Tie-up between Engineering Colleges and Water Resources Department, Kerala: How collaboration drives innovation?

In the highly competitive global environment that we live in, organizations are struggling to innovate and attain a competitive edge at a fast pace to meet the growing demands. In order to overcome these organizational challenges and identify the best practices to sustain the emerging needs, collaboration of industries and academic institutions has become a prevalent topic as an imperative instrument. The exigencies in water sector too can be mitigated through successful partnerships that can pave way to groundbreaking research and innovation for solving complex problems in water resources management and facilitate a more skilled workforce. If we go by successful models from International water institutes such as Delft, River Water Alliance, Water Research Institute and all, it is evident that University-Industry knowledge collaboration overcomes innovation bottleneck and promotes activities such as co-development, co-authorship, collaborative research & development, which is widely acknowledged as an important medium for exchanging new ideas and diffusion of technology.

In similar lines, the Water Resources Department, Govt of Kerala is bringing in association with the Academic Institutions under the Higher Education Department, Kerala with technical backing from Engineering Departments of the State for overcoming the techno-environmental risks prevailing in water sector. This Government-Industry-University knowledge collaboration is envisaged as one of the keys for battling the stressing concerns in sustainable water resources management of the State. As the first few model projects of this kind, the Water Resources Department associates with the Engineering Colleges for the following assignments

  1. Abatement of pollution and maintaining minimum flow for sustaining ecosystem in the 21 stretches/rivers of the State as articulated in the judgement pronounced by the Honourable National Green Tribunal (NGT) for OA No. 673/2018, which showcases association of Irrigation Department with academic institutions
  2. Quality testing of pipes in association with Jal Jeevan Mission under Kerala Water Authority (KWA)
  3. Well Census in association with Groundwater Department (GWD)
  4. Design and Installation of Fully Automated Micro Irrigation System in association with Kerala Irrigation Infrastructure Development Corporation (KIIDC)






Synergy through Tie-Ups: Win-Win-Win partnership

The ‘Tie Up’ interface creates synergy through mutual dependence and active participation of Academic Institutions & Water Resources Department and ensures their better survival in respective domains. The main stakeholders, namely: Engineering Colleges represented by the Teaching and Student Community, Engineering Departments that of Irrigation, Groundwater Departments, Kerala Water Authority & KIIDC and Water Resources Department at Government level, stand to gain, as it can be a ‘Win-Win-Win’ partnership.

1. Win for Academic Community:

The Academic community gains by imparting their theoretical knowledge and expertise for solving socially relevant problems thereby bridging the gap between theory and practice. Other opportunities include:

  • Hands on training to students in solving real life socio technical environment issues leading to improved curricula, resulting in ‘Employable Ready Students’ from academic community
  • Workplace exposure to Students through Internships and Consultancy offers for Teachers in Government funded projects
  • Student Entrepreneurship, Campus level Incubation Centres and emergence of Engineering Start-ups as Growing Companies




2. Win for Engineering Departments:

Engineering Departments could gain by updating and upgrading their knowledge base through professional development programs designed by Academia. Other opportunities include:

  • Emphasis on Skill based training or capacity development offered by Academia
  • Improved job performance through guidance of Multi-Disciplinary Academicians
  • Exposure to Quality Research and Global competitive dimensions
  • Reduced dependence on Foreign Know-how and External Consultancies or R&D, thereby saving Government funds




3. Win for Government:

The combined credibility of Academia and Engineering Departments could achieve more beneficial results readily to the society than when the sectors work in isolation. Government could gain by optimized gathering of resources and expertise from Department-Academia partnership to tackle society’s most pressing challenges within a reduced financial allocation

Future Course of Action:

The Engineering Colleges and Government Departments share a symbiotic relationship in two senses, one being that Academia produces graduates who are absorbed by the Departments and other being that the potential research topics that arise out of Academia often benefits Departments. On that account, the tie-ups between the colleges and departments in solving issues of social pertinence would result in tailoring of graduates whose skill-set are aligned to societal needs or requirements. However, the collaborative efforts would prosper only if the partnership between Academia and Departments are established in the right strategy. Henceforward, the close ties between Engineering Colleges and Departments under the hand-holding of Government is proposed as a long standing establishment in order to achieve the desired objectives. In fulfilment of the same, Water Resources Department of Kerala rolls out the collaboration between Engineering Colleges and Government Departments as a Specialized Regular System in place, capable of dealing with topics of social prevalence, from time to time, in addition to the presently initiated projects.