Mumbai-based tech accelerator Zone Startups India is set to roll out the 7th edition of its annual Next BIG Idea contest. Next BIG Idea 2019 (NBI 2019) will invite applications from tech startups across the country to be selected under the program.

Next BIG Idea is an annual feature of Zone Startups India that engages stakeholders including startups, incubators, co-working spaces, investors, industry & other enablers through roadshows in 20+ cities across India.

Zone Startups India will be hosting roadshows across 21 cities to launch the contest pan-India throughout July 2019. These roadshows allow a number of promising companies to understand the North American market fit for their products, thereby giving them an opportunity to apply for the program and going through multiple rounds of selection process and speak to global jury members. The applications for the contest will be accepted online from 28th June 2019 till 30th August 2019.

NBI 2019 will visit upcoming startup hubs like Hyderabad, Chennai to tier 2 and 3 cities like Vizag, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar and Jaipur in order to invite applications for the program. The idea is to find the most deserving growth stage startups who have global aspirations to expand their business.

Launched in 2013, Zone Startups India has successfully operated 6 editions of the program till date, that has benefited 39 Indian tech Startups, through a soft-landing program across major tech hubs in Canada and the US.

The objective of the Next BIG Idea contest, since inception, has been to identify and support hi-tech, hi-potential Indian startups that are seeking to expand internationally, and are actively looking at the North American market. The selected startups get access to a bespoke market access program which includes mentorship, industry connects, investor meetings and a great international exposure.

The alumni network of Next BIG Idea Contest comprises startups that have successfully raised multiple rounds of funding, as well as, startups that have made exits through mergers and acquisitions –  some of the names being, CitrusPay, Sokrati (selected in 2013 but chose not to go in the midst of their funding round), Heckyl, Vidooly, ShieldSquare, Plackal, Flip Technologies, AdSparx, Konotor (acquired by FreshDesk), Data Resolve, Uncanny Vision, Gray Routes, Sequretek, Plackal (acquired by Sheroes) etc.

In 2018, the contest came to be a part of a larger Canada-India Bilateral Entrepreneurship Initiative supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India – which allowed Zone Startups India to increase the number of benefactors to 13 entrepreneurs each year, for a period of 2 years 2018 and 2019.

Dr. Anita Gupta, Director, DST India, said, “The Department of Science and Technology , Government of India supports bilateral entrepreneurial platforms which enables Indian Startups to go global . Next Big Idea scouts and connects best tech based startups with International markets like Canada. Exposure to Canadian Startup Ecosystem through a well structured program provides access to relevant stakeholders, market and networks are the key takeaways for Startups. I wish the 7th edition of NBI a great success.”

“If we had not gone through the NBI program, we would never have given a serious thought to looking at Canada as a potential gateway to the North American Market. It was an eye-opener in a lot of ways.” said Pankit Desai, Co-founder & CEO, Sequretek, winner of Next BIG Idea 2017. Sequretek has since raised Rs 27 crore led by Unicorn India Ventures in September 2018 and set up an office in the US in Dec 2018.

With the 5th edition, a new addition was made to the Next BIG Idea contest, in the form of the Aditya Jha Entrepreneur India Award – for recognising social entrepreneurs who have translated their innovative & impactful ideas into technology driven businesses. The winner receives a grant of Rs 5 Lakhs during Next Big Idea winner announcement.

Last year, the Next BIG Idea contest roadshows were hosted in 20 startup hubs from across the country, and attracted over 1,100 applications, from which 13 startups got an opportunity to explore soft-landing in major Canadian cities.

By Manoj

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