The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country, based on a detailed study and deliberations on innovation and entrepreneurial needs of India in the years ahead.
AIM is also envisaged as an umbrella innovation organization that would play an instrumental role in alignment of innovation policies between central, state and sectoral innovation schemes incentivizing the establishment and promotion of an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship at various levels - higher secondary schools, science, engineering and higher academic institutions, and SME/MSME industry, corporate and NGO levels. Long term goals of AIM include establishment and promotion of Small Business Innovation Research and Development at a national scale (AIM SBIR) for the SME/MSME/startups, and in rejuvenating Science and Technology innovations in major research institutions of the country like CSIR (Council of Scientific Industrial Research), Agri Research (ICAR) and Medical Research (ICMR) aligned to national socio-economic needs.
AIM has adopted a holistic framework in the achievement of its objectives.
- Atal Tinkering Labs – to promote creative, innovative mind set in schools
At the school level, AIM is setting up state of the art Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) in schools across all districts across the country. These ATLs are dedicated innovation workspaces of 1200-1500 square feet where do-it-yourself (DIY) kits on latest technologies like 3D Printers, Robotics, Internet of Things (IOT), Miniaturized electronics are installed using a grant of Rs 20 Lakhs from the government so that students from Grade VI to Grade XII can tinker with these technologies and learn to create innovative solutions using these technologies. This will enable create a problem solving, innovative mind set within millions of students across the country.
To date, 2441 schools have already been selected for ATL Grants and by the end of 2018 over 5000 schools are expected to be operational with Atal Tinkering Labs, covering all the districts of the country.
More than just grants, the ATL program is undertaking on-the-ground activities to engage students and teachers in identifying problems in and around their communities and creating innovative solutions leveraging the ATL technologies to achieve the objectives of the program. Every school would have an ATL In charge appointed by the school as well as Mentors associated to mentor the ATL students. All ATL in charges to date have received training through AIM and its partners. AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) is also partnering with AIM to ensure that the closest universities to a school can also mentor ATL students.
Atal Innovation Tinkering challenges are regularly held in the school as well as by AIM every month to ensure students active involvement in creating innovative solutions to solve problems in their community and in the country.
Recently the ATAL Tinkering Marathon was held in which an estimated 35000+ students participated, and 650+ of the best innovation entries were submitted for evaluation. Of these, the top 30innovations across six different focus areas aligned with National programs from 17 states and three Union Territories have been identified for recognition. These innovations will be further handheld to see if they can be scaled up and some of them even productized. In the ATL Community Day on April 14th 2018 more than 50000 children participated in awareness building on ATL technology driven innovations at the ATL schools , with over 25000 of the children participating from the non ATL labs school communities.
The vision is to have every school have access to at least one or more Atal Tinkering Labs in each district of the country, as well as to scale the same up with the help of state education ministries across the length and breadth of the country. Also Government / Govt Aided schools, and Girls schools, North East and Hilly District schools get a special preference in the consideration of ATL selections.
The Atal Tinkering Labs has created much enthusiasm and energy in the schools and students and a Balanced Score Card based approach has been designed to monitor and measure the outcomes of the same.
- Atal Incubators – promoting entrepreneurship in universities and industry
At the university, NGO, SME and Corporate industry levels, AIM is setting up world-class Atal Incubators (AICs) that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups in every sector /state of the country, thereby promoting entrepreneurs and job creators in the country addressing both commercial and social entrepreneurship opportunities in India and applicable globally. AIM is also providing scale up support to existing incubators for scaling up their operations.
AIM is providing a grant of upto Rs 10 crores to successful applicants for setting up greenfield incubators or scaling up existing ones. The idea is that every one of the 110 named smart cities and the top 5-10 educational / industrial institutions of every state should aspire to have a world class incubator that will provide the youth / startup communities in the universities / industries opportunity to create new start ups .
To date 19 Atal Incubators have been selected. Before the end of 2018-19 we would have 50+ Atal Incubators operational. We have had over 2600 applications for the latest round of AIC selection concluded on September 30, 2017.
Women led incubators and entrepreneurial startups are strongly encouraged by AIM.
Again here, the longer term approach would be to scale up with the help of other ministries / states / sectors / public sector organizations as this would be crucial to create thousands of job creators in India.
- Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges – to promote technology driven innovations and product creation for social and commercial impact
To promote specific product innovations with social / economic impact, AIM will be launching Atal New India Challenges / Atal Grand Challenges in specific areas and sectors of national importance - such as Renewable Energies, Energy Storage, Climate-smart precision agriculture, Universal drinking water, Swaach Bharat, Transportation, Education, Healthcare using Robotic, IOT technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Block-chain, Augmented and Virtual reality, Battery Technologies etc. Most of these areas are also aligned with the priorities recommended by the recently released Economic Survey 2017-18. The first set of 17 Atal New India Challenges (ANIC) has been launched on April 26th, 2018.
The successful applicants will get a grant of upto Rs 1 crore for Atal New India Challenges and larger grants of upto Rs 30 crores for Atal Grand Challenges.
AIM is also partnering with corporates and other institutions to launch such challenges to stimulate new product and service development in various sectors. For example the recently held AIM-Yes Bank Transformation series 2017 Smart Agri Nation challenge had 27000 students from B Schools of India participating in the same with high quality presentations on the same.
- Industry, Academia, Government, Global Collaborations as a key to success
To enable a vibrant ecosystem of innovation, AIM is promoting active collaboration between Government, Academia, Industry, Individuals and Societal focused NGOs. AIM has set up one of the largest Mentoring networks in India called Mentor India from the professional and industry community who can help mentor students at Atal Tinkering Labs and AIC Incubators / startups. Over 5000+ mentors have already registered and every operational ATL has already been allocated a mentor. Qualified mentors will be assigned to various AICs.
A number of industry leaders and corporate organizations have volunteered to adopt ATLs/AICs in their vicinities to ensure close mentoring and success of these initiatives.
AIM is also actively working on establishing collaborations with innovation systems and entities in other countries in APAC, Europe, UK, USA, Africa and Latin American Countries.