NEW DELHI, September 16: Union Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Science and Technology; Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Earth Sciences; MoS of the Prime Minister’s Office and Department of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr Jitendra Singh today presented INSPIRE awards to 60 startups and financial support to 53,021 students. The award is instituted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and these innovators will be provided with comprehensive incubation support for their entrepreneurial journey.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that in the year 2020-21, as the country, like the rest of the world, battles the severe impact of COVID-19, the annual INSPIRE Awards – MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) attracted an unprecedented audience. 6.53 Lakh ideas and innovations from all states and UTs in the country. He said the program has achieved an unprecedented level of inclusiveness representing ideas and innovations from 702 districts nationwide (96%), including 123 out of 124 aspirational districts, 51% girl representation, 84% participation of schools located in rural areas of the country and 71% of schools operated by state/UT governments. Dr. Jitendra Singh informed that out of 6.53 lakhs, a total of 53,021 students have been identified for financial support of Rs 10,000 each so that they can develop prototypes of the ideas that they submitted for the scheme. In a next step, they participated in the District Level Exhibition and Project Competition (DLEPC) and the State Level Exhibition and Project Competition (SLEPC) and now a total of 556 students have made their way to the 9th National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC).
Dr. Jitendra Singh said that these 556 students who will be part of the NLEPC are the country’s most promising scientists, researchers, scholars and a global group of up-and-coming S&T talent. He said their innovations have a societal orientation which gives India an opportunity to solve problems by applying S&T. The Minister informed that dedicated mentoring workshops are held in the best technological institutes in our country like IIT, BITS, NIT, etc. for these students, which will not only increase their level of exposure to the latest trends in science, technology and innovation (STI) but also mentor them to make the right decisions for their innovative technologies and gain insight into what will help the most their innovation. Dr. Jitendra Singh said, every year, out of all recognized eligible schools, among students of 10-15 years of age, studying in class VIth to Xth, one million ideas are meant to be spotted and one lakh to be identified for a added value and an opportunity to compete and move forward due to their inherent merit in their incubation trajectories.
DST Secretary, Dr. S. Chandrasekhar said, to verify their value proposition and mentor students every step of the way, a series of District Level Exhibitions and Projects (DLEPC) for every district in the country, followed of a series of state-level exhibitions and projects. Project Competitions (SLEPC) for each State/UT are organised. Students have the opportunity to showcase their innovations, articulate the merit of their ideas and thoughts, build confidence, gain knowledge of science and technology like never before and finally, about a thousand students are expected to be invited annually to participate in the NLEPC (National Level Exhibition and Project Competition).