Did you know that while flus and fevers have become more common, no new antibiotic has been developed in the last 55 years? Until now that is; a breakthrough is imminent with a new class of antibiotics to treat superbugs. What about companies which 3D print human organs, or companies which are working to make space travel as cheap as air travel, or even companies developing artificial floating islands which can be used to harness solar energy, offshore farming, and even habitation? All these are being made possible by companies based in Bengaluru.

With these nuggets of interesting info, Sandhya Mendonca set the pace for the session that followed on innovation in Bengaluru. Hosted by the iBrowse book club at the Catholic Club, stories of innovation featured in Innovate Bengaluru and more were discussed at a special panel discussion on July 26.

Moderated by Sameera Fernandes, the scintillating panel featured Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary, Planning, Programme Monitoring & Statistics Department, Government of Karnataka, Takayuki Kitagawa, Consul General of Japan, Parasuraman TR, Deputy MD, Toyota Industries Engine India, and Sandhya Mendonca, Founder, MD & Chief Editor, Raintree Media.

Mendonca introduced the 200-page hardbound book featuring the top 100 innovators of the city. “I am just a channel to communicate all these stories about the wonderful things that people from our city are doing”, she said. Innovate Bengaluru is an innovation in itself – heralded as the future of MediaTech, it is an AR-enabled book + web series. Readers can watch the stories come to life with the Augmented Reality videos and experience the future of media in this coffee table book.

Dr. Shalini Rajneesh with Sameera Fernandes, Parasuraman TR & Sandhya Mendonca

Innovation has to be efficient and effective, but it should be sustainable, surmised Dr. Shalini Rajneesh. A veteran of driving policy innovations through her various roles in several government bodies, her legacy is Sakala, a citizen-friendly administrative initiative which combines all government departments into a single electronic platform to ensure accountability and speedier grievance redressal. (Read more in BEST OF Bengaluru Innovation Edition) She currently helms the innovation initiatives in Smart City Tumakuru. “Innovation has to be for the larger public interest,” she says, “We should encourage those who are innovating, and also have the mindset to accept these innovations in our daily lives.”

Parasuraman said main innovation lies in understanding the problem. “95 percent of the solution lies in understanding the problem”. He spoke about Toyota’s social innovation initiatives such as the ABCD (A Behavioral Change Demonstration) which has lead to more than 7000 households building toilets in the Ramanagara district. (Experience the story in the AR-enabled Innovate Bengaluru)

“Bengaluru always had good human resources, good infrastructure, and industry-friendly government policies. This is why Toyota came to Bengaluru 20 years ago, and many other companies have also moved here,” said Takayuki Kitagawa. These factors have fuelled Bengaluru’s growth to one of the top three innovation clusters in the world today, he said.

“What makes Bengaluru special is the robust ecosystem consisting of academia, industry and government. It was the first to roll out a multi-sector startup policy and an innovation policy in 2015,” agreed Mendonca. “Bengaluru has fantastic enablers which encourage innovators. SID in IISc incubates over 20 startups, we have C-CAMP in the Bangalore Bio Cluster, Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre, IIIT-B Innovation Centre – there are more than 6000 startups in Bengaluru”