In a bid to fast-track innovation for the future of mobility in India, the government think tank NITI Aayog has launched MoveHack, a global mobility hackathon. The hackathon will provide a platform for driven individuals and teams to collaborate and produce ideas, solutions, and prototypes to some of the most pressing issues in urban mobility in the country today.
The global mobility hackathon is an integral part of the ‘MOVE: Global Mobility Summit’, being organised by NITI Aayog in collaboration with various ministries and industry partners in New Delhi on September 7-8, 2018.
MoveHack, which invites talented hacks to develop innovative, dynamic, and scalable solutions for problems relating to mobility in India, has taken a two-pronged approach to the hackathon:
- Just Code It: A campaign aimed at deriving solutions through innovations in technology, product, software, and data analysis
- Just Solve It: A campaign looking for innovative business ideas or sustainable solutions to transform the mobility infrastructure of India through technology
NITI Aayog is looking for solutions across 10 themes — multimodal commuter mobility in cities, multimodal freight handling and transportation, road safety, the future of mobility, and more. The organisers have developed the themes in collaboration with relevant ministries and departments of the government after holding a multi-day workshop to define and refine the themes so they are relevant to India’s current mobility situation.
MoveHack is inviting applications from participants around the world. NITI Aayog has already seen more than 20,000 registrations from over 7,000 teams for the hackathon. The applications range across the 10 themes and the ‘Just Code It’ and ‘Just Solve It’ campaigns.
So far, Millenials have dominated the registrations, with the most interest being seen from the 18–25 age group. Among global participants, the US, the UK, Israel, and Singapore have been leading the registration chart.
MoveHack: How Does The Global Mobility Hackathon Work?
The top 30 teams selected from online submissions for MoveHack will be mentored in New Delhi on September 5 and 6 by a group of experts. They will be groomed on a host of parameters such as design improvement, business viability, technical solutions, and customer targeting/marketing, to enable them to develop effective solutions for the hackathon.
The solutions developed by these 30 teams will be evaluated by a jury comprising subject matter experts, venture capitalists, business leaders, and successful entrepreneurs.
Some well-known leaders in their respective fields who have agreed to serve as champions for MoveHack are Nandan Nilekani, Co-Founder and Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited; Deep Kalra, Founder, Group Chairman and Group CEO, MakeMyTrip Ltd; Debjani Ghosh, president, NASSCOM; Nivruti Rai, country head, Intel India; Dennis Ong, distinguished architect and head of Architecture and Systems Engineering, Verizon; and P Anandan, CEO, Wadhwani AI.
The applicants will have access to more than 50 Mn data points, making this an intellectually comprehensive hackathon.
Speaking to Inc42, Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, said, “The Government of India has embarked upon the development of 100 smart cities, where transportation and mobility is one of the core focus areas. MoveHack will provide the participants with an unprecedented opportunity to pitch their solutions to all smart cities and state governments for commercial deployment. We invite the best minds from India and across the globe to bring their prototypes and solutions for these challenges.”
The winners of the hackathon will get cash prizes worth a total of $350K (INR 2.5 Cr), along with more than $250K in total cloud credits from Microsoft. They will also be evaluated for potential incubation and funding support from Microsoft Research.
The winners will be announced during the MOVE: Global Mobility Summit on September 7-8 in New Delhi.
Some of the key speakers at the Summit will be Masayoshi Son, CEO, SoftBank; Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman, Toyota Motor Corporation; Anand G Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group; Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Ola; among others.
The registrations for ‘Just Solve It’ are open till August 28, while for ‘Just Code It’ first round of submissions will be accepted till August 25 and the final submission date is August 28.
How Hackathons Can Help Find Solutions To India’s Problems
Global attention on India is at an all-time high, thanks to the endless innovative ideas and technology-based solutions being developed by the country’s startups and talented individuals. The Indian government, too, has realised the potential of startups in coming up innovative solutions for real-life problems.
Besides, the Centre’s push for Digital India is encouraging state governments to come up with their own startup policies and initiatives to boost entrepreneurship at the state level.
The Centre, as well as state governments, have hit upon the idea of using hackathons to crowdsource innovative solutions to improve e-governance and solve the pressing problems facing India today.
The Rajasthan government, for instance, has hosted hackathons at its flagship events such as DigiFest, IT Day, etc, to invite solutions on themes such as the Bhamashah Yojana, e-Mitra, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, augmented reality/virtual reality, blockchain, machine learning, data warehouse, tourism, bioinformatics, big data, and data mobility.
The Rajasthan government, which has been leading a Digital Rajasthan programme under the aegis of chief minister Vasundhara Raje, also recently organised an online hackathon called Challenge For Change. Under this, the state government was looking to disburse government work orders worth $800K directly to selected startups and innovators without the hassle of calling in tenders. Moreover, the government was to waive off conditions such as prior experience, minimum turnover, etc, while doling out these works contracts.
The idea of encouraging innovation through hackathons isn’t limited to state governments. Recently, Union minister for defence Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Defence India Startup Challenge for innovation in 11 categories.
The Defence India Startup challenge is looking for solutions in individual protection systems with built-in sensors, see-through armour, carbon fibre winding (CFW), active protection systems (APS), remotely piloted airborne vehicles, laser weaponry, and unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, among others.
With the government recognising the potential of the increasing talent pool of individuals and startups in the country and leveraging them to find solutions to India’s problems, innovators have found just the right stage to showcase their skills and ideas.