In India, the focus of colleges/institutes since time immemorial has been towards employability rather than entrepreneurship. Instead of encouraging the students to become their own bosses and create more employment opportunities, the young minds are often given the goal of following the beaten path of chasing a stable 9 to 5 job. This has lead to a large untapped entrepreneurial talent sitting within academia today.

IIT-Bombay’s Entrepreneurship Cell (E-Cell) has been working on changing this scenario on their campus for quite some reasons time. And now, the student-run organisation that aims to promote entrepreneurship in students by helping them realise their latent entrepreneurial instincts through workshops, seminars and investor interactions, has expanded its cause and has helped set up similar organisations in 160 colleges across India.

IIT-Bombay has acquired a reputation of not only churning out world-class engineers, but over the years it has also become famous for giving birth to world-class entrepreneurs. This growing startup ecosystem in the institute is courtesy the rigorous hard work and efforts put in by the institute’s E-Cell and the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE), which is an IIT-Bombay owned incubation centre providing a host of programmes to promote entrepreneurship in its students.

E-Cell's success rate has been so phenomenal that in the last three years, the number of student startups in IIT-Bombay have increased by a whopping 58 per cent. While there were only 31 student startups at IIT-Bombay in 2015, the number has shot up to 49 startups in 2017. This figure is excluding those founded by students who have graduated in 2016 and 2017.

Four years ago, E-Cell had surveyed foreign universities in order to grasp a better idea of the entrepreneurship-support trends outside the Indian subcontinent. This is when the organisation realised the need to look beyond the walls of IIT Bombay and set up similar student organisations in colleges across the country. Since then, it has contributed in establishing 160 similar E-Cells in 80 cities, including Indore, Jaipur and Mysore.

At the center of the initiative is a National Entrepreneurship Challenge (NEC). The challenge, which is currently in its fifth edition, invites applications from colleges for prizes worth Rs 6 lakh and mentorship from IIT Bombay. As a part of the challenge, each of the participating college have to set up an E-Cell with at least five students. The students are then given tasks that include workshops and seminars around entrepreneurship. The five months long challenges sees participants being judged based on three milestones in the time period.

The fifth edition of the NEC is scheduled to go live on August 31.

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