National Innovation Foundation - India

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Nif logo.jpg

Type: Autonomous Body of Department of Science and Technology, Government of India
Established: 2000
Employees: 80
Address: PO Amrapur, Gandhinagar, Gujarat India
Tel: +91-2764-261131/32/38/39 E-mail:

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 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 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.

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 2,95,000 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. 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 980 patents (including eight filed in the USA and 28 Patent Cooperation Treaty applications) on behalf of the innovators and outstanding traditional knowledge holders. Of these 52 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 70 plant varieties developed by farmers at the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers' Rights Authority (PPV&FRA). Of these, seven have successfully been registered. In addition to this 10 trade mark applications have also been filed.

MVIF has provided risk capital to 230 projects, which are at different stages of incubation. NIF has received over 1500 product inquiries from 110 countries for various technologies and has succeeded in commercialising products across countries in six continents. NIF has transferred 108 technologies to different licensees, many with the support of Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN). The grassroots-to- global (g2G) model that NIF is propagating is set to change the way the world looks at creativity and innovations at grassroots.

NIF has set up a Section 8 company, NIF Incubation and Entrepreneurship Council (NIFientreC),[5] which is a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) incorporated with the financial support from Department of Science and Technology (DST). Its objective is to nurture grassroots innovators and technology with the help of youth in a ‘sanctuary of innovation’ distributed all over the country through ex and in situ incubation by hand holding, mentoring, linking them with designers, fabricators, contract manufacturers etc., to convert innovation into social and/or economic enterprise by connecting these with investments. Thirteen grassroots innovation based enterprises have been successfully registered as start-ups recognized by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Govt. of India as a part of incubation activity under NIFientreC.

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.

Governing Board [6][edit]

The foundation has a Governing Board, chaired by Dr PS Goel, former Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). Dr Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, former Director-General of CSIR India and President of the Global Research Alliance was the Chairperson, NIF's Governing Board during 2000-2018 with Prof Anil K Gupta [7] being the Executive Vice-Chairperson during the same period.

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]

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.


Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network or GIAN [14] was set up in 1997 with the help of the Gujarat government (known as GIAN West [15]). Later in 2002, the government of Rajasthan helped setting up a GIAN North at Jaipur.[16] 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Announcement - National Innovation Foundation - India".
  2. ^ a b "Business Development and Micro Venture Innovation Fund (BD&MVIF) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  3. ^ a b "Dr A P J Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  4. ^ "Scouting, Documentation and Database Management (SDDM) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  5. ^ "NIFientreC - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  6. ^ "Governing Board - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  7. ^ Gupta, Anil. "Anil Gupta - Speaker -".
  8. ^ "Scouting, Documentation and Database Management (SDDM) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  9. ^ "Value Addition Research & Development(VARD) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  10. ^ "Technology Catalogue - National Innovation Foundation - India".
  11. ^ "Intellectual Property Management (IPM) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  12. ^ "Dissemination and Social Diffusion (DSD) - National Innovation Foundation-India".
  13. ^
  14. ^ "GIAN - Gujarat Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network".
  15. ^ "GIAN - Gujarat Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network".
  16. ^ "GIAN - Gujarat Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network".