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  • Ashok Kumar M

Building Hardware Not Hard Anymore! HWJunction

“A One-stop hackspace for full-spectrum Hardware Innovation”

The world is filled with complex problems and human finds different ways to mitigate the problems and thrives humanity to make the world a better place for the next generations. We have seen that in the past from creating a wheel that moves heavy loads to place a first human footprint on the Moon. Humans are tool builders, we build tools that can dramatically amplify our innate human abilities.

Some tools help us in reducing the human burden and some of them are created to reduce cognitive distortions. In all ways tools enhance us to do work more efficiently and achieve greater things in less time. Without tools, our work never reaches its full potential.

But the forms, types, usage, and application of the tools expand as the areas of human knowledge and exploration. In the past decades, we have seen that researchers & scientists used to invent something new that hopes to solve the most pressing problems in our society, in many cases they don’t see the light of the day or a system that doesn’t make an impact by themselves.

Innovation on the other hand introduces the concept of “use” of an idea or method. It is a process of taking the invention and commercializing it to the market. If an innovator has tends to solve a significant problem the society rewards back the innovators/entrepreneurs with benefits. When the need for the solution is compelling the innovative product might gain the potential to emerge as a high-growth enterprise.

Innovation, like evolution, is a process of constantly discovering ways of rearranging the world into forms that are unlikely to arise by chance — and that happens to be useful. — Matt Ridley [author of How Innovation Works]

The problems innovators and entrepreneurs have solved in the past decades have changed dramatically and the tools that they have used to build innovations are also advancing due to the rapid growth of technologies.

The progression of information technology in the past decades made silicon valley the capital of technology. India is one of the fastest-growing countries but it is also been filled with major problems in Transportation, Healthcare, Education, Power, Infrastructure, Agriculture, etc. These kinds of problems cannot be solved only with information technology solutions/software only products (that has been a foothold for us in the past three decades) though it has contributed a significant amount of GDP growth to our nation but also created a service-based economy rather than emerging as a product-based economy.

The single word for vertical progression is technology, creating software products becomes relatively easy due to the increased access to open-source services and the cloud to bring bright ideas to launch an application. Creating new software products can be accomplished by an individual/couple of software engineers within a few days or months. But there’s just one thing missing from software. They need Hardware to run. But making hardware is HARD.

Why Making Hardware is Not So Hard:

Making hardware is expensive, difficult, and complex. It includes engineering experts with specific domain knowledge (Industrial Designers, Mechanical Engineers, Electronics Engineers, Software developers, Firmware Developers, Wireless Engineers, etc), and a significant amount of capital to procure/manufacture components, takes time to finish a final product, there are cost, time and complexity involved in setting up a facility to manufacture, Inventories (off the shelf components) to build products. The list goes on and on.

Most of the reputed academic institutions, research centers, and maker space have labs that have been often only focused on a particular technology area and also the Innovators have been exposed to a very limited range of futuristic technology equipment. The hardest part for any innovators is not getting access to these infrastructures to convert their idea into a minimum usable product. Due to this many great-sounding innovations have failed to see the light of day.

With that in mind, FORGE has created a maker space — HWJunction — An integrated innovation lab that has envisioned nurturing next-generation entrepreneurs to sculpt their ideas from building a prototype to production-ready products. A comprehensive suite of equipment, resources, and tech expertise are offered to support hardware startups and innovators concurrently in the areas of AIoT, Electronics design, Test & Measurement, AI/ML/DL, Advanced Manufacturing, PCB design and assembly, IT computing, Drones, Robotics, and Augmented & Virtual Reality, etc. The facility has been housed inside Forge Coimbatore and soon the center of excellence labs to be established in Chennai & Hosur.

Hardware Product Development is an iterative process that requires constant user feedback to make the vertical progression in crafting and building the ideas. The labs are created to catalyze hardware/tech innovation pursuits to make, break, create, and tinker.

Today, Innovators and Entrepreneurs can just as easily bring a viable hardware product to the market with help of the right tools that are easily available for them to access. By doing so, they are not only solving the most pressing problem in India but also building world-class enterprises.

HWJunction has become the one-stop solution for all innovation needs, from capturing a designer’s imagination through CAD tools to building sophisticated Hardware for Defense & Aerospace. With state-of-the-art technology tools, domain experts, innovation mentors, resources, inventories to build innovative solutions, and gives the innovators a complete Disneyland experience of the product development lifecycle.

Center of Excellence To Build Next-Gen Product Innovation:

Tamilnadu has given a leading position to promote the next big leap in industrial innovation and expand the growth of higher value-added manufacturing verticals. It’s already being a leading manufacturer of precision engineering tools & solutions, industrial equipment & systems, automobile, and also strengths the base to become a leading manufacturer for defence and aerospace.

State industries promotion corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT) envisages the establishment of SIPCOT Industrial Innovation Centres (SIIC) in each of the SIPCOT industrial parks established in different parts of the state of Tamil Nadu. As the first step, two such SIICs each at Sriperumbudur and Hosur.

Innovation center of excellence advanced infrastructure in different market domain areas like Future mobility, Defence & aerospace, Factory AIoT, Advanced manufacturing and rapidly advancing technologies in the areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Data analytics, Additive Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 (Industrial IoT or Intelligent Machines), Advanced Materials, Aerial/Electric/Autonomous/ Space Vehicles, Optoelectronics, Power electronics, Machine vision, etc, to promote startups that excel in building profitable businesses and becoming high-growth enterprises in these sectors.

Each industrial innovation center has been strategically positioned to address industrial innovation challenges and offer product innovations by adopting cutting-edge technology in different verticals. To do so, Chennai Sriperumbudur has been positioned to focus on Future Mobility and Defence & Aerospace, Hosur has been focused on Industry 4.0, Industrial AIoT, and Advanced Manufacturing, and Coimbatore has already been focused on precision agriculture, assistive devices, and smart cities.

The above figure shows the border two-tier architecture of two industrial innovation centers (IIC) that has been structured into two levels, the base technology labs focused on widespread across different technology areas and technology domains like IoT, Advanced computing, Machine vision & optics, Industrial design & rapid prototyping, battery technology & power electronics, etc. Top of the base technology labs the specific innovation CoE’s has been structured into a 3 -tier architecture which is TOOLS (Technology labs), Technologies (Skills & competency development), and Talents(becoming capable of building product innovations).

Level 1: Tools The base technology labs have equipped with appropriate TOOLS to build a tangible idea into a core product. The future mobility CoE has been powered with compelling hardware and software like — LIDARS, TOF & FLIR camera, AR/VR Development suite, Industrial DAC environment, Solidworks design tool, 3D printers, battery test & validation setup, test vehicles, etc.

Level 2: Technology The nature of work is changing rapidly due to the emerging technologies, due to this effect, the change in core engineering skills & competencies level of the innovators are also remaining unknown. The skill gaps have developed in which industries are struggling to hire new resources/co-create with innovators, entrepreneurs, and MSME’s.

The recent Deloitte report has estimated in the context of manufacturing alone the skills gaps leave an estimation of 2.4million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion. By addressing these gaps and creating required skills the innovators will become much more capable of making vertical progression in the particular technology area.

Level 3: Talent With the right fusing of tools and skills, the innovators are left to address industrial challenges and become more capable to offer world-class product innovations. The above-mentioned are product innovation themes for future mobility have the huge potential for Indian startups not only to emerge as a core product in the core areas it also creates a wider path to emerge as an end product in the future.

By taking an approach not try to acquire market leadership at the end product in the beginning, rather creating a technology leader in the core product. Combining the core product with the end product to acquire one market share and become globally successful products with respect to the end product market category. With the focus on multiple sectors, understanding industry needs, building core skills & competencies, the startups who approach challenges will be much more attractive for venture investments. Below are similar roadmaps & technology vision for the other innovation center of excellence.


Our primary goal in the FORGE innovation accelerator is to promote our nation’s economic competitiveness in the global economy by promoting our innovations and aims to do this by empowering young minds and professionals with technology tools and business inputs to convert their ideas to world-class products and business ideas into full-fledged startup endeavors.

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