Entrepreneurs gear up for sixth edition of Tata Social Enterprise Challenge


Kolkata: In its mission to find India’s most promising early-stage social enterprises, the Tata group, today, announced the commencement of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2017-18, a joint initiative with the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C). The challenge endeavours to create an ecosystem for social entrepreneurship and encourage sustainable, scalable and measurable social impact.


Maximum of 20 teams will be selected for the semifinals and will be provided up to six weeks of mentorship support, including two days at the IIM Calcutta campus.

Funding Opportunity
All teams shortlisted for the semifinals and finals will have an opportunity to pitch to India’s largest social VCs for seed funding.

The teams which make it to the grand finale will be given an opportunity to pitch for incubation at IIM Calcutta Innovation Park.

Cash Awards
The total prize money is Rs6 lakh for the top three teams. The semifinalists will receive travel grants.

This platform is open for teams who either have an early-stage venture (not older than three years) or a promising idea with a plan that can create sustainable social impact in India. They can submit their business plans online by logging onto www.tatasechallenge.org. Impact proposals (detailed business plans) are invited in the areas of agriculture, food and dairy, healthcare, water and sanitation, technology and development, education & skills development, housing, handicrafts, energy, and microfinance/financial inclusion. The ventures will be judged on three parameters: business model, social impact and sustainability.

Widening the scope of enterprise programme, the challenge further invites the public to nominate social enterprises that they know of and who fit the eligibility criteria. The last day to submit the impact proposal (business plan) online is September 30, 2017.

Some of the qualifying ventures of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge, which have been incubated at the IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) are ONganic Foods Pvt Ltd, Aroghya Medtech Pvt Ltd., Doctors For You, SwitchON-ONergy, Edwell Solutions, Bodhi Health Education and Ultrasafe Ultrasound.

Atul Agrawal, senior vice president, corporate affairs, Tata Services, said, “The Tata Social Enterprise Challenge has become a platform that encourages the incredibly enthusiastic young citizens of our nation to thrive in the space of social entrepreneurship. In today’s scenario, where social enterprises face several hurdles, we believe that this initiative brings social entrepreneurs as well as expert partners in the limelight. Further, this platform provides social start-ups an eco-system and mentoring opportunities with regards to business techniques and approaches to find solutions for social, cultural or environmental problems”.

Professor Ashok Banerjee, director, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, said, “Tata Social Enterprise Challenge is now recognised as a flagship programme on social entrepreneurship. We have witnessed significant growth of past winners of this contest. We are looking for budding social enterprises who are ready to scale up and create impact at the national level and firmly believe that Tata Social Enterprise Challenge will help establish a network between budding entrepreneurs and funding partners”.

Winners of the last season:

Pentavalent Bio Sciences, winner of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2016-17, is a Bengaluru-based social enterprise. Pentavalent Bio Sciences is a fully integrated biotech start-up that provides innovative solutions from discovery to development, leveraging cutting-edge science, cost effective molecular diagnostics and new ideas and technologies in the diagnostics market. They are currently developing an innovative diagnostic tool using novel in-house FlapCut technology that detects tuberculosis (TB) in patients and helps doctors to prescribe patient-specific antibiotics for treatment.

The first runner-up was Arogya Medtech, a Kolkata based venture, which has developed a product called CEREBROS, a low-cost, less resource-intensive, portable, radiation-free, non-invasive, multi-modal [Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Electroencephalography (EEG/EOG)] brain-scanning device in the form a wearable head-gear, optimised using a proprietary embedded system and ‘smart’ algorithms.

The second runner-up was Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO), India’s first industrial and medicinal hemp (cannabis) company, established in 2013. Located in Mumbai, the company works with Central and State governments to assist farmers to improve their socio-economic standards by utilising cultivation of cannabis for industrial, construction and pharmaceutical purposes.

To engage with a greater number of stakeholders in a more sustained and integrated manner, the approach brings together social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and members from the academia, industry and business from across the country.

Challenge: The national-level Tata Social Enterprise Challenge is in its sixth year now.

Hackathons: This year, the programme has a new element of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge Hackathon. Tata Social Enterprise Challenge Hackathons are being organised in select cities on a range of topics to tap the young for their ideas and solutions in the Indian social entrepreneurship eco-system space. The first one organised under the aegis of Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2017-18 by the Tata group, in association with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP), and ibHubs is being held on August 19 and 20, 2017, at BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru, on the topic of Combat lifestyle diseases leveraging technology.

Seminars: This exercise aims at building awareness, interest and desire to engage with the social enterprise ecosystem among graduate and post-graduate students who are about to begin their careers through seminars across five cities and key note lectures at IIM Calcutta.

Engage: This exercise encapsulates creating and disseminating knowledge about the status of social entrepreneurship in India through interactive digital and social media platforms such as the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge website, Facebook page, Twitter handle and YouTube videos, among others.

Tata Social Enterprise Challenge is a unique initiative, undertaken jointly by an educational institution and a business group, to promote the spirit of social entrepreneurship in India. Started in 2012, it has received over 900 entries till date. The initiative is being supported by some of the most prominent venture capitalists in the social entrepreneurship space.