Academia-Industry Training: from the lab to India
With the Academia-Industry Training India, the ZHAW-based Leading House South Asia and Iran is promoting young sciencepreneurs from Switzerland with an interest in the Indian market.
“The Academia-Industry Training India builds bridges between the startup ecosystems in Switzerland and India,” says Doris Hysek, Manager of the Leading House South Asia and Iran at the ZHAW. The programme is an innovation-based funding instrument of the Leading House that supports young researchers from Switzerland who are in the process of developing their research results into marketable, innovative products and solutions and who, in addition to the Swiss market, are also interested in the Indian market. The focus here is placed on applied research and innovation.
The Leading House has been mandated by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to implement the Academia-Industry Training (AIT) India programme. To do so, the Leading House is working together with renowned partners: Swissnex in India, Venturelab and the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce. The programme is aimed at young researchers from Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education as well as from the country’s research institutes and centres of technological excellence. “The AIT India allows sciencepreneurs to expand their international network, hone their entrepreneurial potential and engage specifically with the promising yet challenging Indian market,” says Hysek.
For the AIT, ten sciencepreneurs are selected within a competitive process. The centrepiece of the programme are the camp weeks that take place in Switzerland (Lausanne and Zurich) and India (Delhi and Bangalore). Working together with coaches and experts, the participants develop their projects and business plans while also refining their entrepreneurial profile.
“For us as a Swiss startup, the Indian market is a very interesting proposition in terms of its size.”
In country-specific workshops and during company visits, they get to learn more about the respective ecosystem. They establish contacts within industry as well as with other entrepreneurs and new partners. For example, Anand Verma, the founder and CEO of the cleantech startup Perovskia Solar based in the canton of Vaud, whose digital nanoprinting technology makes it possible to produce customised solar cells that can be integrated into any smart device design: “The week in India was very well organised. My participation has also allowed us to acquire four new customers. For us as a Swiss startup, the Indian market is a very interesting proposition in terms of its size.”
In several pitch sessions, the participants also refined their presentation technique with the aim of being able to convince potential investors further down the road. This also benefits them at the end of the programme when they compete for two innovation grants each worth CHF 10,000. The grants are awarded to the two most promising startups by a jury as part of a final pitch session. The aim is to promote the further development of their research into marketable products and solutions and support them in internationalising their business.
“We will use the grant to financially support our first monitoring work in India, which is to be carried out together with local partners.”
The most recent grants went to Perovskia Solar and Irmos Technologies, a startup whose software solution and low-cost sensors allow for the reliable monitoring of the structural condition of buildings and bridges. “We will use the grant to financially support our first monitoring work in India, which is to be carried out together with local partners,” explains Panagiotis Martakis, founder and CEO of the Zurich-based startup. Based on the successful completion of the pilot project, the startup anticipates that it will be able to expand its activities in India.
In July 2023, the Leading House will once again invite budding entrepreneurs to apply for the AIT India. Applications can be made by Master’s students, PhD students, postdocs and researchers from Swiss universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education as well as from research institutes and centres of technologicak excellence.