Samsung India aims to scale up its recently launched industry-academia programme — Samsung PRISM (Preparing and Inspiring Student Minds) — to 50 colleges by 2022.

The South Korean major had recently launched its industry-academia research programme to collaborate with engineering students across India on industry projects.

The programme will be run by the Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore (SRI-B), Samsung’s largest R&D facility outside of Korea. SRI-B had started a pilot programme for Samsung PRISM last year. So far, SRI-B has worked with 10 colleges accounting for 150 teams. It aims to scale up the programme to 50 colleges by 2022.

“We are trying to grow the Indian innovation ecosystem. Open innovation is not done only by our research. We also work with students in colleges for innovation in our product,” Dipesh Shah, Managing Director, Samsung R&D Institute Bangalore, told BusinessLine .

The teams that were part of the pilot programme had worked on ‘Make for India’ projects such as handwriting recognition for Indian languages and AI-based Indian language translation.

Moving forward, each research project under PRISM will be taken up by a team of three students and one professor along with a mentor from SRI-B.

Making students ‘industry-ready’

A major challenge that IT companies face is getting people with the right skillset,

Programmes such as Samsung’s can help students get the right tools to execute their ideas on a commercial level, according to Shah. These collaborative programmes between the industry and academia can help students in “reshaping” their knowledge and make them “industry-ready”.

“We give them infrastructure, we give them the tools, platform, guidance and feedback. So sometimes they have a great idea and then they have all the academic know-how, but unless you have a real product and have some consumers use it to really make it to the commercial level, they have to work with the industry,” said Shah.

“When we are recruiting, after they join, there will be a fairly good duration of training internally that will be mostly on the platforms, the tools, the technologies that we use in our processes. So, in addition, the third-year engineering students, we thought, at that age, that experience level if they start learning about 5G, AI, ML and IoT, by the time they graduate, they will be ready for what industry will need at that time,” he said.

Consumer innovation currently is driven by all leading-edge technologies like 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

“I think across many projects, AI is a common theme,” said Shah noting how the technology was important across various aspects of consumer products including vision, voice, text and audio.

Students, beyond learning the curriculum that they are provided with can get exposure to these technologies beforehand and prepare through practical knowledge beyond coding.

“All of these domains are horizontally linked now, it is not just coding. Earlier our engineers used to do coding and they'll be okay with it. Now, you can’t do coding unless there is a certain amount of machine learning that goes into. So whether you're doing AR or VR or developing a camera or Internet of Things, you are adding AI and ML as additional techniques and tools to deliver the right software to the consumer,” said Shah.

It is not just the students who require assistance from the industry, but there is a reverse-learning process that goes into such industry-academia programmes, he said.


“The need is always there because, in consumer technology innovation, students are not only the developers, they are actual millennial consumers of the country. So they understand what they want from the product, they know the pains of the product. So there is a reverse learning also happening. They are telling us what should the product be like,” Shah said.

“These are not some small research projects in that sense, these are part of our regular large projects that we are doing. Their work will actually get into our smartphones, televisions, home appliances like that,” he added.

Encouraging research

Sessions for the PRISM programme were conducted online during the lockdown. SRI-B has signed MoUs with Vellore Institute of Technology, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, M.S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, RV College of Engineering, BMS College of Engineering, Siddaganga Institute of Technology, among others.

Students will also be encouraged to file patents and publish research papers along with SRI-B helping them delve deeper into technology research. The South Korean major’s research institute alone has filed over 2,900 patents in India.