4 Startups Awarded ₹20 Lakh by STPI and MeitY
– In line with MeitY and STPI’s objective to encourage innovation beyond Tier I cities, two of the four chosen startups hail from Tier II/III cities in India.
New Delhi, February 6, 2023: The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), an autonomous Society under the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) and the Government of India (GoI), announced the four winners of the Smart Farm Grant Challenge (SFGC) program. The startups received Product Development Grants worth INR 20 Lakhs each for advancing to the second stage of the program.
The award ceremony was held at Electronics Niketan, Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) in New Delhi and was attended by high-ranking officials including Sh. Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary of MeitY, GoI; Sh. Bhuvnesh Kumar, Additional Secretary of MeitY, GoI; Sh. Akash Tripathi, Joint Secretary of MeitY, GoI and Sh. Arvind Kumar, Director General of STPI. Other notable attendees included Shri Roshan Lal Tamak, Executive Director of DCM Sriram, and senior representatives from the Ministry, STPI & Industry.
The SFGC program was launched with the aim of developing innovative solutions for sugarcane harvesting. It received an impressive response, with 474 submissions received. The challenge sought to predict the optimal harvest time, estimate sugar content, identify mature plots, and provide insights in an easily understandable format.
An expert jury pre-screened 108 applications and shortlisted 25 startups for pitch presentations. In September 2022, 10 startups were selected for a prototype grant of INR 5 Lakhs each. After three months of intensive development and validation, the top four startups were selected by the jury for the Product Development Grant of INR 20 Lakhs each.
“When it comes to agriculture, a farmer is the most difficult entity. They live with the uncertainty of the weather. With the products of these startups, we are hoping that it will increase the efficacy of the produce and ensure that the right kind of moisture is present in the soil. It’s a matter of great pride that now academia is participating in creating a whole new ecosystem of end-to-end solutions,” said Sh. Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary, MeitY, GoI.
“The challenge aims to provide a digital solution for optimum sugarcane harvest. The SFGC program was launched on May 9, 2022. The first stage was the ideation stage and in it, we distributed ₹5 lakhs each to 10 shortlisted startups so that they can develop products for optimum sugarcane harvest. Out of them, 4 were shortlisted today by jury and were given ₹20 lakhs each in the second stage of product development grant ceremony,” said Sh, Arvind Kumar, DG, STPI.
Sh. Bhuvnesh Kumar, Additional Secretary, MeitY, GoI, said, “The growth in the agriculture sector has been tremendous and with the advent of technology, many new innovations have come up. Through this challenge, we are scouting many such technological interventions so that we can attain good recovery for the sugarcane crop and the sugar which is produced from the sugarcane turns out to be optimum.”
“After the Green Revolution, agricultural production has certainly ramped up in India, but now it has reached a plateau. So, now we need some new initiatives and new technological interventions so that we can grow our current production. So, this particular grant challenge will ramp up our sugarcane production. Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop, so the right use of water could be another strong statement for us in the sector,” said Shri Akash Tripathi, Joint Secretary, MeitY, GoI.
The winners of the SFGC program, AGAutomate Private Limited, GB Pant University of Agriculture & University, AGMitra Technologies Private Limited, and Satyukt Analytics Private Limited, will spend the next 6 months developing a product. At the end of this period, one of the startups will be declared the final winner and will receive INR 50 Lakh in the first year and INR 10 Lakh per year for the following two years to cover the operational and maintenance costs of the solution.
The winning solution will be implemented in a 100-acre plot and used by the Indian government, state entities, and sugar mills for a three-year period. The winning startup will also provide farming advisory services for the next two years.
Programs like SFGC showcase MeitY and STPI’s commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across the country, not just in Tier-I/Metro cities. This is demonstrated by the fact that two of the four selected teams are from Tier-II/III cities.