The programme provides university students, faculty and early stage start-ups opportunities to incubate ideas; access to Boeing’s innovation ecosystem
Boeing on September 9 announced the winners of its university innovation platform. Six winners were selected from 26 finalist teams. The Boeing University Innovation Leadership Development (BUILD) programme attracted a record number of entrants, many from tier 2 and 3 cities, with more than 850 student & early-stage innovation teams applying from across India.
Among the start-ups, Pi Drones, Kanpur, was declared the winner in hybrid vertical take-off or landing (VTOL) drones for long range inspection (autonomous vehicles). Bengaluru-based, Terracarb, won the programme for its proprietary process for manufacturing graphene (materials), while another start-up, Photom Technologies, based in Ahmedabad, won for its project in maintenance solutions for solar PV plants (robotics).
The student teams included the IIT Madras-based InfyU Labs, for its programme on using a combination of AI/ML and spectroscopy to do non-invasive rapid testing of agricultural produce (analytics). Another student team from BITS Pilani, called the Project Pinaka, won for innovation which involved making fixed wing electric drones commercially viable by improving flight endurance (autonomous vehicles). And lastly, PS-1925, from IIIT Allahabad won the innovation programme on pesticide spraying drone-based service for farmers (autonomous vehicles).
The BUILD program is Boeing’s unique aerospace innovation, leadership and talent nurturing programme for university students, faculty and early stage start-ups. The programme invited ideas in the fields of aerospace, autonomous vehicles, advanced manufacturing, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, materials, robotics and the Internet of Things. The incubator programme launched in collaboration with seven incubators – IIT Delhi, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IISc Bangalore, T-Hub Hyderabad and KIIT Bhubaneshwar.
“We believe that a close partnership with India’s academia and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem has the potential to nurture innovation and skills development for the aerospace industry,” said the president, Boeing India, Salil Gupte. “Programmes such as BUILD are designed to turn early-stage ideas into full business concepts. Students are given learning materials, resources and an opportunity to learn from leading industry experts,” he added.
A stringent evaluation process shortlisted 82 teams to enter the programme’s regional boot camps. These teams worked with incubators to refine their ideas, which were then pitched to a group of entrepreneurs and Boeing leaders. Mentors from Boeing and industry experts interacted with the finalists throughout the programme to refine their ideas and help develop their concepts into market-ready solutions.
The company said, over the years, it has strategically invested in developing talent for the Indian aerospace sector, and inspiring the next generation of engineering talent in India. “Boeing has created a pool of skilled workforce, aerospace engineering experts and entrepreneurs to help grow the capabilities of the Indian aerospace industry through its programs such as the Boeing HorizonX India Innovation Challenge, the Accelerated Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Apprenticeship and National Aeromodelling Competition with IIT,” it said in a press release.