U of T opens the India Innovation Institute

affordable,” explained Shashi Tharoor, a member of the India Nation Congress party and renowned writer, who spoke at the launch event.

Tharoor emphasized that he hoped the Institute would not just look at technical innovation, but creative, social, service, and political innovation.

Tharoor cautioned not to underestimate the power of creative innovation. “Yoga, an ancient Indian art, is now mushrooming around the world, adapting itself to Western taste,” he said. “There isn’t a small American town today without yoga class or a yoga clinic.”

Tharoor said he hopes the Institute does not take “innovation” too literally, so that all kinds of innovation can continue.

“We bring together [a collaboration] from engineering, medicine, law, arts, and social sciences to look at the processes of innovation, understand them better, and put them in a global perspective,” said Janie Stein, the director of the Munk School.

Stein said that while the Institute does not grant degrees, it is a place for researchers, students, academics, and post-doctorates from across the university to work on innovation.

“India is probably the leader of the world in frugal innovation. It’s an interesting concept for Canadians,” Stein said. She hopes the Canadian healthcare system can benefit from frugal innovation.

“We are about to renegotiate the health accord in 2014. It’s probably our biggest area of public expenditure. Think about a model that allows us to deliver services and devices that would be one twentieth of their current cost,” said Stein.

Dilip Soman, the inaugural director of the Institute, said he wants the Institute to go beyond scientific and technical innovation. He would like the institute to have ties with academic institutions in India, industry partners, governments, and policy boards.

Soman says the Institute is already involved in a keystone three-way biotechnology collaboration with Canada, India, and China, and is currently looking for new partners at U of T and globally.

The Institute is up and running, and Stein says that for innovation, “the timeline is now”.

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