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Indian Government launches programme to support deep tech innovation and commercialisation in critical areas

Indian Government launches programme to support deep tech innovation and commercialisation in critical areas

The Indian Government has launched
a series of challenges with the aim of harnessing innovation from companies,
primarily Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and startups as well as
individual innovators, for solving problems, improving the lives of citizens
and generating employment.

The aim is to incentivise innovation in areas critical to
India’s growth, such as health, housing, hygiene, energy and water and to address
the second ‘Commercialisation Valley of Death’, in which innovators are unable
to access resources for piloting, testing, and market creation by helping new
deep-tech products find markets and early customers in the context of India.

The Atal
New India Challenges
have been launched under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) of the NITI Aayog, the premier policy thinktank of the
Government of India. AIM is part of the Government of India’s endeavour to
promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Its objective is to serve
as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges,
Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in
technology driven areas.

Applicants showing capability, intent, and potential to
productise technologies will be awarded grants up to Rs. 10 million
(US$150,000). The grant support will be supplemented by mentoring,
go-to-market strategies by leading incubators, accelerators and experts,
technical support and any other kind of support as needed at various stages of
commercialisation.

The programme is open to Indian companies registered under
the Companies Act 1956/2013, primarily a MSME as defined in the MSMED Act,
2006. It is also open to Start-Ups, as defined by the Department of Industrial
Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government or private R&D organisations (other
than a Railway R&D organisation), academic institutions, academicians, or
even individual innovators are encouraged to apply, provided they partner with
entities with appropriate manufacturing capabilities. 

Grants under the programme will be awarded in up to 3
tranches within 12-18 months, contingent on achieving milestones. Up to a total
of 50 grants in fiscal year 2018-19 may be given out. The grants will not be
mutually exclusive and several grants may be given in a focus area, based on
the Selection Committee’s perception of potential. 

Seventeen focus areas have been identified. The challenges
are being issued after rigorous consultations and discussions with the partner
ministries, namely the Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Housing and
Urban Affairs, Agriculture and Family Welfare, Drinking Water & Sanitation
and the Railway Board.

The focus areas are:

  1. Climate-smart
    agriculture
    : Deploy products, technologies and processes (supply chains) to
    promote and commercialise climate-resilient agricultural practices, species,
    and processes
  2. Fog vision system for
    road and rail
    : Increase
    deployment of technologies to reduce accidents in low visibility conditions –
    vehicle-attached, or improvements in street lighting infrastructure, or
    improved reflectors for higher pedestrian visibility, etc. 
  3. Prevention of Rail
    failure using emerging technologies
    : Advanced technology solutions to
    predict and prevent rail failures viz. automated track monitoring systems, rail
    track health, signalling and switching technologies etc.
  4. Predictive
    maintenance of Rolling Stock
    : Solutions to monitor the health and safety of
    key components of the coaches, freight cars, locomotives which includes bearing
    and wheels to reduce catastrophic failures leading to improved safety and
    operating cost
  5. Alternate fuel-based
    transportation
    : Deployment of technologies/products in transportation,
    using alternate source of power to reduce carbon emissions – including systems
    to integrate with existing transportation infrastructure
  6. Smart Mobility:  Use
    of alternate transportation mechanisms for newly urbanising regions / smart
    cities  
  7. Electric Mobility:
    Technologies / innovations to increase share of electric vehicles in all modes
    of transportation
  8. Safe transport: Technologies
    / innovations to reduce accidents and fatalities, with special focus on
    two-wheelers / pedestrians
  9. Instant Portable
    Water Quality Testing
    : Develop systems, products, technologies, or
    protocols to identify nature and/or concentration of biological/chemical
    contaminants in any given water sample
  10. Affordable
    Desalination / Recycling Technology
    : Deploy technologies or products to
    recycle water at household- and community-levels, Create
    products/processes/technologies for low-energy consumption desalination
  11. Waste management
    recycling / reuse
    : Deployment of technologies for waste management, e.g.
    solid, e-waste etc.
  12. Garbage composition
    devices
    : Portable / handheld scanner / device that can distinguish the
    composition of garbage collected from households as wet or dry
  13. Quality of compost:
    Portable / handheld device that can quickly determine the quality of compost
    (also whether the compost heap meets Fertilizer Control Order Standards)
  14. Decentralised
    composting
    : Economical, efficient, modular, aesthetic, environment friendly
    and occupying minimum space arrangements / equipment / plants for decentralised
    composting
  15. Mixing blades for
    composting
    : Efficient mixing blades for small scale / household composting
    material
  16. Waste in public
    spaces
    : Efficient, simple and economical methods of sweeping and sucking
    the littered waste in public places including narrow streets
  17. Dissuading public
    littering
    : Efficient, simple and economical methods of identifying persons
    littering, raising alarm so as to dissuade the public from littering

The initiative was launched in the presence of Dr Rajiv
Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road
Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development &
Ganga Rejuvenation, Shri SS Ahluwalia, Minister of State, Ministry of Drinking
Water & Sanitation, Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog and Shri Ramanathan
Ramanan, Mission Director, AIM. 

Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog, Dr Rajiv Kumar highlighted the
need to ensure inclusive and innovative solutions. He said, “India has
accelerated its growth potential by leveraging technology in various spheres.
This initiative will focus our efforts towards solving problems in core areas,
which would have a direct impact on improving lives of our citizens and will
also generate employment. The topics placed in different phases are aligned
with India’s needs and through the support of innovation, we are ready to make
a giant leap towards a New India.” 

Applications are being accepted under the programme at http://aim.gov.in/atal-new-india-challenge.php and
the last date for applications is June 10, 2018.