DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge

About the challenge

DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge by the DCM Shriram Foundation & The/Nudge Prize is a 12-month long competition to catalyze & scale innovative solutions for efficient and sustainable water use in agriculture, thereby creating resilient livelihoods for small and marginal farmers in the face of water stress.

With a prize purse of INR 2.6 cr, a network of ecosystem shapers, agri-investors, academics & thought leaders to amplify the journey, the AgWater Challenge brings a paradigm shift to Agri-Water solutions in India and the world. We invite applications from tech-first start-ups and social impact enterprises across the world. Applications close on 31st July 2023. For queries, write to prize@thenudge.org.

Who can apply?
  1. A registered organization (for-profit or non-profit start-up/organization or hybrid social enterprise) working in the agri-tech innovation ecosystem with a Technology Readiness Level between 4-8. This includes but is not limited to robotics, precision, IoT, geospatial, micro-irrigation tech, digital advisory, fintech.  
  2. The solutions proposed must focus on improving water use efficiency in agriculture with the objective of enhancing crop yield/productivity for smallholder farmers.
What we offer?
  1. INR 2 Crores as grand prize for the winning organization, upon demonstrating scalability of the solution
  2. Milestone grants from a Prize purse of INR 60 Lacs for the first three start-ups / solutions to cross the first threshold 
  3. Opportunities for immersion, collaboration, partnerships and pitching pilots with top players in the AgWater & AgTech ecosystem as well as State and Civic bodies.
  4. Finalists will receive hands-on mentoring opportunities, funding and go-to-market support from different ecosystem partners.
Can my organization apply if our solution does not have a tech-focus?

No. The selection criteria for contestants is a mandatory Tech Readiness Level of 4-8. This is used to assess the maturity level of a technology or innovation on a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 being the lowest and 9 being the highest level of maturity. Know more about the TRLs and where you stand. 

1.  Organizations from TRLs 4 and above can apply for the challenge
2. Basic concept evaluation Technology concept formulated
3. Experimental proof of concept
4. Technology validated in lab
5. Technology validated in relevant environment
6. Technology demonstrated in relevant environment
7. System prototype demonstrated in operational environment
8. System completed and qualified
9.  Actual system proven in operational environment

Please refer to the link for further reference.

Is it necessary for my start-up to be registered in India?

No. We invite applications from around the world provided your solutions are focused on solving India's AgWater challenges. If selected, the solutions will have to demonstrate evidence of impact in India with a verifiable pool of 5,000-6,000 farmers, or 5,000 hectares of land as mentioned in the problem statement.

Are the solutions required to have a focus on small-holder farmers (SHFs)?

Yes. We believe while there is no dearth of innovation, the challenge is making it accessible for India’s under-served population at scale. This is especially true for SHFs who own less than 2 hectares of land. Therefore solutions must be able to:

reduce water utilization for fine cereals (rice/wheat) or cash crops (sugarcane/ cotton/etc) by 50%

improve farmers income by 100% - by either increasing crop yield or land productivity by 50%

are commercially viable to SHFs either through affordable and accessible solutions or flexible financing models

have a verifiable pool of 10k SHFs by the end of the challenge and pathways to reach a scale of 10 million SHFs

My current solution does not have small farmers as end-users. Can I submit it?

Yes. Provided you are willing to customize the solution for SHF. Given their low appetite for risk and lack of funds, the solutions need to be accessible, affordable and adaptable to the smallholder farmers.

Can I submit more than one solution?

Yes. you are free to do that provided each of these solutions meets the eligibility criteria.

Can I apply if I'm already a part of another challenge/grant program?

Yes, you can apply, as long as the criteria for the challenge are met and are able to fulfill the requirements throughout the challenge journey.

What is expected from the contestants?

Time commitment: There is no mandated number of hours/days expected. Only a commitment to building resilient livelihoods by enabling efficient water utilization in Agriculture.

Data sharing: Contestants are required to share regular data updates with the program team to track the organization's progress.

What does ecosystem connections and mentoring encompass?

- Pilot/Immersion opportunities through top players in the ecosystem.

- Connections, partnerships and collaboration with state & civic bodies to facilitate greater market linkages between solutions and market players.

- Connects to ecosystem investors for funding opportunities and other opportunities as deemed fit between the two parties

How much travel should one expect during the competition?

There is no prescribed travel for the challenge other than what is needed to achieve the challenge goals. However, we may require you to travel for pitch days and grand events.

Are there any other opportunities to get seed funding other than the announced prize?

During the course of the challenge, we will facilitate introductions with our investor circle which may provide the contestants an opportunity to pitch to investors and engage with them outside the challenge.

Application Form
Applications for the Challenge are now closed