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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guest Post: L-RAMP Innovation Awards 2007

By Nitin Rao

Shatajit Basu, a college junior at IIT Madras and a core member of the India chapter of Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneurship society (ASES), attended the L-RAMP Innovation Awards 2007 and sent us this guest post.

By Shatajit BasuL-RAMPThe L-RAMP Innovation Awards is a joint initiative of premier Indian engineering school ? IIT Madras and the Rural Innovations Network, supported by the Lemelson Foundation. L-RAMP is an acronym for "Lemelson Recognition and Mentoring Programme." The foundation identifies innovators and harnesses their creativity to build their innovations into sustainable and scalable enterprises. The goal is to transform living standards of poor communities through such ventures.

The winners of L-RAMP Innovation Awards 2007 were feted by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India at a gala ceremony hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Dr MS Ananth, the director of IIT Madras began by congratulating the winners and then gave a brief overview of the various socially relevant inititiatves and projects under incubation at IIT M. This was followed by a short talk by Professor TT Narendran, the Dean for Industrial Consulting and Sponsored research (IC-SR). Charismatic as always, his message stressing the importance of ?rural engineering? was largely aimed at the hundred strong engineering students in the audience.

Following this, the L-RAMP innovators were presented the awards by Dr. Kalam. The award carries a cash award of INR 25,000 INR and a trophy.

A short summary of the prize winners

Machine to extract banana-cotton:
As a banana cultivator, Ms. M Lalitha noticed the wastage of banana stems post cultivation and has developed a machine to extract banana cotton from them. This cotton can be spun into yarn, which is them woven into fabric. This has resulted in a marken increase in the incomes of banana cultivators in the region.

Coconut Dehusker:
G. Ravachandran is an young farmer from Tamil Nadu?s Namakkal district-a region known for its coconut plantations. He has developed a simple, easily transportable motorized device for dehusking coconuts. The alternative ? the manual process is slow, tiring and very low on productivity. The machine has an output of nearly 400 nuts per hour.

Multi purpose syringe pump:
TV Dhananjayan, S Kartikeyan, K Arvind and R Satyanarayanan are students of engineering at a Chennai based college. They have designed a low cost syringe pump, ideal for use in cash starved rural hospitals. The devise cobines the working of the syringe pump and an infusion pump in a single system. The notable features of this design are safety, reliability, low cost and ease of manufacture.

Flow Control Valve:
A businessman by profession, Mr. Mohammad Gany has paptented a flow control valve that ensures equitable distribution of municipal water to town?s residents. The device prevents miscreants from illegally tapping into public utility water pipes. The device serves the dual purpose of preventing return flow of water from household, esuring that drinking and sewage water do not mix.

Improved IC Engine:
Mr. R Sivasarvanan is a mechanical engineer and design consultant based in Chennai. His design uses an epicyclical gear train that generates a trapezoidally variant piston velocity as against the standard sinusoidal. The design promises to improve fuel efficency.

Haemoglobin analyzer:
Dr. M Christopher has designed an instant blood sugar haemoglobin analyzer. It is essentially a quick non invasive testing device, which will aid in surgery.

Pump sets for Open wells:
M Parthasarathy, a Chennai based entrepreneur has designed an alternative to surface mounted pumps used in open wells. This pump works on a floating platform, thereby reducing the suction head and avoids the problem of dry running. Energy savings due to overall efficiency increase is its USP

Multicrop Thresher:
Mr M Mani, again a businessman by profession, has designed a multicrop thresher which can effective be used for threshing a wide variety of crops like paddy, wheat, maize, black gram and groundnut. The machine significantly increases the productivity of the process.

The L-RAMP Lifetime achievement award went to Sanjit ?Bunker? Roy, who after an enviable education and elite job quit the affluent world to start his work for India?s rural poor. He established the Barefoot college in Tilonia - one of India?s most backward districts. He is also the founder director of the Social Work and Research Centre ? an eponymously titled social foundation.

The L-RAMP award in the ?Enterprise? category went to Servals Automation for their design of an energy saving burner which reduces oil consumption by as much as 25%. The burner can also utilize locally available oil extracted from plants instead of kerosene.

Aavishkaar India Microventure capital fund won the award in the ?Investor? category. The firm provides micro equity funding and operational and commercial support to viable companies in rural and sub urban India.

MJ Prabhu pens the ?Farmer?s corner? article in Chennai?s largest daily ? The Hindu. Very fittingly, he won the award in the ?media/journalist? category for his effort of nearly four decades. His articles cover a diverse set of topics including horticulture, farm equipment, bio fuels and animal husbandry.

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