The winner in the agriculture category can work along with the agriculture department on its recently launched Maha-AgriTech programme that aims to bring in greater predictability from sowing to harvesting by use of drones and satellites.(HT File Photo)
The winner in the agriculture category can work along with the agriculture department on its recently launched Maha-AgriTech programme that aims to bring in greater predictability from sowing to harvesting by use of drones and satellites.(HT File Photo)

AI on solutions: Maharashtra invites start-ups to tackle problems with technology

Maharashtra along with Niti Aayog, is hosting the AI Innovation Challenge on March 2, to give 10 start-ups a chance to partner with the government.
By Ketaki Ghoge | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2019 04:24 PM IST

Artificial intelligence-based algorithms for automated detection of diseases like diabetes, crop pest detection through apps, prevention of credit card data leaks through GPU computing, monitoring crime trends and live footage of events using AI cloud software to identify suspicious activity. These are some of the AI applications Maharashtra may use to conduct pilot projects to resolve problems and improve governance.

The state, along with Niti Aayog, is hosting the AI Innovation Challenge on March 2, to give 10 start-ups a chance to partner with the government. Among the 200-odd applications so far, officials say, there are several that can potentially solve the most persistent problems across five key areas, including education, health, transport and infrastructure, agriculture and others. The others category includes issues pertaining to but not limited to the differently-abled.

The government will shortlist 50 applications that include a proposal detailing the solution and feasibility of implementation. The shortlisted start-ups, 10 in each category, will have the chance to present the proof of concept to a specialised jury across the five categories to convince them that their ideas are practical and will deliver results.

“It’s a unique opportunity for start-ups to partner with the state government and the Niti Aayog to resolve problems and develop AI solutions for social good. A successful pilot can open doors for the start-up. The government will also get insights in critical problem areas,” said Janak Shah, part of the CM’s war room team that conceptualized this challenge.

Each of the winning start-ups will be given a letter of intent from the government to work with them on the pilot project. The project term, ranging from six months to three years, will be piloted in some select districts. Successful pilots can also be implemented across the country.

For instance, the winner in the agriculture category can work along with the agriculture department on its recently launched Maha-AgriTech programme that aims to bring in greater predictability from sowing to harvesting by use of drones and satellites. An app that can monitor crop health or identify incidence of pests on a real-time basis with just a photograph, for instance, can help issue advisories to farmers to avoid losses and add to the overall Maha-Agri Tech project.

The state is also keen on using AI to tackle urban crime and safety or design public spaces in smart cities. In both health care and education, the government hopes to redress issues related to manpower crunch, logistics with AI solutions. It has identified some of the thematic problems for the AI innovation challenge.

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