Finding digital solutions for global issues
The TCS Sustainathon is a 'hackathon' that encourages students to create solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges, focusing on using digital technologies.
Each event brings together more than 30 teams of university students from a wide range of disciplines. For two weeks, they would work on one of the four key global challenges aligned with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. Previously, these ranged from reducing carbon footprint to improving health and social service delivery.
The teams tackle their challenges with customers, non-profit organisations, academics, and government agencies from TCS' industry and academia Co-Innovation Network, COIN™. They also get to experience a series of masterclasses by COIN experts on topics ranging from product design to careers advice.
European partners in the Sustainathon programme so far include technology corporations such as Nokia, academic institutions such as Wageningen University, Nyenrode Business University, and GISMA Business School, and a series of agricultural and startup organisations.
Work takes place virtually and, if feasible, in person at TCS' Pace Port innovation hub.
At the end of the development phase, all teams present to a panel of academics, senior industry, and TCS executives, including global chief technology officer Ananth Krishnan. Three winning teams are selected and allowed to develop their proposed solution in the real world, supported by TCS staff, COIN members, and firms who could be future clients.
Over seven months, the projects get incubated as part of the TCS Pace innovation programme, which means TCS and its partners can help the winners to scale their ideas and turn them into – or move them closer to – a viable commercial solution.
Nilesh Patil, Director of TCS Pace in Europe, says, "It's a fantastic opportunity because, by the end of the incubation period, you might have your own startup company to run and grow straight out of university. We believe that TCS Sustainathon is unique in offering this kind of 'leg up' for budding entrepreneurs."