IIT Bombay launches e-Yantra Innovation Challenge, winning teams to get seed funding from prize pool of Rs 1 cr. Details – BusinessToday

The IIT Bombay has launched an ‘e-Yantra Innovation Challenge’ (e-YIC 2022-23) to seek solutions for inclusive urban infrastructure. It is a unique annual competition that trains student teams in crucial skills through MOOCs before getting them to solve real-world problems and build start-ups. And the winning teams who successfully pitch will be eligible to receive the seed funding from a prize pool of Rs 1 crore. This year’s themes are Sustainable and Advanced Technologies for Helping Urban Inclusivity and Agriculture.

Challenge is divided into four stages – training, prototyping, innovation, and implementation. The training sprint familiarises participants with the theme, trains them in technologies, and helps them articulate problems with training through MOOCs and live sessions by experts. Under the prototyping sprint, teams work under e-Yantra mentorship to build a prototype of their proposed solution. 

The third stage is innovation where e-Yantra helps develop a pitch to an Incubator – here, the IIT Bombay Incubator SINE. The last stage is an Implementation Sprint, where teams refine their Proof-of-concept (PoC) under the guidance of e-Yantra mentors. e-Yantra provides the resources, training and guidance, and even a travel allowance and boarding/lodging at IIT Bombay for the finals at IIT Bombay.

According to IIT Bombay, this year’s theme gives young minds a platform to seek solutions for a better and more inclusive living experience for the urban populace. It takes into account climate change and better provisions for persons with disabilities (PwD). The Challenge allows students to form multi-disciplinary teams from different institutions and domains.

The e-Yantra Innovation Challenge also gives participants a platform to launch their own start-ups with incubation support from the IIT Bombay Incubator SINE. It has already nurtured start-ups such as Nex Robotics, Nibrus Technologies (Mine Surveying Drones), Drona Automation (Sewer Cleaning robots), and Katomaran (Mobile robots), to name a few.

Funded by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, and hosted at the CSE department of IIT Bombay, e-Yantra is a Robotics outreach program that caters to young engineers in solving problems using technology. It uses a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach that compliments traditional learning by providing a practical and hands-on learning experience. Expert guides at e-Yantra hone the ability of young participants to solve real-world problems.

Principal Investigator of the e-Yantra project, Prof. Kavi Arya from the Dept. of Computer Science, IIT Bombay, says, “The e-Yantra project is a very special project that has been flourishing at IIT Bombay for over a decade now. The e-Yantra Innovation Challenge brings young minds together to work on real problems to seek solutions for building a better tomorrow.” 

“The majority of the students have skills but don’t know which problems to solve nor how to solve them. For that, e-Yantra engages participants in immersive learning on thematic areas where experts help them articulate relevant problems they could solve. They are then guided to develop prototypes and subsequently trained in pitching to incubators to learn to launch their own start-ups. This year is a watershed moment for us as we engage with youth to help us forge a better future with more inclusive urban living spaces to create a better life for all,” Arya said. 

In the 9th year, an average of 2,000 students participated in e-Yantra’s Innovation Challenge.