Cisco and The/Nudge to mobilise agri-tech startups in India

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Mumbai: Cisco and The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation in association with the Indian government have announced the ‘Cisco Agri Challenge.’

The challenge is aimed at mobilising agri-tech startups to innovate solutions that have the potential to positively impact at least 10 million small farmers. With a Rs 2 crore price, the challenge will run in stages over twelve months.

It will support participants in developing, testing, and scaling solutions that help alleviate the issues of low income and diminishing profitability farmers in India are facing.

The Cisco Agri Challenge is a platform that draws talent, technology, capital, and attention to the most pressing land, crop, infrastructure, market fulfillment, and social protection issues of small farmers, spurred by the pandemic.

“The Government of India strongly believes that public investment in both traditional science and frontier technology, will empower India to leapfrog in developing sustainable solutions for biodiversity preservation, environmental sciences, climate change, and regenerative agriculture,” said Prof. K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt. of India, who is co-hosting the challenge.

Such a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration will play a catalytic role in implementing scientific and technological interventions in agriculture, thereby improving farmers’ productivity and doubling farmers’ income.

“It will give way to a new behavior of seamless collaboration amongst the Government, Academia, and Industry for addressing global societal problems,” added VijayRaghavan.

“Farmers are a critical part of India’s socio-economic fabric, but they continue to face the challenge of low profitability, exacerbated by the pandemic. Through the Cisco Agri Challenge platform, we aim to accelerate digital transformation in the agriculture sector,” said Harish Krishnan, MD – Public Affairs and Strategic Engagements, Cisco India and SAARC.

“We are not only incubating agritech startups, but also bringing together a powerful ecosystem of investors, domain experts, and government stakeholders to galvanize action and bring to market scalable solutions that can help boost farmers’ incomes and improve their decision-making,” added Krishnan.

There is an urgent need to bring together resources and action to address population-scale challenges for the agriculture sector, which is the backbone of India. Commenting on this announcement,, said,

“Our aim is to scale innovation for income growth of small farmers. This will axiomatically augment GVA and the rural economy. Small technological advantages can lead to an inordinate impact on agricultural livelihood. We’re leveraging public-private partnerships to achieve big shifts,” said Atul Satija – CEO, The/Nudge Foundation.

While Cisco and The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation have joined hands for this challenge, The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation has undertaken its conceptualization and management.

Participants will be capacitated by an eminent circle of partners and experts like Mark Kahn (Managing Partner, Omnivore), Anil Kumar SG (Founder & CEO, Samunnati), Samit Ghosh (Founder, Ujjivan) and Shamika Ravi (Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution).

Knowledge and Technology Partners include NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore, Purdue University and Sattva Consulting. The Investor Circle consists of Bharat Innovation Fund, Aavishkaar Capital, Menterra, etc.

Along with a Policy Circle, enabling access to administrative units and communities for pilots. Immersion Partners include The AgHub, Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), Nagaraja Prakasam, etc.

This probably is a first kind of partnership between Cisco and The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation, particularly focused on agri-tech startup ecosystem in India.

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