Today, an inaugural ceremony was held in the Village of Mori to commence the prototyping for a scalable village leveraging Digital Technology and Open Innovation. 

The prototype calls for a sustainable business model, the first Business Case Study sponsored and commissioned by the Innovation Society of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Office the Chief Minister. Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation of UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business and Government of Andhra Pradesh joined hands to prototype through co-creation efforts with the villagers in Mori. Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation is known for its premier research in Open Innovation which incorporates technologies and knowledge flows from all sources to create value and capture value for the end user. Over the next four months, Garwood plans to conduct much needed research and surveys  to develop open innovation models through co-creation activities with the villagers. Our objective is to develop models that will be applicable and scalable to over 650,000 villages throughout India said Professor Solomon Darwin, Director of Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business. Professor Darwin’s appeal to the villagers to participate and cooperate in this study over the next five months was well received and applauded by the villagers, elected officials and the district collector.  The prototype is expected to be ready to showcase in mid-December. Mr. Naidu, the Chief Minister, who is much interested in improving the happiness index of his people, is scheduled to arrive in the village on December 29th to inspect and hear directly from the villagers to evaluate for scaling the technologies and the business models proposed for smart villages through the Berkeley study.

Darwin efforts were applauded by JA Chowdary, Chairman of the government’s Innovation Society, for bringing together many silicon valley and other key firms to partner in this efforts. Some of the firms include: Google, Cisco, IBM,  Ericsson, EVx, Sahaj, Tyco, Tech Mahindra,, App Scape, Qualcomm, Paradigm, NEC, Mtuity, Trianz and Builders of Hope (builders of smart rural homes). Many of these firms intend to find ways stripping down their technologies and making them simple and cost effective for villages to use during the prototyping phase from September 1 – December 23.

Professor Darwin mentioned that he received several requests from China which accounts for over a million villages. Darwin, who teaches courses in Building Smart Cities at Berkeley, believes, that making 650,000 villages in India slightly smart will have an exponential impact on the GDP and happiness index compared to making  a few hundred cities smart. The villages are most relevant for problem solving where close to 70% of people live and it does not take much technology to make villagers happy, Darwin said. Darwin’s definition of a smart village is not to bring in a lot of physical infrastructure and spend a lot of money but to empowered the people with access to  tools, resources and real time transparent information and 24/7 internet connectivity which will motivate and provide incentives for entrepreneurial activities which will then furnish the village with infrastructure through organic growth. Darwin sees Smart Village as a self-contained sustainable Business model, a platform, an ecosystem, a brand and a caring community. He sees Government playing an important role in welcoming firms and empowering people which the AP government is already doing and it is for this reason that he has taken up the project.

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