Businesses run by schoolchildren may have been largely unheard of, but not any longer. Now, the ideas of school going children from across the country will be evaluated and mentored.
The most promising among them will be shortlisted and developed into business. The Department of Science & Technology of government of India and the National Innovation Foundation have revamped the annual INSPIRE award–MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) to align it with the ‘Start-up India’ initiative launched by PM Narendra Modi in 2016.
‘MANAK’ earlier focused on inspiring school students aged 10-15 years to take up science and research. Taking a step further, it is now looking at “innovation” and creating viable student startups from this year. Over 5 lakh schools from across the country can send two entries each for the programme. Students will have to submit original and creative technological innovations or ideas
“Earlier the scheme was aimed at promoting science and research; however this time the focus will be solely on innovation and creation of startups. One lakh students whose ideas have the potential to address social needs will be shortlisted and Rs 10,000 each will be provided to them. The money will be transferred into their bankaccounts,” said Vipin Kumar, director and chief innovation officer (CIO) of NIF-India, an autonomous body of the DST.
He added that ideas would be scouted from students of classes 6-10. “There will be two more selection rounds. The final list of 60 winning ideas will be declared in January-February. The winners will get mentoring, incubation and seed funding assistance. As NIF is also a part of DST, we will be executing this initiative. We will not only provide mentoring support to the 60 winning ideas but also give them incubation support. Going forward, we will also provide seed funding to start-ups based on their growth needs,” Surat-based innovator and class 10 student Hitarth Sheth, who developed a learning mobile app that has a user base of 55,000, started when he was just 14 years old. “Since I am in class 10, I find it challenging to maintain a balance between my studies and the app that I developed. As a student entrepreneur, mentoring support definitely helps. Such a scheme would definitely guide students with good ideas get a proper direction.”