CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (DIYA TV) — Harvard’s South Asia Institute (SAI) has joined forces with one of India’s most prestigious institutions, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Tata Trusts, in a concerted effort to mentor 25 social entrepreneurship startups in science and technology.

The announcement comes on the heels of Harvard’s annual India conference — this year’s edition of the conference was held at the school’s Kennedy School of Government and led by a star-studded cast which included the likes of Kamal Hassan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Karan Johar, Anita Dongre and many others.

The new project, led by Harvard South Asia Institute director Tarun Khanna, hopes the mentoring provided to the startup companies will be proactive in the creation of more jobs. Companies selected to participate in the project will additionally be provided with spending grants and workshops for extra guidance. Harvard’s institute requested and was granted funding from Tata Trusts to experiment with ways to translate knowledge that was generated in the university setting into livelihood creation.

“India needs 100 million net new jobs in the next decade to absorb the demographic dividend,” Khanna said. “I don’t know of any system in the world that has generated that many jobs in a short period of time without a significant dose of new enterprise creation and entrepreneurship,” he added. Some of Khanna’s previous work includes chairing the Government of India Niti Aayog Commission on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

R. Venkataramanan, an executive of Tata Trusts, concurs. He opined how paramount the need for collaboration is for further development and growth.

“Under this collaboration with Harvard University’s South Asia Institute, we will develop entrepreneurship opportunities that will help provide sustainable prosperity to the local communities. “

The Tata grant will last 18 months, and Khanna recognizes that might be a bit of a tight window to make true progress. But he’s prepared to face the challenge. The program’s greatest obstacle is likely one few consider, he added: the life and work of an entrepreneur can be a very lonely one.

“The challenge and plan is to demonstrate using research and knowledge assets to work with these social enterprises to point them in the right direction and create a system of peer support. This will be done through workshops, on an ongoing basis,” he said.

The learning will happen on both sides, Khanna said — this is a new program for IIT as well, and the participants of the program will not be limited to IIT’s student body. Some of them will have already been graduated for as much as a year, professor Ambuj Sagar said.

“There is an explosion in learning, including social entrepreneurship. We can take some of these experiences to our workshops,” Sagar said. “Many of these people were students about a year ago. These are young startups and not all are IITians. They are people from Delhi, Kanpur, Utkal University, small colleges in Punjab.”

Fostering what’s learned and developed during the program is of the utmost importance — sustaining that growth after the expiration of the 18-month grant, and continuing the program with the involvement of other institutions is the ultimate goal, Khanna said.

“One of the tasks that we have is to think of ways to continue with this programme, with our partners, the Trusts, IIT-D and other institutions, including the government machinery. The more people talk about it, the better,” he said.