Harvard Joins Hands with IIT-D, Tatas to Help Startups

Project plans to mentor 25 social entrepreneurship startups
Harvard University’s South Asia Institute has joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology , Delhi, and Tata Trusts in a first initiative of its kind to mentor 25 social entrepreneurship startups in science and technology . The project, led by the institute director Tarun Khanna, aims to create jobs by helping these startups with mentoring, workshops and providing grants to select ventures.The institute, a research and idea generation centre at Harvard University, requested and received a grant from Tata Trusts to experiment with ways to translate knowledge that was generated in the university setting into livelihood creation.

“India needs 100 million net new jobs in the next decade to absorb the demographic dividend,“ said Khanna. “I don’t know of any system in the world that has generated that many jobs in a short period of time without a significant dose of new enterprise creation and entrepreneurship,“ said Khanna, who chaired the Government of India Niti Aayog Commission on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Emphasising the relevance of this collaboration, R Venkataramanan, executive trustee at Tata Trusts said: “Under this collaboration with Harvard University’s South Asia Institute, we will develop entrepreneurship opportunities that will help provide sustainable prosperity to the local communities. This approach combined with Tata Trusts’ philanthropic vision will help narrow down the existing gap between the demand and supp ly of skilled labour.“

The grant from Tata Trusts is for 18 months. “The challenge and plan is to demonstrate using research and knowledge assets to work with these social enterprises to point them in the right direction and create a system of peer support. This will be done through workshops, on an ongoing basis,“ said Khanna.

One of the glaring issues is that it is a very lonely job being an entrepreneur, said Khanna.The idea then, he said, is to use knowledge assets to bring people together, get a peer group in place without overstating the importance of the facilitator. It’s a learning experience for IIT Delhi as well. “There is an explosion in learning, including social entrepreneurship. We can take some of these experiences to our workshops.Many of these people were students about a year ago. These are young startups and not all are IITians. They are people from Delhi, Kanpur, Utkal University, small colleges in Punjab,“ said IIT professor Professor Ambuj Sagar, who along with Professor PVM Rao is part of this project.

The project aims to mentor and guide people after the duration of the grant, “One of the tasks that we have is to think of ways to continue with this programme, with our partners, the Trusts, IIT-D and other institutions, including the government machinery. The more people talk about it, the better,“ said Khanna.

Shashank Shah, project director at the South Asia Institute said: “There will be hand-holding for all the grantees from now till September across tracks in terms of Harvard, partner institutions such as IIT-D and others.“

The project also plans to run a small competition among selected entrepreneurs and give them small grants. An amount of ` . 50 lakh has been set aside for grant across three tracks.

Source: The Economic Times



Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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