About the Program

Did you know that the Global Hunger Index (2020) has placed India at an appalling 94th spot among 107 countries? In fact, child and maternal malnutrition are responsible for 15% of the total disease burden in the country. The reality of hunger and malnutrition hovers closer than one might even imagine.

In wake of a future invaded by hunger and health disasters stemming from malnourishment, the nutritional and preventive healthcare solutions are being pushed to the forefront, amplifying the need for innovation in Food & Nutrition and its inclusive accessibility.

IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, in collaboration with BIRAC, introduces the SPARSH Social Innovation Immersion Program to scout for food innovators and support them with knowledge, research resources and fellowship / grant towards developing and commoditizing nutritional food products, processes, and services that are affordable and easily available.

Program Benefits

The selected fellows for the Social Innovation Immersion Program will be provided with multiple valuable benefits.

  • Monthly fellowship of Rs 50,000 for a duration of 18 months
  • Rs 5 Lakhs mini kick start grant
  • Incubation @ IIM Calcutta Innovation Park
  • Rural immersion program
  • Access to BIRAC network of Mentors and Investors
  • Opportunities to seek funding on completion
Apply Now


15 Aug, 2021
Call for Application
Last Date for Applications
30 Sep, 2021
30 Oct, 2021(tentative)
Announcement of Shortlisted Candidates
Presentation to Selection Committee
15 Nov, 2021(tentative)
30 Nov, 2021(tentative)
Announcement of Selected Candidates


  • The applicant must be a citizen of India.
  • Mandatory to work full time on the idea and cannot be combined with fellowships from other funding organizations.
  • Indian undergraduate (B.Tech, BE, MBBS) or postgraduate (MSc, MS, M.Tech, MPhil, MD) & PhD below 35 years from fields of Life sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine & Human Biology are eligible to apply.
Apply Now!


SPARSH is a Social Innovation Immersion Program of BIRAC aimed towards finding innovative solutions to the 
most pressing problems in the agriculture sector through biotechnological interventions.

The program aims to:

  • Encourage young innovators in the AgriTech sector, below 35 years, to take to entrepreneurship by 
    providing fellowship and grant.
  • Provide mentors and subject matter experts to guide them through the program to minimize risks 
    involved in start-ups.
  • Make pursuing entrepreneurship in the AgriTech sector more attractive among available career options.
  • Enable productizing the ideas, creating of new start-ups and raising next round of funding or investment.

Support will include

  • Monthly fellowship of Rs 50,000 for a duration of 18 months
  • Rs 5 Lakhs mini kick start grant
  • Incubation @ IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, including office space, mentoring and capacity 
    building programs
  • Rural immersion program
  • Access to BIRAC network of Mentors and Investors
  • Opportunities to seek funding on completion

BIRAC-SPARSH Fellows should fulfill the following requirements

  • Should be a citizen of India.
  • Should work full time on the idea and not combine with fellowships from other funding organizations.
  • Should be an Indian undergraduate (B.Tech, BE, MBBS) or postgraduate (MSc, MS, M.Tech, MPhil, MD) & PhD below 35 years from fields of Life sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine & Human Biology.

IIM Calcutta innovation Park (IIMCIP) is a nonprofit company set up under the aegis of IIM Calcutta to promote entrepreneurship and innovation and established itself as a premier hub of entrepreneurship development in East and Northeast India.

IIMCIP is a BIRAC SPARSH Centre to execute the Social Innovation Immersion Program in the AgriTech Sector in 2020-21.

Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India as an Interface agency to strengthen and empower the emerging biotechnology enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.

BIRAC is an industry-academia interface and implements its mandate through a wide range of impact initiatives, be it providing access to risk capital through targeted funding, technology transfer, IP management and handholding schemes that help bring innovation excellence to the biotech firms and make them globally competitive. In its five years of existence, BIRAC has initiated several schemes, networks and platforms that help to bridge the existing gaps in the industry-academia innovation research and facilitate novel, high quality affordable products development through cutting edge technologies. BIRAC has initiated partnerships with several national and global partners to collaborate and deliver the salient features of its mandate.

Please log in to BIRAC website https://bit.ly/3CPviS1 and apply.

In the application form, select IIM Calcutta Innovation Park as SPARSH Centre.

In case of doubts you can email contact@iimcip.org.

A business idea is a concept for commercial purposes and typically centers on a product or service that can be sold for money by adopting an operational and practical model. The characteristics of a unique business idea are:

  • It must fulfill customer needs
  • It should be innovative and solve market failure
  • Uniqueness in features and appeal
  • Clear Focus
  • Profitable in the long run

The process of improvement in the existing product/services in its manufacturing/delivery/use and applicability by way of technology and enhances efficiency adding to its value proposition/benefits is termed as innovation. For example, the mobile app services are innovation for delivering product and services which were earlier possible to be delivered only through a computer.

The product/services which are traditionally in the market may be improved upon in a multiple manner so as to differentiate them. The product/service differentiator usually comes with improvement of quality, service and overall standardization. For example, the intervention of technology helped in railway ticket/bus ticket and hotel booking. Similarly, packaging of milk helped it improve ease of handling and sale anytime during the day.

Defining the challenges in a business and in production of products or delivery of services in clear terms is a problem statement. Writing a problem statement helps in analysis and arriving at solutions to the challenges.

Any new idea or concept when translates into a product/services is first tested within closed group of experts is a testimony of the proof of concept. The incubation centers are usually the places that provide the support and services for proof of concept of new idea/concept. The PoC is a stage before the test marketing (or beta stage) of any product/services.

An entity shall be considered as a Startup:

  • Upto a period of seven years from the date of incorporation/registration, if it is incorporated as a private limited company (as defined in the Companies Act, 2013) or registered as a partnership firm (registered under section 59 of the Partnership Act, 1932) or a limited liability partnership (under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008) in India. In the case of Startups in the biotechnology sector, the period shall be upto ten years from the date of its incorporation/ registration
  • Turnover of the entity for any of the financial years since incorporation/ registration has not exceeded Rs. 25 crore
  • Entity is working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or if it is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation.

The business that focuses and registers enough profits so as to serve its own cost of existence and grow on a year on year basis is a sustainable business. The products and services of the business remains relevant in its value proposition and benefits to its customers to be in demand sustains itself.

Incubation is a process whereby an entrepreneur/organization get help for their new and startup business to develop by providing services such as management training, capital or office space. The incubation provides the eco-system for harnessing new business idea/concept and develop it into a commercial venture.

Mentoring involves advising or training an individual or a group of individuals and guiding them pertaining to their respective activity or domain. This involves counseling, training and guidance by experts. A mentor can be anyone who helps a new individual learn and understand the nuances of a particular activity/work/business/art/trade. Mentor usually have long years of hands on expertise in their area of work and have demonstrated success in their field.

Contact Us

IIM Calcutta, Joka,
Diamond Harbour Road
Kolkata 700104
Soujit Das

Terms and Conditions

  1. The information provided through the application will be kept strictly confidential and will be used for the purpose of the program only.
  2. The decision of the organizing team, regarding selection of candidates, is final, firm and binding
  3. The application and / or incubation / fellowship will be cancelled if misrepresentation of facts are found at any point of time.
  4. During various stages of the program the participants need to disclose information of the work and / or company.
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