I am back from India but will be posting summaries from my visit for a bit.

I visited the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in Vellore, in the state of Tamil Nadu (the southern tip of India basically). A good friend of mine is from Tamil Nadu, and he says it has three seasons: hot, hotter and hottest. When I was at VIT, it was darn hot and I asked which season it was and they said “hotter”. Good grief, hottest would be too much for my Midwestern blood.

Vellore is a private school of about 14,000 students (interestingly about 450 Chinese students, the Chinese consulate was there the same day we were). It’s a beautiful campus, the nicest one I have seen in India, and most anywhere for that matter. Tuition is a bit more than the public universities, but is still only about $2KUSD for one year of room and board. It has been predominantly an undergraduate school but about 5 or 6 years ago started to put a lot of effort into establishing a research presence. That was my day job interest.

There is an incubator there, VIT-TBI (VIT-Technology Business Incubator) that is partially funded by the World Bank. TBI has a pretty impressive range of activities ranging from camps and classes to formal incubation. Like most incubators with universities, they are there primarily to serve the students who want to start businesses, but they also work with entrepreneurs from the surrounding area. Interestingly one of ways the incubator makes money is that have a couple rapid prototyping machines from the Minneapolis-based Stratasys. Stratasys has been a long time supporter of High Tech Kids, and its founders Scott and Lisa Crump long time volunteers as well. It’s a small world sometimes.

VIT also has a interesting program, that is part research and part CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility, something that in the US is usually called community service). The Centre For Sustainable Rural Development & Research Studies (CSRD&RS) has a range of programs to achieve and sustain socio-economic development of rural poor. VIT wants to not only use its resources to help the community but teach their students how to as well.

Given VIT is a well respected academic university, with an incubator, and an organization already looking at sustainable development issues, they would seem to be a natural partner for the Acara Challenge.

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