THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP Cell (E-Cell) of the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, has spread its wings beyond the campus and helped set up similar student-run organisations in 160 colleges across the country. IIT-Bombay’s E-Cell is a student-run organisation that introduces students to the startup ecosystem and eggs them on to realise their latent entrepreneurial instincts through workshops, seminars and investor interactions.
IIT-B boasts of a thriving startup ecosystem, especially because of active support groups such as E-Cell and the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) — a model that many educational institutes and the All India Council for Technical Education are trying to emulate. While the E-Cell works to spread awareness through workshops and speaker sessions, the SINE is an incubator that mentors startups. “It is a synergy of the two groups that has worked best,” said Hardik Patil, a spokesperson for the E-Cell.
In 2013, the E-Cell decided to survey foreign universities to get a better idea of the entrepreneurship-support trends outside India. It then became clear that there was a need to look beyond the boundaries of IIT-B and set up functioning E-Cells in colleges across India. Since then, the Cell has helped establish 160 similar E-Cells in 80 cities, including Mysore, Indore and Jaipur.
At the heart of this campaign is a National Entrepreneurship Challenge (NEC), which is now in its fifth edition. The annual challenge calls for participation from colleges for prizes worth Rs 6 lakh and mentorship from IIT-B. Each college has to first set up an E-Cell with at least five students. The students are then assigned tasks to complete over a period of five months. Tasks include workshops and seminars to initiate dialogue about entrepreneurship among the student community.
The fifth edition of the NEC will be launched on August 31, when the first set of assignments will be rolled out. Participants will be judged based on three milestones over the next five months. Last year’s challenge saw participation from 601 colleges from across the country.