Tata Centre for Technology and Design
Established in 2014 with support from the Trusts, the Tata Centre for Technology and Design (TCTD) at IIT-Bombay has been established for the purpose of developing and designing technology solutions to take on the unmet needs of resource-constrained communities within India and across the world.
TCTD works closely with its sister institute at the Tata Center, MIT, USA, and with other partner organisations and stakeholders across India. Using an end-to-end innovation approach, TCTD acts as a virtual centre with research and academic components that draw faculty members and graduate students from various units across IIT Bombay. The centre’s focus areas include agriculture and food, education, environment, health, housing, water and waste management.
In the six years since inception, there are approximately 45 projects currently active and 30 applications in the invention disclosure process for relevant patents, copyrights and trademarks, as well as publications on the Creative Commons platform. TCTD is working at translating several of them in terms of design, business innovation and technology transfer frameworks. Six start-ups have developed from these projects with entrepreneurs evolving from research teams. More than ten projects have gone into the field, acquiring customers’ feedback towards improving their proposed solutions. TCTD hopes to support and train M Tech students and PhD scholars into future leaders who are familiar with developmental challenges in the socio-political context. Over time, the number of Tata Fellows has grown significantly, with 95 students now. Approximately 20 fellows graduated this year, showing an encouraging increase in human resources.
TCTD has successfully completed two trips of the ‘TCTD Yatra’ where Tata Fellows experience the community living experience by observing how social enterprises scale up using technology, operational efficiencies, and trained human resources, and how a combination of these factors produce innovations with social impact. Field visits have contributed immensely to the academic course pedagogy; based on the observations and learnings, students are encouraged to conduct need identification exercises to solve identified problems. Tata Fellows and faculty members travelled more than 2,000 kilometres on these trips.
The Product Realisation Lab, with its extensive array of mechanical and electronic equipment, supports the centre’s projects in the products development process. An integrated waste management facility to house all of the centre’s waste management projects will address domain-based challenges of using the TCTD campus as a test bed. Plans to build a separate laboratory for sophisticated instruments are awaiting approval.
TCTD IITB conducts courses in end-to-end innovation for academic circles outside IIT Bombay. The Centre also conducts five-day courses as part of the continuing education and quality improvement programmes. These courses are a unique combination of lectures, case studies, project exercises and lab sessions. Over 1,250 faculty and students from engineering colleges all over India participate in these workshops, gaining a fair share of hands-on experience in the field of social innovation and designing technology solutions.
The annual TCTD symposium held in IIT Bombay draws stakeholders’ groups from across the country. More than ten teams participate in iCUBATE and IDEA, intensive seven-week long programmes that are designed to identify customer need and validate the need hypothesised at the start of the project. This helps teams to redefine their scope of work and helps the centre assess the potential of the proposed solutions.
Moving forward, TCTD is identifying new partners and supplementing its own facilities to help with accelerated prototyping. TCTD’s research, academic and immersive components are awaiting the measurement of their social impact.