The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), a flagship initiative of the Indian Government’s policy think-tank NITI Aayog, on September 9, launched the Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE – Atal New India Challenges (ANIC) to spur applied research and innovation in MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and startups by challenging them to come up with innovative solutions to sectoral problems.
The NITI Aayog’s AIM, in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and four ministries — Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs — will facilitate the process by putting out problem statements for the participants.
“MSMEs are the growth engine of the country and there are a lot of expectations from them. I am sure this initiative will help identify and promote innovations necessary for boosting this sector,” said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari at the virtual launch for the challenge.
The Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE – ANIC programme will support deserving applied research-based innovations by providing funding support of up to INR 50 lakhs for 9-12 months for startups to come up with a minimum usable prototype.
As of now, the ARISE – ANIC challenges have offered three problem statements each from ISRO and the various ministries concerned. “Waste to wealth — effective utilisation of commercial food processing industry waste streams,” is a problem statement from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. Similarly, “Health data analytics — use of data analytics to identify early breakout of epidemics based on the historic curve and data,” is one of the three problem statements put forward by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
One of the proposed objectives of the challenges is to provide a steady stream of innovative products and solutions where the central government and its various ministries or departments will potentially become the first buyers of the new product and technology.
“Other than ISRO, which is a great promoter of technology, Indian departments and big companies never encourage and promote new startups that have done unique work. For ARISE – ANIC’s success, the government must become the first buyer. I am sure AIM will be able to break new grounds with these challenges, which will lead to the creation of new Indian products,” added NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country, based on a detailed study and deliberations on innovation and entrepreneurial needs of India in the years ahead.
Government Banks On Startups For Innovation
On August 28, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched CHUNAUTI (Challenge Hunt Under NGIS for Advanced Uninhibited Technology Intervention), calling on startups to develop products and solutions to address the challenges being faced amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The challenge was launched under the Next Generation Incubation Scheme (NGIS), a comprehensive incubation scheme by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) to drive India’s rise as a global leader in software products.
In recent times, the government has encouraged innovation by inviting Indian startups to develop products and solutions focused on specific problem statements. Early last month, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the ‘Aatma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge’, seen as a move to bolster its ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-Reliant India’ vision in the wake of the centre’s ban on 59 Chinese apps which were believed to be compromising data privacy of Indian users.
The government has also been running the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), an initiative funded and managed by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), a not for profit company, to foster the entrepreneurial zeal among MSMEs and startups. Further, the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) which comes with problem statements, focus on leveraging startups’ capabilities to fulfil the needs of armed forces.