Our Design Impact Award for Social Change aims to encourage and recognise grassroot Innovators, Says Titan Sustainability Head

Titan aims to identify and mentor product design innovators who would like to upscale their products’ reach. It will recognize Grassroot Innovators, particularly who have been able to design creative product solutions for contextual problems at hand using whatever means available.

MUMBAI: Titan Company Limited, a lifestyle company driven by innovation and design, recently launched the Design: Impact Awards for Social Change in collaboration with Tata Trusts.

It is a project-based grant award which aims to positively impact the underprivileged communities and needs of the society, by encouraging and inspiring bright minds to design for the benefit of the society. Innovators who finally qualify will be financially supported up to Rs 65 lakhs along with advocacy, recognition, and mentorship.

India CSR Network talks with N.E. Sridhar, Head- Sustainability of Titan Company to understand in detail how initiative works. Edited excerpts:

What is all about Titan Design: Impact Award for Social Change?

Awards is launched with the collaboration of Tata Trusts. It recognizes and supports innovative product designs that cause social impact. It is an engagement-driven program that results in real-time impact driven projects. It aims to positively impact the underprivileged communities and needs of the society by encouraging and inspiring bright minds to design for the benefit at large.

What is the geographical focus for the product implementation?

We have a pan-India approach and reach for the program. Innovators from outside India can also apply provided they wish to implement their projects in India.

Has this been done in India before?

We believe that it is the first time that a program of this nature which provides a complete trajectory of support and focuses towards product designs that cause social impact, has been instituted in the country.

How are the winning entries supported?

Winners have the opportunity to upscale their product’s reach and impact. The program will provide financial grants up to Rs. 65 lakhs per project, advocacy, recognition and mentorship. At later stages, grant recipients will be given the opportunity to apply for additional seed capital up to a similar amount as the grant. Post this, opportunities for networking for further rounds of funding will be provided.

Who can apply for this award and where?

Product design innovators and teams with prototyped and tested products focusing on social needs may apply. For example, entrepreneurs focused on social product innovation, individuals, or small teams within large organisations working on a specific product innovation, students working as individuals or small teams, grassroots Innovators and innovators residing outside India who wish to implement their products in India. Award entries can be submitted on website https://designimpactawards.in/

The applications are accepted in English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada and Odia.

What is the deadline for the application submission?

All applications must be submitted by 31st October 2017.

When will the awards be announced?

The final grantees will be announced in May-June 2018

What is Tata Trusts involvement in these awards?

Spread over 17 states and 170 districts across the country, programmes supported by Tata Trusts reach out to millions of households through an efficient network of 450 plus partner organisations. Collaboration will help the program in reaching out to various communities and geographies. Tata Trusts has built extensive network across country. The Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE), an initiative of Tata Trusts, and Titan, aim to discover, recognize and effectively support entrepreneurs and innovators having a strong focus on addressing challenges to create social change and help upscale the impact of their product designs.

How will Titan and Tata Trusts guide the Design Impact award winners?

DIA is an engagement – driven program. At multiple stages of screening, the program will engage with participants. Participants will get a change to attend workshops, bootcamps, interviews and other engagements. The innovations of the finalists will be recognised and advocated. Winners will also get mentorship- tie ups apart from advocacy, opportunity for seed funding of an equal amount along with further networking opportunities for funding.

What are some of the biggest social issues that need to be addressed?

We believe that one social issue is as important as the next. In some geographies, water shortage might be a more pressing issue while in some other geographies pollution might be causing catastrophic consequences. We wish to create an atmosphere of positivity by pivoting the discussion around solutions that can create tangible and effective social impact. That is why this program is sector-agnostic.

How will you identify grassroot innovators?

The program also aims to encourage and recognise grassroots innovators who have been able to innovate solutions in their local communities. Primarily non-urban, innovators belonging to rural communities who have been able to design an innovative product solution for the contextual problem at hand using the means available. The program will identify them through an extensive network of NGOs, a nomination panel and other pan-India organizations.

Say something about Members of jury for this award.

The grand jury panel for Awards includes Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, one of India’s most eminent scientists and former Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research; Prof. Anil Gupta, globally renowned grassroots innovations scholar and founder of the Honey Bee Network, Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and pioneer in Industry Academia interaction towards R&D, Innovation and Product Development; Padma Shri V.R. Mehta, Trustee, Sir Dorabji Tata Trusts; Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons and Ramji Raghavan, well-renowned India-based social innovator and entrepreneur and Founder and Chairman of Agastya International Foundation; and others.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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