Digital Impact Square (DISQ) is an open social innovation platform for Enhancing the Lives of citizens. The platform encourages innovation using digital technologies to address the needs of citizens through their voice and that of the local administration, government, and industry. In the process, the platform fosters a culture of innovation through a series of sustained innovation cycles, provides an opportunity to bring research and technology from academia to influence every-day life, and accelerates the journey of many from being ideators to entrepreneurs.

The platform will provide an opportunity for talent from across the country to solve pressing challenges in the following seven areas: Health & Hygiene, Education & Skills, Financial & Personal Security, Energy, Water & Environment, Food & Agriculture, Housing & Transportation and Citizen Empowerment & Transparency.


We are looking for:

  • Youngsters with an entrepreneurial bent of mind, who want to turn an idea or a concept into a successful startup, and are willing to commit next 12 months to further their cause, or,
  • Technologically-skilled final year students, who can spend their final semester with us to apply their skills towards one of our challenges.


  • Do you have a brilliant solution that addresses challenges listed under one or more themes?
  • Do you have the passion and commitment to grow and scale it into a tangible Digital Interface to Physical System (DIPS) solution?
  • Are you able to spend 6 months at DISQ?
And are currently either a
  • Student - Students pursuing a Bachelor or Master degree in one of the following disciplines: Engineering, Management, Mathematics, Statistics, Liberal Arts, Commerce, Medicine, Design, Architecture, or
  • Start-up - An early-stage startup, which is keen on growing and scaling their innovation or a
  • Budding Entrepreneur or an Innovator

…then the Digital Impact Square is just the place for you!

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DIPS: Digital interface for physical systems

Digital Interface for Physical System (DIPS) are integrated solutions. DIPS should make use of relevant technologies such as mobile/web, social, big data, IoT, hardware devices, sensors, analytics, AI/machine learning, etc. to make the solution work.

The ideas and solutions we are seeking, are not just mobile apps. They need to be well-thought out, integrated applications that addresses the digital and physical divide of the problem space. When used by one or more users (citizen, administration, health professional, teacher, farmer, etc.) DIPS should impact their lives positively and help them become smarter, hyper-connected and more productive.

You will have the opportunity to accelerate building your solutions through access to research or technology from academia and industry. To know more on what is available click here.

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  • New Disq location 5
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  • Nashik-googlemap


DISQ is both an online platform and a physical location at Nashik, Maharashtra. Students, young startups, budding entrepreneurs and innovators from across India can participate at DISQ. To know more about our center and current teams working from there visit the Get Inspired Page. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Process and expectations

The process for you to create Digital Interfaces to Physical Systems (DIPS) has 4 phases – Spot, Probe, Grow, Scale - each phase having well-defined time lines and expectations of outcomes.

  • Spot Phase

    During this phase, we will select up to 20 solutions and/or up to 100 ideators to work at DISQ. To qualify, you need to:

    • Register and log in on our portal and tell us about yourself. Ensure you provide accurate information, and also add your resume and a 2 minute video telling us about yourself and why we should select you.
    • Under one or more Themes:
      • Read the challenges posted and submit broad ideas or detailed solutions. The submission should be such that it can result in designing and creating a working DIPS prototype, within six months at the DISQ.
      • If the listed challenges do not resonate with you, then “Think Beyond” and propose a new problem statement and your solution to that problem.

    Remember: The more refined and detailed your submission is, the better are your chances for getting shortlisted.

    • Engage with mentors to enhance solutions or collaborate with other ideators to improve your submission.
    • Your submissions will be evaluated by a judging panel and shortlisted
    • If you get shortlisted, you will participate in the selection and interview process.
  • Probe Phase

    The ideators shortlisted to work at DISQ will be involved in designing, developing, and testing their solutions at Nashik. This phase will begin with a boot camp, where the participants will:

    • Collaborate and provide further insights into shortlisted solutions
    • Form teams (up to 5 ideators) that will work on converting ideas to prototypes
    • Undergo training on Human Centric Design, which will help them in designing the DIPS for successful adoption by stakeholders.

    After the boot camp, each team will engage in rapid prototyping of DIPS. They will have access to:

    • Relevant curated research from the academia and industry, and the technology stack, products, or platforms, on which the DIPS will be built
    • Mentors from the academia, industry, administration, and technology space
    • Real-world scenarios in the city of Nashik to test their solutions

    Based on feedback from various stakeholders and the evaluation of the ‘live’ demonstration by a jury, some or all high performing members of up to seven teams will move to the Grow phase.

  • Grow Phase

    In the Grow phase, you will work with great agility, at top-notch academic or industrial houses, to productize your solution.

    • Select and Eligible members of one or more teams will travel to the MIT Media Lab at Cambridge for up to six months as Visiting Innovators/Interns of a specific research group. The remaining team members will continue to work at DISQ.
    • Other selected teams will work at TCS, industry or government for up to six months.

    In this phase, the DIPS will be evolved and tested for production readiness and evaluated for high impact and business potential.

  • Scale Phase

    The short-listed DIPS will have an opportunity to work with TCS to scale up their solutions.

Research-led Challenges

This challenge category focus is on solving grand challenges, the solution to which is dependent on research carried out by an academic or industry collaborator. You, as innovators will closely work with research scientists in furthering the research to solve the grand challenge. The innovation cycle for such challenges will not follow the traditional Spot-Probe-Grow-Scale model and long term association (1+ year) is expected to solve such challenges. Besides developing DIPS these challenges will require close engagement with stakeholders relevant for the research, collection, synthesis and analysis of data. Your selection in the team is heavily dependent on deep technical skills and in-depth understanding of the challenge domain area.


DISQ is a multi-year platform with several innovation cycles. The indicative timeline for the next innovation cycles are:

June 2018 Innovation Cycle:

Timeline 3

Jan 2019 Innovation Cycle:

Timeline 4

We are constantly in search of innovators to add value to our existing teams and work on new challenges and are also accepting applications for our research-led challenges. So apply now!

Indicative Evaluation Criteria

  • Each submission and/or demonstration will be judged by a panel of domain and technology experts, besides stakeholders from academia, industry, government and civil society.

Indicative evaluation criteria across all phases are:

  • Does the ideator have a clear, articulated thought process that can be harnessed to become an innovation?
  • Does the proposed solution have DIPS opportunities?
  • Does the solution address the challenge holistically?
  • Does the solution have the potential to enhance the lives of billions of people?
  • Is the solution a disruptive innovation?
  • Does the solution have an addressable market and scalability potential?
  • Is it relatively easy to replicate the solution in low-tech scenarios?
  • Does it have a unique and differentiated business model?
  • Does the solution offer first-mover advantage, or adequately address existing barriers to entry?
  • Does the team and the individual meet all the expectations and timelines through the stay at DISQ?
  • Was the prototype successfully validated by stakeholders within the stipulated timeframe?
  • Does the solution comply with IP, data privacy, and national security requirements, and is it viable for deployment in the context of a ‘Smart City’?

Selection criteria for bootcamp

  • Commitment to be associated with DISQ for upto a year
  • Quality of idea/solution
  • Technical/Domain skills relevant for designing and developing DIPS
  • Management/Entrepreneurial skills