The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MoCAFPD) has invited applications for a grand challenge seeking ideas on the development of technologies for the primary processing, storage, and valorisation of onions. The challenge is open for research students, scientists, private organisations and startups across the country. Interested candidates can send in their application online through doca.gov.in, on or before October 15.

The challenge which will start on July 20 going through to October 20, seeks ideas and solutions in four broad verticals. This includes improvement of storage designs for traditional onion storage facilities in the country, pre-harvesting stage technologies, technologies and processes for primary processing and harvesting onions and dehydration, valorisation, and processing of onions.

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This grand challenge will be divided into three stages. In the first stage known as the ‘Ideation to PoC’ stage, participating teams will be asked to make a presentation on their idea to a jury. A total of 40 proposals from 40 teams will be selected. Each team will then be given financial assistance of Rs 75,000 for developing a proof of concept (PoC) and a working prototype of the proposed solution within 3-4 months. The winners of stage 1 will receive Rs 25,000 in prize money.

Stage two is called PoC to product development. This round will select 20 teams and provide them with development costs of up to Rs 5 lakhs. The winning teams will receive a prize of Rs 50,000. The last and final stage, field implementation, will select one winner and two/four runner-ups in each vertical to be selected and supported appropriately for the field deployment of their solution.

In tech start-ups, MSMEs, companies, LLPs participating in the challenge, at least a 51 per cent stake must be held by an Indian citizen or person of Indian origin. The applicant’s entity should not be a subsidiary company of a foreign corporation. The challenge seeks to address the issue of wastage of harvested onions due to the use of obsolete and traditional methods of processing, and storage of onions.

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