New Delhi: GITAM (Deemed to be) University, in association with Startup India, Northeastern University Center for Emerging Markets (NUCEM), Boston and Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education (NUCEE), Boston, has launched the coveted SmartIDEathon 2022 Challenge with more than 1,000 student teams from 27 states pitching startup ideas that could help build sustainable and resilient communities through social innovation. All business ideas must revolve around five relevant themes that are currently relevant to India.
The mega pitchfest includes one-to-one coaching for shortlisted student entrepreneurs, a sponsored trip to Boston, and cash and grants worth Rs 30 lakh for winners and runners-up. Themes for 2022 align with [email protected] – Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. These are food and agriculture, clean/green technologies, waste management, health and assistive technologies, and water management.
Participating students currently enrolled in undergraduate or postgraduate programs and recent graduates can pitch their business ideas in teams of no more than two members.
During the first round, a panel of top business leaders will review submitted video pitches and one-minute presentations for relevance and innovation. Up to 100 shortlisted applicants will advance to the second round and be invited to online Bootcamp sessions and coaching by entrepreneurship practitioners. Once the panel has re-evaluated the submitted ideas in terms of innovation, scalability and impact, 32 shortlisted teams from the second round can advance to the semi-finals.
The Semi-Finals and Grand Finals will be hosted in-person at GITAM’s Visakhapatnam campus, where teams will network with industry experts, entrepreneurs and other distinguished guests. As the competition heats up, eight teams will pitch in front of a distinguished jury and live audience on stage in an auditorium.
Along with Bootcamp and individual style coaching and prizes worth a total of Rs 30 lakh, the winners and first runners-up will be flown to Boston for a two-week all-expenses-paid stay hosted by Northeastern University. They will be able to see and learn about Boston’s vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem with visits to local incubators and accelerators and special mentorship by experts.
These trips to Boston would be for the Challenge’s winning and finalist teams and the winners of the Best Social Impact Business Idea and Best Woman-Led Entrepreneurship Idea categories.
Mr. Krish Nangegadda, Director of Innovation, GITAM University (deemed to be)said, “At GITAM’s Venture Development Center (VDC), we specialize in experiential entrepreneurship education for students of all disciplines. We have created a vibrant ecosystem of assets and events that enable creative thinking and entrepreneurship to solve business and societal issues. SmartIDEAthon is one such event that provides a platform for young minds to come up with solutions around the announced themes. VDC coaches and mentors are equipped to conduct bootcamps and one-on-one sessions to help and guide students to refine their ideas and prepare them for the pitching competition. It’s going to be a really rewarding experience for the students and also for the coaches and organizers.
“The current ideathon focuses on themes of national significance; through this ideathon, we encourage students to work on startups that help build sustainable and resilient communities through social innovation. The focus is on identifying the pressing problems of Indian society. Participants are encouraged to come up with ideas that will solve these problems and have a positive impact on millions of people. We encourage students to explore technological, process and design innovations,” said Prof Raja P Pappu, Director, Center for Business Development, GITAM.
The platform provides a great opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to network. “At startup, an entrepreneur’s network can open doors to critical opportunities, knowledge, and support that can mean the difference between a successful business and one that fails. SmartIDEAthon organizes these crucial experiences for an entrepreneur,” said Mahesh Varier, Deputy Director-VDC, GITAM. Speaking of the diversity of participants, he adds, this platform gives special recognition to start-ups and innovations led by women.
The previous edition of the SmartIDEathon Challenge witnessed an overwhelming response from students, with 250 team submissions from more than 90 colleges in 17 states last year. The results of rounds 1 and 2 will be published on July 15 and 22 respectively. The semi-finals and the final will take place in August 2022.