SmartIDEAthon 2022 Begins at GITAM, Entries Received from 27 states

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 over 1000+ student teams from across 27 states pitching start-up ideas that could help build sustainable and resilient communities through social innovation. All venture ideas are to be around five pertinent themes that are currently relevant to India.

The mega pitchfest involves personalized coaching for shortlisted student entrepreneurs, a sponsored trip to Boston and cash and grants worth Rs 30 lakh for winners and runners-up. The themes for 2022 align with India@75 – Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. These are food and agriculture, clean/green technology, waste management, health tech and assistive technology, and water management.

Student participants currently enrolled in any undergraduate or postgraduate programs and recent graduates can showcase their venture ideas in teams not exceeding two members.

In Round 1, a panel of top venture leaders will review the submitted minute-long video pitches and presentations for relevance and innovation. Up to 100 shortlisted applicants will make it to Round 2 and be invited for online Bootcamp sessions and coaching by ace entrepreneurship practitioners. After the panel re-assesses submitted ideas for innovation, scalability and impact, 32 shortlisted teams from Round 2 get to walk into the semi-finals.

The semi-finals and the grand finale will be organized in person at GITAM’s Visakhapatnam campus, where the teams will network with industry experts, entrepreneurs and other prominent guests. As the competition gets stiff, eight teams will pitch to an eminent jury and live audience on stage in an auditorium setting.

Besides Bootcamp-style and one-on-one coaching and prizes worth a total of Rs 30 lakh, winners and first runners-up will be flown to Boston for an all expenses-paid two-week stay hosted by Northeastern University. They will get to see and experience the vibrant Boston entrepreneurship ecosystem with trips to local incubators and accelerators and special mentoring by experts.

These Boston trips would be for the winner and runner-up teams of the Challenge and winners in the Best Social Impact Business Idea and the Best Woman-led Entrepreneurship Idea categories.

Mr. Krish Nangegadda, Chief Innovation Officer, GITAM (Deemed to be) University, said, “At GITAM’s Venture Development Center (VDC), we specialize in providing experiential entrepreneurship education to students of all disciplines. We have created a vibrant ecosystem of assets and events that enable creative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset to solve business and societal problems. SmartIDEAthon is one such event that offers a platform for young minds to propose solutions around the themes advertised. The coaches and mentors at the VDC are equipped to conduct bootcamps and one-on-one sessions to handhold and guide the students to refine their ideas and to prepare them for the pitching competition.  This is going to be a truly enriching experience for the students and equally for the coaches and organizers as well.”

The current ideathon is focused on themes which are of national importance; 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 pressing problems in Indian society. The participants are encouraged to pitch ideas that will solve these problems and positively impact millions of people. We encourage students to explore technological, process, and design innovations,” said Prof Raja P Pappu, Director, Venture Development Centre, GITAM.

The platform provides an excellent opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to network. “When starting out, an entrepreneur’s network can open doors to critical opportunities, knowledge, and support that can be the difference between a venture that succeeds and one that fails. SmartIDEAthon curates these crucial experiences for an entrepreneur,” said Mahesh Varier, Deputy Director-VDC, GITAM. Speaking about participant diversity, he adds, this platform awards special recognition for women-led start-ups and innovations.

The previous edition of SmartIDEAthon Challenge witnessed an overwhelming response from students, with 250 team submissions from over 90 colleges in 17 states last year. Round 1 and 2 results will be out on July 15 and 22, respectively. The semi-finals and finale will take place in August 2022.