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Science & Tech Min Awards 60 Startups to Promote Innovation & Research The INSPIRE award is instituted by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and these innovators will be extended complete incubation support for their entrepreneurship journey

By Soumya Duggal

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Union science and technology minister Dr Jitendra Singh today presented INSPIRE awards to 60 startups and financial support to 53,021 students.

The award is instituted by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and these innovators will be extended complete incubation support for their entrepreneurship journey, said an official statement.

According to Singh said, during the year 2020-21, while the country, like the rest of the world, was battling with the severe impact of COVID-19, the annual INSPIRE Awards–MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) competition attracted an unprecedented 6.53 lakh ideas and innovations from across the country.

"The scheme touched an unparalleled level of inclusivity by representing ideas and innovations of 702 districts of the country (96 per cent) including 123 out of 124 aspirational districts, 51 per cent representation from girls, 84 per cent participation from schools located in rural areas of the country and 71 per cent of the schools run by the state/UT governments," said Singh.

He stated that out of 6.53 lakh students, a total of 53,021 individuals were identified for financial support of INR 10,000 each so that they could develop prototypes of the ideas which they submitted for the scheme. As a next step, they competed at respective District Level Exhibition and Project Competition (DLEPC's) and State Level Exhibition and Project Competition (SLEPC's) and now a total of 556 students have made their way to 9th National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC).

"These 556 students, who will be part of NLEPC, are the country's most promising scientists, researchers, scholars and an overall group of S&T talent in the making, said Singh, adding, "Their innovations have a societal focus which gives India an opportunity to solve the problems by application of S&T."

The minister stated that dedicated mentoring workshops were being organized at the top technological institutes of our country such as the IIT's, BITS, and NIT's for these students, which would not only raise their exposure level to the latest trends in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) but also coach them to make the right decisions for their innovative technologies and gain an insight into what would help their innovation most.

The awards, jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), are part of a flagship scheme of the Indian government for nurturing the ideas and innovations of school students and motivating them to pursue careers in scientific application and research. The scheme aims to help build a critical human resource pool for strengthening the science and technology system and increasing the research and development base of the same.

Soumya Duggal

Former Feature Writer

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