With colleges across India closing down in March 2020, students found themselves whiling away time trying out the latest trends on social media or exploring a wide variety of online games. Dr. Mahima Mishra, 6 months shy of finishing her internship at MCODS Mangalore, was no different. However, she soon grew bored sitting at home and that’s when she began questioning the frenzy behind aerosols.
Taking an idea forward
A problem-solver from a young age, she brainstormed possible solutions, with the help of friends having more technical knowledge. Once she had a basic idea, she approached Dr. Arun Shanbhag, Chief Innovation Officer, MAHE. He encouraged her to participate in the MAHE COVID challenge, which her team proceeded to win. From there on, it was nothing but success for Dr. Mahima and her team. On 19th May 2021, they were declared to be one of the winning teams of the National Innovation Contest, which saw over 9000 teams across India participating. Dr. Mahima and her team are currently in the process of getting their idea patented- a process which, she says, could take years.
Students and Innovation today
When asked about the wide disparity in innovation in engineering colleges versus medical colleges, she attributes it to the vast syllabus and packed schedule of students in Health Science courses. However, she points out that with enough motivation and support from colleges, medical students can come up with something amazing.
She highlights an initiative of Dr. Arun Shanbhag- IDex community, a channel on Discord where students can stay on top of all the upcoming events like hackathons and collaborate with people across different colleges. Innovation, for her, is a tool that makes life easy. She believes that ideas come when we understand and find out the necessities of society.
Teamwork, Mentors and other Challenges
Dr. Mahima emphasizes the importance of working towards a common cause with people from diverse domains. During her project she faced a lot of challenges, especially on the technical end. One such challenge involved submitting a business model for her product. This being completely new territory, she consulted experts to help her understand the financial aspect of her project which helped her make a business plan.
Talking about mentors, Dr. Mahima expresses gratitude for the constant guidance of Dr. Arun Shanbhag. He supported her throughout her journey – from teaching her how to use Excel to believing that her innovation could go beyond the MAHE COVID challenge, he believed in the ideas that others called “crazy”.
Research experience and Support for aspiring innovators
When asked about her past experience in the world of research, she stresses on how there isn’t a fixed chronological order with academic research and innovation. In her case, the innovation came first and she validated the idea by conducting research and getting perspectives from experts as well as the general public.
Dr. Mahima’s journey of taking her innovation further involved applying for the NIDHI Entrepreneurs-in-Residence programme, a fellowship programme to inspire innovators and minimize the risk involved in pursuing start-ups; and selecting her incubation centre as MUTBI. These provided her with extensive support ranging from stipends to office spaces. For innovators just beginning their journey, she recommends opting for a government-funded programme to minimize risk and ensure support from a trusted source.
For her plans for the upcoming months, Dr. Mahima is waiting to decide whether to pursue her postgraduation or start her company, but she wants to continue tackling problems in the healthcare industry from the lens of an insider.
For Full interview, please check out our video library
Few Important Resources:
Open for everyone (MAHE and Non-MAHE):
Innovation Centre MAHE (Telegram Group):http://bit.do/innovatemahe
IDeX Channel (Discord App):https://discord.gg/TV33GCASeZ
Open for all IIC Institutes (includes MAHE):
National Innovation Contest by MoE:https://nic.mic.gov.in/ (Next round yet to be announced)
For all students who have graduated and are aspiring to be an Entrepreneur,
You an apply for NIDHI EIR Grant, an initiative by DST, Gov. of India http://www.nidhi-eir.in