Industry Day : Interview with Mr. Venkatesh Valluri

Mr. Venkatesh Valluri is the founder and Chairman of Valluri Technology Accelerators and Valluri Change Foundation. Valluri Technology Accelerators focuses on building solutions in the areas of Energy, Water, Environment and Pollution, Sanitation & Waste and Healthcare through convergence of multiple high end domain technologies by partnering with leading global and national organizations As a key note speaker for the Industry Day, he will be talking about the growing need of smart cities and the programmes that are underway. In an interview he talks about how events like Industry Day can weave a stronger collaboration between Academia and the Industry.

How do you see events like Industry Day forge better Academia-Industry collaborations?


For long, I believe that the Industry- Academia interaction and collaboration has not been as successful as it should be. The Industry has been importing technology as it has not seen major strides in innovation emerging from the Academia. On the other side, the Academia is focusing on research that has had marginal impact on providing solutions for improving the living standards of the Indian society.

The Industry tends to focus on growth and prefers to launch products and solutions that are available and tested elsewhere in the world. This has driven to what I would call as "Product" driven market creation. What India needs is "Market" driven product or solution creation. We must create products and solutions which are relevant to our markets and at the right price points.

Therefore it is imperative that the foundations of the Industry-Academia collaboration must be based on application research and development which has a direct impact on the society. The services is a big component of the Indian Industry today. Though this can be a focus area but we must look at applications which have a direct impact on creating products using our manufacturing base. The new technologies such as Material science, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Intelligence must get impregnated when we do application development. Institutes such as IITs must take the lead on these and evolve a hub and network with Tier II Institutes so that solutions can be developed.

Therefore this initiative of setting up an Industry Day for better engagement between the Industry and the Academia is very welcome.


Please give a brief about the subject on which you will be talking. In the field of smart cities specifically what are the major challenges in collaboration with academia? How can these be overcome?


I will provide an overview of our experiences in the space of urban rejuvenation and smart city programmes that are currently underway in the country. There are many challenges which cities face and this could be a point of discussion during the session. The entire space of smart cities demands that we utilise the existing infrastructure effectively by deploying additional technologies and solutions. The present focus on how to develop smart cities needs a change. The program in itself is a major departure from the past and it expects that cities will become more efficient by focusing on areas such as pollution, water, energy, infrastructure, waste, traffic and others.

Though, this is true but we lack the ability to design the requisite integrated technology models and their effective implementation. Deep domain expertise is lacking and the solutions requested are very broad. Each city has a specific priority and the priority has to be addressed using the appropriate technology and cost models. In addition, one thing that is completely missing is the ability of the city to predict as to what measures it needs to take or plan for the future growth of the city. The technologies we currently deploy are to a large extent either imported or are not suitable for the Indian market. Indian market is an important subject of discussion and academic institutes can participate aggressively. From designing sensors for data acquisition to developing solutions based on the data acquired, all these should be future priorities of the academic Institutes.


How do you see the academia helping the industry in technological intervention or CSR initiatives with reference to smart cities?


Academia can play a very important role in bridging the gap in developing solutions using the industry CSR initiatives. The 2% CSR rule implemented by the Government is a positive initiative. However, the Industry approach to CSR is very fragmented as it has been unable to rally around large causes that can improve the life of the citizens in India. The Academia should take the lead in defining broad initiatives on which they would like to work and develop innovative solutions. These should be conveyed to the Industry in a structured manner. There should be specific programs defined under these initiatives under which Industry can participate through deployment of their CSR funds.

For example, the broad areas could be Environment, Water, Waste, Energy, Transport, Traffic, Healthcare and many others. There should be very specific programs defined under each of these areas. The Industry should be allowed to choose the area under which they want to work and contribute financial and technical skills through their CSR commitments. This way we will have a focused and a converged approach in developing solutions for the country.