Reliance Industries’ platform for young entrepreneurs sees ideas to solve modern-day problems

Diksha Munjal Mumbai | Updated on February 26, 2020

From converting the energy generated in a shoe sole through the act of walking into electrical energy, to using farm residue pulp to manufacture tableware, carry bags and corrugated boxes in order to help reduce the use of plastics, students from the county’s top B-schools threw up a slew of start-up ideas at the fifth edition of Reliance Industries’ ‘The Ultimate Pitch’.

Students pitched innovative solutions to modern-day problems in their versatile range of start-up ideas.

Showing the inclination of the youth towards the cause of sustainability in the changing world, the ideas ranged from harnessing the potential of renewable energy to moving towards large-scale organic farming practises.

Renewable energy

The winning team from IIM Bangalore built a prototype to use the renewable energy generated at an individual level to charge personal electronic devices. It involved converting into electrical energy the energy generated in a shoe sole while walking, with the aim of reducing our carbon footprint.

The IIM-Ahmedabad team developed a solar-energy run refrigerator that uses Peltier chips instead of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) as coolants in refrigerators. They plan to take this to rural areas where power supply is unreliable as well as to cities with high pollution indices, in the future.

Air pollution

In the wake of increasing nationwide air pollution and worsening air quality indices, various ideas provided micro and macro-level solutions to various problems. The team from Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur, proposed their prototype of indoor and outdoor plant-based air-purifying meshes. They aim to tie up with local and state governments in the future.

To solve Delhi’s problem of annual smog and poor air quality arising out of burning farm residue in the neighbouring states, the team from NMIMS Mumbai suggested using farm residue pulp to manufacture tableware, carry bags and corrugated boxes. This would also help bring down the use of single-use plastic, according to the team.

Around 2,800 teams from 78 campuses across India participated in the competition leading to the grand finale where 14 teams were shortlisted to find the most promising idea. The process involved industry leaders mentoring the teams to polish and assess the viability of their ideas. To test the first market response to their ideas, the teams participated in an idea fair attended by over 3,000 employees of Reliance Industries.

On offering these students avenues to make their ideas suitable for the market, Ashwani Prashara, Chief Human Resources Officer, RIL-Hydrocarbons, said: “This is not just a competition; we want to mentor them and encourage their entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, the winners would have the opportunity to get mentored at Jio ‘GenNext’, which is our initiative that helps start-up ideas reach fructification. Some of the participants from the previous years’ editions have already joined us, and hopefully, these bright minds will come and work with us in future.”

So, while some of the winners from the previous years joined RIL, others went ahead and scaled up their ideas. The winning team from the second edition ran a pilot project of their idea on their college campus and started a profitable business on campus thereafter. Some winners attended the Jio GenNext mentoring sessions offered after the competition to polish their entrepreneurial skills and ideas.

A number of institutes and organisations are increasingly initiating start-up decks and incubators to provide impetus to India’s blossoming start-up culture. It is however, yet to be seen whether the government’s fund allocations for the start-up programs are helping these ideas move to their next logical stage.

(The writer is an intern with Business Line Mumbai Bureau)

Published on February 26, 2020

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