Kannan Lakshminarayan is from IIT Madras and one of the most innovative sustainability technopreneurs in India .
He started a small school in Vellore after passing out from IIT Madras, spend a lot of time exploring traditional technologies as part of Patriotic & People Oriented Science and Technology (PPST ). He was the Secretary from 1994-97.
In early 90s, PPST launched a movement of Traditional Sciences and Technologies of India, organised through three huge Congresses,each one attended by over thousand people for five continuous days discussing a great variety of subjects like traditional industries, agriculture, metals and materials, forestry, architecture, health, theoretical sciences and philosophies of sciences.
The first congress was held in 1993 in IIT Bombay , second congress was organised in Anna University, Chennai in 1995 and the third congress was organised at the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Varanasi in 1998. This third Congress had a people’s touch about it and was called the Lokavidya Mahadhiveshan. Conferences of farmers, artisans and women were a special feature and the atmosphere of the congress was rent with the idea of Lokavidya.
He has recently been appointed a “Professor of Practice (PoP)” in IIT Madras.
Kannan has been an entrepreneur and innovator during his entire career. His consistent focus has been on delivering impactful products through innovative engineering. Towards this, he has built cross-functional teams that assemble workable ideas from multiple disciplines to create solutions that are tailored to specific target groups. His designs are characterized by economy in the definition of scope, so that the resulting offerings are affordable, austere, and shorn of flab – without compromising on anything that adds value to the user. He believes that more time should be spent in studying a problem than in putting together the solution.
Ventures Founded by Kannan:
Vortex Engineering Private Limited
Vortex breached the barriers to banking penetration in under-served areas through the development of ATM machines that are reliable, capable of handling wide variations in currency-quality, capable of operating in non-airconditioned environments and are easy to power with solar energy.
Awards and Recognition: The Time Magazine, The World Economic Forum, The Economist, and several other reputed publications have held this as an example of ‘Frugal Engineering’ with transformative potential.
Patents • Gravity Assisted Friction Pick (2950/CHE/2008) • Deposit Accepting Bunch Presenter (3263/CHE/2008) • Skew Correction using Split Roller (74/CHE/2009) • Presentation, Retraction, and Purging Mechanism for Cash Dispensers (876/CHE/2009) • Overlapped Note Detector (1063/CHE/2009) • Cash Dispensing Machine with Mechanism for Separation of Overlapped Media Items (2179/CHE/2012) • A System and Method for Currency Collection and Presentation (2580/CHE/2012) • ATM Management System for Instant Resolution of Customer Complaints(3842/CHE/2012) • ATM with Native Language Receipt Print (4104/CHE/2012).
Microspin Machine Works Private Limited
Microspin seeks to create an inclusive cotton value-chain that enables cotton growers to earn seven times their current earnings, through value-addition to their primary produce.
Microspin re-invented the step of yarn production, enabling a 100-fold scaling down of the operations involved, with an energy footprint that is six times smaller, on a per-Kg basis. The unique qualities of the yarn so produced enable the producers to get enhanced prices for their produce, thereby moving them away from a mere price-driven commodity play that eventually erodes profitability.
Awards and recognition: Winner of Innovation for India Award (2012), awarded by Marico Innovation Foundation. The distinctive quality of the textiles produced by this process have been endorsed by leading brands and designers, in India and abroad.
Patents Method and Apparatus for Carding of Staple Fibers (3885/CHE/2010 )
Skillveri Training Solutions Private Limited
Skillveri seeks to ‘be the Coursera’ for skills that involve hand-eye coordination, in domains as diverse as manufacturing and surgery. Through a suite of simulators that are built on the proprietary ‘digital dexterity mapping’ tool, Skillveri is revolutionising how hands-on skills are imparted – without needing trainers or consumables, with objective measurement and feedback on skill-elements that impact excellence in performance.
Awards and Recognition: Skillveri was among the winners of the NSDC Innovations for Skills Challenge 2014. More recently, Skillveri received the ‘Best Non-Game Project’ at Unite Melbourne 2017, the prestigious event organized by Unity, the leading global platform for gaming.
Fractal Foundation is a one-of-its-kind ‘ideas accelerator’ that provides innovators with the space – physical and organizational – to quickly prototype and take their ideas to market. Importantly, it provides an enabling eco-system that amplifies the chances of success, while cushioning the innovator from the socially unpleasant repercussions of ‘failure’. Most ideas fail – as they ought to. But the participants become enriched by the experience and move on to become successful in subsequent professional pursuits. Some ideas succeed without requiring external infusion of funds – these are logically taken to market by the authors of the idea. A few that succeed and need to attract growth capital – these are hived off as separate companies.
Microspin and Skillveri are companies hived off from Fractal.
Awards and Recognition: Fractal developed a ‘specialty suspension system’ for transporting sensitive ophthalmic equipment over rugged terrain in a truck, to deliver door-step diagnostic and surgical services in villages across Karnataka. This was recognized as the ‘best community initiative’ by the International Ophthalmology Congress.
Patents Automated Control Means for Hank Reeling Machine (3006/CHE/2010)
Lifetime Achievement Award Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, 2014, in recognition of his innovations and pioneering work in sustainable solutions for the rural environment.
Mr L Kannan, Founder and CTO, Vortex Engineering
Kannan Lakshminarayan, Founder & CTO, Vortex Engineering Pvt. Ltd