Manual on Technology Facilitation for District Officials

Introduction:
Enabling faster socio-economic development, technology, is recognized today as one of the major resource in the country. Focus thus is on innovation and innovation that is employable and affordable.

Technological needs for the society vary and largely include food, water, health, energy, ecology, and environment. Several technologies that were developed by the players in Strategic and Civilian sectors have been utilized for economic development gainfully. With a few exceptions, these organizations operate within the ambit of pre-determined mandate, inflexible HR and financial policies, significant disconnect with the market, and an inherent tendency of attribution. Most of these factors deter a smooth cross-sector functioning, thus driving the need for effective cross-flow functioning mechanisms.

The national policy framework for technology is cantered on the Technology Policy Statement. The statement mentions about the need of technological development and application to industrial and social sectors. It further highlights the need for technology acquisition, absorption and transfer among diverse sectors in order to ensure that India attains technological self-reliance.

Need for Technology Facilitation
Gaining from the fruits of technology transfer is usually restricted to the large industries. Seldom are MSMEs geared to leverage from technology. Ironically however, MSME could actually be large absorbers of technology in order to improve their competitiveness.

It is thus important to groom up stakeholders in the MSME sector in the use of technology. Such a grooming would serve multiple purposes:

The stakeholders would become aware about the use and applicability of technology in their business needs

Energizing the MSME of West Bengal through Technology:
Knowledge, information and access to appropriate technologies are among the chief challenges before the MSME sector. The District Industries Centres (DICs) have been identified as the principal entities to bridge this gap through the Technology Facilitation Centre thereby driving the local pathways for global development.

The Government of West Bengal in partnership with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India has established an MSME Technology Facilitation Centre (TFC) in the premises of CSIR-Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata. The Centre is aimed at facilitating creation of a sustainable ecosystem of micro, small and medium enterprises to drive the economic prosperity of the State by leveraging the prowess of the knowledge institutions (universities, R&D institutions).

Operationally, the TFC is slated to function through a hub and spokes model, wherein the hub is located at the CSIR-CGCRI and the spokes shall comprise of the individual DICs (see graphics).

Through this mechanism, the DICs would evolve as a single window information resource in the areas of technological demand and supply; a networking hub connecting industry, knowledge institutions and the government; and a one-stop help desk for the local entrepreneurs in the respective districts.

The entire TFC system is slated to function through an ICT enabled mechanism being anchored by a dedicated web portal managed at the hub at CSIR-CGCRI. Information available through the portal shall include (but not restricted to) those of technologies, skills, IPRs, financing options and institutions. Additionally, it would provide a platform for interaction between technology providers and technology seekers in cyber space.

At a recently concluded meeting between the TFC hub team and all the DICs, some of the action points decided towards the role of TFC in energizing the DICs include the following:
  • District specific information support
  • Skill development sessions in identified technological domains
  • Facilitation of technology adoption through mentoring
  • Dissemination and outreach through exhibitions, clinics and workshops at district level
  • Facilitating IPR protection, particularly geographical indications (GIs) in the districts
  • Facilitating local endemic production such as handicrafts and textiles through appropriate technological enablement

A schematic representation of operation the TFC in hub and spokes model involving the DICs is given below:

Identified Technology Sectors:

Technologies could be instrumental for MSME in bolstering business opportunity and accelerating societal development in some of the domains as follows:

  1. Water - providing safe drinking water; purification and recycling of water;
  2. Food and Agro processing - improving shelf life of food; creating energy foods and instant food; value addition to food e.g. making of pickles etc
  3. Clean environment - rural and urban sanitation; eco-friendly industrial processes; conservation of natural resources
  4. Machinery - reduction in drudgery at work; scale-up of industrial processes
  5. Waste management - creating wealth from waste; waste recycling

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the role of the district officials in Technology Facilitation?
IDOs would perform as front end vehicles to disseminate the mandate and role of Technology Facilitation Centre in their respective districts/places of activity. They would brief the rural stakeholders on the usefulness of technology, give them some overview about the availability of some of the major technologies and also assist them to fill up the questionnaire for communication with the TFC hub. They would also attempt to understand the problems faced by the rural folk and communicate the same to the TFC Hub through the respective DICs. On a whole therefore, the IDOs would facilitate penetration and adoption of technology in the villages and clusters.

Who would be the targeted beneficiaries in the Technology Facilitation programme?
The targeted beneficiaries of the technology facilitation programme would be the rural entrepreneurs, cluster artisans, farmers etc. Small enterprises, village associations and institutions, common facility centres and other government/semi-government establishments set up to energize clusters would also be benefited from the programme.

How does one communicate with the Technology Facilitation Centre?
Communication can be through person or through letter or Internet. Prospective stakeholders can approach their nearest District Industries Centre that will be equipped with information and also have the infrastructure such as Internet and computers. The officials of the district industries centres and the industry development officers would assist the entrepreneurs to compile and document their problems and pass on the same to the TFC.
Occasional interactive sessions would also be organized by the TFC to understand problems. And finally, the entrepreneurs can also approach the TFC at Kolkata.

Does the Technology Facilitation Centre provide funds for technology development and/or adoption?
No. The TFC is an information dissemination platform. For securing funds, the entrepreneur has to apply separately to various government and non-government sources. TFC may help them to generate the applications and also provide information required to apply for such grants.

What is the link between the districts and the Technology Facilitation Centre?
The link between TFC and the districts is through the District Industries Centres. The TFC would also produce district status papers that would be regularly updated.

How would the Technology Facilitation Centre address the issue of the stakeholders in the districts?
Issues would be addressed through consultation and networking with the prospective solution providers. Once it is ascertained that the issue of the stakeholders is actually that of technology, the TFC would try to source the solution from the network of CSIR laboratories. It would also organize and facilitate training for stakeholders. Once the appropriate technology is identified, TFC would put the entrepreneur/cluster in touch with the technology provider directly so that their problems can be solved.

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