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DIGITAL IMPACT SQUARE

Empowering Society by Nurturing Changemakers

Open innovation center Digital Impact Square gives young talent a chance to create social impact.

 

For Nashik city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, 2015 was a significant year. With the district hosting a Kumbh Mela (periodic religious gatherings organized around rivers), the administration had been on its toes trying to anticipate and defuse crowd management issues. But despite an attendance of over 30 million people, the event ended without a single fatality.

How did the local municipal and law enforcement authorities pull off this feat? In a nutshell: by combining their exhaustive knowledge of the city with the power of social innovation. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) joined hands with the ‘Kumbhathon’ team to mentor and encourage bottom-up innovation through a series of tech camps in the run-up to the event. This effort led to 12 innovations being deployed during the month-long Kumbh Mela to address challenges associated with large crowds.

An Innovation Connection

To keep this ground-up ideation and execution process going, TCS set up Digital Impact Square (DISQ), an open innovation center based out of Nashik to create social impact through the use of inclusive design and digital technologies. Here, young to-be graduates work in teams to tackle challenges across seven themes: health and hygiene; education and skills; financial and personal security; energy, water, and the environment; food and agriculture; housing and transportation; and citizen empowerment and transparency.

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The solutions emerging from DISQ are born of distinct innovation cycles, with the very first having begun in March 2016. Each cycle starts off with a multi-disciplinary team handpicked from various colleges across India. Since inception, over 215 bright young minds have been selected to innovate at DISQ, discovering and creating 24 solutions across the seven themes. Six start-ups have emerged from this environment and are on the path to scale their innovations. You can read more about each at the links given below:

The Recipe for Change

Apart from a physical infrastructure that fosters out-of-the-box thinking, DISQ also provides the innovators with extensive mentoring, coaching, access to ecosystems specific to their challenges, and a seed fund that helps them invest in creating their innovation and start-up. The young innovators are nurtured through their journey from being an ideator to an entrepreneur.

Dealing with challenges as diverse as providing accessibility solutions to the visually impaired, monitoring TB dosage through the use of technology, and reducing maternal mortality, the innovators take their solutions from the ideation stage to a viable prototype over a period of six months. In another six to 12 months, a brand new start-up and marketable MVP is born.

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