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.
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.
Improving productivity and yield intensification
Better post-harvest loss management and value-added activities
Enhancing access to market and improving traceability
Up to 12 winners to receive
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
31st August 2019
Deadline for applications
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:
Terms and Conditions
Please read the following terms and conditions before submitting your entry:
- Any individual, group of individuals or entity, whether incorporated or otherwise, regardless of age, who has an innovative idea that positively impact smallholder farmers in India (though not exclusively), is eligible to participate.
- Participating or proposed ventures should be independent entities, meaning that they should not be a subsidiary of an existing corporation or have legal ties to a government body.
- If an individual or group of individuals is/are selected, he/she/they must register the entity within six months either as a “for profit” (private limited company) or “not for profit” (Section 8 Company, Trust or Society).
- The company should be registered in India with at least 51% shareholding by Indian promoters in the company.
- Existing non-profits can participate; however, they should propose a venturing idea or a plan to transform their existing solutions into a more sustainable solution.
- As the Quest is looking for start-ups or proposed start-ups to work on product development and / or establishing marketing channels for existing products, and not research, only those with developed ideas and/or prototypes should apply.
- Specific eligibility for Track 1: Early stage category: Any individual or group of individuals, whether incorporated or otherwise, with solutions that have a technology readiness level of TRL 3 to TRL 6. This would translate into:
- TRL 3 – Proof of Concept stage / Active R&D has been initiated. This includes analytical studies and laboratory studies to physically validate the analytical predictions of separate elements of the technology.
- TRL 4 – Basic technological components have been integrated to establish that they work together.
- TRL 5 – Technology has been put together and can be tested in a simulated environment.
- TRL 6 – Prototype is being tested in simulated operational environment or in a high-fidelity laboratory environment.
- Those with solutions which have a technology readiness level of TRL 1 or 2 are not encouraged to apply.
- Specific eligibility for Track 2: Matured stage category: Any individual or group of individuals, whether incorporated or otherwise, with solutions that have a technology readiness level of TRL 7 to TRL 9. This would translate into:
- TRL 7 – Actual system prototype is near completion or ready and has been demonstrated in an operational environment or is at pilot level.
- TRL 8 – Technology is proven and developed but not yet operational or applied anywhere.
- TRL 9 – Technology has been applied in its final form and is operational.
- Solution is already in market and can be scaled and replicated for Uttar Pradesh.
Submissions and Participation
- Submissions which are incomplete will be deemed void and disqualified from the Quest evaluations.
- Submissions should be the original work of the participant, and should demonstrate positive, sustainable and scalable social impact in India (though not exclusively in the region).
- Participants who are determined to be ‘Finalists’, i.e. those ranked in the top 25, are invited for the final evaluation round. They are required to send at least one core member for the final round of evaluations to be held in Kanpur.
- Finalists agree to the use of their names, photographs, disclosure of their country of residence, and co-operate with any other reasonable requests by the organiser relating to any competition publicity.
- Finalists agree to the use of their names, photographs, disclosure of their country of residence; and are required to cooperate with any other reasonable requests by the organiser relating to any publicity-related activities.
- Finalists are required to submit a declaration of good standing and solvency at the final round of evaluations. If there is any change in circumstance that invalidates their good standing and solvency, the team is to immediately inform the organisers.
- All participants own the rights to their ideas. Participants must properly acknowledge any trademarks, patented or copyrighted materials of others that are incorporated into the submission materials. Participants are responsible for obtaining any necessary permission before utilizing such materials into their submissions.
- Submitted ideas are protected in the spirit of non-disclosure, and all submitted materials will be treated as company confidential. The only people with access to the entry materials will be evaluators/judges, partners and select members of the organising committee. Materials will not be distributed to any other party unless requested by a participant. No other provisions are made to protect intellectual property.
- Participants are advised not to disclose critical information which would affect a successful filing of patent(s). All presentations are open to the general public, and some presentations may be videotaped. Attendance by media personnel is expected in the final round(s). Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by participants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.
Decisions regarding the winners
- The selection of the ‘Winners’ is at the sole discretion of the judges and the organisers from Social Alpha and partnering organisations. Best efforts will be made to make decisions in accordance with this document.
- Throughout any and all phases of the Quest, all decisions of the judges are final.
Disqualification and Organiser’s Right to Amend Competition Rules
- The organisers of the Quest reserve the right to disqualify any participant who is found to have violated the spirit of the Quest’s guidelines and terms and conditions stated herein. Disqualified participants shall forfeit any and all prizes awarded to them.
- The organisers reserve the right to amend these rules at any point before the Closing Date of the Quest in line with the overall goal of the Quest.
- The indicated dates for the Quest may be revised at any point of time by the organisers. Any change in schedule will be suitably intimated on the Quest webpage and on other relevant platforms.
- The winners will receive incubation support under the India Agritech Incubation Network (IAIN) which would include business incubation by Social Alpha and technology incubation at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur’s facilities in Kanpur and Noida. No cash prizes will be awarded.
- The incubation support will be for a period of 12-24 months (extendable further based on need and performance assessment), and the exact duration of each winner’s incubation period and the kind of support required will be decided on a case-to-case basis, based on the assessment of their needs.
- Winner will be eligible to receive grants for pilots, demonstrations and validations under the IAIN. They will also be eligible for seed investment from Social Alpha subject to successful due diligence and approval of the investment committee.
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