24 March 2022 15:04:48 IST

Students ‘InUnity’ to tackle local problems

Shobith Mallya and Sawan J Kotian, students from Sahyadri College of Engineering, working in a cashew factory on their Effinity ERP project as part of InUnity Mangaluru.

Bunking my online class and joining InUnity Mangaluru’s boot camp was one of the best choices I have ever made,” says a confident 13-year-old Rishon Fernandes, an 8 th standard student. Rishon and his teammate, Shodhan S Moolya, from Sahyadri College of Engineering, are now working on a solution for the easy transfer of a patient from wheelchair to bed, and to make efficient use of wheelchairs in a home setting through their project, ‘Mobitronics.’

Fernandes’ projects in school were out of his own volition. “I never had the network of diverse people to help me in building it. InUnity has given me a structure and process to build solutions and help people,” he adds. 

The high school and college students from engineering and other educational institutions in the region are part of the pilot cohort of the ‘InUnity Mangaluru’ initiative.

It is a four-month programme that aims at finding solutions to the local challenges with the involvement of industry, educational institutions and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students with an inclination towards entrepreneurship or problem solving come together to build solutions with business potential. 

Accelerating healthcare

Take the case of Mohammad Anees, a student from Yenepoya Pharmacy College in Mangaluru, InUnity helped him accelerate the project on the development of applicator pens for drug delivery in skin diseases such as warts, which he was already working on.

Mohammad Anees | Photo Credit: HS Manjunath | The Hindu

Though warts can be treated by applying formic acid, excess application of this highly reactive chemical leads to skin burn. The local hospitals do not prefer the imported applicator as it costs around ₹15,000. 

Anees says InUnity helped him accelerate the speed of work on his project ‘MedDrop’. He also came across ideas on how to start from scratch and take a product to market. He is being assisted by Aganya BL, another pharmacy student. 

Focus on agri-biz 

During the initial days of InUnity, Shobith Mallya and Sawan J Kotian, engineering students from Sahyadri College, visited some local industries to understand their problems.

In a visit to a cashew unit, this team found a huge gap between SMEs and their digitisation processes. Their project, ‘Effinity ERP’, aims at solving the problems related to efficiency and streamlining the processes in the cashew industry. 

Mallya says InUnity helped the team with market access and an industry connection. It also helped him learn about what goes into building a business model and why companies take so much time to build one perfect business model. 

The team of Sathwik Shailesh Kumar and Shalvian John D’Souza, engineering students from Sahyadri, is trying to make mushroom cultivation more affordable to small farmers. 

Sathwik Shailesh Kumar said that small farmers find it difficult to cultivate mushrooms due to the unavailability of a small-scale set-up for it. Their project ‘Praful’, which aims at setting up IoT-enabled micro-grow rooms for mushroom cultivation, has set up such a unit in the college for the validation of the business model.  

“InUnity helped show us how a business works and what is  the minimum that a person should know to become an entrepreneur,” he says.

Solving local challenges

Johnson Tellis, founder of InUnity LLP, said the whole idea was to allow the students of the region to solve local problems rather than waiting for somebody else to do it. “We don’t want to let go even a single child who has that entrepreneurial potential. We want students to take up entrepreneurship as a career,” he said. 

Academic institutions, CII and Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) have come together in this initiative. InUnity LLP is facilitating all of them, which was missing in places such as Mangaluru, he explains.

“There is potential for such initiatives in places such as Mangaluru that has both technical and non-technical educational institutions, MSMEs, and a host of challenges to solve,” says Gaurav Hegde, Chairman, CII, Mangaluru.