Recently I stumbled upon a talk by Professor Anil Gupta on ted.com [See the video given below]. He was talking about how to locate, identify and harness India’s innovative talent, residing deep inside India, far from the bustling cities. In absence of a strong government support, many people in rural India device their own solutions to their every-day problems.
Many times, these solutions are more than just ‘Jugaad’ (with all due respect to the word), and could be used to solve similar problems faced by other people in different parts of the country. But without any structured approach to redistribute these solutions, they remain limited to their local areas.
Since more than 72% of our population still lives in villages, solving their problems becomes a very critical part of our development strategy. The traditional top-down approach of the urban population (including the government) trying to solve such every-day micro issues of the rural areas becomes inadequate.
This is because of the following reasons:
- The problems in villages are very different from the ones we face in cities.
- The city dwellers might find it difficult to understand these problems and come up with solutions
- It is in many cases financially unviable for a corporation to provide solutions/products for them.
It is in this context that local, rural solutions must be allowed to bubble up to the top, from where they can be redistributed to other parts of the country.
There is another hidden, and almost dramatic point here. India is in a unique place where on one hand we have a strong and vibrant community of entrepreneurs, waiting for the next big idea to commercialize, and on the other hand we have these problems-of-the-masses crying to be solved. Once we connect them we could see an explosion of economic prosperity across the rural population.
So what’s stopping us?
It’s the lack of a proper system, which connects a problem, its solution, and an entrepreneur to each other. Such a system must enable a country to create incentives for people to find solutions to the problems they face. Most of the times, the incentive comes from commercialization. And it is made sustainable by providing a security against theft of the idea. In other words by creating effective intellectual property rights management.
Enter Honeybee network. In simple words, Honeybee network finds out promising innovations, which solve local problems, from deep within the country. Then, it puts these innovations on a platform where people (including entrepreneurs) could evaluate them. And most importantly, it ensures that the inventor gets its due share. They have also filed patents for such inventors. This ensures that inventors continue to have an incentive to keep inventing.
What this does is potentially revolutionary. It has already begun to create a vast database of local intellectual property. And in today’s world, intellectual property is a key ingredient in any nation’s growth. Even if a tiny percentage of these innovations turn profitable, it can potentially impact a big portion of the 800+ million people living in villages, drastically improving their lives.
There is one more, very exciting attribute of this endeavor. Many such solutions are applicable in other parts of the world. This not only provides an avenue to our local innovators to access international markets, but it also allows other countries to benefit from our innovation. A win-win situation!
Currently Honeybee network consists of a number of organizations. They carry out Shodh Yatra ‘to reach out to the remotest part of the country with a firm belief that hardship and challenges of natural surroundings are the prime motivators of creativity and innovations.’ In the process, they find many new innovations. Some of these were also featured on Discovery Channel. Their findings are listed on their website, along with the name of the inventor.
You can search them, and if needed contact them to explore ways to implement this technology in your area!
In my opinion, such endeavors are doing our country a big favor. Not only should we get informed about this, but they can also create a very viable business proposition in terms of commercializing a technology.
If you have any home-grown innovation of your own, you can definitely contact Honeybee to explore possible opportunities.