Gandhinagar, India, July 2023: A tool to help regulators detect potential suspects of insider trading created by students of Nanyang Technological University, Amity University, and Dwarkadas College of Engineering took the top student prize at the third edition of the Singapore-India Hackathon, jointly organised by India’s Ministry of Education’s All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore). The top winner in the startup category, Haqdarshak won for enabling 2.8 million Indians to unlock close to SGD 700 million in government welfare services. Held under the G20 Presidency in IIT Gandhinagar, Gujarat, the hackathon’s finale brought together the best start-ups and students from India and Singapore. It was attended by over 600 students, start-ups, investors, policymakers, corporates, and academics.
India’s Minister for Education, Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Lawrence Wong presented the prizes to winning teams of the student and start-up categories. The top three student teams, Team Foxtrot, Team Charli and Team Lima, won S$15,000/ INR 9 lakh, S$10,000/INR 6 lakh, and S$7,000/INR 4 Lakh respectively. The top three start-ups, Haqdarshak, Pawsible Food and Pints, won S$20,000/INR 12 lakh, S$15,000/INR 9 lakh, and S$10,000/INR 6 lakh respectively.
Mr. Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, in Singapore, said, “The Singapore-India Hackathon is unique and precious. It is supported by the leaders of both the countries and is conceived from [PM] Modi’s vision. I am very happy to come to Gandhinagar for the finale event for the first time post [Covid-19] pandemic. The Hackathon brings our best youths and minds to solve global challenges together.”
The teams competed to showcase solutions for six problem statements – Financial Fraud Detection, Financial Inclusion and Credit Offering, Sea-level Rise and Coastal Flooding, Optimising Food Recycling, Monitoring Carbon Footprint, and boosting Singapore-India Trade Connectivity.
The Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, initiated the first Singapore-India Hackathon in 2018 on an official visit to Singapore, with the past two events held in Singapore in 2018 and India in 2019 at IIT Madras.
In a written message PM Modi sent, he said, “The Singapore India Hackathon comes at a time when India has assumed the presidency of G20. The mantra of the G20 Presidency, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’, is the manifestation of ancient Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means the world is one family. The essence of this vision is to come together to build a shared future. The Singapore-India Hackathon is an initiative that encapsulates this noble thought.”
During his address at the Hackathon, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education, Skills Development & Entrepreneurship, India, said, “Knowledge is power’, goes the old saying. It was as relevant in the past as it is today. The modern day development rests on three axis: knowledge, research and innovation. Singapore is a knowledge-based economy. It has transformed itself through knowledge and excellence in education in the last 30-40 years. Through NEP 2020, India has made great strides in becoming a knowledge-based society. The next 25 years of Amrit Kaal are full of promise and potential for India and close collaboration through initiatives like Singapore-India Hackathon would help in knowledge transfers between our two countries.”
This year’s Singapore-India Hackathon brought together not only research-intensive academic institutions like NTU Singapore and IIT Gandhinagar, but also leading corporates and the public sector from both nations to mentor the aspiring entrepreneurs for building start-ups that impact some of the world’s most pressing global challenges.
Ganesh Pandey from Haqdarshak was the First Prize in the Startup Track. His team was working on Delivering Financial Literacy at Scale. He mentioned, “Our participation in the Singapore India Hackathon was a remarkable experience that enabled us to engage with promising startups, talented students, and key stakeholders from India and Singapore, while gaining valuable insights into fintech, ESG, and sustainability. Our win has further strengthened our belief in our mission to transform lives and create a financially secure future for all.”
Dishant Zaveri from the winning student team summed up, “Singapore India Hackathon was a great learning and a life-changing experience for us and we are thankful to the organisers. Never stop dreaming”. Working in a team of four students comprising two from Singapore and two from India, the team was working on Financial Fraud Detection.
NTU Vice President (Industry) and Hackathon Patron Professor Lam Khin Yong said, “NTU broadened the tent this year and brought together some of the most prestigious private and public sector partners in Singapore and India in our Triple Helix Partnership model involving academia, industry, and public agencies. These diverse stakeholders can support our students and start-ups in the creation of impactful solutions that can stand the test of the market.”
Building partnerships to address global challenges
The support for the Singapore-India Hackathon from the highest levels is emblematic of the growing ties between the two nations. Today, Singapore is the highest foreign direct investor in India with investment of US$137 billion accounting for roughly 25 per cent of its overall foreign direct investment inflow. More than 10,000 Indian companies are registered in Singapore, making India the number one source of foreign companies in Singapore.
India’s ongoing efforts to become more business and investor-friendly, while also helping Indian start-ups to grow was echoed by Dr. Abhay Jere, AICTE Vice Chairman and a Patron of the Singapore-India Hackathon. He said, “India is now the world’s start-up nation due to our systematic efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship after 2014. In 2016, AICTE conceptualized the Smart India Hackathon, which has now emerged as the world’s biggest Hackathon and one of the large open-innovation models to crowdsource solutions from our vibrant youth. We are delighted to partner with NTU Singapore to provide our youth a global platform.”
Forging student partnerships through problem-solving
The Singapore-India Hackathon 2023 finale saw an intense final round in which 12 teams of two Indian and two Singaporean students competed in a 36-hour hackathon on 14-15 July at IIT Gandhinagar. Twenty-four start-up companies from India and Singapore also showcased their stellar solutions.
Professor Louis Phee, NTU Vice President (Innovation & Entrepreneurship), Dean of the College of Engineering and Hackathon Patron said, “The Hackathon provides aspiring entrepreneurs from Singapore and India with invaluable opportunities to learn, exchange ideas and embark on a transformative learning journey that nurtures their entrepreneurial spirit and empowers them to create impactful solutions for the challenges of tomorrow.”
Sponsors and supporters of the Singapore India Hackathon 2023 include the Monetary Authority of Singapore, DBS Bank, KPMG, TATA AIA Life Insurance, Confederation of Indian Industries, High Commission of Singapore in New Delhi, Consulate-General of Singapore in Mumbai, Enterprise Singapore, Indian Scholars Association, NTUitive, SGInnovate, Singapore Fintech Festival, IIT Gandhinagar, and TiE Singapore.
Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore explained how the Singapore-India Hackathon provides an ideal platform for building a holistic ecosystem for start-ups: “India has great capacity and capability of talent, and Singapore has enormous capital. When you combine the three, you have a winning formula of pairing the best talent with enough capital to build companies that can succeed and positively impact society.”
Sponsors provided support from generous cash awards, mentorship by top industry leaders, fast-track job and internship placements, and stipends. The winning start-up is also guaranteed automatic entry into the iconic Singapore Fintech Festival Hackathon, alongside the chance to win S$50,000.
Mr Surojit Shome, DBS India CEO, and sponsor said: “We are proud to partner with NTU and be a part of the Singapore India Hackathon 2023. DBS Bank has sponsored two unique challenges in the Hackathon, one on facilitating cross-border trade for SMEs and the other on solutions for sustainably achieving zero food waste. Coinciding with India’s presidency of the G20 this year, this association underscores DBS Bank’s commitment to fostering increased collaboration between Singapore and India.”
Another sponsor, Mr. Venky Iyer, President and Chief Distribution Officer, TATA AIA Life Insurance and sponsor, said: “We are excited to be part of the Singapore-India Hackathon, which aims to find innovative solutions to global and locally relevant issues of environment, financial inclusion and sustainability. Guided by the ethos of Tata and AIA group, we are committed to contributing to this important collaborative endeavour between India and Singapore.”