Former Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday stressed the need for universities to not only focus on their academic excellence, but also build an innovation ecosystem through a greater level of partnerships with industry leaders. Addressing the 79th anniversary celebration of Alagappa College of Technology (ACTech) here, he said while India produced a large number of engineers, the country’s share in the global high technology trade was not commensurate to its potential. He said universities should develop a strategic approach to position themselves as a knowledge hub and catalyse innovation. He lauded the AC Tech Alumni Association (ACTAA) for its initiative to nurture research and entrepreneurial ecosystem at the institution through the ACTech Research Foundation formed by the association. With India to account for one-third of the global youth population by 2035, he said it was important for everyone to make use of this demographic dividend and work towards developing the nation. He said that while focussing on economic development, it was important to uphold the cultural value system of the country and protect nature. Stating that encroachments on waterbodies played a role in the floods faced by Chennai this year and earlier in 2015, he said encroachments of any kind by anybody should not be allowed. Anna University Vice-Chancellor R. Velraj highlighted the need for a discussion on introducing the branch of Artificial Intelligence in ACTech, which he said has the uniqueness of not having Computer Science and Engineering as a branch to focus on other core industry-relevant branches like chemical engineering, biotechnology, textile, leather and ceramic technologies. Referring to a recent report by the State Planning Commission on the question papers set by colleges in Tamil Nadu, including engineering colleges, to be of poor quality, he said Anna University had to keep the question papers easier because of the quality of the students entering engineering colleges. Arguing that only a fraction of students taking up engineering were truly eligible for the course, he said the issue needed to be fixed at the school-level. Mr. Naidu presented the Distinguished Alumni awards to 14 people.