Saturday, 10 March 2018

IIT-Kanpur-SIIC Notches Platinum At ISGF Innovation Awards

IIT-Kanpur- SIIC wins a prestigious Platinum award at the ISGF Innovation Awards 2018 --under Smart Incubator of the Year category.

By Ratneshwar Thakur Published in The Hawk

(SIIC-IIT-Kanpur Team members)

SIDBI Innovation & Incubation Centre (SIIC) at IIT Kanpur has picked up a prestigious Platinum award at the ISGF Innovation Awards 2018 - under Smart Incubator of the Year category. 

ISGF - India Smart Grid Forum is a PPP initiative of Government of India. The ISGF Innovation Awards has been designed to recognize individuals and organizations, to encourage them to do groundbreaking innovations in various sectors.

SIIC was nominated for providing support to new start-ups and young entrepreneurs in terms of innovation, incubation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialization. 

So far, to list the success story-- SIIC has successfully incubated and mentored 94 startups, disbursed seed funds of 50 Crores. It has collaborated with organizations like NEN, SUM, and IIMA. In the successive year it has filed 422 patents, and out of which 60 patents has been commercialized worth US$ 350,000.

In the year 2000, SIDBI Innovation & Incubation Centre (SIIC) at IIT Kanpur was set up in collaboration with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to foster innovation, research and entrepreneurial activities in technology-related areas. 

SIIC is dedicated to provide incubation facilities and services to potential entrepreneurs to convert their innovative ideas into commercially viable products. SIIC incubates ventures in all engineering, science and social science disciplines. Some of the graduated or current SIIC companies are now recognized brands in India and abroad. 

Apart from the depth of IIT Kanpur intellectual pool, coming from the faculty members and students and world-class infrastructure, regular events like entrepreneurial talk series, workshops and seminars offer SIIC incubatees an edge that is unparalleled in the country. So far, it is supported by SIDBI, DIT, DST, MSME, BIRAC, and DSIR to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.

Dr. Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, member of IIT-Kanpur faculty and one of the mentors of SIIC, says, “This award is a recognition of 15 years of hard work of the whole SIIC team, for providing support and mentorship to young entrepreneurs and start-ups to help them establish their technology business ventures.”

Since its inception, the center has grown tremendously and has emerged as a prestigious incubator in India. For more information on SIIC and support and services they provide, click here or contact at

Friday, 9 March 2018

Looking To Fruit Flies To Understand The Biology Of Taste

Scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) have discovered a single neuron – interneuron- which enables fruit fly to avoid eating toxic substances. 

By Ratneshwar Thakur Published in India Science Wire

(NCBS- Bangalore)

Have you ever wondered why candies taste so good and pills so bitter? It seems the secret lies in one pair of brain cells. At least this is the case in fruit flies, which serve as a model for understanding human genetics.

Insects don’t open their mouth to avoid poisonous or toxic substances. Understanding why this happens may provide clues about taste buds and their link to the brain. 

Scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) have discovered a single neuron – interneuron- which enables fruit fly to avoid eating toxic substances. They have shown how only a set of brain cells reacts to unpleasant substances. Insects have sensors for bitter substances and the moment they come in contact of bitter substances, these cells are activated. Interestingly insects quickly learn this and show a very peculiar response of not opening their mouth. It is similar to how toddlers reacting to bitter medical syrups. 

It has been found that interneuron is involved in communicating bitter taste response from sensory neurons using small thread-like connections. The results of the study have been published in the journal Current Biology.

These findings can help understand how humans learn about food and environment. Interneurons create neural circuits to enable communication between sensory neurons and the central nervous system. They also play important role in the functions like reflexes, neuronal oscillations, and neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain.

The group at NCBS is focused on study of progressive development of sensory and locomotory organs of the fruit fly, especially muscles, nerves, neural circuits and their behaviors. “This timely addition of information would help researchers to understand whether fly uses different neurons for different type of taste substances or it has a common circuit for all,” said Ali Asgar Bohra, a member of the research team.

“Even sugar fails to entice insects when these brain cells are active. These cells are on the top of the hierarchy that decides whether to eat or starve. In many insects, they have an extensible tubular sucking mouthpart or organ which is known as proboscis. In fruit fly these bitter-sensitive interneurons can essentially suppress proboscis extension reflex to appetitive stimuli, such as sugar and water,” Bohra explained. 

The study, he said, will let scientists decipher the fly brain circuit of bitter/ toxic taste processing. Since the taste perception has similar modalities in fly and mammals including humans, it could help understand how the human brain differentiates between sweet and bitter taste. It may also be useful in understanding how mosquitoes sense environment particularly chemical substances, and control them using better repellents.

The research team Ali Asgar Bohra, K. VijayRaghavan (both NCBS), Benjamin R. Kallman (University of California, USA), and Heinrich Reichert (University of Basel, Switzerland). This work was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

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