Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations

If your technology innovation positively impacts smallholder farmers, apply now!

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About Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations

The Agriculture sector in India employs close to 50% of the country’s workforce, but accounts for only 18% of the Gross Domestic Product. More than 75% of the Indian farmers own less than two hectares of land and are categorised as ‘smallholder’ farmers. Smallholders are under immense financial stress despite farmer incomes sitting at the centre of the Government’s agricultural development strategy. The state of Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 26% of India’s low-income farmers, magnifying the need for impactful development interventions.

The core objective of the Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations is to curate innovative technologies that positively impact smallholder farmers. Winners of the quest will receive incubation support in their lab to last-mile journey.

The first edition of the Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations is looking for innovators and entrepreneurs with transformative technologies that address a curated set of challenges faced by the smallholder farmers in Uttar Pradesh. Up to 12 innovations will be selected as the first cohort of the India Agritech Incubation Network (IAIN) powered by Social Alpha.

The IAIN is an initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Tata Trusts, in partnership with  the Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur). It envisions to create an enabling ecosystem for innovators and entrepreneurs developing solutions for smallholder farmers in order to help them become more productive, profitable and empowered.

Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations
Calling for innovations

Innovative technology solutions, with a strong focus on affordability, accessibility, efficiency and user experience across the agriculture & allied value chain. We invite innovators and entrepreneurs that are focussed on working on any of the following challenges faced by smallholder farmers.

Problem statements
Improving productivity and yield intensification
Better post-harvest loss management and value-added activities
Enhancing access to market and improving traceability
Program Offerings

Up to 12 winners to receive

Sandbox facility to test, validate and pilot innovations/projects on the ground in the state of Uttar Pradesh using Tata Trusts’ extensive network
Access to Social Alpha’s seed investment and / or grants funding; and facilitated access to a large investor and donor network
Access to state-of-the-art technology incubation space with high quality labs, equipment for refining and testing at IIT Kanpur’s Incubator facility
Product development support including assistance with designing, rapid prototyping and design for manufacturing
Dedicated agri-business experts to assist with business planning, developing go-to-market strategy and overall business advisory
Mentorship by a set of qualified global and local experts; and curated set of capacity building sessions
Practical on-the-ground feedback from the farmer community, grassroots non-profits, agriculture experts and corporate and government bodies
Access to shared office space and amenities at Social Alpha or IIT Kanpur incubation centres and support services such as accounting, compliance, taxation, legal, IP, etc.
Networking and partnership opportunities with a wide range of stakeholders including accelerators, industry experts, NGOs, corporates, investors and CSRs

Who should Apply?

We are looking for Individuals, Social Enterprises and Start-ups that have developed or are developing technology based innovations that have the potential to create impact in the lives of the smallholder farmers of Uttar Pradesh and demonstrate business model sustainability.

We are inviting applications in two categories:

Track 1: For early-stage category
(for physical incubation)

This category aims to support innovations which need support in physical prototype development, testing and product validations.

This would target technologies at an early stage of product development where in:

  • Theoretical proof of concept has been established and active R&D has been initiated;
  • Basic technological components have been integrated to establish that they work together;
  • Early prototypes exist;
  • Simulations and early testing are underway.

Ideal applications would be in TRL 3 to TRL 6 in terms of technology readiness level and require lab/technical support.

Track 2: For matured category
(for physical or virtual incubation)

This category is looking to provide support in primarily go-to-market strategy, product commercialisation, demonstrations and pilots.

This would target innovations at an advanced stage of product development where in:

  • Prototype exists and at least one pilot has been carried out or proof of concept has been physically demonstrated in real world conditions/on the ground/outside the lab with positive results
  • Pre-commercial / fully functional lab prototype with some testing and feedback from users exists
  • The product is ready and is already in the market and can be scaled or replicated in Uttar Pradesh

Ideal applications would be in TRL 7 to fully commercialised stage; even in-revenue start-ups could apply.


  • 1st July 2019

    Launch of Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations

  • 30th September 2019

    Deadline for applications


  • October 2019

    Virtual interviews for top 60 applications


  • Mid November 2019

    Jury round for top 25; Grand finale; Announcement of winners


  • December 2019 onwards

    Orientation launchpad and start of pre-incubation

  • Post January 2020

    Incubation for next 12-24 months; Funding opportunity

Frequently Asked Questions

To know more about the Quest, we request you to go through the FAQs section:

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