The Inaugural Program of Startup Acceleration Program for Northeast India (SAPNE 1.0) organised by AIC-SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation in Sikkim was held virtually on May 12. SAPNE 1.0 is an acceleration program curated by AIC-SMUTBI to help startups claim ownership of their dreams. It is a 4-month program for entrepreneurs from the Northeast who are looking for growth and scale of their business or those solving pertinent problems of Northeast.

The objective of the program is to help founders create “the Startup Playbook” with real-time problems which they may encounter and to ease them with the help a set of curated mentors and equip them with impactful knowledge to create a sustainable business.

The welcome note of the launch was delivered by Dr Tej Chingtham, CEO, AIC-SMUTBI.

Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba said that despite having a literate population in the Northeast, the majority of the youth are unemployed. Highlighting the fact that Northeast has not fully explored the potential of entrepreneurship, the MP said, “Programs as  SAPNE 1.0  hosted by AIC-SMUTBI can create new business avenues and also more employment opportunities”.

Dr Chintan Vaishnav, MD of Atal Innovation Mission, NITI AAYOG emphasised on creating sustainable livelihoods in the Northeast by entrepreneurs which can be achieved by innovative thinking, be it product-oriented thinking, process-oriented thinking or innovation in business models, societal forms etc. He added, “Innovation to enable more and more people to make choices as to where they want to work and live, as they progress. That’s the other area that I think there is some unique opportunity here”.

The program also had an exclusive message from Sonam Wangchuk, HAIL, Ladakh where he lauded the 30 entrepreneurs from the Northeast who are working on sustainable, opportunities in entrepreneurship rather than only depending on government jobs.

Likewise, the program was addressed by Nikunja Borthakur, Senior Chief General Manager (Corporate Affairs) from Numaligarh Refineries Ltd who announced to take the top three startups from this cohort to the Investment Committee Round of investment for their program; Chaman Lal, Director, Private Sector Development, GIZ, Germany, Gautam Sivaramakrishnan, Venture Capital and Private Equity partnerships at Microsoft for Startups and Headstart Network, Karma Paljor, ex-Senior Editor CNN and Co-Founder, EastMojo delivered a very motivating narration of his own startup story and his journey from being a successful Editor at CNN to leaving the job at the peak of his career and doing something the North East really needed. Malhar Potnis from Arthayan the Knowledge Partner of this program gave an outline of the curriculum of this program.

The program concluded with an icebreaker session where the startup founders of SAPNE 1.0 Cohort and vote of thanks.

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