NatGeo, IIT-D join hands for 'Nokia Innovation'

NEW DELHI: First came a rather quaint announcement on a tie-up with the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) to set Indian minds thinking on innovations. Then came a broad swipe at competition like Discovery that NatGeo as a channel "is for thinking audience."

Announcing a national search for the innovator of the year and young innovator of the year, National Geographic Channel today said that it has tied up with IIT-D to drive a nation-wide campaign focused on recognising Indians who have turned their creative genius into beneficial technology within India.

"Nokia Innovation - the series, will shed light on the reality behind breakthrough technologies in a manner that viewers will instantly relate to," National Geographic, India senior vice-president, content and communications Dilshad Master told a press briefing here today.

Later, responding to a query on NGC's performance in India vis-?-vis competition, Master mockingly feigned ignorance about Discovery and then declared, "We are a channel for thinking audience."

Of course, she went on to add that NGC was doing well in India and certain programming, like those on science and technology and people and places, are the favourite genres for the Indian viewers.

Master may not be much off the mark as the company's head of ad sales Nikhil Mirchandani points out that just two months into a new financial year (NGC follows a June-July fiscal) and Nat Geo has attracted about 12 new advertisers, including some big spenders like IBM, Kerela Tourism, Hyundai, Hero Honda, Diamond Trading and Max New York Life Insurance. Last year there were a total of 85 advertisers on the channel.

"Point to be noted is that these advertisers were not with us in the previous financial year and some like the financial services sector has started looking at the channel as a viable avenue," Mirchandani explains.

Concurring with the overall thrust of Master and Mirchandani, NGC South Asia MD Zubin Gandevia admits that Innovation is a big ticket programming initiative like Mission Mars and others, which all have gone a long way in "establishing the brand National Geographic in India."

"We expect a 40-50 per cent jump in the ratings with the start of the Innovation series and hope to retain some of them (through other programming initiatives)," Gandevia says.

The campaign is inspired by one of National Geographic Channel's biggest programming initiatives for 2004 - the series Nokia Innovation, will air on the Channel from October 3, every Sunday at 10 pm.

Each of the eight episodes will go beyond the "wow" of technology- featuring the people who are most affected by these advances as well as the heavy drama and pressurised politics that go on behind the scenes. Not to mention, the attempt will be to give some Indian colour to each episode to keep the connection with the Indian viewers intact.

Pointing out that Nokia, as a presenting sponsor for the Innovation series is a perfect brand fit - the telecom company is known for innovations in its products - Gandevia adds that a 360 degree communication strategy has been planned for this new series, including outdoors, print, TV channels, direct marketing to corporates and individuals and "some trick things, which cannot be revealed at this moment."


The innovator of the year and the young innovator of the year awards are designed to identify and recognise outstanding innovators and concepts that have the potential to improve the way of life of Indians and encourage, enhance and cultivate the spirit of enterprise.

According to Gandevia, "Our aim is to honour the profound impact that individual ingenuity can have on society and recognise these Indians as true heroes of our country."

The innovator of the year and the young innovator of the year awards is part of a unique programme that originates from the understanding that recognition and reward is one of the most effective ways to accelerate scientific breakthrough, technological applications and inculcate and foster the spirit of enterprise.

A tie-up with the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT) and IIT Delhi is a move by NGC to associate with an organisation whose charter and objectives echo this very same sentiment.

"The principal objective of FITT is to promote interaction between the academia and the industry to create trust and collaboration," says FITT managing director and CEO Dr A K Sengupta.

The contest will be open to innovators from any area of science and technology and entries will be divided into 11 categories which would include energy management and conservation, environmental sciences, population and disease control, infrastructure and communication, software

technologies, transportation, agriculture, urban living and rural infrastructure, entertainment and recreation, information technology and life sciences.

NGC will air promotional campaigns as a call for entries across the country. All entries will be received in a prescribed format for a period of three weeks. The entries will then be short listed to five by a body of independent judges based on criteria that will include the level of creativity, quality of execution and potential impact.

These chosen five will be invited to an on-ground symposium on 13 November where a distinguished jury panel will judge and select 'The Innovator of the Year'. The winner will receive an award of Rs 1,000,000 to help make the

innovation a commercial reality.

The young innovator contest will involve a nation-wide school contest with an award of Rs 200,000, which will be held in a trust fund until the child turns 18.

"The award of Rs 1,000,000 will serve as an incubation fund to help the innovator through the critical stages of start up and development," said Gandevia.

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