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InSIC Webinar 2020

Report from the first InSIC webinar that took place in November 2020

InSIC conducted their first Webinar on Ideas and Innovations on Alternative Energy based technological solutions for rural areas on 18th November, 2020. Some 65 participants from several Academic Institutions, Research institutes, Social scientific Voluntary organizations, Industries, Individuals and students were present during the webinar. 

The webinar started off with Prof. S.P GonChaudhuri, Chairman, InSIC introducing the objectives and role of InSIC to the participants of the webinar. Prof. GonChaudhuri stressed on the importance of Solar powered small scale and low-cost innovations in improving energy access and enhancement of living conditions of beneficiaries dwelling in the remote parts of the world. >

The introductory session was followed by Mr. Risto Isomäki’s welcome address. Mr. Risto Isomäki, who is the head of the Small Grants Committee of InSIC, welcomed all the participants along with the speakers and explained about the need for the Small Grants Programme, how the participants can benefit from this webinar and from the InSIC second call for proposals. He elaborated on the need for affordable innovations for the poorer section of the society and shared some of his experiences with the audience also. He informed the participants about the first call for grants in which an Indian NGO called ‘Mitraniketan’ qualified in the selection process and was awarded with the small grants fund which they are currently utilizing to develop a unique convection based Solar Dryer for drying vegetables and fruits. 

Mr. Richik Ghosh Thakur, Editor of InSIC website, member of Small Grants Committee of InSIC and also moderator of the webinar explained the participants on how to access the InSIC website, how to contribute to the InSIC website forum by writing and commenting on articles, how to check for the funding opportunities in the website and other sections of the website in detail including membership section and application for the same. The participants showed interest in becoming members of InSIC and also were keen to apply in the InSIC second call for grants. 

This was followed by the presentation from the speakers of the webinar. There were three speakers for the webinar Dr.Sunil Agarwal, Scientist E, SEED Division, Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, Dr. Gufran Hashmi from the University of Oulu, Finland and Dr.Reghu Rama Das who is the director of Mitraniketan, Kerala. 

The first speaker in this webinar was Dr. Sunil Agarwal who presented several technical innovations done by core support organisations of the SEED (Science for Equity, Empowerment and Development) division in The Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India which are changing the lifestyle and scenario of different villages of India. While some innovations focus on providing light to rural houses, some are based on solar powered water heating technologies, food processing, solar drying, water purification and agro based technologies which have made a huge impact by being able to curtail biggest challenges in rural India. The participants interacted with Dr. Agarwal and asked him a lot of questions regarding the core support program and about the technological innovations done by them. 

Prof. Gufran Hashmi joined the Webinar with his presentation on perovskite solar cells and his groundbreaking discovery and research in the field. Many of the participants in the webinar who were working in the field of Solar PV were very interested and asked Prof. Hashmi some important questions and enquired about the possibility of working jointly. Prof. Hashmi welcomed all researchers willing to work in this field to contact him and collaborate with him.

After Prof. Hashmi, the next speaker was Dr. Reghu Rama Das, who was also a Principal Investigator of InSIC’s first Small Grants Programme. Dr.Reghu Rama Das submitted a proposal on convection Solar Dryers for fruits along with other proposals from different PIs from different institutions and organisations where his proposal got selected for funding by InSIC and thus he was able to start work on his model of the Solar Dryer. Since the sanction of the project to him, he has made substantial progress despite the COVID-19 pandemic which he presented to the participants in the webinar. A lot of participants were highly interested to work with him in further development of this kind of dryer, industries were also interested in working together with him in a business model related to the Solar Dryer.

This session was followed by the Interactive session which was chaired by Prof. GonChaudhuri and Mr. Risto Isomäki where they announced the upcoming InSIC’s second call for grants scheme in which Research organisations, educational institutions, Scientific organisations, social organisations, industries as well as Individuals can submit their proposals for funding. Prof. GonChaudhuri and Mr Isomäki explained the modalities of submission of the proposals, elaborated about the fields such as Agriculture, Drinking water and Sanitation, Food Processing and Healthcare which can be combined with the Domain of Solar Energy. Proposals involving these areas are welcome for submission. The participants were also informed about the maximum grant limit of 5,000EUR so that proposals may be sent by interested parties in the same tune. A lot of queries came from the participants about the funding opportunity and these questions were taken care of by the chairman and co-chairman of the session. Dr. Lal Singh and Prof. Madhumita Das Sarkar also shared some of their ideas on which they were keen on submitting a proposal. These and several other ideas were welcomed by the InSIC team for submission and application to the second call for grants. 

The webinar was closed with the Vote of Thanks from the InSIC Vice Chair, Ms. Elina Mähönen who conveyed thanks on behalf of the entire InSIC team to the speakers and the participants for joining and interacting in the webinar. Most of the participants were eager to join in the next InSIC webinar and also expressed their interest in applying for the InSIC Small Grants Programme in 2021.