On Friday, Brandeis International Business School had the honor of hosting one of the early stages of Smart Fifty, an entrepreneurial competition designed to find innovative startups with the ability to tackle some of India’s greatest socio-economic challenges. Led by IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, India’s Department of Science and Technology and TiE Boston, Smart Fifty focuses on improving learning, agriculture, sustainability, health and other areas of life in India, according to the program’s page on IBS’ website.

Hosting the Smart Fifty Boston Finals Round and Demo Day was positive for the University in many ways; it brought recognition to Brandeis, improved the University’s public image and enabled the Brandeis community to partake in a worthy, enlightening experience. This board recognizes the efforts and accomplishments of the members of the Brandeis community who helped make the competition, which launched last November, possible.

Smart Fifty seeks to provide funding and additional assistance to 50 startups. Of the 16 companies that presented at IBS on Friday, five received funding, business support and an opportunity to advance to the next level and pitch for $1.5 million during the final rounds of the competition in March. The business support reward received by the winners includes office space, $6,000 prototype grants and business mentoring workshops in India, according to the IBS webpage.

Friday’s winning startups were PlenOptika, NonSpec, Girls Health Champions, Village Industrial Power and Sukriti. These companies have worthy missions which include providing prosthetics to amputees, training girls as peer health educators in their communities and pursuing sustainable engineering initiatives, according to a Feb. 1 IBS press release. Other startups present on Demo Day included Khethworks, which aims to supply small-plot farmers with valuable technology, and Voatz, which seeks to enable citizens to participate in elections through their smartphones. The 16 companies that participated on Friday originated from India and all over the U.S., and the five judges of the Boston round included Brandeis’ own Prof. Daniel Bergstresser (ECON).

One of the judges, The Boston Group’s CEO and Chairman Subu Kota, called Smart Fifty a “great vehicle to solve the problems of India and contribute,” according to a Feb. 11 India New England News article. This board wholeheartedly agrees with Kota’s assessment. 

Smart Fifty embodies a spirit of innovative social justice that is central to Brandeis, and this board commends the University for the notable honor of hosting Smart Fifty Boston. We also congratulate the winners on their success and encourage the University to pursue involvement in similar opportunities in the future.

—Editor’s note: Natalia Wiater ’20, an associate editor for the Justice, is a marketing and communications intern for IBS. Wiater recused herself and did not participate in the writing or editing of this editorial.