An all-girls team of Maumita Bhattacharjee from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Sannidhi Jhala from Indian School of Business, Mohali, emerged as the winners of the Season 1 of ‘The Power of Shunya™: Challenge for Zero’. In a competition spanning 10 weeks, this team beat 23 other teams of students from India’s premier science & technology institutes and B-schools to win the grand prize of a cash award or INR 1,000,000 (Rupees Ten Lakhs only) and a paid experience to the global DuPont headquarters and the Experimental Station at Wilmington, Delaware, USA. The winners were announced at the grand finale of the show that aired last weekend (Saturday, Dec 14 and Sunday, Dec 15) on ET Now and the prize money was given away by Dr Rajeev Vaidya, President – south Asia & Asean, DuPont.
Three other teams who finished in the top 4 also won cash awards, they are
First runners-up team of Vaibhav Tidke from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and Ankit Singh from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi won INR 500,000 and a paid experience to DuPont India
Second runners-up team of Abitha R from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Vikas Gujral from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad won INR 250,000 and a paid experience to DuPont India
Third runners-up team of Prerna Nath from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi and Sanket Kshatriya from Management Development Institute, Gurgaon won INR 100,000.
The 10-week on-air competition was hosted by popular television anchor Gaurav Kapur and was adjudged by an eminent panel of jury including Dr. Homi Bhedwar -Technology Director, South Asia & Asean, DuPont; Vani Kola – MD, Kalaari; Harish Hande – MD, Selco India; and Rajeev Karwal – Founder & CEO, Milagrow. Dr. Kiran Karnik, member of the Scientific Advisory Council and the National Innovation Council, was a special juror during the grand finale round telecast last weekend.
The winning duo impressed the jury with their innovation and marketing strategy for an apparatus to make silk fiber-based lamellar bio-materials for use during surgical interventions for patients with lower back pain, a severe health issue around the world, particularly among the elderly.
Jury member Homi Bhedwar said, “Science & technology are absolutely fundamental to meeting the needs for food, energy and protection of India’s growing population. “The Power of Shunya™ – Challenge for Zero is an excellent way for DuPont, a science company, to fuel the passion and ignite the young minds of the University students and I hope it will encourage them to pursue science-based problem solving as they contribute to India’s, and the world’s, growth and development.”
The winner, Maumita Bhattacharjee from IIT, Delhi said, “Power of Shunya was the best platform where I could bring up the strategy to make people aware and to promote this kind of technology, which is at an advantage among the other currently available artificial processes. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be adjudged among the best’. Her team-mate Sannidhi Jhala from ISB, Mohali added, “Seeing so many innovations has motivated me to go out and make a difference and do something big in life.”
The Challenge for Zero is a university competition. In its first season it invited the best young minds from science, technology and business schools of India to come together and showcase ground-breaking innovations and their go-to-market strategies. As part of the format to encourage collaboration between budding scientists and emerging marketers, each team comprised a science & technology student paired with a B-school student. The challenge to the students was to develop a science-based innovation and its marketing plan to help India achieve the aspiration goal of Shunya or zero – a country of zero hunger, zero malnutrition, zero accidents, zero lives lost, zero carbon footprint. The contestants were judged based on their product’s innovation quotient, its functionality, its potential impact and its ability to achieve the Power of Zero.
The competition witnessed a magnitude of path-breaking innovations, shortlisted from 250 entries down to 24 most impactful ones. These top 24 teams were then given a two-week window to develop their product presentations and business plans to present to the jury.