National Innovation Foundation - India

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Nif logo.jpg

Type: Autonomous Body of Department of Science and Technology, Govt. Of India
Established: 2000
Employees: 80
Address: Satellite Complex, Premchand Nagar Road, Jodhpur Tekra, Satellite, Ahmedabad – 380015 (Gujarat) India
Tel: +91-79-26732456

National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF) is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology (India), Government of India. It was set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations.

NIF conducts a biennial national competition [1] for grassroots green technologies developed by farmers, mechanics, artisans and others through their own genius without any recourse to professional help. NIF validates these innovations with the help of experts, and, ascertains the novelty in these innovations by doing prior art search. If the innovation is deemed novel, NIF files a patent on behalf of the innovator. NIF also funds value addition initiatives in these innovations to upscale them and make them more useful for a larger segment of people.

To determine the feasibility of the commercializing of technology, NIF conducts market research and test marketing. Those technologies which are found to be commercially viable are licensed to willing entrepreneurs. A Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF),[2] sponsored by Small Industries Development Bank of India in 2003, supports the activities of prototype development, test marketing and pilot production.

IGNITE [3] is an annual competition for student’s ideas and innovations conducted by NIF in partnership with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Some State Education Boards also partner in the same. All students up to the 12th class from any school (and of the same age group but out of school also) in India are eligible to participate in IGNITE. The IGNITE awards [4] are announced on October 15, the birthday of Bharat Ratna, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President of India, which is celebrated as the children's creativity and Innovation Day by NIF.

NIF is mandated to build a national register of ideas, innovations and Traditional Knowledge (TK) practices related to agriculture, plants, animal health, and human health. With the help of the Honey Bee Network, NIF has been able to scout and document over 2,00,000 examples of technological ideas, innovations and traditional practices.[5] Since its inception, NIF has also recognised over 600 grassroots innovators, students and outstanding traditional knowledge holders in its various national award functions providing them a platform to showcase their creativity.[6]

Genesis of National Innovation Foundation[edit]

The core principles of the National Innovation Foundation - India (NIF) stem from the Honey Bee Network and SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions). Honey Bee Network is a volunteer network spread across 75 countries which is engaged in the development of a sustainable knowledge eco-system. SRISTI, a non-governmental organization, was later set up in 1993, to help in the documentation of the innovations and Traditional Knowledge (TK) practices discovered by the Honey Bee Network. The Honey Bee Network and SRISTI were both founded by Prof. Anil K Gupta of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.

Governing Body [7][edit]

The foundation has a governing body chaired by Dr. Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, former Director General of CSIR India and President of Global Research Alliance. Prof. Anil Kumar Gupta [8] is the Executive Vice Chairperson.

Activities of NIF[edit]

There are 6 main divisions of NIF (Scouting and Documentation; Value Addition and Research & Development; Business Development and Micro Venture Innovation Fund; Intellectual Property Management; Dissemination & Social Diffusion; and Information Technology)

Scouting and Documentation [9][edit]

NIF scouts for innovations and traditional practices across the country. The national biennial competition is one of the means to invite entries relating to original technological ideas, innovations and outstanding Traditional Knowledge (TK). Twice a year, a Shodhyatra (journey of exploration) is undertaken in remote regions in the hope of unraveling the latent creative genius in the people. NIF participates in agricultural fairs and exhibitions to scout for innovative solutions to address various problems and issues. It also participates in Satvik- the traditional food festival organized by SRISTI, which showcases the traditional and healthy recipes by the people from diverse climes across the country.

Value Addition and Research & Development [10][edit]

Innovations discovered in their raw form are rarely optimized in terms of design and formulation. NIF brings together inputs from formal science and subject matter experts to add value to such innovations. Research bodies and Centers of Excellence such as CSIR India, ICMR, BSI and higher educational institutions such as IITs, lend their hands to provide value addition and validation services.

Business Development and Micro Venture Innovation Fund [11][edit]

NIF assists in the commercialization of innovations by licensing innovative technologies [12] to interested entrepreneurs. Further, NIF also becomes the breaking ground for innopreneurship, i.e. supporting the innovators to become entrepreneurs themselves. This is facilitated by providing them with adequate funds for conducting market research, test marketing, prototype development and pilot production. Most venture capital firms ignore such proposals owing to the high risks involved. However, NIF's MVIF fund specifically targets at such initiatives.

Intellectual Property Management [13][edit]

NIF protects the Intellectual Property of the knowledge holder by filing patent applications in the names of the knowledge holders and provides legal support to fight cases of IP infringement.

Dissemination & Social Diffusion [14][edit]

NIF disseminates these innovations and Traditional Knowledge (TK), thereby facilitating in the diffusion of the same from one region to the other, throughout the country. Such attempts are carried out through Shodhyatras, online promotion, kiosks, and, acknowledging and recognizing the innovations and Traditional Knowledge (TK) in competitions and award ceremonies.

Information Technology [15][edit]

IT provides necessary back-end support to all the functions of NIF, viz. developing and maintaining databases, ensuring adequate web presence through website and online social media sites,[16] developing dissemination tools, software etc.

Network Partners [17][edit]

To further its mission, NIF partners with a number of institutions, individuals, networks including Honey Bee Network, SRISTI, GIAN, R&D institutions, IP and Law firms, Design firms, Academic institutions, Universities, Government organisations and voluntary organisations.

Honey Bee Network[edit]

The Honey Bee Network [18] started in 1988-89 with like-minded individuals who believed in developing a fair and responsible knowledge ecosystem. The philosophy of the Honey Bee Network derives its breath from one's commonplace experience of a honey bee, which gathers nectar from a flower, and, facilitates pollination of the other flowers, thereby helping the flowers to bloom. However, in the entire process, the flower, whose nectar had been disseminated by the honey bee, does not complain at all! Ploughing back the same theme, the Honey Bee Network's philosophy facilitates the development of a knowledge ecosystem, where the knowledge holder gets due share of acknowledgment and recognition for the dissemination of his knowledge/innovation with his neighbors.


SRISTI [19] or Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions was formed in 1993 with the objective of empowering knowledge-rich economically-poor people. SRISTI provides organization support to the activities of the Honey Bee Network. It publishes a quarterly Honey Bee Newsletter in Hindi and Gujarati as well, which helps spread the message of the network. It also organizes the annual traditional food festival SAATVIK at Ahmedabad.


GIAN [20] or Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network was set up in 1997 with the help of the Gujarat Government (known as GIAN West [21]). Later in 2002, the Government of Rajasthan helped setting up a GIAN at Jaipur (known as GIAN North[22]). GIAN functions as a business technology incubator to help untrained, unqualified, individual innovators kickstart a sustainable business venture. It aims to complete what is called as the Golden Triangle of Creativity linking innovation, enterprise and investment. A GIAN Cell was also established in 2009 at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar (J&K).


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