Society

Of patents and Jugad innovators

Students of Holy Angels Covent, Thiruvananthapuram, designed a footwear with a base on which one can strap on designer straps of different colours and styles   | Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

At present, the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) is one of the top innovators in Kerala. It transferred the technology of its heart valve to TTK Health Care and about 1,00,000 patients live with the heart valve produced by the SCTIMST. The first patient with the heart valve survived for 25 years. SCTIMST also transferred technology of non-toxic PVC formulations for blood bags to Terumo Penpol / HLL.

Another interesting innovation from Kerala was that of a coconut dehusking machine developed by Jippu Jacob and Joby Bastian of the Kelappaji College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Malappuram. This machine is now a common sight in homes across Kerala.

Coconut de-husking machine developed by Jippu Jacob and Joby Bastian of the Kelappaji College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Malappuram

Coconut de-husking machine developed by Jippu Jacob and Joby Bastian of the Kelappaji College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, Malappuram   | Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

At the national level, CSIR is the undoubted leader of innovation and has almost 1,800 inventions in the last 10 years of which about 400 have been licensed for commercial use. The CSIR regional research lab in Thiruvananthapuram (now NIIST) has prominent breakthroughs in the field of agro-processing related to palm oil and ginger.

In the case of the University of Kerala, after the lone patent in 1973, almost three decades passed without any patented inventions. K.N. Rajasekharan of the Department of Chemistry collaborated with researchers from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in developing a solid phase method for preparation for Diaminoketothiazoles.

In the last couple of years, a few patents have been filed: Biodegradable, biocompatible wound healing composition; Retrieval of separated endodontic files from human root canals; Ayurvedic wound healing formulation for diabetic non-healing ulcer; and bacteria that degrades the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

There is of course innovation that gets published and not patented. Recent innovative research from the Kerala University departments include safe and natural food colourant, improved dye-sensitised solar cells, sensor to detect pesticide presence, a new species of mushroom (O. nidiformis) and so on.

Among state Universities, Mahatma Gandhi University seems to have an impressive track record of patents. Patenting at the state-level seems to touch 100 per year, with most of the patents coming from grass root innovators not attached to academic or research and development institutions.

Ajith K. Kumar, a pioneer innovator in General Electric (GE) in the United States, holds 266 U.S. patents and numerous international patents.

Ajith K. Kumar, a pioneer innovator in General Electric (GE) in the United States, holds 266 U.S. patents and numerous international patents.   | Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

There are many Keralites who work as prominent innovators abroad. Ajith K. Kumar who became a pioneer innovator in General Electric (GE) in the United States is one such person. He graduated from College of Engineering Trivandrum in 1972 and went on to work for GE. Ajith became a recipient of GE Edison Award. In 2015, he became the most decorated patent holder among over 300,000 GE employees worldwide. He holds 266 U.S. patents and numerous international patents.

There are innovators who have remained in Kerala and caught national attention. An example is Benedict, a talented engineer from Vypin, who has more than 120 inventions to in his credit. He holds patents for 27 innovations, 11 of which were commercialised. One of his most successful products is a ‘padlock guard’. It was an intelligently designed lock with a shield to safeguard the lock from thieves. For this innovation, Benedict received the National Award from the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2003. His inventions include heat penetrative thermal pad, advanced handcart, super power security torch, incinerator cum boiler, advanced dog cage, travellers pocket stove and advanced fishing nets with super sensor technology.

While innovations that catch the attention of the media are by and large high-tech, there are innovations that are triggered by common sense. Things like a “miti-cool” refrigerator are today branded as Jugad innovations. Jump-clips, stapler pins, hair pins, safety pins, ball-point pens, balloons, buttons, match boxes, pencils, safety razors, scissors and so on are also Jugad innovations that continue to be indispensable.

The state has many schemes and institutions in place for encouraging innovation. The state innovation council, district innovation councils and the Patent Support Centre in KSCSTE all contribute in this direction.

The start-up fever among new-generation students is a positive sign. Ideas with business potential are arising even from school students. Students of Holy Angels Convent recently proposed a Jugad innovation.

They designed a footwear with a base on which one can strap on designer straps of different colours and styles so that one can do away with multiple footwear to match different dresses or occasions.

Students of Holy Angels Covent, Thiruvananthapuram, designed a footwear with a base on which one can strap on designer straps of different colours and styles

Students of Holy Angels Covent, Thiruvananthapuram, designed a footwear with a base on which one can strap on designer straps of different colours and styles   | Photo Credit: Achuthsankar S. Nair

However, the fact remains that the innovation profile of the state is far from impressive. Although there seems to be no dearth for innovators, the ecosystem for innovation seems to be wanting urgent attention and leadership.

(Concluded)


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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 12:33:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/Of-patents-and-Jugad-innovators/article17102683.ece

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