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 (NIF) – India is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. It was set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations across the country. NIF is a national initiative to serve the knowledge-rich, economically poor people of the country. It is committed to making India innovative by documenting, adding value, protecting the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) of the contemporary, unaided technological innovators as well as of outstanding traditional knowledge holders and disseminating them on a commercial as well as non-commercial basis.

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 then gets these innovations validated with the help of experts and ascertains the novelty in these innovations by conducting Prior Art Search (PAS). If the innovation is deemed novel, NIF files a patent on behalf of the innovator in his/her name. 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 commercialising of technology, NIF conducts market research and test marketing. The 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(SIDBI) in 2003, supports the activities of prototype development, test marketing and pilot production.

Being organised since 2008, 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 Standard 12 from any school (and of the same age group but out of school) in India are eligible to participate in the competition. The IGNITE awards [3] are announced on October 15, the birthday of Bharat Ratna Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, which is celebrated as the Children's Creativity and Innovation Day by NIF. In 2015, IGNITE competition was renamed as Dr A P J Abdul Kalam IGNITE competition in the memory of Dr Kalam so that the creative children continue to draw inspiration from his spirit.

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 2,25,000 examples of technological ideas, innovations and traditional practices.[4] Since its inception, NIF has also recognised over 816 grassroots innovators, young students and outstanding traditional knowledge holders in its various national awards, providing them a platform to showcase their creativity.[5] Through the collaborations with various research and development (R&D) and academic institutions, agricultural and veterinary universities and others, NIF has helped in getting thousands of grassroots technologies validated and value-added. It has also set up a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) with the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston for product development, apart from strengthening in-house research and development facilities for the initial validation of herbal technologies. Pro bono arrangement with patent firms has helped NIF file over 800 patents (including eight filed in the USA and 27 Patent Cooperation Treaty applications) on behalf of the innovators and outstanding traditional knowledgeholders. Of these 39 patents have been granted in India and five in the USA. In the same time period NIF has filed up to 21 Design registrations for innovations of the grassroots and student innovators.

NIF has also filed applications for 41 plant varieties developed by farmers at the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers' Rights Authority (PPV&FRA). Of these, five have successfully been registered. In addition to this 10 trade mark applications have also been filed.

MVIF has provided risk capital to 209 projects, which are at different stages of incubation. As of March 31, 2016, NIF has received over 950 product inquiries from 108 countries for various technologies and has succeeded in commercialising products across countries in six continents. NIF has transferred 89 technologies to different licensees, many with the support of Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), and has set up a joint venture (JV) with BVG India Ltd. NIF has also set up 37 community workshops at innovators' places throughout the country.

NIF has proved that Indian innovators can match anyone in the world when it comes to solving problems creatively. Where they perform better than the rest is in generating greater sustainable alternatives by using local resources frugally. The Grassroots-to-Global (G2G) model that NIF is propagating is all set to change the way the world looks at the creativity and innovations at the grassroots.


To make India innovative and adding value to India's outstanding traditional knowledge base


To help India become inventive and creative, and to become a global leader in sustainable technologies without social and economic handicaps affecting the evolution and diffusion of green grassroots innovations

The primary objectives are:

  1. To help India become innovative and creative, and to become a global leader in sustainable technologies by scouting, spawning and sustaining grassroots innovations.
  2. To ensure evolution and diffusion of green grassroots innovation on a selective, time-bound and mission-oriented basis so as to meet the socioeconomic and environmental needs of our society.
  3. To provide institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots green innovations as well as outstanding traditional knowledge and helping their transition to self-supporting activities
  4. To seek self-reliance through competitive advantage of innovation-based enterprises and/or application of "people-generated sustainable technologies" at grassroots level
  5. To build linkage between excellence in formal scientific systems and informal knowledge systems and create a knowledge network to link various stakeholders through application of information technology (IT) and other means
  6. To promote wider social awareness and possible applications of the know-how generated as a result of these initiatives in commercial or social spheres and encourage its incorporation in educational curriculum, developmental policies and programs

Genesis of National Innovation Foundation - India[edit]

The core principles of NIF stem from the Honey Bee Network (HBN) and Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI). The HBN is a volunteer network, spread across 75 countries, which is engaged in the development of a sustainable knowledge ecosystem. SRISTI, a non-governmental organisation, was set up in 1993 to help in the documentation of innovations and TK practices discovered by the HBN. The HBN and SRISTI were both founded by Prof Anil K Gupta of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. In June 2010, NIF became an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

The logo of NIF symbolises the dynamic process of churning of societal minds to throw up the elixir of ideas and innovations. The central dot depicts the identity of the grassroots innovators. Its green colour signifies that NIF would consciously pursue only environment-friendly (green) innovations while striving to expand policies and institutional space for the same.

Governing Body [6][edit]

The foundation has a Governing Body, chaired by Dr Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, former Director-General of CSIR India and President of the Global Research Alliance. Prof Anil K Gupta [7] is the Executive Vice-Chairperson.

Activities of NIF[edit]

There are five main activities of NIF (Scouting, Documentation and Database Management; Value Addition and Research & Development; Business Development and Micro Venture Innovation Fund; Intellectual Property Management and Dissemination & Social Diffusion)

Scouting, Documentation and Database Management [8][edit]

NIF scouts for innovations and traditional practices across the country. The National Biennial Competition and Dr A P J Abdul Kalam IGNITE competitions are two of the means to invite entries relating to original technological ideas, innovations and outstanding TK. Twice a year, NIF supports SRISTI in organising a Shodhyatra (journey of exploration) in remote regions of India, in the hope of unraveling the latent creative genius in the people. NIF participates in various agricultural fairs and exhibitions to scout for innovative solutions to address various problems and issues. It also participates in Satvik, the traditional food festival organised by SRISTI, which showcases the traditional and healthy recipes by the people from diverse climes across the country.

Value Addition and Research & Development [9][edit]

Innovations discovered in their raw form are rarely optimised in terms of design and formulation. NIF brings together inputs from formal science and subject matter experts to add value to such innovations. Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and higher educational institutions such as Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), lend their hands to provide value addition and validation services.

Business Development and MVIF [2][edit]

NIF assists in the commercialisation of innovations by licensing innovative technologies [10] 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 specifically targets at such initiatives.

MVIF at NIF, with support from Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), has provided risk capital of more than Rs 3.84 crore to 193 projects, some of which are at different stages of incubation. Majority of these have already been closed after receiving full repayment.

Intellectual Property Management [11][edit]

NIF protects the intellectual property (IP) 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 [12][edit]

NIF disseminates the innovations and TK, thereby facilitating 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 recognising the innovations and TK in competitions and awards.

Festival of Innovation (FOIN) at the Rashtrapati Bhavan[edit]

The celebration of grassroots innovation at the Rashtrapati Bhavan empowers creative communities in a manner that was never tried before in the history of the country. In 2015, the Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee threw open his gates for innovators across the nation to bond over and disseminate their innovation and ideas, not just with other innovators but the entire nation, with the announcement of the Festival of Innovation (FOIN).

FOIN is a week-long annual event and is hosted by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan each year, during the month of March. It is organised by the President’s Secretariat and is assisted by the National Innovation Foundation and Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI), part of the Honey Bee Network.

Two editions of FOIN have been successfully hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The first edition was held during March 7–13, 2015 and focused the attention of the nation towards the untapped potential of knowledge-rich, economically poor people. The second edition of the week-long festival was held during March 12–19, 2016 and saw even greater participation, both nationally and internationally.

India is perhaps the only country where the head of the state hosts such a festival at his house. Not only are this, under a new initiative launched by the President, innovation scholars hosted at the President’s house for two weeks. The programme—Innovation Scholars In-residence—was launched by the President on December 11, 2013 and three batches of scholars have been hosted by the President till date.a

FOIN 2017[edit]

The third Festival of Innovations (FOIN) will be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan during March 4–10, 2017. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, will inaugurate the week-long festival which aims at providing a common platform for various stakeholders — from students and bankers to innovators and policymakers.

On the first day of the festival (March 4), the Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee will give away the awards to grassroots innovators in the Ninth Biennial Awards function of grassroots innovation and outstanding traditional knowledge, and inaugurate the national exhibition of grassroots innovations. On this occasion, NIF will also recognise the successful partnerships between the formal and informal sectors, outstanding media coverage for grassroots innovations, social diffusion of innovation, distinguished scouting efforts, etc. To coincide with the FOIN and thereby create synergy between the events, the in-residence programme for innovation scholars and writers is also being organised for two weeks starting March 4, 2017 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. They will be given a chance to demonstrate their technologies to visitors, scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs, etc. The President will meet the fourth batch of innovation scholars during his visit to the exhibition.

Other events at the FOIN 2017 would be as mentioned below:

Global Roundtable on Inclusive Innovation: In the proposed roundtable, experts, senior policymakers and other stakeholders will be invited from the countries ranking high on the innovation index and also others, to draw lessons for poverty reduction, entrepreneurship development and value-building for inclusive innovation. The delegates from select developing countries will also be invited, apart from the leaders from public, private and civil society sectors within the country.

The Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award: The GYTI Award of Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) will be given to innovative technological students/faculty projects in engineering, pharmacy, science, biotechnology and other applied technologies. Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) will be the partner for biotechnology/medical technology awards. An exhibition of the awarded technologies will also be organised. In collaboration with the UNICEF, a children’s creativity workshop will be organised to highlight the role of children as a source of frugal solutions rather than only being a sink of sermons. SRISTI Samman will also be given to outstanding contributors towards the goals of the Honey Bee Network.

Meeting of National Innovation Clubs and interaction with grassroots innovators with entrepreneurs: The innovation clubs at different universities/colleges/institutions/schools will share their achievements in promoting innovations within their campuses and outside.

Roundtable and exhibition on innovations in medical science and biotechnology: NIF, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will brainstorm and reward the innovations in medical science and biotechnology, having grassroots applications.

Workshop on innovations in public policy and delivery systems: A half-day workshop on innovations in public policy and delivery systems will be organised by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad involving outstanding contributors from different sectors, including public and private organisations, various wings of civil services and social entrepreneurs/innovators.

National consultation on innovations for Clean India (Swachh Bharat): The urban development minister will be invited to inspire the innovators and entrepreneurs in the field of sanitation, public hygiene and related areas.

A policy dialogue and concluding function: Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), NIF and Honey Bee Network, in consultation with the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), will organise a policy dialogue on financing innovations. The idea is that unless banking sector is educated and encouraged to support innovative start-ups, hurdles in their path will not be removed and Make in India will not become a reality.

FOIN 2016[edit]

The second edition of week-long Festival of Innovation (FOIN) was inaugurated on March 12, 2016 by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi. The event was hosted by the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan from March 12–19, 2016. The President’s Secretariat was assisted by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous institution under the Department of Science and Technology, government of India, and Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI), part of the Honey Bee Network.

The event focused the attention of the nation towards the untapped potential of knowledge-rich, economically poor people.India is perhaps the only country where the head of the state hosts such a festival at his house. An exhibition of grassroots innovations kicked off FOIN 2016. The President was accompanied by Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for science & technology and earth sciences; Dr Najma A Heptulla, Union minister for minority affairs; Dr R A Mashelkar, chairperson, National Innovation Foundation (NIF); Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST), NIF’s Chairperson Dr R A Mashelkar and Prof Anil K Gupta, executive vice-chairperson, NIF.

A total of 65 grassroots innovations were exhibited as part of the event. The event had global roundtable conferences, spread over a period of six days, and a meeting of national innovation clubs to deliberate on the progress and future plans of innovation projects in India.

Nobel Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi and other distinguished thinkers, policymakers, academicians and entrepreneurs, national and international, attended the conference.

FOIN 2015[edit]

The first Festival of Innovation (FOIN) March 7–13, 2015, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, focused the attention of the nation towards the untapped potential of knowledge-rich, economically poor people. India is perhaps the only country where the head of the state hosts such a festival at his house. Not only that, under a new initiative launched recently, 10 innovation scholars in-residence were hosted at the President’s house for two weeks. The President of India, Hon’ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurated the week-long FOIN, aimed at creating an inclusive ecosystem to boost grassroots innovations in India.

Network Partners [13][edit]

To further its mission, NIF partners with a number of institutions, individuals and networks, including the HBN, SRISTI, Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), R&D institutions, IP and law firms, design firms, academic institutions, universities, and government and voluntary organisations.

Honey Bee Network[edit]

The Honey Bee Network [14] started in 1988-89 with like-minded individuals who believed in developing a fair and responsible knowledge ecosystem. The philosophy of the Network derives its breath from one's commonplace experience of a honey bee, which gathers nectar from a flower and facilitates pollination of other flowers, thereby helping the flowers to bloom. However, in the entire process, the flower whose nectar had been disseminated by the bee does not complain at all. Drawing from 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 to others.


Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions or SRISTI [15] was formed in 1993 with the objective of empowering knowledge-rich, economically poor people. It provides organisational support to the activities of the HBN. It publishes a quarterly Honey Bee newsletter in Hindi and Gujarati, which helps spread the message of the network. It also organises the annual traditional food festival SAATVIK at Ahmedabad.


Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network or GIAN [16] was set up in 1997 with the help of the Gujarat government (known as GIAN West [17]). Later in 2002, the government of Rajasthan helped setting up a GIAN North at Jaipur[18]). GIAN functions as a technology business incubator (TBI) 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 (Jammu & Kashmir).


Grassroots Innovations Design Studio (GRIDS)

Grassroots Innovation Design Studio (GRIDS) facilitates formal design inputs to the grassroots innovations at premier institutes viz National Institute of Design (NID) - Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Gandhinagar, National Institute of Technology (NIT) - Srinagar and Srishti School of Arts, Design & Technology, Bengaluru.

Students' Club for Augmenting Innovations (SCAI)

A nationwide student movement, comprising students from India's best management and technology institutes,SCAI provides product development, mentoring and monitoring support to innovators and traditional knowledge holders at the grassroots.

Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF)

One of its kind of dedicated risk fund in the world, setup with the support of SIDBI in October 2003 and operationalised in January 2004, MVIF provides financial support to grassroots innovators. It is extended under a single signature on a simple agreement of understanding without any collateral or a guarantor.

Grassroots Technological Innovations Acquisition Fund (GTIAF)

Sanctioned in 2011 and operationalised in 2012, GTIAF obtains the rights of technologies from innovators after compensating them for the same, with the purpose of disseminating and diffusing them at low or no cost for the larger benefit of the society.

Gandhian Inclusive Innovation Challenge Awards

Dr R A Mashelkar announced the Gandhian Inclusive Innovation Challenge Awards in the presence of Hon'ble President of India. The Award is for developing new solutions for three challenges—paddy transplanter, wood stove and tea leaf-plucking machine.

Grassroots to Global (G2G)

NIF has proved that Indian innovators can match anyone in the world when it comes to solving problems creatively. They perform better than others in generating greater sustainable alternatives by using local resources frugally. Those who see poor only as the consumers of cheap goods, miss the richness of knowledge at grassroots level. The G2G model propagated by NIF is all set to change the way the world looks at creativity and innovations at grassroots.

NIF has received more than400 product inquiries from around 55 countries for various technologies. It has succeeded in commercialising products across countries in six continents, apart from being successful in materialising 70 cases of technology licensing to 80 licensees with the help of partner agencies.

In situ incubation

NIF provides in situ incubation of grassroots technologies to the innovator at his/her place. All incubation facilities (financial or technical support, mentoring, etc.) are extended to the innovator at his place where he continues to work on his/her ideas or innovations.

Community workshops

NIF has established community workshops in different rural areas of the country at the premises of seasoned innovators so that other grassroots innovators of the region can have access to fabrication facilities locally. Also, they could learn from the experiences of seasoned innovators. This is expected to promote the conversion of an idea into a prototype faster.

Inverted model of innovation

The inverted model of innovation implies that children invent, engineers & designers fabricate and companies commercialise.

Innovations' exhibition at the President House

Since 2010, the Rashtrapati Bhavan has been hosting an exhibition of innovations near its Mughal Garden to showcase the creativity and ingenuity of common people. The former President of India Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil invited NIF to put up such an exhibition in 2010.


External links[edit]

See also[edit]