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Technology Review identifies Top 18 Indian innovators under 35

Thursday March 10, 2011 , 7 min Read

Technology Review
  • Innovator of the year award for Chennai’s Ajit Narayanan
  • Bhubaneswar’s RoboticWares’ founder Gautam Kumar is the social Innovator of the year
  • Alefia Merchant is the humanitarian of the year

Eighteen young men and women, all under the age of 35 are a part of the list of hottest technology innovators from India. Coming from a wide range of fields these innovators, including two women, are part of the prestigious India TR35 honour by MIT’s Technology Review India.

These inventers will showcase their innovations and share podium with eminent scientists and academics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the MIT Technology Review’s emerging technologies conference, EmTech India, at Bangalore starting March 22.

"Majority of the 18 young men and women chosen for India TR35 2011 have developed technological solutions to common problems faced by people. India TR35 list acknowledges their exceptional technical contributions that hold great promise to shape our future,” says Narayanan Suresh, Group Editor of Technology Review India.

Technology Review has handpicked three from the Top 18 Indian innovators– Alefia Merchant, Ajit Narayanan and Gautam Kumar - for special honours.

echnology Review India’s ‘Innovator of the Year’, Ajit Narayanan, 29, exemplifies the spirit of innovation in India. Toiling for a few years at a startup, Invention Labs Engineering, incubated at the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Madras, Narayanan has developed an alternate communication system for millions of people who remain incommunicado with the society due to their disabilities. Avaz, (voice in Hindi) is the tool which uses a variety of software and hardware to provide a voice to these muted millions using just their muscle movements.

Another celebrated innovator, a young medical student, Alefia Merchant, 32 is pursuing medical studies in Canada. Alefia, during her short stint with Bangalore-based eye hospital, Narayana Nethralaya developed an easy method to spot eye disorders in young children. Millions of Indian children from poor families do not have access to cost-effective diagnostic tools to detect their vision threatening conditions before the age of five.

Merchant used the images from digital cameras to look for vision threatening symptoms. The simplicity of the method provides a handy tool in the hands of health workers in remote corners of India and perhaps many other medically underserved regions in the world. For this amazing invention the jury named Alefia Merchant, the Humanitarian of the Year, from the perspective of technology innovation.

Gautam Kumar, 26, from Bhubaneswar was named as the Social Innovator of the year. Most urban homes in India use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supplied in cylinders for cooking. Leakages from the cylinder are common and thousands of people die every year due to cylinder blasts caused by leakages in kitchens.

Kumar has developed a simple gas detection system using a sensor and communication module to issue warning to user’s registered mobile phone. Called Suraksha (safety in Hindi), it is another innovation that should improve safety levels in millions of Indian homes in the coming years.

India TR35 list presented in the March 2011 issue of Technology Review India recognizes the game-changing achievements of young inventors from diverse areas covering biotechnology and medicine, nanotechnology and materials, computer & electronics hardware, energy, Internet and web and software.

The 2011 India TR 35 list includes

For Biotechnology & Medicine……

Alefia Merchant, University of Montreal, Montreal named as Humanitarian of the Year for developing a novel way of screening children as part of community pediatric ophthalmology project at Narayana Nethralaya

Sameer Jain, MGV Dental College, Nashik for creating an innovative root canal machine

For Computer & Electronics Hardware……

Ajit Narayanan, Invention Labs Engineering, Chennai named Innovator of the Year for creating Voice device for people with speech disabilities

Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Microsoft Research, Bangalore for creating a hybrid paper, pen, and digital slate solution for a low-cost digital record management system by

Fahad Azad, Robosoft Systems, Mumbai for bridling a duct cleaning robot to improve quality of the air we breathe

Gautam Kumar, RoboticWares, Bhubaneswar named Social Innovator of the year for developing system to detect gas leakages

Pulkit Gaur, Gridbots, Ahmedabad for inventing underwater robot to clean tanks and reduce water wastage

Srinivasan Jayaraman, Tata Consultancy Services, Bangalore for devising a secure system using human ECG to authenticate, identify and diagnose

For Energy……

Harit Soni, Ecolibrium Energy, Ahmedabad for creating smart grid technology to optimize the use of electricity in India

Sanjoy Ghosh, Logica India, Bangalore for building a device that wirelessly monitors and reports vehicular emission in real-time

For Internet & Web……

Manav Bhatia, Alcatel-Lucent, Bangalore for securing the Internet service provider’s routing network

Sushant Sinha, Indian Kanoon, Bangalore for developing a search engine for Indian laws and court judgments

For Nanotechnology & Materials……

Krishna Gopal Singh, EnNatura Technology Ventures, Delhi for creating ecofriendly printing ink that reduces harmful emissions by almost 99 percent

Mayur M. Sadawana, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai for inventing point-of-care multi-analyte sensor

For Software……

Akash Lal, Microsoft Research, Bangalore for improving software quality using automated verification

Akshay Shah, iWeb Technology Solutions, Mumbai for creating a business process management generator which can create applications on the fly

For Telecommunications……

Deepak Ravindran, Innoz Technologies, Gurgaon for creating a mobile based search engine to deliver information on any topic

Sagar Bedmutha, Optinno Mobitech, Pune for developing an intelligent anti-spamming software for mobile phones

Technology Review India Editor Ch. Srinivas Rao who led the project says each of the shortlisted 60 entries from nearly 200 odd entries was evaluated by at least three jury members. “It is heartening to see an increase in technology innovation in India”

The 2011 class of India TR35 winners have all demonstrated either development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve problems from the shores of India.

Technology Review India has followed the same elaborate process that its Cambridge, USA based parent adopts in the selection of its winners in the US. Technology Review’s deputy editor Brian Bergstein who has been one of the key members to evaluate the global TR 35 program, went beyond his brief to evaluate all the shortlisted entries.

Since 1999, when the historical 112-year old magazine from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, began the custom of honouring Top 20 innovators, the TR 35 list has become a coveted honour for young innovators.  Several Indians have been on the global list.

For the India TR35 list, the value of the 200 nominees’ work was assessed by a 24-person jury of eminent researchers, technologists from diverse areas based on the likely impact of the work on industry and society, as well as its ingenuity, timeliness and several other parameters.

2011 India TR35 Jury Members

Aloknath De, Director and Country Manager, ST-Ericsson India, and Adjunct Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi; Ambuj D. Sagar, Vipula and Mahesh Chaturvedi Professor of Policy Studies, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi ; Aravind Chinchure, General Manager – Innovations, Reliance Innovation Leadership Centre, Reliance Industries; Balamuralidhar P., Head, TCS Innovation Labs – Bangalore, Tata Consultancy Services; Ferose VR, Managing Director, SAP Labs India; Gautam Biswas Director, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Durgapur;GBS Bindra, Global Innovation Director and Managing Director, Logica India; Harshal J. Shah, CEO and Founder, Reliance Venture Asset Management; Jaswinder S. Ahuja, Corporate Vice President and Managing Director - India, Cadence Design Systems; JN Roy, Vice President, R&D, Solar Semiconductor; Madhusudan V., Atre President and Managing Director, Applied Materials India; Neeraj Paliwal, Vice President and NXP India Country Manager, NXP Semiconductors; Peeyush Ranjan, Managing Director – R&D, Google India; Pushpito K. Ghosh,Director, Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; S. Sadagopan, Director, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore; Sameer Mehta, Cofounder and Director, Atlas Advisory; Shankar MV, Innovation Differentiation Leader, Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab, Honeywell India; Shantikumar Nair, Dean of Research, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, and Head, Amrita Centre for Nanosciences, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences; Subrahmanyam Goparaju, Senior Vice President and Head, Software Engineering Technology Labs, Infosys Technologies; Sudhir Dixit. Director, Hewlett-Packard Labs India;Sumitesh Das, Chief, Global Research Programs, Tata Steel; I. Vijaya Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Wipro;

Wido Menhardt, Chief Executive Officer, Philips Innovation Center, Bangalore, Philips Electronics India; Yalla Veera Prakash, Vice President - R&D Acme Telepower.