India: N/Core, Cisco partner to back non-profit startups targeting socioeconomic issues

Sudha Srinivasan, chief executive officer of N/Core. Photo: Mint

N /Core, a non-profit start-up incubator managed by non-profit organization Nudge Foundation, has partnered with Cisco Systems to launch a new early-stage incubation programme named N/Core tech, which will focus on solving social and economic problems using technology.

N/Core tech will mentor 20 non-profit start-ups in the first year in two separate cohorts. It will also provide an innovation grant of Rs10 lakh to each graduating start-up. Entrepreneurs who work full-time on their non-profit idea will be selected for the programme.

The new incubation programme will primarily focus on nurturing start-ups trying to address critical needs like water and food security, healthcare, financial inclusion, education, accessibility, water, menstrual hygiene and the environment.

Most start-ups selected by N/Core already have experience working with the underprivileged population, but after reaching a certain scale, they struggle to expand into new areas due to a shortage of resources and money. The incubator will help these companies overcome expansion challenges with mentorship and money.

The non-profits will have access to a set of mentors and technology experts from Cisco. N/Core’s mentors include industry veterans like Sanjay Purohit, ex-chairman of Infosys Consulting; Maneesh Dhir, former managing director of Apple India; K.R. Lakshminarayan, chief endowment officer of Azim Premji Foundation, and Ujwal Thakar, the ex-chief executive officer of Pratham and GiveIndia.

N/Core was founded by Atul Satija in early 2017. Last month, the incubator closed its first cohort under its non-tech programme that included nine start-ups working to solve poverty-related problems in the country. N/Core claimed to have received a total of 1032 applications for its first cohort.

Some of N/Core’s earlier start-ups include Saarthi Education, and The Education Alliance, who work to solve problems in the education sector, while start-ups like Sushrat Foundation and Sukhibhava are working in the healthcare segment.

Other names include Project Potential, a Bihar-based start-up which works to empower young entrepreneurs; Foundation for Environmental Monitoring, an open source platform for monitoring water and soil quality.

“This collaboration between N/Core and Cisco aspires to elevate the development sector in its adoption of technology to solve problems at large scale. We believe that our support for innovation leveraging technology will change the norm of the development sector in pace, scale, and efficiency,” said Sudha Srinivasan, chief executive officer of N/Core.

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This article was first published on Livemint.com