News Minute : How frugal innovations of rural Telangana are set to boost state’s startup culture

Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC) is focused on identifying frugal innovators in rural Telangana and creating a market for their innovated products.

There is no dearth of innovative ideas in Telangana, you will find them in every district if you look for them, says Nikita T, an innovation fellow with Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC). The 24-year-old is focused on identifying frugal innovators in rural Telangana and creating a market for their innovated products.

“Did you know that a man in Telangana built a cotton plucker with a vacuum pump and robotic arm to pluck the cotton with materials sourced through scrap? He is a marginal farmer who does not have enough money to hire agricultural labourers to harvest his cotton. Another man made an affordable mini tractor for himself, which is now being sold across Telangana. Some 10 years ago, another man from Karimnagar made a cryogenic engine that can work on any fuels some,” Nikita goes on with stories of frugal innovations, where ordinary people devise low-cost solutions for their problems, often born out of necessity.

She identified these local innovators as part of the Telangana Startup India yatra held earlier this year. “No one knows that these innovators even exist,” she adds.

The Startup India Telangana yatra was a central government initiative under Startup India that was executed through TSIC in the state. The team roped in 50 rural innovators and took them on a roadshow across 12 districts.

“We wanted the rural crowd to know about these innovators as these frugal innovations are more relatable to the rural crowd,” says Nikita, adding, “The roadshow was a success and a few of the innovators walked away with business deals.”

Apart from relying on word of mouth to create a market, the team of young innovation fellows is also trying to get rural Telangana acquainted with the startup culture in the state, to open up market access outside the state as well.

“Now, many of them have their products ready; but the question that arises here is, whom do they approach to sell and how do they approach. These rural innovators are passionate about solving their problem, but they do not know how to take the business forward,” says Nikita

This is where the Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations or the AGNIi initiative, under Startup India, is expected to play a pivotal role. AGNIi helps the innovators with product commercialisation and connect them to MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) and markets where their innovated products have a demand, says the TSIC team.

“If there is a market and their product solves a problem in a unique way, then that is innovation. Here, the farmers have an innovative idea and there is a rural market for those innovated products; it is a matter of giving them access to the right markets,” Nikita added.

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