Science for Society is the new mantra with innovation and entrepreneurship being two strong pillars driving India’s socio-economic growth, Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said while giving away Millennium Alliance Awards in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Millennium Alliance Initiative recognized 24 high-impact social innovations from India at an award ceremony organized in New Delhi. The 24 finalists selected from a pool of 710 applications will together receive funding support worth Rs. 8.15 crore.
Union Minister of Science, Technology & Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan presided over the ceremony along with Mark A. White, Mission Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in India; Didar Singh, FICCI Secretary General; Gavin McGillivray, Head of DFID India and Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
Giving away the awards, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “Millennium Alliance Awardees are providing low cost affordable solutions at the last mile for the needy and at the same time have developed business models to sustain and scale their ventures. I strongly believe Science for Society is the new mantra with innovation and entrepreneurship being two strong pillars driving India’s socio-economic growth”.
Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI stated “Millennium Alliance is a perfect example of discovering and catalyzing technology and innovation for developing nations that are vital to generating socio-economic impact. Millennium Alliance synergizes with the visionary agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Start-up India, Digital India, Skill India and Make in India.”
Mark A White, USAID Mission Director to India added, “The Millennium Alliance has been on an impressive growth journey. It has grown from a seven million dollar alliance with three founding partners in 2012 to now a more than 25 million dollar alliance having nine partners. The Alliance leverages the best of our partner institutions and the best of private Indian philanthropy to develop successful solutions to tough challenges.”
Since its inception in 2012, the Millennium Alliance Initiative has received and evaluated over 4,000 applications of which 62 innovations have already been awarded. With additional 24 awarded at the ceremony, the total number of social enterprises supported by the program has gone up to 86.
An India-led initiative, the Millennium Alliance is an innovation-driven, impact-focused platform leveraging Indian ingenuity and resources to identify, test and scale innovative solutions to global development challenges in key focus areas like early education, agriculture, water and sanitation, health and clean energy. Contributing to social and economic development in over 20 Indian states and 7 developing countries, the program has so far directly benefited more than 6.8 million people. Additionally, innovators have also been able to leverage their association with Millennium Alliance to raise external funds worth Rs. 451 million as well as develop over 90 partnerships for extensive and sustainable project implementation.
The Round 4 Awards Ceremony was jointly organized by the Technology Development Board (Department of Science & Technology), USAID, FICCI, UK’s Department for International Development, ICCO Cooperation, ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth, Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Health, the World Bank and Facebook. The occasion was graced by guests from the diplomatic community, government as well as international development and social innovation ecosystem in India.