Indians have long succeeded in bringing cutting-edge innovative thought and an unflinching entrepreneurial drive into technology and businesses. Whether it is ideas, products, services or processes, India has been a go-to pool of talent and creation that has driven many industries. However, a major chunk of our population lies outside of this aspirational and developing India, with minimal access to technology (More than 80% of the country’s population does not have access to computing devices). Hence, development – as a notion – is complete only when it is inclusive of the needs of 1.2 billion people; and a true “Digital India” can be complete only on the realization of our 1.2 billion aspirations.
The push for a Digital India has gained steam with the government incorporating it as part of its vision for progress. This vision, backed by innovation, promises to bridge the digital divide and enable mass adoption of simplified, accessible, and usable technologies to facilitate national development. These two core elements of vision and innovation form the foundation of the Innovate For Digital India Challenge (IFDIC), a challenge open for innovators to go beyond Make In India to Innovate In India, to create a robust digital infrastructure and enable citizen empowerment. Organized by Intel and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), anchored by IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), and in partnership with MyGov and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), the challenge is the torchbearer in bringing both the innovators and enablers of change together to leverage technology and achieve the government’s vision of a Digital India; either by facilitating mass adoption of technology among the underserved, or by improving the rollout of existing and new governance schemes beneficial to people.
The Innovate for Digital India Challenge was launched nationally in Delhi on 24 April 2015, followed by enthusiastic responses at regional launch events in Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Trivandrum, Guwahati and Hyderabad. A tall precedent was set with the 800+ attendees and queries related to the project support and advisory help provided to applicants, and how their ideas can be made a reality through the technical assistance offered. The application is open to all students, academics and entrepreneurs who were citizens of India and went live on innovate.mygov.in, and gained steam with encouragement from the Prime Minister through his Twitter handle which reaches 13+ million followers worldwide. The social media audience through various channels of the program numbered in the millions, and the events received strong digital and traditional media coverage.
Have ideas for a digital India & to transform our economy? Then you must participate in the ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’ on MyGov.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 16, 2015
A total of 1087 completed applications were submitted for the program at the time of writing, with the deadline extended until 6PM IST on the 28th of June. Covering the gamut from eGovernance to AgriTech, and from Smart Cities to universal Healthcare, the applications showed a lot of potential, with many solutions aimed at equipping every citizen with technology and governance related ideas to improve the quality of their lives. Solutions were focused on simplifying technology and presenting it in an intuitive and understandable way for the benefit of the underserved, enabling a smarter India by applying the Internet of Things to homes, energy and agriculture, and in adding value to existing eGovernance services by making them efficient and interactive with citizens.
After the review process, the 50 shortlisted solutions will have access to a 6 month incubation program, including a 3 month accelerator phase in Pune for the top 20 solutions where mentors and advisors will assist and guide the applicants to bring their ideas to life through various stages of technical support (Access to Intel® Architecture based product kits and software development kits), funding and go-to-market support. Advisors who are on board with program include industry leaders such as Hasit Kaji form Tata Consultancy Services, Amar Babu from Lenovo, Vikas Jain from Micromax and Ajay Bhagwat from Renu Electronics. With Pune becoming the new hub of entrepreneurial activity for startups involved in product manufacturing and enterprise solutions, and access to design houses, fab-labs, and 3D printing at the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP), the incubation and acceleration activity for the program provides a highly conducive environment for the applicants. This will be CIIE’s largest program and the first of many that it will run from its recently established Pune operations that house its ICT expertise.
With ongoing mentoring and advisory, the top 20 solutions will work with prototyping grants of INR 2,00,000 per team and the top ten solutions selected among these will receive a development grant of up to INR 5,00,000 per team. The final three ideas that stand out will gain equity investment of up to INR 20,00,000 per team on successful completion of the project and due diligence. Following this, the ideas will be showcased and further commercialized for roll-out, marking the arrival of Digital India’s first set of entrepreneurs. The Honourable Prime Minister, is likely to announce the names of the teams that make it to the final stage of the Challenge.
Read more about the program here: http://www.innovatefordigitalindia.intel.in/
– Written by Narendiran Sundararajan, with inputs from Jaideep Singh Panwar & Rishabh Narang