“WHAT IF WE CAN CREATE A MILLION INNOVATORS AND ENTREPRENEURS IN COMMUNITIES?”

They would create jobs, build wealth, and transform communities from the bottom up.

But can innovators and entrepreneurs be created?

My nine years of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Asia School of Business have shown that we could nurture ordinary youth and children to take on innovation and entrepreneurship by building their skillset and mindset and creating ecosystems in their community.

The entrepreneurs I met, who grew up in under-resourced communities where opportunities were slim but found their inner potential and drive to break out to find their calling, inspired this research.

Over thirty years of my career, I have been an engineer, designer, entrepreneur, and educator. I was very fortunate to have gone through such broad experiences in technology, business, and education. My current mission is to use this experience to nurture future innovators and entrepreneurs from the youth in remote and underserved communities by transforming them and, in turn, their communities.

I served as a Professor of Practice in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Asia School of Business, started by MIT-Sloan in Kuala Lumpur. I was one of the founding faculty of ASB. I also served at MIT as a Visiting Scholar and Tata Fellow.

Over the past nine years, my study on how entrepreneurship skillset and mindset can be developed in youth has helped me create programs to nurture future innovators and entrepreneurs in communities from the ground up and conduct over a hundred workshops worldwide

The companies I founded were in varied fields such as Thermal engineering of electronic products, Data Center energy optimization, sensing airflow for environmental management & instruments, Consumer products, and Training in creativity and problem-solving.

I received Master's degrees in Engineering & Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Manufacturing Engineering (UMass, Amherst), and Electronic Product Design (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore). I hold Bachelor's degrees in Electronics & Communications Engineering (IISc) and Physics (Kerala).

Recent activites

2021:
Oct 10:Incubating future entrepreneurs: Article on Rajesh Nair and the mission of EnCube Labs Business Editor's Notebook: Rajesh Nair wants every kid to have a chance to be an entrepreneur
Sep 16:EnCube Labs was recognized as one of ten most innovative companies in the state of New Hampshire, USA by the state’s leading newspaper Manchester Union Leader.
A million entrepreneurs: EnCube Labs aims to make STEM a global youth movement
SEPT 3Developing Innovation Ecosystems in Underserved Communities in the US. Conducted a pilot program in the town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Video
Feb 11: Talk at TiE Kerala on "How to Create a Million Entrepreneurs and Change the World ?" Link to register
Jan 20: Ran Zero2Entrepreneur, 6-day bootcamp under IIT Palakkad’s Innodeate event. 23 attendees created more than a hundred products and videos, and 30 team projects. Watch them here:Link
2020:
Nov, 21: Conducted the 6-day course ‘Zero2Maker: Developing Entrepreneurial Attitudes and Aptitudes’ for ASB MBA students.
Oct 30: Conducted 4-day workshop ‘Future Thinking, Design Thinking, & Entrepreneurship’ for MBA students from XIME, Cochin, India.
Oct 10: Spoke at VAIBHAV Innovation Summit by the Government of India on “Job Creation in the Post-Covid World”.
Sep 8: Conducted TechTop Innovation Workshop, a 5-day online bootcamp on Design Thinking for university students from India.
Timeline

Pre-Entrepreneurship Development Framework

My experience with teaching creativity and technology to students from schools and universities from different parts of the world has convinced me that intelligence is uniformly distributed everywhere. That means that we are not developing the available human potential in most parts of the world, especially where it is badly needed. What if we could create problem-solvers and entrepreneurs in such places? How can we transform individuals and communities by creating entrepreneurs? That was the drive behind my work for the past eight years.

This framework and training process to build the mindset and skill-set for entrepreneurship was developed through my research experiments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Asia School of Business. The experiments have shown that Pre-entrepreneurs, who are ready to take on their next steps in solution creation and venture building, can be nurtured. The process has been used in more than fifty workshops in seven countries, reaching more than two thousand participants.


Innovation Intervention

DISRUPT OR BE DISRUPTED: Building An Innovation Culture In Corporations

The market life of a product or service is getting shorter with faster cycles of innovation. How does an organization stay ahead of potential disruption ahead? By constantly finding ways to disrupt itself.
Innovation is not a functional role of a department. All employees are the eyes and ears of the company that can detect changes in the market or inefficiencies within the organization well ahead of the management team. Training the employees in problem identification and solution creation could offer solutions. Customer-facing staff may find changes in the customer needs early. A service tech or an assembly staff could suggest improvements in design for better efficiency.
Innovation Intervention is a boot camp designed for corporations to reskill their employees into problem solvers who create unconventional or even disruptive products and services.


Innovation Intervention (Air Asia)

Ran seven workshops for AirAsia to introduce more than 200 of their AllStars to creativity, design thinking, and problem-solving in an initiative to build an internal ecosystem of disruptive thinkers. Staff from office to flight crew from all country offices in Asia participated in these workshops.

Research



The EntREsilience Project studies the learning and opportunity-seeking activities that entrepreneurs undertake during and after the COVID-19 outbreak in five research sites: Wuhan, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines, and London, UK. We address the urgent need to strengthen entrepreneurial resilience and discover the post-crisis ‘New Normal’.
Through our research we seek to inform both policy and entrepreneurial practice in emerging and advanced economies alike. We disseminate our insights through outreach workshops and through our dissemination partners, Asian Development Bank and UN Economic and Social Council for Asia-Pacific (UN ESCAP).
Funder: UKRI and EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund (Reference: EP/V208480/1)
Duration: September 2020 to January 2022


Patents and Publications




Talks

UN General Assembly: Youth and Technology (Sept 2018)

MIT- SDM: Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges

TEDx UTP, Malaysia 2017: Creating Pre-Entrepreneurs

TEDx Beacon Street 2014: Starting up entrepreneurs

Workshops

Innovation Intervention (AirAsia)

We ran seven workshops for AirAsia to introduce more than 200 of their AllStars to creativity, design thinking, and problem-solving in an initiative to build an internal ecosystem of disruptive thinkers. Staff from office to flight crew from all country offices in Asia participated in these workshops.

Zero2Entrepreneur MIT-Make In India Workshop. 2015

This 4-weeklong residential boot camp was conducted in India for students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several Indian universities. Participants went through several cycles of design, making, problem identification, solution development, and entrepreneurship basics.

Zero2Maker Ecosystem Development, Mysuru, India 2019

This 6-month experiment consisted of training 13 and 14-year-old students from rural government schools near Mysuru, setting up a maker lab in their school, and mentoring them. The number of students exposed to tech and making skills reached 2,500 in a short time. Many of these students from farming communities have shown significant progress in their confidence and self-learning abilities.



PROJECT VIDEOS FROM PAST WORKSHOPS




Organization Founded

DegreeC is a company founded in 1997 in New Hampshire USA that focused on the thermal management of high-density and mission-critical electronic equipment in markets, such as, telecom, medical, military, and bio-sciences.



Cambridge AccuSense, founded in Shirley, Massachusetts USA in 1995, specialized in research and development of sensors and lab instruments for airflow measurement for varied applications, such as ICT, bio-sciences, and automotive. AccuSense was acquired by DegreeC in 2003.

TechTop is a charitable trust based in India that was founded in 2006 on the vision that offering the youth training in innovation and entrepreneurship would build the next generation of problem solvers in the nation. TechTop conducted innovation challenges and workshops for 13 years. Now it focuses on innovation programs for school students.

EnCube Labs was founded on the on the research done at MIT that showed that innovators and entrepreneurs can be created from the ground up to make a social impact. After starting in the US in 2014, EnCube India was launched in 2017 and later in Malaysia.