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The Fourth EAI Club Chennai Meet Was held at the EAI office in Nungambakkam High Road on Dec 12 2010.

For perhaps the first time since we started having the EAI Club meets, we had a less than full house. Except for the regulars (myself, Abrar Ahmad, Prabhakar, Karthik), the audience was relatively thin. I guess there is always a first to everything, so I am not complaining exactly!

This  was the last meeting for the calendar year and despite witnessing a lower turnout amongst the club members, the meet went on…A big THANK YOU to all those  who made it.

We had originally planned to have a few presentations and discussions, but owing to the less than expected numbers, we decided instead to brainstorm and discuss face to face instead of the originally planned presentations.

In fact, these face-to-face interactions turned out to be very interesting and useful indeed. Whoever said every problem is an opportunity should be given a Nobel Prize for Thought.

During the brainstorming session, the members decided to make it mandatory to include the following for the forthcoming EAI meets:

1) The exact agenda will be announced well in advance before the date of the meeting.

2) In terms of giving the event a structure, EAI has planned to invite speakers from the industry and follow it up with detailed panel discussions.

3) For the two hours spent during EAI club meetings, the program agenda should be: first 30 minutes, a talk given by an expert in an area of Renewable Energy; next 60 minutes a panel discussion where one representative from industry (Business or Entrepreneur), one from investment community (Angel, VC and PE firms etc), one from Research & Development Centers, Academic institutions (Professors/Evangelists), one from Government bodies etc become part of the selected panel. The final 30 minutes should be a proper networking session, where everyone gets to meet every other person.

A few other suggestions that came up during the meet:

  • Prabhakar of Sterling Motors is a consistent attendee of the EAI Club meet. He felt that the minutes of the meeting should be made more accessible to the public.
  • Karthic Prabhu, a techie from Infosys and an aspiring entrepreneur keen on entering renewable energy, made a point that discussions should be mandatory during the meet and these should add value by providing specific takeaways for all those who attend it.

The other idea that we brainstormed during the meet was one that Abrar Ahmed, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Kaizen NanoLabs Pvt. Ltd had been exploring for a while – forming a more professional, non-profit network for India renewable energy. Some of the ideas exchanged in this context were:

1) Forming a “NEW” non-profit organization other than “EAI club” with a “new name”, that is representative of all stakeholders viz., Industry, Investments, Government, R&D, Academicians…

2) The organization should have in its panel experts from the various sections: Industry, Investments, Government, R&D, Academics.

3) The objective of the “NEW organization” formed, is to be an industry representative body like CII, but with focus limited to Renewable Energy sector only.

4) The focus should be on giving good quality and value add to the stakeholders, otherwise this effort would be a distant dream

While there are such formations in rather loose ways, we felt there was no single body that could get up and say they represented the entire spectrum of clean technology companies, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and other hobby enthusiasts. We are hoping that our planned organization could fill the void.

In order to get this organization up and running, the work will be split among the team members and the idea is to do the following in the next two weeks:

1. Get a name for the organization

2. Get a list of experts from Chennai who could form the original panel members. These folks should be from diverse backgrounds – from academic, from entrepreneurs, from investing community and if possible some blokes from the government and policy making.

3. Put up a web site for the organization

We are hoping to have the organization up and running by end of Jan 2011. Those of you who might want to contribute ideas for this organization along any of the three points noted above, please let me know though an email – narsi@eai.in .

During the Club meet, we also had some interesting discussions with Karthik Prabhu who is a budding entrepreneur. He is currently working with Infosys, but is interested in getting into renewable energy as an entrepreneur. I see more and more software engineers keen on entering renewable energy, after realizing that either (a) software is not their cup of tea, (b) renewable energy is far more exciting than software, or (c) both (a) and (b).

We hope to have the next EAI Club Chennai Meet 1st week of Jan 2011. Will keep you folks updated on that.

The EAI team wishes you all in advance a merry Christmas and a happy new year.