Need and Opportunity
One of the main reasons why Nepal is economically a least developed country is because there is not much happening for economic development. Nepal imports over 90% of products for different purposes and exports less than 10% products to earn foreign currencies resulting in the huge trade deficit. Therefore a major economic overhaul is required to make Nepal a developed country in the 21st century. For that to happen, Nepal must give the highest priority to science, technology creation, and innovation in order to ensure a sustainable base for her much-needed growth engines. Considerable attention is needed to nurture homegrown inventors, innovators and scientists for the economic development to happen. However, because of the lack of such an initiative at the government level, many talented, innovative and creative Nepalis are leaving the country every year in search of better careers and opportunities abroad. This is a huge and shameful loss for a poor country like Nepal. As a result, Nepal is always one of the least developed countries despite so many foreign aids coming for many years. Unless and until Nepal stops losing gifted and talented human resources at such an alarming rate, it will always remain an underdeveloped country. This is the bitter but irrefutable fact. Our wish is to keep those talented and creative people and use their talents for the economic development of Nepal.
National Innovation Center (NIC) has been formally established in 2012 to find ways to keep innovative, talented and creative Nepalis in the country. In other words, NIC aims to retain, nurture and promote Nepal’s top human capital and leverage their considerable intellect, creativity, and talent in fostering the country’s social and economic growth. NIC will also provide donor communities and friends of Nepal with a unique and powerful opportunity to help Nepal become a prosperous nation.
The vision of the National Innovation Center is to introduce Research and Development (R&D) culture in Nepal and help to nurture and promote innovation based ecosystems by employing both grassroots (bottom up) and top-down approaches as given below.
- Grassroots Approach: NIC intends to set up the network of local grassroots innovation hubs in rural Nepali communities with the idea to provide tools and resources in order to support innovative rural Nepali populace and to incubate their creative ideas. This is about recognizing and helping the often-overlooked resourcefulness and inventiveness of grassroots innovators as well as supporting them to creatively solve their local challenges, all the while contributing to the local economy.
- Top-down Approach: NIC will also have a central structure and regional structures to work with talented and innovative Nepalis, who are either studying at the university or graduated from the university. This central hub is intended to act as an ‘impact accelerator/incubator’ at the national level to support innovative enterprises and research projects that can positively impact the social and economic fabric of the country. This hub is intended to foster an anti-disciplinary spirit, “going beyond boundaries and disciplines and encouraging an unconventional mixing and matching of disparate areas to create projects and products that can create tangible impact in the country.”
- Moreover, the vision includes creating an environment conducive to persuading talented Nepalese researchers and scientists currently working abroad to engage and contribute in various ways to help nurture the creativity of young and talented Nepalese back home. NIC will create a database of those researchers and scientists and will request them to provide mentorship to young Nepali researchers and innovators in various fields as it will be needed.
A not-for-profit sharing company by the name of “Rashtriya Awishkar Kendra” (National Innovation Center) has been registered according to Nepal Company Act 2006. The innovation center will provide young researchers, innovators and inventors full financial support and mentor in four steps as given below:
- Step 1 – Provide full financial support and mentoring for accelerating prototype design,
- Step 2 – Provide full financial support and mentoring for product development,
- Step 3 – Provide full support for getting patent right, trademark, intellectual property right, etc.
- Step 4 – Provide support for connecting them to investors so that they can launch innovative products and services aimed at impacting the economic and social development.
NIC will be a unique organization because the goal is to make it fully sustainable.. In order to make the center unique and fully sustainable from the very beginning, NIC will register a hydropower company as a major stakeholder and will develop a 10 MW to 15 MW hydropower station. The power will be sold to the government to generate cash income for sustaining the center.
The hydropower station was chosen to make the innovation center sustainable because it is the most predictable, stable, and steady source of revenue than other sources. It is one-time investment and takes about five years to complete the construction and generate power. Four potential sites for the construction of the run-off-the-river hydropower stations have been selected by our hydropower expert team for detail study. NIC will get necessary permission from the government of Nepal to build the power station and sell the power.
It is estimated that a 10 MW hydropower station will generate a net income of about US$ 3 million to US$ 4 million every year by selling the power to the government. At the beginning years of power production, 75% (~$3 million) of the net income will be used every year to pay back interest and loan, and pay for the operating and maintenance cost. 25% (~US$ 1 million) of the net income will be used to run the innovation center. The estimated loan payback period is 8 years. Once the bank loan is paid off, NIC will have at least US$3 Million for operation. After NIC will start operating from the income of the hydropower, we will also be looking for all possible sources of income in future as well.
Current Board of Directors
As for the team members for now, Dr. Mahabir Pun (Social Entrepreneur and Internet Hall of Fame inductee) leads the project as Chairman with Mr. Rameshore Khanal (Economist and Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance), Dr. Dambar Nepali (Hydro Power expert), Dr. Pramod Dhakal (former scientist in Canada now with Open University Nepal), and Dr. Dinesh Bhuju (Scientist, National Academy of Science and Technology) are taking initial leadership role. More board members will be inducted as the project will develop in future. The Board Members are not entitled to any financial incentives.
Requests to Individuals and Donor Communities
NIC has already requested to the government of Nepal for some seed funding for the development of 10 MW hydropower station. The government always seems positive to the proposal but they have not provided any concrete support even after trying hard for four years. Therefore, NIC has launched a public fundraising campaign since July 2016 to raise US$ 5 million from the Nepalese living in Nepal and abroad. NIC is getting very good responses from all the Nepalis and friends of Nepal so far.
NIC would also like to request donor communities and angel investors for some financial support in the form of the grant or soft loan to help materialize the project. There is no doubt that such support will have a long-lasting positive impact on the economic and social development of Nepal.
The estimated minimum cost of building a 10 MW hydropower station is US$15 million. NIC is seeking a one-time full or partial grant of US$4.5 million (30% of the total project cost) for equity from the Government of Nepal, individuals, donor communities and angel investors to build the 10 MW hydropower station. 70% of the total project cost will be taken as loan from the commercial banks. Once we get the fund for the equity, commercial banks will be ready to provide 70% of the project cost as the long term loan.
While we will be involved in building the 10-MW hydropower station for long term sustainability, NIC will also keep supporting innovative and creative people for small-scale innovations and researches whatever way it can.
Let us conclude with the famous Chinese proverb – “Give a Man a Fish and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime”. Your contribution for NIC will exactly the same way for Nepal. Your contribution will be the most meaningful investments you will ever make for helping NIC become sustainable and for supporting Nepal become an economically developed country. On behalf of the young generation of Nepal, I appreciate very much for your involvement and support to make the dream come true.
Mahabir Pun (Email: [email protected], Mobile: +977 9841592361
Chairman, National Innovation Center, Nepal
Nimesh Ghimire (E-mail: [email protected])
Global Outreach Coordinator
Saurav Dhakal: Email: [email protected]
For Contribution and more information, please visit website: http://www.nicnepal.org/