Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Tata Trusts have joined hands to set up the India Agritech Incubation Network (IAIN) and launch the Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations at IIT Kanpur. The IAIN will work as a network of incubators across the country to promote innovations for smallholder farmers. The first hub for IAIN will be set up at IIT Kanpur’s Innovation and Incubation centre, in collaboration with Social Alpha, Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) and the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
Reports have suggested that this initiative will see an investment of ₹100 crore over the next five years.
As part of IAIN, a physical incubator will be set up at IIT-Kanpur to provide incubation services including specialised laboratory infrastructure, venture-building resources, financial support and farmer community access to help catalyse the lab to the last-mile journey. Over the next five years, the plan is to support 60 enterprises with technology and business incubation that will impact 50,000 farmers.
Dr Abhay Karandikar, Director at IIT Kanpur, said “Modern technologies spanning geospatial mapping, input and output management, modern irrigation with IoT enabled devices, innovation in agri-finance and logistics, development of efficient post-harvest technologies etc. have great potential to transform agriculture into an attractive profession. Affordable technology enabled India-centric solutions can help Indian farmers increase their productivity and income levels.”
“I am glad that Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Tata Trusts have chosen IIT Kanpur as the technology partner for IAIN. IIT Kanpur’s research expertise across departments with state-of-the-art infrastructure accessible to startups and incubator puts us in a unique position to address issues that can transform agriculture and livelihood of India,” he added.
The Social Alpha Quest for Agritech Innovations was announced with the aim of enabling an ecosystem for innovators and entrepreneurs to develop farmer-focused technology solutions. The objective would be to empower small and marginal farmers towards increasing productivity and profitability. The Quest is looking for innovators and entrepreneurs with transformative technologies that address a curated set of challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Up to 12 innovations will be selected to be a part of the first cohort of the IAIN and will receive incubation support for the next 12-24 months.