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Nurturing engineering and science startups

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Express Computer |  By Mohd Ujaley |  May 24, 2016 |

NI seeks to nurture engineering innovation and entrepreneurship by providing easy and affordable access to its software and hardware tools.

In technology adoption space, couple of trends are quite visible. First, technology companies are pushing for cloud adoption instead of on-premise deployment of a solution and second, there is huge focus on platform based approach in which a technology firm provides platform as a service. Recently, US-based National Instruments (NI), which operates in the measurement and automation space, and makes automated test equipment and virtual instrumentation software launched business incubator programme in India, primarily focused on providing its LabVIEW software to Indian startups and engineers for turning their ideas into practice, and also announced the expansion of the R&D centre.  According to company officials, both these initiatives are aimed at catalysing the existing startup ecosystem in India and ensuring the access to the top talent from India for National Instruments. “Both these initiatives aim to support the government’s Make in India program and enable Indian engineers to become global knowledge partners in driving innovation and development across industries and domains,” Scott Rust, senior vice president of Global R&D at National Instrument told EC. Adding that the expansion of the India R&D centre ensures that NI has access to the top talent instrumental in building a platform that meets the needs of all engineers and scientists today.

Basically, NI’s LabVIEW is a system-design platform software for visual programming language. It is used for a wide variety of applications and industries for different type of test, measurement, or control application. And, mostly it is preferred by engineers and scientists because it enables them different  tools in a single environment, ensuring that compatibility is as simple as drawing wires between functions. The platform works similar for engineers and scientists to what Android or iOs does  for smartphone makers – it gives them a ready-made, low-cost and customisable operating system for creating high-tech devices and tools.  So, if you are young start-up, have some idea around your domain expertise but do not know the programming and hardware designing, you can use LabVIEW software to create an application just as faster or higher as a team of mechanical hardware or software engineers, claims the company. “We strongly believe we can help the Indian startup ecosystem overcome technological hurdles and succeed faster,” said Rust. “Our platform provides the fastest way for engineers and scientist to access new technology and accelerate productivity, innovation, and discovery. By providing access to NI’s platform and technologies, we are investing in future innovators and contributing towards sustainable development in all markets that we serve, including India.”

According to company officials, through NI India’s business incubator program, NI will provide increased access to NI technology, technical training and support to shared local communities like domestic Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), academic incubation centers and startups. “For Make in India to succeed and sustain, manufacturing in India should bring more benefits to the table than just cost of labour. Companies can differentiate themselves by adopting smart technologies to reduce defects and improve quality,” says Jayaram Pillai, managing director, NI India. To extend its reach and maximise the impact of the business incubator program, company is partnering with mission-aligned local organisations, as well as experienced technology and business consultants, to provide support and assistance to the applicants. It is also aligning with the flagship initiative of the government – Start-up India, which strives to build an eco-system to support innovation, promote domestic startups and generate viable economic growth by generating large-scale employment opportunities.  On the question of startups culture in India which primarily seems to be driven around e-commerce,  Pillai says, there are group of startups, mostly app builders, who might be interested in short term goals but there are also lot of hardcore good engineering startups about whom we don’t hear often, but they work on cutting edge technology with lasting impact on the society. He gave an example of creation of a rapid milk chiller (RMC), which is now being deployed in the agricultural areas of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to eliminate waste of milk due to non-availability of refrigeration units and an uninterrupted power supply. “The rapid milk chiller uses a combination of software and reconfigurable hardware from National Instruments to eliminate much of the waste, drive up nutritional standards and improve the livelihoods of rural dairy farmers,” says Pillai.  –  Courtesy


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