Ventura '11, conducted by NIT-T, was replete with out-of-the-box business ideas.

Ventura '11, one of India's prestigious International Business Plan Competition conducted earlier this month by the Entrepreneurship Cell of National Institute of Technology - Tiruchi (NIT-T) for two days, with incubation support of Rs. 1 crore for winners, reflected socially conscious, green and profitable innovations.

The funding support was from Next Big Idea, an NSRCEL-INTEL-Department of Science and Technology initiative, and TREC-STEP (Tiruchi Regional Engineering College - Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park).

Guided by the TREC-STEP, the Entrepreneurship Cell of NIT-T roped in participation of teams from several foreign countries, including USA, UK, Vietnam, Africa, Singapore and Thailand, to promote entrepreneurship among the global community.

Out of 400 entries from across 16 countries, 45 teams including four from NIT-T chosen based on a competition, ‘Breakthrough', were provided extensive mentoring by the E-Cell Mentor Network comprising a host of entrepreneurship practitioners and seasoned business incubation managers for 45 days. Their detailed business plans were scrutinized in the second round and nine finalist teams were selected.

After the inauguration of the event by the Dean- Students' Welfare, Shankaranarayanaswamy, in the presence of R.M.P. Jawahar, Executive Director of TREC-STEP, the finalists were put through the elevator pitch round. Each team presented a concise summary and objective of its business plan before a distinguished panel of judges consisting of S.B. Shankaran, first Chief Executive Officer of Technology Development Board; Raghavendra, CEO of Wifin Technologies, Singapore and Founder Executive Director of PSG Science and Technology Entrepreneurial Park, Coimbatore; and Prasanna, Project Officer, TREC-STEP.

On the final day, each team was given 20 minutes to present its business plan. In a grilling question round that followed, contestants had to defend their innovation, even as the judges attacked flaws in their plans. The teams were awarded points on counts of innovation, financial stability of their plans and overall competence. The teams were also given an opportunity to show the prototypes, patents and demonstrate their products.

The winner of Ventura'11 was VJTI, Mumbai, whose plan ‘TEDC' proposed an innovative tool to facilitate communication and education for the blind. The runner-up was the team from Lancaster University for putting forth ‘E-Biogen', an extraordinary biodiagnostic tool.

Cognizance Awards were also presented in different categories. The Cognizance Award for Environmental Safety was won by ‘Safe Magnautos', which proposed a novel idea to avoid collision between cars. Team ‘Brain Power International' won the award for Social Impact for introducing a tool for enhancing learning skills among students. Their plan is already being put to action by a 20-year-old girl in Kolkata. ‘High Clean Solutions' bagged the award for Best Technical Innovation, with their innovative robot to ease the task of cleaning.

Other out-of-box plans included a low cost bio-fuel production, a unique method for saving water, a system to ease logistics, and a technique for telecommunication by using ISDN network to reduce ISD call rates. Impressed by the level of competition, the judges noted that these innovations were the need of the hour. The judges motivated the teams to transform the business plans of the budding entrepreneurs into the profitable ventures.

These teams have been put in touch with TREC-STEP and other incubators to take their ventures forward. Jaganathan, a consultant with National Entrepreneurship Network, promised them support. Ventura started off as an Intra- NIT-T Business Plan Competition and has now grown into one of India's biggest and truly international competition, said Rahul Bajaj, E-Cell president.