3 Stages to set up Atal Tinkering Lab: FIZ Robotic Solutions
- January 20, 2023
- Posted by: FIZ Robotic Solutions
- Category: Atal Tinkering Lab
The Atal Tinkering Lab innovation journey begins with the Government of India’s ATL selection process. To select schools where ATL will be established, Atal Innovation Mission has devised a very systematic and rigorous challenge-based application, screening, and selection process. AIM will accept online applications from schools via a website-based portal. Following selection, schools must complete the documentation and Public Finance Management System (PFMS) compliance process, which includes submitting the required documents via the AIM document submission online portal. Following successful completion of the compliance, the grant-in-aid is distributed to schools, and they are required to establish the ATL in accordance with AIM guidelines and begin their innovation journey.
ATL school selection consists of three distinct stages, with the entire process taking approximately 6-8 months to complete.
Stage I: Invite applications through an online application portal: 3- 4 months
ATL applications are being accepted online by schools. The ATL online application portal is a streamlined platform designed to allow schools to submit ATL applications. The online application is divided into four sections: contact information for the applicant school and principal, basic information about the school’s identity, performance of the school in terms of scores and participation in competitions, and other ATL-related information such as the presence of basic infrastructure.
Applicants are not permitted to submit more than one application, and they must refrain from providing false/inaccurate information in part or in full. Furthermore, submitting an application does not guarantee selection.
Stage 2: Application screening: 1-2 months
The ATL selection process will be divided into two stages: screening and final evaluation. Applications will be processed in accordance with the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria include the availability of 1000 – 1500 sq. ft. of built-up space, a minimum number of students enrolled, dedicated mathematics and science teachers, basic infrastructure such as computers and internet connectivity, a steady electricity connection, a science lab, library, and playground, and regular attendance of staff and students.
Stage 3: Final assessment: 1 to 2 months
Following the screening, selected applications will be evaluated further for final selection, based on a weighted average, parameters including, but not limited to, district coverage, school participation in science, technology, arts, and creative festivals and awards received, existing mentor and alumni engagement, and so on. The application form collects data for all of the aforementioned parameters, which allows us to determine how committed the school is to using the ATL as a platform to transform their school into a local innovation hub.
Following the final evaluation, the list of selected schools will be communicated via the AIM website and email to the selected schools. The schools will be required to complete the compliance process, which includes documentation and PFMS compliance. Both of these steps are covered in the following section.
Compliance refers to AIM’s observance to NITI Aayog requirements in terms of proper documentation, allowing grant-in-aid to be released to the shortlisted ATL School. AIM has created a strict compliance process, and only those schools that submit the required documents within the timeframe specified are chosen for AIM grant-in-aid. Compliance is divided into two parts: documentary compliance and PFMS compliance. Documentary compliance requires schools to submit a set of documents in accordance with the guidelines. Following that, the schools must complete the PFMS compliance, which requires them to open ATL-specific bank accounts, which are then validated and approved on the online portal, as described in the following section.
Compliance with Documents
For documentary compliance, shortlisted schools must upload relevant documents to the online document submission portal. The documents include a declaration form signed by the school Principal on the school letterhead, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), a bond (applicable only to non-governmental schools), a bank passbook detail, and the ATL lab layout.
In addition to documentation compliance, the school is also required to complete PFMS compliance. The PFMS is a government-initiated finance management and decision-making system that aids in tracking and monitoring fund disbursement and utilisation for government schemes. It has been mandated by the government of India for all schemes in order to maintain transparency and prevent misappropriation of public funds.
Schools must register their institution on the PFMS portal as part of their PFMS compliance. To facilitate registration, schools must open a new bank account in a designated bank solely for the purpose of receiving the ATL Grant. Other sources of funds are not permitted to be deposited in these accounts. Before registering on the PFMS portal with the scheme number, schools must wait at least one day for the account to be activated on the bank’s server/portal.
The grant-in-aid is disbursed to schools upon satisfactory completion of the compliance, and they are required to establish the ATL and set up the lab in accordance with the procurement and grant-in-aid fund utilisation guidelines.
Understanding procurement and the use of Grant-in-Aid funds
Each ATL must acquire equipment in order to function in the larger goal of creating an innovation ecosystem in our country and developing our youth as innovators and solution providers.
Schools must set up ATL, inaugurate it, and make it operational and working within three months of receiving grant-in-aid funds.
It is essential to keep the following points in mind when purchasing ATL tools and materials.
- The school must conduct due diligence to ensure the quality of the equipment.
- Bulk purchasing can be cost effective and save money in the long run.
- General tools and equipment take precedence over task-specific tools.
- Before purchasing expensive equipment, make sure that at least one person knows how to use it.
- Maintenance and breakage costs must be included in operating expenses to account for unforeseen contingencies.
Understanding the Government E- Marketplace for Procurement
According to the Government of India’s most recent directive, all procurement must take place through the Government eMarketplace (GeM). GeM is a platform that allows government departments to buy commonly used goods and services online, while also promoting transparency, efficiency, and speed in public procurement. By inserting Rule 149 into the GFR, 2017, the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, has authorised and made purchases through GeM (https://gem.gov.in) mandatory. To ensure transactions with credible vendors and maintain transparency, all ATL schools must purchase equipment through GeM.
A grant-in-aid of ’20 lakh has been sanctioned for each of the schools to establish ATL, with ’10 lakh as a one-time establishment cost and the remaining ’10 lakh for operational and maintenance expenses, disbursed in ‘2.00 lakh tranches over five years. In the first year, schools receive ’12 lakh from the ATL grant, which includes ’10 lakh for capital expenses and ‘2 lakh for operational and maintenance expenses.