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Mumbai: When Mint, the financial daily from the stable of HT Media Ltd, and MIT Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), teamed up last October to identify India’s top innovators under 35, the task was far from easy. The editorial team had to sift through nearly 200 nominations to shortlist around 40 names, which were then allocated to 15 judges including R. Sukumar, editor of Mint, and Brian Bergstein, executive editor of MIT Technology Review. Here are the brief profiles of the judges who picked the winners:

Akanksha Hazari, founder and CEO, m.Paani

Akanksha Hazari aspires to empower the underserved and help build a better India with the help of cellphones. She has been a peace negotiator, sustainable energy consultant, professional athlete and non-profit leader. These roles have taken her across the world, from the boardrooms of blue-chip firms to the field, living and working in Palestine and rural India, and taught her six languages along the way. Her journey reflects her passion for being at the intersection of business and social impact. Hazari led the Cambridge team that won the 2011 Hult Prize, funded by Swedish billionaire Bertil Hult, and was honoured by former US President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. She was named one of the “Top 10 upcoming female social entrepreneurs in India" and was an Echoing Green Fellowship 2013 finalist. Hazari graduated in politics from Princeton University and has an MBA from the University of Cambridge.

Amit Phadnis, president-enginering and India site leader, Cisco Systems Inc.

Amit Phadnis, president-enginering and India site leader, Cisco Systems Inc.
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Amit Phadnis, president-enginering and India site leader, Cisco Systems Inc.

With over 24 years’ experience and more than 20 US patents to his name, Amit Phadnis leads Cisco India’s innovation initiatives, engineering strategy, and overall ecosystem and talent development undertakings. Phadnis is responsible for the India site charter, including strengthening the interlock between Cisco’s engineering, customers and sales teams while aligning the company’s India site strategy with evolving customer and partner needs. He also heads the Core Software Group (CSG) in India. As a CSG head, Phadnis leads a team of more than 2,300 engineers to drive innovations, architectural alignment and integration with GTM (go-to-market) strategies. He is involved in driving the university relations strategy, employee engagement and talent development for the India site and in developing the Engineering Partner and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partner ecosystem.

Arvind Tiwary, founder of SangEnnovate and head of internet of things group at The Entrepreneurial Organization TIE

A graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School, Arvind Tiwary is a technopreneur, IoT evangelist and mentor to technology start-ups. He is also the founder of SangEnnovate, a provider of software development services, and organiser of the The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Special Interest Group on IoT. His experience covers the entire range of insurance in mature markets like Europe, Japan and the US and growth markets like India and China. He has a successful record of designing large enterprise products for life, health and general insurance.

Deepti Doshi, strategic partnerships, Internet.org, Facebook Inc.

Deepti Doshi leads the development of product partnerships across Asia for Facebook. She is a social entrepreneur who has started and led non-profit and for-profit organizations for social change. Prior to joining Facebook, she founded Haiyya—a platform for building leadership in ordinary citizens to create communities in their neighbourhoods to tackle civic governance issues. As the country director of Escuela Nueva, which works in the field of education, she set up its first India programme, bringing its methodology to low-cost private schools. Prior to that, she designed and launched the Acumen Fund Fellows Programme, which develops leaders through training and field placements with social enterprises globally. Doshi is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and The Wharton School and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is a TED fellow, an Aspen Institute Ideas scholar, and serves on the board of the Leading Change Network.

Gaurav Sharma, director-social solutions, smarter workforce and internet of things, IBM Analytics

Gaurav Sharma, director-social solutions, smarter workforce and internet of things, IBM Analytics
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Gaurav Sharma, director-social solutions, smarter workforce and internet of things, IBM Analytics

Gaurav Sharma is director of engineering and IoT at IBM Software Labs India. He also leads the Enterprise Social Solutions and Smarter Workforce engineering teams based out of the labs. Sharma has experience in various technology areas and has led and worked in enterprise content management (products and solutions), information management and unstructured analytics. He has a master’s in software engineering and a BTech in computer science.

Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, KPMG

Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, KPMG
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Jaijit Bhattacharya, partner, KPMG

Jaijit Bhattacharya is a government transformation expert and partner at consulting firm KPMG. He is also the president of the Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research (C-DEP) and adjunct professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi. He has been responsible for the creation of the next generation of solutions for governments, based on open standards. Bhattacharya advises governments on e-governance strategies. He is an e-governance advisor to the government of Sri Lanka and has been conducting training for the ADB institute in Tokyo on public expenditure management; he has helped the World Bank develop a curriculum for its e-leadership programme. Bhattacharya was also part of the Army IT advisory committee. He delivers lectures at the INSEAD Singapore campus, IIT-Roorkee and at Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Calcutta. Bhattacharya did his BTech in electrical engineering from IIT-Kanpur, his MBA from IIM-Calcutta and PhD from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Delhi.

Kannan M. Moudgalya, professor, IIT-Bombay

Kannan Moudgalya is a professor of chemical engineering, systems and control, and educational technology at IIT-Bombay. He has held the posts of associate dean (research & development), head of application software cell and head of the Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme at IIT-Bombay. He is a member of the standing committee of the National Mission on Education through ICT, ministry of human resource development. He is a life member of the Indian Society of Technical Education (ISTE) and the Computer Society of India (CSI), and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Moudgalya is now devoting his time to spreading education—focusing on spoken tutorials, open source software systems, virtual labs and the low-cost tablet Aakash.

Raghav Narsalay, managing director, Accenture Institute for High Performance

Raghav Narsalay, managing director, Accenture Institute for High Performance
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Raghav Narsalay, managing director, Accenture Institute for High Performance

Raghav Narsalay leads the Innovation and Risk Lab for Accenture Institute globally and is responsible for the institute’s teams located in China and India. His areas of specialization are business model innovation, frugal innovation and inclusive business models. In these areas, he has developed a robust body of primary data-driven research literature in collaboration with reputed academics from Harvard Business School, INSPER in Brazil, Lagos Business School in Nigeria, University of International Business and Economics in China and the All India Management Association. Narsalay is a part of the Insurance Regulatory Advisory Council and was a part of the skills and employment sub-committee of the Planning Commission for the 12th Five-Year Plan. He has completed his European master’s in law and economics from Erasmus University. He was awarded the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Scholarship by the European Commission to pursue this course. He is also an alumnus of IIM-Calcutta from where he completed his executive programme in business analytics.

Rajesh Janey, president-EMC India and SAARC operations

Rajesh Janey, president-EMC India and SAARC operations
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Rajesh Janey, president-EMC India and SAARC operations

Rajesh Janey is the president of EMC’s India and Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) operations. He is responsible for accelerating EMC’s growth in India and enhancing relationships with partners and alliances. An ICT industry veteran with over 29 years’ experience, Janey has managed and led companies to leadership positions across diverse business segments, including IT, sales and marketing, services, channels and enterprise. He has spent seven years with EMC. Prior to his current position, Janey has held several leadership roles in EMC India, including vice-president, enterprise business, India and Saarc; head of channels; and vice-president for North, East and Bangladesh business, among others. Janey started his career with HCL Technologies Ltd and held a number of senior management positions in NetApp Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp. and Wipro Ltd.

Ravi Narayan, managing director, Microsoft Ventures

Ravi Narayan is the director of Microsoft Ventures in India, the corporate venture arm of Microsoft Corp. Prior to Microsoft, Narayan was the managing director at Mentor Partners—a Bengaluru-based seed fund, which he established as a brand name in India and South-East Asia. For most of his career, he has been a mentor, investor and a serial entrepreneur. Narayan entered the world of entrepreneurship in 1992. American Systems, his first start-up, was one of the first Indian software development groups to do business with the US federal government. Before embarking on his entrepreneurial career, Narayan worked for companies like Hughes Network Systems and International Business Machines Corp. At Microsoft Ventures, he helps entrepreneurs accelerate promising start-up ventures to scale up in the shortest possible time. He is also a black-belt in martial arts and enjoys Tai Chi and meditation. He is an alumnus of IIT-Madras and University of Southern California.

Rahul Tongia, fellow, energy and environment, Brookings India

Rahul Tongia, fellow, energy and environment, Brookings India
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Rahul Tongia, fellow, energy and environment, Brookings India

Rahul Tongia is a fellow at Brookings India and the Brookings Institution. He was on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for many years, and recently became an adjunct professor at CMU. Active in the domain of smart grids, he helped found India’s Smart Grid Task Force as well as the India Smart Grid Forum—a multi-stakeholder body under the ministry of power, and is the advisor to both bodies. Previously, he was also a founding member of the technology advisory board of SmartConnect, Southern California Edison’s $1.2 billion smart metering/smart grid project. He was also a co-founder and programme director/ principal research scientist at the Center for Study of Science, Technology, and Policy (CSTEP)—a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit think tank. In addition to smart grids, his work focuses on renewables and renewable integration, shortfalls of electricity and mitigation measures, and electricity pricing.

Satish N. Jadhav, director, IoT-embedded sales group, Intel South Asia

Satish N. Jadhav, director, IoT-embedded sales group, Intel South Asia
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Satish N. Jadhav, director, IoT-embedded sales group, Intel South Asia

Having held diverse leadership roles at Intel spanning from sales management and business development to marketing and end-to-end solution implementation while scaling Intel architecture in non-PC markets, Satish N. Jadhav is now leading the IoT group in South Asia.

Jay Warrior, CEO, Mobiatrics Llc

Jay Warrior, CEO, Mobiatrics Llc
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Jay Warrior, CEO, Mobiatrics Llc

Jay Warrior has over 20 years of experience creating new high technology-based business opportunities for Agilent Technologies Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Emerson Electric Co., Fisher-Rosemount Systems Inc., and Honeywell International Inc. in the US and in Asia. He is driven by a systems-wide perspective to problems, integrating long-term trends with strategy, technology development and user-centric design techniques in his work. He puts these into practice at Mobiatrics LLC—a large-scale systems start-up with a focus on healthcare applications. His previous experiences include roles as chief technologist at the Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; chief technologist and strategist for the network solutions business at Agilent Technologies; and managing director of new business creation at Agilent. He has over 25 patents covering key inventions in networking and diagnostics technology.

What some of the judges are saying about EmTech India:

“Undoubtedly, a great initiative by Mint to initiate this MIT Innovators Under 35--India edition. Being part of the judging process is such a wonderful way to stay in tune with the future of technology and an equally humbling experience to get a chance to interact with these bright minds. Technology is transforming innovations at its core and it is absolutely evident looking at these young innovators. These kinds of technology-led innovations definitely have the ability to transform the life of every individual and bring that much needed positive change to society in general. As these bright innovators realise the power of their ideas, they should focus on experiments that not only can be tested rapidly but also can be put into wide effect just as quickly. Here is wishing all of them a very bright future." —Satish N. Jadhav

“As a juror at EmTech this year, it has been a delight to review engaging solutions being proposed to address complex problems in the fields of medicine, communications, banking and education. My advice to young innovators is that while focusing on the innovation, do not lose sight of the market opportunity and the business models."—Raghav Narsalay

“It was a pleasure to be a judge on the inaugural edition of the MIT Innovators Under 35–India edition. It was an enriching experience for me to see so many home-grown innovators start at such a young age. Their innovations gave an insight to their thought process and their desire to contribute to the society, economy and country at large. They showed the passion to make our country a better place for our future generations and I applaud this passion. It was heartening to see technology being an enabler for many of these innovations and I am sure the future of technology and innovation is in good hands. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to encourage this talent and I thank Mint for the opportunity."—Rajesh Janey

“The passion and dedication these nominees have shown in their innovations is amazing. Given that they are addressing different but critical problems and have already made an impact made this judging process really difficult. Although some of these innovations are based in the companies rather than innovation tapped in from other people, their quality is unquestionable. It is great to see many regional graduates following their passion and producing world class innovation, but this should be just a start for them. They should continue on this path, take on larger problems and build deep tech solutions for them. These nominees have some great technology and innovation, but most are focusing on the product itself, which is not enough to succeed. They should also look at scale and the business aspect of things. They should create a network of business associates too, since building technology and products of technology is just half the work. To be successful one must be open, collaborative and tap into the ecosystem. My suggestion would be think scale, think collaboration, think big." —Ravi Narayan

“The process of selecting the innovators was impeccably crafted and implemented, helping out in differentiating between the truly brilliant submissions that were made to the forum. It was indeed a pleasure to be part of such an impartial and focused process."—Jaijit Bhattacharya

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