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Brandeis competitors to address Indian socio-eco challenges

Winners to be located in IIM incubator park

Brandeis International Business School said five global finalists will be in the inaugural Smart Fifty competition, an entrepreneurial competition looking to identify 50 startup companies from around the globe addressing India’s biggest socio-economic challenges.

Together with TiE Boston, the world’s largest non-profit network dedicated to helping startups grow, Brandeis partnered with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park and India’s Department of Science and Technology in the search for solutions to transform India.

The competition focuses on aspiring and early-stage startups working on solutions in learning, sustainability, agriculture, health, fintech and big data, and smart living, said Brandeis on 12 Feb 2018.

“The teams who presented last week represent the fantastic entrepreneurial ecosystem we have here in the U.S. and it was a pleasure to watch them pitch their solutions in the context of the Indian market,” said Debarshi Nandy, associate professor and MSF program director at Brandeis.

“Together with our partners at TiE Boston and Boston’s innovation ecosystem, we are proud to be a part of the first-ever Smart Fifty competition – and we congratulate the five winning startups who will be moving forward to the global Smart Fifty semi-finals in India.

“As an entrepreneurial school, Brandeis International Business School extends our full support to startups as they scale up their business by providing free consulting support – from market research, to business development, to raising financing – to all startups in New England,” said Nandy.

“This competition is one-of-a-kind – and first-of-its-time,” said Praveen Tailam, president of TiE Boston.

“As the world’s largest non-profit network dedicated to helping startups grow, TiE Boston is excited for the 16 companies, and we look forward to watching the five winners move forward in India.

“While many companies are driven by profit first and make an impact later, the transformational companies we’ve seen throughout the competition make their impact felt now. We are positive we will see more collaborations between countries, universities and entrepreneurs that will make the world a better place,” said Tailam.

Brandeis hosted the Smart Fifty Boston Final Round and Demo Day on 9 Feb 2018.

The presenting finalists – with ties from Massachusetts to California – covered a range of transformational innovations impacting areas like renewable energy, cybersecurity and access to voting.

The five winners will be rewarded with office space and strategic and business support at the IIM Calcutta Innovation Park incubator, and will receive a prototype grant.

The Boston round winners will also be flown to Kolkata (Calcutta) to present their solutions and vie for a spot in the finals in Delhi and $1.5 million in equity funding.

The winning companies moving forward to compete in India include:

Girls Health Champions, San Francisco, CA: Trains adolescent girls worldwide as peer health educators and health leaders in their schools and communities.
Nonspec, Lowell, MA: Provides affordable, adjustable prosthetic limb systems to all amputees.
PlenOptika, Boston, MA: Responds to the problem of low vision by enabling autorefraction easily, anywhere – without compromising quality.
Sukriti, MassChallenge Israel/Delhi, India: Sustainable engineering initiatives and innovations.
Village Industrial Power, Bradford, VT: Mobile power plant enables rural farmers to increase the value of their crops by up to 10x.

Brandeis IBS, located in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Massachusetts welcomes students from throughout the United States and around the world into its innovative and diverse community. The current student body includes representatives from over 40 countries.

Founded by entrepreneurs who immigrated from the Indus region, TiE Boston is uniquely positioned to champion inclusion in the innovation ecosystem, and welcome innovators and enthusiasts from all backgrounds.

The group has been operating for 20 years, and have an unparalleled network of successful, seasoned entrepreneurs who are deeply engaged and committed to giving back to the community by providing mentorship, tactical advice, and expertise to rising entrepreneurs.

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