04 December 2022 18:16:33 IST

Akshaya Chandrasekaran is Sub-Editor, businessline. She covers education and start-ups for fortnightly supplement bloncampus, and writes features on brands and advertising. You can write to her at akshaya.c@thehindu.co.in and find her on Twitter at @akshayaiyerr

Samsung India’s young innovators take on global challenges 

Top three winning teams of the inaugural edition of Solve for Tomorrow

Twenty-two-year-old Shankar Srinivasan wanted to build a non-invasive wearable device that will help reduce stress. Having experienced depression and suffered intense withdrawal effects from medication, creating a chemical and adverse-effect free tech product was something he was passionate about.

A month back he didn’t have the means to realise his dream. But now, he is actively working with Prof Lalan Kumar of IIT Delhi, a domain expert in signal processing; Dr Arun Sasidharan, a PhD in neurophysiology; and many other biomedical engineers and reputed clinicians.

Nurturing ideas

Srinivasan is one of the top three winners of Samsung India’s innovation competition Solve for Tomorrow. “Connecting me to the right domain experts and providing the right ecosystem to nurture an idea are some of the biggest takeaways. Moreover, we are also receiving a grant in the six-month incubation period as and when progress is made,” says Srinivasan.

What was once a mere idea is gradually taking shape. IP for the device which stimulates certain mood centres of the brain by transmitting waves within the FDA’s limit of frequency and intensity will soon be filed. How come a final-year bachelor’s in business administration student at RJS Institute of Management Studies in Bengaluru enter a competition like this and get into building a cutting-edge tech product? “Elon Musk didn’t have a degree in rocket science. I have the right team with 100x more experience backing me,” he retorts.

Solve for Tomorrow, a CSR initiative launched this year by Samsung India, aims to showcase creative ideas of students between the ages of 16 to 22 and turn them into reality. The leading tech company has tied up with Foundation for Innovation & Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT Delhi, in this endeavour.

Along with Srinivasan, Hemesh Chadalavada (16) from Hyderabad and an all-girls trio of 16-year-olds Prisha Dubey, Anupriya Nayak and Vanalika Konwar also won the competition. The three winning teams get a total grant of ₹1 crore.

Chadalavada already had an award-winning idea at hand — a smart wristband to monitor Alzheimer’s patients and alert their caregivers about changes in their behaviour. He was selected for the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar award last year for this idea. What he needed now was incubation support and a peer group.

“Samsung hit it out of the park with this one. I got a chance to meet and interact with other student innovators at the IIT Delhi bootcamp. Which was huge for me. Suddenly, I was not the weird kid who started coding in sixth standard and building solutions. I found friends like me,” says Chadalavada. This experience will chart the course of the future for Chadalavada who hopes to take to entrepreneurship, expand on his idea, and build an AI start-up in healthcare going forward.

Girl power

Menstruation is a disruptive change in a teenage girl’s life. For Dubey, Nayak, and Konwar, it was also an opportunity for innovation. Their idea is to develop washable sanitary pads using shredded sugarcane bagasse. It is a perfect intersection of three things they care about — girl power, periods, and sustainability.

Currently in the R&D stage, they are procuring materials, testing out different prototypes, and absorption capacities. With the help of FIIT mentors, they are planning on embedding anion chips in napkins that bring a host of benefits such as preventing bacteria and eliminating odour.

Juggling school and pursuing this is hard but worth it, says Nayak. ”We come back from school, do our school work, and get on a Google Meet call to brainstorm. We always get the best ideas late at night at the end of a school day,” she says.