India’s Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (IT) Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Friday (August 28), launched CHUNAUTI (Challenge Hunt Under NGIS for Advanced Uninhibited Technology Intervention), calling on startups to develop products and solutions to address the challenges being faced amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The challenge has been launched under the Next Generation Incubation Scheme (NGIS), a comprehensive incubation scheme by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) to drive India’s rise as a global leader in software products.

The challenge is open for startups working in domains related to software product development, as well as individual academicians, researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, partnership firms and LLPs, who if selected, will have to register as a private limited company in a stipulated period of time (3 months).

participants in the challenge will be encouraged to develop products and technologies in five key domains, ranging from edtech, agritech and fintech; supply chain, logistics and transportation management; infrastructure and remote monitoring; medical healthcare, diagnostic, preventive and psychological care; jobs and skilling, linguistic tools and technologies. Moreover, some of the focus areas for the challenge mention that products and solutions focussed on Tier 2, Tier 3 and rural areas, where there may be resource constraints such as low internet bandwidth, would be essential.

The startups selected through the challenge would be provided incubation support, mentorship, all relevant facilities, as well as funding support such as cloud credits from leading third-party service providers, seed funding of up to INR 25 lakhs, as well as INR 10,000 in monthly monetary support to each intern (startup in pre-incubation) for a period of six months to help them evolve their business plan and solution around the proposed idea.

The government has in recent times encouraged innovation by inviting Indian startups to develop products and solutions focused on specific problem statements. Last month, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the ‘Aatma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge’, seen as a move to bolster its ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-Reliant India’ vision in the wake of the centre’s ban on 59 Chinese apps which were believed to be compromising data privacy of Indian users.

The government has also been running the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), an initiative funded and managed by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), a not for profit company, to foster the entrepreneurial zeal among MSMEs and startups. Further, the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) which come with problem statements, focus on leveraging startups’ capabilities to fulfil the needs of armed forces.

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