FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the vision for Nashik Innovation Center and KumbhaThon?
To empower the new digital citizens and to serve the underserved population, there are numerous challenges. But. there are multiple prospects for disruption and many multimillion dollar opportunities. Our goal is to spot and probe such disruptive opportunities and to develop the solutions in collaboration with the available fantastic talent pool. Many problems in India have smart and scalable solutions. Where better to scale these opportunities than at the Kumbh Mela - that is the biggest congregation of humanity. A place where people are already on a journey to discover both themselves and their cultural roots. It is a place of enormous innovation and a lot of that is unrecognized. Indians have a familiar ability to adapt to varying circumstances in seeming chaos but there is a method to the madness. This is where we can bring together the spirit of innovation that percolates and permeates Indian society. We concentrate it, give it a methodology and provide it a structure. Then we have something we call Kumbhathon. It is something tangible, fruitful, and scalable. This is where we can create disruption and create the seed for many multi-million dollar companies who will serve the citizens and create better lives for the millions who live in our land.
What is Nashik Innovation Center and KumbhaThon?
Does this go beyond Kumbh Mela?
Our goal is to stimulate impact ventures that empower newly digital citizens in non-metro Tier II cities. Impact ventures around newly digital citizens require an integrated effort and a large petri dish for experimentation. A single isolated venture is unlikely to succeed without deep engagement from city businesses; government officials, multiple stakeholders and well identified newly digital citizens. We have found an ideal venue for such a sandbox for venture experimentation. The vibrant and beautiful Kumbh Mela in city of Nashik provides the grounds to test many of these ideas for tech and adoption. At the same time, the innovators are bringing innovative solutions to Kumbh Mela, many of which have been already put in place by the citizens. (The NasikLive app built by Kumbhathon teams is the official app of the Kumbh Mela, providing unprecedented dynamic data to empower visitors and officials of the Kumbh Mela, but also provide 'big-data' solutions for predictive analytics). Kumbhathons are bi-annual camps used for probing tech and adoption risks. Kumbhathon is NOT a traditional hackathon or a competition. Clearly, innovators cannot work for just one specific event like Kumbh Mela. The innovation center now supports the innovators and entrepreneurs to take these ventures to other venues or morph them for daily use by the newly digital citizens.
How does the Nashik Innovation Center work?
Nashik innovation center is a year-round initiative to identify and address the challenges of cities in developing countries. The yearlong activities are made up four phases: Spot, Probe, Grow and Launch. (A) The Spot phase involves spotting problems, potential solutions and partners. The Spot phase takes place online and via expert panels. (B) The Probe phase investigates tech and adoption risks by bringing stakeholders together. Probing takes place mainly at the quarterly buildathon. The next buildathon, called Kumbhathon, is coming up. Kumbhathon is NOT a traditional hackathon or a competition. After months of preparation, each buildathon brings together week long ideating and prototyping marathon as part of a yearlong process. The first day covers tech talks by renowned industrialists and technological evangelists. This is followed by a deep engagement with stakeholders of the city. It is a great platform to make your ideas take shape. So what are you waiting for? Apply to Participate. (C) Grow phase supports development of the concepts in the innovation center all through the year. (D) The Launch phase again uses Nasik as a sandbox and brings in impact investors and initial customers during quarterly engagements.
Smart Citizens before Smart Cities. What does that mean?
In developing countries, citizens are becoming digital well before cities are becoming smart. Thus our emphasis is on Smart Citizens, because these Smart Citizens will play a key role in defining Smart Cities. In the emerging world, learning takes place without schools, transactions proceed without a formal currency, companies build transportation solutions that don’t own the fleet, food is grown away from traditional farms and digital information democratizes participation in civic matters. The innovation sandbox focused on identifying, nurturing and launching key ideas with social impact. This will lead to corporate ventures, startup ventures or new research and insights.
What is the goal of the Innovation Center vs individual Projects?
Our goal is to create new 'Impact Entrepreneurs' via an open innovation platform. Many projects will be explored well beyond the camp, with serious mentoring, funding and working space. With seed funding, we hope to convert the ideas and prototypes, into working solutions. They will be put through rigorous design and evaluation, followed by testing and deployment. By the nature of it, just as start-ups, many individual projects will FAIL. Nevertheless, the emphasis is on building a platform and providing a steady flow of problems, solutions, stakeholders and early adopters.
Who is organizing the Kumbhathon? Who are partners and participants?
The camp is organized by MIT (USA), fellows of MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, MIT Media Lab, iNDOVATION Nashiks, Circle & Sandip Foundation, SIOM, Sapat College, NDMVP in association with all engineering colleges of Nashik. Participants include partners from IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, PESIT Instructors, Reliance Innovation Lab, MKCL, KHANDBAHALE.COM, NMC, NIMA, District Government, Maharashtra Police, CSI, IEEE & few other stakeholders like Taxy Union, Hotel Owners, and relevant NGOs & Associations etc. Plus many companies and organizations like Xerox, TCS, Google, Colgate, Xprize and more are participating.
I have heard this camp is not a hackathon. How is this different from a 'hackathon'?
The projects are highly curated. Several industry leaders and researchers came together to brainstorm about the potential project well before the camp. Many of these experts will travel to Nashik to participate in the camp and the team also discussed projects will best potential for impact. Each team is selected very carefully and assigned to experts and mentors from US and India. With this design thinking, we structure the 'problem definition' and 'solution exploration' process. With stakeholders in the room the progress is fast. Teams continue to work after the camp and are provided sufficient resources. Many teams from earlier events have gone on to develop the prototypes that are in evaluation, have won awards, have been invited at TEDx and INKtalks events and have been taken up as thesis topics. See the Facebook page for updates:
Who can participate?
Kumbhathon is open for all: students, professionals and also anyone who is innovative and willing to contribute for the betterment of the society. In this phase, we especially invite entrepreneurs and business leaders to take many of the ideas to commercial exploration.
I am an Industry professional and I bring a different skill set to the table. Am I eligible?
Yes, very much. We always have significant participation from Industry professionals. As you can see from earlier reports, many businesses are engaged to understand emerging innovations, consumer behavior and adoption, interact with city officials and partner with innovators. Instead of responding to RFPs (tenders), the innovation center provides a bottom up innovation platform to tap emerging opportunities. The behavior of new digital citizens cannot be predicted by top-down business and technology methodologies. Many companies and organizations are sending their employees. Some are participating as part of CSR activities, so please contact your organization HR as well. Some are embedding executives as part of an immersion program.
What is the format for Kumbhathon?
Industry Experts, Engineers, Designers, Corporations and Stakeholders unite for multiple days of nonstop ideating and prototyping on some of the biggest challenges for non-metro Tier-II cities. Although the theme is inspired by Kumbh Mela, projects map to Digital City or 'pop-up city' challenges applicable anywhere worldwide. Please see this blog for details We engage diverse disciplines such as Transportation, Health Issue, Civic Issues, Crime and Police issues, Hotel and Housing, Language and Translation, Crowd management, Security, Pollution, Positioning, Traffic & Parking and more.
How long do I have to stay at site?
Kumbhathon event is weeklong but some people join only for the conference.
Are there any fees for Food or Stay?
We will have details soon but the fees will be minimal for any individual non-industry participant.
What should I bring?
All participants are required to get their valid identities for admission (name must match registrations), a laptop and a data card (WiFi is unreliable because we are dependent on our hosts who rarely support 200+ logins). If you want to hardware hack kindly get the required devices you are planning to work on.
How to participate?
Submit your Ideas on 'Discuss' button on main page and 'Register/Apply' button to participate. Expert panel will scrutinize entries. Top 25 ideas will be selected for the buildathon.
But I have more questions ..