2nd edition of India’s Future Tycoons (IFT) competition has an aim of ‘Top 24 ideas’ on solving water crisis

The second edition of IFT has already set in with registration closing on Nov 20. Meant to be a team event for students in the age group of 13-17, the competition, which will focus on innovative solutions to  ‘water crisis’, will move from short listing of teams to zonal and national rounds, and the Top 3 ideas will get a chance to present on UN GCNI India Conclave. The grand finale will be on January 24, 2020 in Mumbai. Autar Nehru in an email interview brings out some more facets of this contest with Sushil Mungekar- Founder, ENpower, a Mumbai-based firm organizing and administering IFT.

 

You are already preparing for the second season of India’s Future Tycoons competition. So give us a sense of how big and significant this is going to be?

After the success of IFT#1 which had 3300 students across 240 schools from 52 cities, IFT # 2 has started on strong foundations. Firstly United Nations GCNI came on board as SDG partner that builds strong accreditation for the work done in promoting SDGs among school students. Also, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), initiative of Niti Aayog to promote innovation among schools, joined as an ‘Innovation Partner’. This gives us an access to students across 5900 schools affiliated with AIM. Back on this and other outreach initiatives, IFT #2 should see 15,000-20,000 students to participate covering more than 150 cities/towns across India.

Water is an important sustainability issue and your theme is also on water crisis. Why?

One of the important objectives of IFT is to motivate and guide children to work on ideas on socially relevant problems. As today, right from government, corporates and NGOs are working towards solving water crisis, IFT wants to channelize all these creative energies of young teens towards solving water crisis and build path breaking idea solutions.

How would be these solutions special than those people are talking about?

With the widespread of coverage across geographies, SECs and boards of schools, we expect diverse ideas on Water crisis of India.

We intend to select ‘Top 24 ideas’ that shows potential impact towards offering solution to the water crisis. These 24 ideas will undergo 3 days residential bootcamp with design thinking mentors, domain experts and entrepreneurs running exciting startups. This will help them to improve on their products/ services. Top 3 ideas will get rewards & recognitions at the Grand Finale as evaluated by grand jury.

How will you circulate winner ideas and incentivize brilliant minds?

  1. Rewards & recognition on the Grand Finale
    1. Top 3 ideas get a chance to present on UN GCNI India Conclave
    1. Top 24 ideas are Idea videos & content is promoted through all social channels
    1. Televised promotion of ideas and winning teams
    1. Exploring implementation of these ideas through water knowledge partner company

You are targeting students from ages 13-17 for this competition, and still itwill be teams who will compete?

We strongly believe these formative years are very important for children as they build their own belief, habits and independent thinking.It’s a team contest as ‘collaborative skills’ is one of the important evaluation criteria besides, critical thinking, creativity and communication.

Talking about participation and selection, can you briefly illustrate the process and is any fee involved?

Once the students register in teams, they have to submit their idea by answering 9 crucial questions which help us understand their thought process. Apart from it, students are also encouraged to attach illustrations, mind maps, pictures and videos of models made by them and research reports. This is a complete online process. We have built platform for the same. Registration fees is Rs. 600 per team.

These fees are waived off completely for all government schools and school affiliated to Atal Innovation Mission. 

Stepping back, can you recall your memory to share with us how was the concept born in the first place and what was the experience of the first session?

I have been part of corporate world and start up ecosystem over last 2 decades and gained a strong realization that there is a great disconnect between skills & competencies needed for achieving success in the careers are what is imbibed in during academia. More importantly, school education is more knowledge based than skill based. Introduction to entrepreneurial skills and mindset is much needed during these formative years than at post-graduation.

I resonated with this thought even more as a parent and decided to be the change myself. I initiated a small pilot with students from Grade 7-10 in myvicinity and conducted a workshop, which was well appreciated by educators, parents and students. All participating students came back stating that this was a life changing experience and probably witness their creative potential for the first time. This workshop was a validation of latent need and became the basis for a journey of ENpower ahead.  

Entrepreneurship is entering into education narrative in a big way thanks to people like you. So, how do you see the emerging change?

Entrepreneurship life skills (problem solving, decision-making, critical thinking, dealing with ambiguity, resource management, creative thinking, collaborative skills, leadership, risk taking, opportunity evaluation) helps them to build a mindset to look at problems as ‘opportunities’, build solutions around their ideas and create economic value for themselves, be a leader while managing ‘change’ around them, and build successful career in the area of their own passion.

Lastly, what message would you like to pass on to participants, teachers parents and schools, who are going to be first of this exciting competition? 

  • Entrepreneurship is a mindset and not a career option. It’s a combination of skills that are needed to be ‘future-ready’ and be successful in every career that they choose
  • Entrepreneurship learning at this age gives a great opportunity to every child to explore their true potential, their own passion and builds a great level of confidence & sense of independence to define their own future.