FOSS4Gov Innovation Challenge

Introduction

The Digital India Programme, launched by the Government in 2015, has ensured digital access, digital infrastructure, digital empowerment and bridging of digital divide with the common thread of digital inclusion. The programme aims at transforming India into a knowledge-based economy and digitally empowered society based on technology. India's Digital footprint is one of the fastest growing in the world.

This pace was further accelerated due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. Citizens have moved towards Digital services in almost every sector, rather than traditional method of availing services. Free and open-source software (FOSS) has enabled this seamless transition towards Digital economy. With more than 85% of India's Internet running on FOSS and a large 4G mobile base of India which recently crossed more than 598.11 million of which 96% of them access the digital world via open-source based mobile operating systems (primarily Android), it would not be wrong to say that FOSS has come up as a flag bearer of e-governance system under Digital India Mission.

Some of India's largest-government projects (including Aadhaar, GSTN and DigiLocker) and many technology start-ups are built using FOSS. Acknowledging the huge potential of FOSS, the Government of India had issued Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India in 2015 to drive uptake within the government. With the vision to transform India as a Software Product Nation, National Policy on Software Products-2019 was approved by the Government. This policy was crucial for development, production and supply of innovative and efficient Software Products, and facilitating the growth across the entire spectrum of ICT sector.

To realize the vision of Software Product Nation and aspiration to be global hub for FOSS, a collaborative effort is needed from various stakeholders like individual volunteers and consultants, schools, higher educational and research institutes, online educators, micro small and medium tech enterprises, global tech firms, local and state governments, national governments, FOSS groups, funders and investors with primary focus on domestic innovation. This perspective was endorsed at the recent virtual roundtable discussion 'Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Government' that was organized by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) in collaboration with Omidyar Network India on April 22, 2021

Description

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) announces #FOSS4Gov Innovation Challenge to accelerate adoption of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Government and build Indian FOSS Ecosystem. Through this challenge, we invite innovators, start-ups, working professionals, academics and students in India to showcase their existing FOSS based innovations and/or build new, implementable, open source product innovations in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with possible applications for Govtech in Health, Education, Agriculture, Urban Governance etc.

This Challenge is an opportunity for participants to pitch ideas to experts and receive mentorship to develop and fine-tune solutions. The winners of the Challenge will also receive cash rewards and incubation support to scale their products. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to get their solutions listed on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) , thus allowing a host of central and state government departments to procure them.

Omidyar Network India (ONI) will support the provision of mentorship sessions (optional) for this Challenge to the interested shortlisted teams with leaders from the tech, startup and functional domains, to guide the teams towards customization of their solution and driving citizen-centric and scalable design.

OpenForge - India's own platform shall be used to host the code for this innovation challenge, we'll be using for collaborative development of e-governance applications.

Objectives

India has great prospects to become a vibrant hub for FOSS innovations. India has one of the largest pools of developers in the world. This challenge intends to harness this pool of talent and nurture the growth of FOSS community in India. The challenge provides opportunity to integrate proposed solutions with existing GovTech projects. It aims to create an exclusive group of innovators that can be leveraged for various projects.

Problem Statement

If software platforms are the drivers of the digital economy, then reusable open source systems are its building blocks. In the case of FOSS, these building blocks are made openly available for everyone to tinker, tweak, and improve as they like and to use as building blocks to build other things.

FOSS innovators are invited to propose Ideas/Products/ Innovations, build applications, having applications in the fields of Health, Education, Urban Governance, Agriculture or any other field related to E-governance for public for two categories :

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Eligibility

The Challenge is open for all Indian entrepreneurs and FOSS enthusiasts including startups, students, academia, coders, IT professionals, engineers, UI/UX professionals, etc.

All applicants should:

  • Be Indian citizens and currently residing in India OR startups/Companies registered in India wherein majority stakeholders are Indians; and
  • Register either as individuals with atmost 2 supporting team members, with the team leader registering on behalf of the team.

Award Details and Recognition

  1. Exciting cash prizes for the winning solutions

    The Top winning teams in each of the two categories (CRM and ERP) will receive INR 20 Lakhs (CRM) + INR 20 Lakhs (ERP) and the second team will receive INR 15 Lakhs (CRM) + INR 15 Lakhs (ERP) and the third team will receive INR 10 Lakhs (CRM) + INR 10 Lakhs (ERP) as funding to further develop and add features to the selected application, along with certificate from the Hon'ble Minister of Electronics & IT.

  2. Omidyar network India (ONI) will provide a special prize of Rs 5 lakh in each category for best citizen centric safeguards.
  3. A chance to receive one -on- one mentorship support by experts to develop and fine-tune your FOSS solutions during the competition
  4. An opportunity to present your solution to an eminent jury of experts from the government, civil society, academia and the industry during the competition.
  5. Incubation support and an opportunity to get solution(s) listed on the government platform GeM for procurement, customisation and use by departments and agencies in the centre and in the states, for the winners.

Stages

The Innovation Challenge is open for participation in teams having experts from all domains of a software development life cycle, including but not limited to FOSS innovators, technology entrepreneurs and Indian Startups, Academia. The FOSS4Gov Innovation challenge will be organised in five stages.

Important Dates

In the table given below, T will be the same as the launch date and D is the date of the "Stage 1: Ideation Stage" result declaration. It will be announced on the MyGov platform (https://www.mygov.in/). Details will also be available on MSH (https://meitystartuphub.in/). Submission will close at 11:59 PM IST on the last day of submission.

Sr. No

Activities

Stage

Date

1

Launch of Innovation Challenge

I

26th July 2021

2

Last Date for Registration (Team formation)

I

15th September 2021

3

Last Date for Submission of Ideas

II

15th September 2021

4

Declaration of Teams Shortlisted for Building Prototype <15+15>

III

27th September 2021

5

Submission of Prototype

III

27th October 2021

6

Declaration of Teams Shortlisted for Final Presentation <5+5>

III

8th November 2021

7

Presentation of Top Teams in each category

IV

16th November 2021

8

Declaration of Results

IV

24th November 2021

9

Incubation for winners to upscale

V

24th November 2021 onwards

Terms and Conditions

  1. This is for Indian nationals who are residing in India.
  2. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  3. All entries obtained through unauthorized sources or which are incomplete, illegible, mutilated, altered, reproduced, forged, irregular, or fraudulent in any way or otherwise are automatically void.
  4. (Organiser) reserves the right to select or reject any submission without assigning any reasons whatsoever.
  5. The decision of (Organiser) in relation to problems posed is final and binding.
  6. The Participants shall preserve the confidentiality of all communication & information and shall not use the same for any other purpose whatsoever.
  7. All entries obtained through unauthorized sources or which are incomplete, illegible, mutilated, altered, reproduced, forged, irregular, or fraudulent in any way or otherwise not in compliance with the rules are automatically void.
  8. The form should be submitted in English.
  9. It is strongly advised not to wait until the deadline for the submission of entries. Organizers shall not be responsible for non-receipt of entries on account of server errors/ traffic.
  10. The organizers reserve the right to select or reject any submission without assigning any reasons whatsoever and without thereby incurring any liability to the participant(s) whatsoever.
  11. Applicants should avoid uploading any proprietary information on the platform as the submitted entries shall be shared with evaluators & mentors for the purpose of evaluation & mentoring. Organizers do not take any responsibility in case of patent right(s) violation(s) if the innovation(s) submitted is awaiting patent or is in the process of patent filing.
  12. The participants represent that the submission is original, and is not copyrighted by anyone or any firm. The participants also represent that the submission contains no violation of any existing copyright or another third party right including but not limited to copyrights, patents, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets or other proprietary rights or any material of an obscene, indecent, libelous or otherwise unlawful nature and does not infringe the rights of others. The participants are solely responsible for the accuracy of any information and conclusions contained in their respective submissions. Further, the participants understand that any submission in violation of the instant clause shall stand disqualified, without any intimation to the participants.
  13. The organizers shall be entitled to, without limitation, publish the submissions (or part(s) thereof) on their promotional materials, including but not limited to websites, their newsletters or any other publications; without payment of additional consideration, except where prohibited by law.
  14. Organizers reserve to cancel the competition or modify the rules, dates of the competition anytime. The Organizers shall have no liability whatsoever for any inconvenience/loss directly or indirectly caused to any Participant due to such modification of rules/cancellation of competition and the Participants shall accordingly not be entitled to raise any claims pertaining to the same.
  15. Once the participants have made submissions on the platform, they shall have no claim even in the event of stoppage/cancellation of the competition.
  16. Removal/ voluntary withdrawal of members from any team is not encouraged. No other form of team modification will be entertained at any point.
  17. Teams shall maintain detailed documentation of their idea and solution at all stages of the Challenge for reference and record purposes. The organizers reserve the right to review these documents any time during the event.
  18. Any decision by the organizers on any aspect of the Challenge at any point of time during the course of the event is final and binding to all the participants, without any reservations.
  19. The Participants shall indemnify and keep indemnified organizers against any claim raised by any party regarding the submission made by the participants. The participants shall be liable to indemnify the organizers for all costs and expenses they may have to incur against such claims. 

FAQs

- Who can participate?

The #FOSS4Gov Innovation Challenge is open to all Indian citizens and currently residing in India and startups/companies.

- Is individual participation allowed?

Yes, participants can register individually or in teams of 3.

- When will the applications close?

Applications will close on 15 September 2021.

- Is there a fee to register for the Challenge?

No, there is no fee for registering and participating in the Challenge.

- On what criteria are submissions evaluated?

The submitted solutions will be evaluated on various parameters, including
(1) user-centricity in the Indian context (use of vernacular languages, design for low internet penetration etc.);
(2) potential for rapid deployment;
(3) interoperability; and
(4) scalability of the innovation proposed. 

- How will we know if we cleared a stage?

The Team leaders/ Team members will be informed via the registered email address.

- What is in it for the participants?

Shortlisted teams may be provided access to one-on-one mentorship sessions with esteemed leaders in the tech industry. The winners of the final round, in addition to being provided cash prizes (1st team - INR 20 Lakhs per category, 2nd team - INR 15 Lakhs per category, 3rd team - INR 10 Lakhs per category) and incubation support to scale their products, will also have the opportunity to get their products listed on the government procurement platform GeM, to allow different state and central government departments to procure, customize and use these solutions.

- What will mentorship entail?

The shortlisted teams may be given the option to seek mentorship during the prototype phase. Teams will be connected with esteemed leaders from the industry and mentorship sessions will be facilitated to allow the teams to seek guidance on customization, while designing for scale.

- What kind of support will the government provide for incubating and scaling the winning solution?

Post the Challenge, MeitY will provide handholding to the winners to help them refine and scale their products. Thereafter, the solutions will be listed on the GeM platform.

- Will the participants be given access to any datasets or other resources during the Challenge?

No, participants will not be offered any datasets. However, participants are welcome to use open source codes/datasets libraries available in the public domain.