely use technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail to poll friends before making household purchases. Ultimately, he said, Expert Labs will help to incubate new technology platforms for capturing and sharing expertise on emerging policies on almost any issue, from science and technology, to public health, and more.

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It is pertinent to note that this idea of Expert Labs dawned on Dash, when he thought about the network of expert and successful friends he had and how they would love to contribute to the service of their country. With an equally thriving start-up ecosystem in India , its about time the Indian technology experts come together and giveback to the country that despite all overt corruption and infrastructure issues, is still providing them the ecosystem they need and thrive in.

US entrepreneurs

With IT projects in government bound to pick up, the UID project may just be the tip of the iceberg and there may be immense opportunities for  start-ups who focus on government projects and issues and an incubator that focuses on these start-ups.

Do you think having a science and technology incubator makes sense in the Indian context? or is the start-up ecosystem itself so fragile that the players need to become established before they can think of giving back? or is it the case that the Indian political scenario is so mired in controversies and corruption that the kind of experts the country needs, and can benefit from, will shy away from such communities?  With Mr. Nilekani taking a bold step, don’t you think its time that other technology entrepreneurs too join hands?

  1. Jp Udoba says

    This Article is a proof that The technology market in India is really expanding like wildfire.

  2. Lakhlani Prashant says

    Hi Sandy,
    Some time ago, Microsoft launched a competition of web development, but the rule was, choose your non-profit organization, code to win for him, you will get a price and the organization will get the donation. When I saw that website, date for entries were gone! :( The concept of open company that servers non-profit and government sectors is an amazing idea! we hope to see something like that in india as well.

    1. Sandy says

      Hi Lakhlani,

      The Microsoft contest looks cool. If you come across such competitions in future do share with larger communities like the trak.in community. It is a pity that the contest is over;sometimes many a good concepts do not flower to their full potential because of lack of right exposure at the right time.

  3. vivek says

    +! to the thought that we do need an umbrella organisation, but I am not sure that with the bureaucracy we see in the Govt structure ,how open would the PSU’s and govt Projects to the expertise from the industry.
    And yes may be we could one day extend our platform to the Govt.

  4. vivek says

    Hey Sandip,
    Thanks for this article. Seems like what we have been doing at Voicetap overlaps quite a bit with the idea of expert labs. Voicetap is a simple service that allows people to connect with expert knowledge over a phone call. While expert labs caters exclusively to Govt agencies, Voicetap as a service is for everybody – The basic thought being that everybody to start off has expertise at something or the other – and with little incentive experts would be willing to share it with people. We have started off with a Gtalk bot called Getafixx – that connects people to experts via Chat and would be launching over phone soon.
    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. Sandy says

      Vivek,

      The idea of Expert Labs, as I understand , is much more than just developing web2.0 applications themselves to connect experts – it is to jump start the entire ecosystem by providing grants and other non-financial help to start-up in the government space.

      Definitely what Voicetap is doing is very valuable, but consider the benefits that Voiceatp may reap if there is an incubator that can help them financially and non-financially and connect them with other startupereneus working in the same govt technology space and enable learning from each other. That I believe is still a void when it comes o India.

      We do need a professional umbrella organisation/ incubator that can tap into industry expertise and leverage it for government and public service projects.

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