‘Leaders must work with the universities; run cities like a company’

‘Leaders must work with the universities; run cities like a company’

Indian education system needs to move out of its prescription-based formula to provide youth with relevant skillsets, Amber Malhotra tells Education Times in an exclusive chat India has a huge potential especially if we look at its upcoming demographic dividend. The need of the hour is to have a correct venture development model in place with good support from the Government. “In the US, mayors are empowered; they are like CEOs. They make the plan and work closely with the universities and run cities like a company,” says Amber Malhotra, founder, managing partner & CEO, Sam Circle Venture LLC. Amber founded Sam Circle in 2010 as a venture development firm to commercialise the R&D of USA university systems for solutions required by India as an emerging economy.

What are your views on the current Indian education system?

The Indian education system is more prescription-based. You are prescribed to study, while the world is moving very fast. We propose a system to bridge the gap in demand and supply while producing relevant skillsets in youth.

There is no mechanism or mind-set in our institutions where we know how to commercialise research. Brilliant institutions like ISRO sit in isolation and the learning never reaches universities around or near it. IIT is purely academic, they are like talent exporters. Neither they commercialise their research work nor make any social or economic impact in the regions they are situated. Whereas in the world, whether it is Boston or Oxford – the universities have made a tremendous impact in the geographical areas they are situated in.

What do you propose should be the way forward?

So we work on a broader concept. For example, if we are setting up a hospital in an area, we will look at partnering with the universities around it. The physical infrastructure exists in India, but there is no intellectual property that gets generated from the universities around it. In the next 50 years, if we have to make the ‘Make in India happen’, then India needs to create its intellectual property.

We have set up India International Innovation Institute (i4) in the USA and it is engaged with 12 US universities and healthcare systems in design, development, and delivery of research initiatives, faculty development, and certificate programs. We have set up our Innovation Centre at IIT Delhi and currently have four i4 Centers in leading private Indian universities. We plan to expand this to 100 universities in the next 10 years.

What is the objective of i4?

The objective of i4 is to act as a catalyst to develop an innovation, venture development and commercialisation ecosystem around geographical regions of these universities for entrepreneurship and employability. Our collective i4 ecosystem currently has 100,000 students and 10,000 faculty members with an opportunity to participate in different programs, projects, and partnerships for venture development, commercialization, and training.

So when you say you are collaborating with universities what exactly do you look into in terms of infrastructure, besides the students that they have. Do you have a model in place?

We call our setup in universities as i4 and i4 Centers, with a defined programme with each respective higher learning institution. So far, we have forged alliances with four private universities in India that have achieved a certain scale, including Ansal University, Sharda University, Rayat Bahra University (Punjab) and Techno India University (West Bengal).

How do you look at the research scenario in India?

In India, universities and researchers do not know how to commercialise their R&D and that is why we do not see any commercialisation coming out of their work here. We do not know how to access the market and raise capital. Our partners in the US know how to do this well and the same approach we shall follow in India now. And the third is to create a lot of training programmes both for faculty and students to train the upcoming demographic dividend.