With the aim to foster innovation and galvanise the next generation of entrepreneurs, Startup Odisha, under the MSME Department of the Government of Odisha, unveiled its latest endeavours: Odisha Startup Yatra and Startup Xpress 2023. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is set to inaugurate these initiatives on 11th September, highlighting the state's commitment to nurturing a vibrant startup ecosystem.
According to Dr. Omkar Rai, Executive Chairman, Startup Odisha, the primary objective with these programs is to offer guidance and resources to young minds, focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship. “This approach is designed to ensure they can make the most of opportunities in the startup sector,” he sid.
A range of events is planned under these initiatives, notably Van Camps and Boot Camps aimed at discovering fresh ideas. The plan involves collaboration with educational establishments across Odisha's 30 districts, spanning over 200 colleges and 60 schools. The projected outreach is substantial, aiming to impact more than 25,000 students. Activities include over 200 van camps in colleges, 60 in schools, and upwards of 120 bootcamps, which are expected to produce over 3,500 innovative ideas.
Reflecting on previous successes, the last iteration of the Startup Odisha Yatra covered all 30 districts, hosting 114 Van camps, 30 Bootcamps, and engaging with over 100 colleges. This effort yielded 1,350 ideas from 10,270 students. Of these, 22 prime concepts were chosen for an acceleration program, which culminated in a demo day where 11 finalists received Rs 1 lakh each.
Looking to the future, the forthcoming Startup Yatra has set ambitious targets. At least 50 top ideas will be selected for a three-day Acceleration program. Subsequently, the 25 most promising ones will be invited to O-Hub for a demo day. From these, 10 ideas will be selected to receive seed funding worth INR 3,00,000 each to help them evolve into feasible startup projects. In addition, a specialised mobile application has been launched to collect ideas from innovators.
Furthermore, the Startup Xpress 2023 initiative will invite the top 20 ideas for a final pitch session, with 10 selected ideas receiving a cash award of Rs 10,000 each.
Sharing his perspective, Industries, MSME, and Energy Minister, Pratap Keshari Deb emphasised the importance of these initiatives to Odisha's larger goal of fostering 5,000 startups by 2025. He said that the state's commitment to innovation and support for entrepreneurs, including women.
“As Odisha marches towards its mission of 5000 Startups by 2025, Odisha Startup Yatra and Startup Xpress 2023 will be pivotal in bringing innovative ideas to the forefront. With a track record of nurturing innovation, fostering entrepreneurship, and providing robust support to women entrepreneurs, these initiatives stand as a transformative experience, poised to accelerate the startup ecosystem's growth and success in the state,” he said.
Dr. Omkar Rai detailed the strides Odisha's startup ecosystem has made. With over 1,700 startups, of which 42% are women-led and the support of 27 incubators, the state has established itself in the entrepreneurial space. He expressed hope that these latest initiatives would further enrich this landscape.
“Odisha Startup Yatra and Startup Xpress 2023 marks a significant leap for Odisha's startup ecosystem. With 1700+ startups, including 42% led by women, and supported by 27 incubators, Odisha thrives as an entrepreneurial hub. These initiatives will empower students by offering insights, idea pitching, and a pathway to the acceleration program. We aspire for this journey to enhance entrepreneurship, catalyse innovative breakthroughs, and unify the state on its path to becoming a transformative ideas hub,” Dr. Rai said.
Saswat Mishra, Principal Secretary, MSME Department, Government of Odisha, acknowledged the potential of the initiatives. He emphasized the value they offer to students, providing them with key insights, chances to present their concepts, and pathways to establish successful startups.
The culmination of these efforts will be a grand finale in Bhubaneswar, allowing students to display their concepts. Winners will receive cash prizes, as well as mentorship and legal advice from Startup Odisha.