New Delhi: Designing a solution to redefine agriculture in India. Empowering cities for economic, environmental and social sustainability by implementing solutions like smart parking, smart transportation, smart lighting. Popularizing farm mechanization. Promoting social entrepreneurship. Building promotion channels to popularize instant credit. This year, the YES Bank Transformation Series—India’s largest B-school case study challenge—provided a platform for the brightest minds in the world to attempt all this and much more.
Launched in 2010, YES Bank Transformation Series is a platform which has been providing students from the world’s top B-schools an opportunity to step into the shoes of business leaders and lead the innovation journey of top organizations around the world. The initiative was launched to champion the spirit of disruptive innovation and encourage bright young minds from the world’s finest universities to think beyond boundaries. The contest has been a great platform for students to showcase their talent to derive path-breaking, industry-relevant ideas. Over the years, the focus has been on various disruptive concepts such as digital financial inclusion. So far, more than 75,000 students have participated in this challenge, making it India’s largest case study challenge.
YES Bank Transformation Series is an attempt towards nurturing and promoting the talent inherent in the brightest young minds of the country, while also infusing the spirit of DICE—Design, Innovation and Creativity-led Entrepreneurship in them. The central idea is establishing a nationwide “Innovation Lab" that would create a sustained culture of growth, entrepreneurship and innovation in India.
During the gruelling opening round, YES Bank Transformation Series teams comprising the YES BANK leadership and the case study partners visited campuses around the country, speaking to students and discussing core issues around the cases.
Short interactive chat sessions were also hosted with the participating teams to provide them with a better grasp of the cases while also discussing the nuances of the solutions sought. The students also discussed the criteria of evaluation—research methodology, understanding of the current regulatory framework, depth of analysis of core issues, innovation quotient, and feasibility of implementation and scalability.
Interactions across 15 campuses in the country also threw up a gamut of interesting ideas including smart parking and smart lighting for the forthcoming smart cities of India. Initially planned as campus connects, the campus rounds turned out to be intense “brain bouts" with huge student participation.
This year saw a number of online engagements that generated a huge buzz in the student community. For instance, prior to the campus rounds, teams that submitted their entries before 21 August were eligible for the early bird submission prize. There was also a Cheatcode day, through which the top five winners got the opportunity to have their queries addressed by the case-study partners.
Edition VI: Prelims
In its sixth edition, YES Bank Transformation Series emerged as a crowdsourcing platform for ideas shared by our young student innovators. The case studies this year focused on three key aspects of the economy—financial technology or fintech (RedCarpet, Morph.ai, Numberz and Rupeeseed), smart cities (International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Nasscom) and social development (Singapore International Foundation and Intellecap).
The challenge posed to the students was to enter the “think tanks" of these organizations and help them address the issues they were facing in scaling up these initiatives. The response, in one word, has been fascinating.
The uniqueness of the challenge has seen it climb new heights this year, witnessing participation from more than 30,000 students across the top B-schools of India including Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), IIM Kozhikode and IIM Shillong, among others.
Innovative use of social media
One of the unique aspects of the sixth edition of YES Bank Transformation Series was the innovative use of social and digital media to interact and engage with the student community. The core idea was to reach and engage young minds in the language they converse in—at the places they frequent the most—social media.
The results were mind-boggling. The campaign reached not only the participants but facilitated interactions with more than 500,000 students across the world. The campaign was spread across Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
Coming up on social media
Meet Your mentor: This will provide an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to interact with YES Bank’s Advisory Council via Twitter Chats and Linkedin, and get live answers to their queries.
Innovation Focus: An awareness campaign to highlight the key disruptive innovations in financial services industry that redefined the boundaries of the industry
Innovation Quiz: This is a quiz on “disruptive" innovation and the questions will focus solely around innovations which changed the facets of the industry in which they were conceived
The grand finale
If the ethos of a competition lies in crowdsourcing ideas for nation- building initiatives, the ultimate test is whether these ideas can be used for a pertinent national issue. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, YES Bank Transformation Series this year partnered with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, to give student innovators the opportunity to be a part of India’s policy think-tank and provide solutions to the challenge shared by AIM on “Making India a Smart Agri Nation".
The grand finale challenge
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his dream of doubling farmers’ income by 2022—when India completes 75 years of its independence. The commitment to double farmers’ income in five years was reiterated in the budget speech of 2017–18 as one of the key themes identified for “Transform, Energise and Clean India".
Agriculture is still the primary source of livelihood for a majority of India’s population, and hence policy, market and technology interventions are the need of the hour to ensure prosperity for the largest section of India’s population. AIM, NITI Aayog is eager to hear ideas and solutions for using agriculture-based technologies (agritech) towards precision agriculture and doubling of famers’ income by 2022. Technology has the potential to play a big role in enhancing farmers’ income and maximize profit-making in agriculture. It has the potential to truly transform the agriculture sector by improving efficiencies at the grass-roots levels. Technology may have the answer to optimizing the usage of meagre resources at hand.
Given the multiple challenges farmers face in India, the need of the hour is to embrace technology to increase productivity and income.
Technological interventions that can benefit Indian farmers, some of which are already being employed in India are:
■ Use of Big Data for precision agriculture viz. farm- specific, data-driven diagnostics to determine soil health, weather patterns, pest and disease control, use of drones and sensors, etc.
■ Farming-As-A-Service: agri-rent equipment services
■ Market linkage models to aid decision-making in planting of crops
■ Fintech for farmers to reduce credit risks and risk of high indebtedness
■ IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled technologies for farm mechanization and availability of real-time data
Challenge for finalists
The government has already rolled out several initiatives to increase agriculture productivity like promotion of organic farming, improving irrigation techniques and providing soil cards which provide detailed information to the farmer on the health of farming soil, including nutrient status, along with recommendations on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
However, AIM, NITI Aayog, is looking towards the finalists of YES Bank Transformation Series to use technology to:
■ Help address some of the bigger challenges faced by farmers such as low purchasing ability, small land holding, dependence on rain, etc. using technology
■ Solutions to help transition from traditional farming methods to the proposed agri-tech solution/s
The final case study will provide a gruelling test to India’s future business leaders. After proving their worth in real life business cases, the finale takes them to uncharted territories as they work on ideas whose impact will take agritech in India to the next level. The case challenges the finalists to provide detailed go-to-market and implementation plan for one technology solution of their choice in agritech leading to precision agriculture that can have the maximum impact on productivity and farmers’ income.
For the grand finale on 9 November, the teams will be flown to New Delhi where they will get to present their ideas to a jury comprising industry experts and mentors. The jury will ponder the proposed solutions by the teams and decide on the three winning teams with the most innovative ideas that can create an impact.