Do you have an innovative solution that can impact India’s smallholder farmers?

About Social Alpha Agritech Innovations Challenge 2.0

The agriculture and allied sector is the largest source of livelihoods in India. Yet, the situation for small holder category of farmers is extremely dire. 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 Agritech Innovations Challenge 2.0 is to curate innovative technologies that positively impact the lives of smallholder farmers. Winners will receive support in their lab to last-mile journey, including sponsored pilots in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

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. In the first edition of the Social Alpha Agritech Innovations Challenge which was launched in 2019, 13 start-ups received incubation support, investments and piloting opportunities under IAIN.

Winners of the Agritech Innovation challenge will form a part of one of the following programs:

  • Incubation Program for early stage start-ups – managed by SIIC, IIT Kanpur
  • Venture Acceleration Program for mature stage start-ups – managed by Social Alpha

Calling for Innovations

We invite innovators and entrepreneurs with strong focus on affordability, accessibility, efficiency and user experience and working on any of the following challenges faced by smallholder farmers.
Problem statements
01. Improving Productivity and Yield Intensification:
02. Better post-harvest loss management and value-added activities:
03. Enhancing the Rural livelihoods through Agri-allied activities

Who Should Apply

Innovators & Start-ups with science and technology based innovative solution that have the potential to create an impact in the lives of smallholder farmers and demonstrate business model sustainability.
We are inviting applications for the following two programme streams :

Incubation Program for early stage start-ups – managed by SIIC, IIT-Kanpur

The program aims to support entrepreneurs in primarily in the areas of product development and testing. This would target the following in terms of Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

  • 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

Venture Acceleration Program for mature stage start-ups – managed by Social Alpha

Start-ups will receive support with pilots, product validation, product management and Go-To-Market Strategy. This would target the following start-ups in terms of Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

  • 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
  • The product is already in the market and can be scaled or replicated

Programme offerings For Venture Acceleration Program for mature stage start-ups

Access to paid pilots in Uttar Pradesh with practical on-the-ground feedback
Incubation services worth 10 Lakhs
Access to Social Alpha’s seed investment and / or grants funding
Access to state-of-the-art technology incubation centre at IIT Kanpur and Social Alpha’s incubation infrastructure
Dedicated Portfolio Managers to assist with developing go-to-market strategy and overall business advisory
Product development support including assistance with designing, rapid prototyping and design for manufacturing

Programme offerings Incubation Program for early-stage start-ups

Physical incubation at IIT-Kanpur’s incubator, SIIC and/or FIRST
Access to technology incubation facilities with high quality equipment and research experts at IIT Kanpur
Product development support and access to technical expertise from IIT-Kanpur
Access to shared office space and amenities at IIT Kanpur
Access to grants such as BIRAC, PRAYAS, PRISM etc.

Important dates

  • Launch of Social Alpha Agritech Innovations Challenge

    November 30th, 2020
  • Deadline for applications

    January 17th, 2021
  • Initial evaluation

    January 2021
  • Virtual interviews for top 60 applications

    January 2021
  • Jury round for top 25; Grand finale; Announcement of winners

    Mid-February 2021
  • Orientation launchpad and start of pre-incubation

    March 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

Funding support
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