In a latest initiative to recognize young people as critical drivers of sustainable development, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India have launched Youth Co:Lab which aims at accelerating social entrepreneurship and innovation in young India. To mark the launch, a Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed between AIM, NITI Aayog and UNDP India on October 4 in New Delhi.
Through Youth Co:Lab, young entrepreneurs and innovators will get a change to connect with governments, mentors, incubators and investors, who will help equip them with entrepreneurial skills.
The initiative will also convene a series of youth dialogues across several cities such as New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai to promote entrepreneurship across India.
Through Youth Co:Lab, AIM and UNDP, as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) signed between NITI Aayog and UN India, are collaborating to increase awareness about different issues pertaining to youth, future of work and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The first phase of Youth Co:Lab will focus on six SDGs: SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).
Sharing his views on the significance of youth led entrepreneurship, Mission Director Ramanan Ramanathan said, “Youth entrepreneurship has immense potential benefits and the most significant one is that it creates huge employment opportunities in the country.”
“With the world’s largest youth population millions in the county entering the workforce every year, it is critical for India to create a robust employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” he added.
Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, and operational in 25 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, the Youth Co:Lab initiative aims to create an enabling ecosystem to promote youth leadership, innovation, and social entrepreneurship.
Targeted at supporting young people overcome challenges, UNDP and AIM and NITI Aayog will empower young people through innovative development ideas. In this regard, Youth Co:Lab will convene social innovation challenges at the national and sub-national level, encouraging young people in the age group of 18-29 years and start-ups to showcase their proposed ideas and solutions to tackle some of the region’s biggest social challenges. The youth will also get the opportunity to pitch their ideas at UNDP’s regional centre in 2020.
Aspiring entrepreneurs or nascent entrepreneurs (with less than 3 years of experience) can submit their ideas here before November 4, 2019.
Selected applicants will be invited for a national innovation challenge, where each winning startup will get an opportunity to incubate and strengthen their ideas at the Atal Incubation Centres.
Speaking at the launch, Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India said that 21st-century challenges can’t be solved with traditional approaches.
“It is essential to position young people front and centre, to solve the region’s most wicked development challenges. We must ensure that they are motivated and excited to learn future skills, particularly leadership, social innovation, entrepreneurship and communication,” she added.
Referring to Youth Co:Lab, she said that it is an innovative platform for young people to explore ideas and potential, and bring to scale viable solutions, to accelerate India’s progress on the SDGs.