IIT-Madras Faculty Sabbaticals for Startups

IIT-Madras, one of India best engineering institutions, has made policy changes to allow its faculty members to take time off to pursue their own startups.

Economic Times reports that when Prof Balaji Srinivasan, faculty at IIT-Madras as well as co-founder and director of Chennai-based startup Unilumen Photonics, attended a tradeshow in 2014, he found new markets opening up. The new found demand for the technology he was developing was so high that Srinivasan felt the need to accelerate work and push things forward. 

Initially he tried to take some hours off every day from teaching and focus on his startup, only to find it was not making much progress. "My day would be really torn between different things such as coming to class, teaching students, attending meetings, doing research and meeting my students, and in between I would have to find time to go to the company to take care of some emergencies there," he recollects. 

Finally to sort out things he went for a sabbatical at the end of which he was successfully able to make a couple of products work. At IIT-Madras, sabbatical from academics no more just means taking a one-year time off to go to another university or a research organisation. 

The premier engineering institute which has a thriving startup ecosystem has enabled its faculty members, through policy level changes, to take up sabbatical also to focus on their individual startups.


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