Rajan Nanda Innovation Lab (RNIL), an initiative of Escorts, has selected five start-ups in agri-tech, rail-tech and infra-tech through its Inter-College Innovation Challenge (IC²) to fund, incubate and mentor them. All selected concepts would receive a seed funding from Escorts. Partial and limited financial assistance would also be provided to nine other ideas for building of prototypes or testing and validating existing prototypes.
The Inter- College Innovation Challenge was launched in February 2020 with an aim to identify and nurture unique and innovative ideas in agriculture mechanisation, smart construction and rail safety. The innovation challenge was open to college students and young start-up fraternity. The challenge witnessed participation from Indian and international institutions as well as students and alumni of premier engineering and management institutions.
Highlighting the challenge, Shenu Agarwal, CEO, Escorts Agri Machinery, said, “Escorts is a purpose-led organisation. Our aim is to make farmers prosperous, infrastructure smarter and rail transport more comfortable and safe. Our engineering legacy and entrepreneurial spirit of seven decades has been built on developing innovative and disruptive technologies and solutions. The IC² initiative of the Rajan Nanda Innovation Lab gives college students across India a great opportunity to transform their ideas into successful businesses propositions with social impact. Through IC², we hope to realise the dreams of India’s young entrepreneurs.”
Speaking on technology-led entrepreneurship through collaboration and incubation, Sharad Gupta, Chief Innovation Officer, Rajan Nanda Innovation Lab (RNIL) said, “RNIL seeks to amplify technology-led entrepreneurship through collaboration and incubation. RNIL works on spotting the new emerging technologies in the country and around the world by collaborating with leading technology centres, academia and research institutions. Through crowd-sourcing, we plan to identify technology innovations and then incubate them with the desired funding support.”
“In the inception year, the Innovation Challenge received an overwhelming response from students and budding start-ups. The jury was impressed by the sheer scale of ingenuity and application and it was tough selecting the final five from the 31 finalists. India has a treasure trove of engineering skills married with entrepreneurial spirit and we have tapped into that wellspring with the Innovation Challenge,” Gupta added.
The jury, comprising a multi-disciplinary leadership team from Escorts, selected ideas that included start-up ideas for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT)-based applications in agriculture for farm productivity; telematics along with sensors technologies for smart construction and infrastructure practices and AI-based rail transport safety technology.
The Innovation Challenge invited solutions in the agri-tech domain for technologies to boost power, reduce fuel consumption, technology for low cost Li-ion or other battery options to reduce input cost, telematics or predictive forecasting technology on tractors along with precision and automation – based tractor accessories and technology. Another set of challenges posed were to find innovative ways to make each farm and crop intelligence and advisory accessible to each farmer using a combination of mobile apps, AI, precision agriculture services, crop planning, budgeting and consulting. The Infra-tech based focus invited ideas on smart construction technology, automotive design and ergonomics. In the Rail-Tech space, student start-ups were invited to pitch ideas for smart railway innovation in communication, comfort and safety.
Rajan Nanda Innovation Lab aims to create a futuristic eco-system of innovative technologies by spotting and incubating them. It spots new emerging technologies and ideas from leading technology centers, academia, college students, research scholars, and others and incubates them for path-breaking products and solutions in the space of agriculture, construction and railway equipment.
Escorts is among India’s leading engineering conglomerates, operating in the high-growth sectors of agri machinery, material handling, construction and railway equipment.