The Digital Society Challenge is intended to support innovators who are making the internet safer for the Next Half Billion. The challenge does not have any specific sectoral focus as long as the underlying idea helps advance digital safety.

Type of innovation
We are looking for ideas or solutions that directly impact individuals. While we actively fund research, surveys and events, we will not be doing so under this Challenge.

Applications under this challenge could be either -

  1. A direct-to-individual setting where the solution is directly provided to internet users, ideally the NHB. As an illustration, this could be an app that provides users information about digital risks or training gram panchayat members on these issues.

  2. An organisation-to-organisation setting where a solution directly empowers another organisation that is catering to individuals. As an illustration, this could be an open source tool that non-profits can use to engage their beneficiaries in a privacy-protecting environment.

Type of investment
The challenge is open to both for-profit as well as non-profit organisations under three distinct tracks.

Participants must clearly review the requirements of each track, and must submit their application under the track applicable to them. There will not be cross-transfer of applications between different tracks. Individual innovators can also apply, but they will need to collaborate with one of the eligible organisations.

The three tracks are -

  1. Grants
    Grants to non-profit entities that habitually receive grants in compliance with applicable laws. These entities must have a valid and subsisting FCRA(Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) registration.

  2. Service Agreements
    Service Agreements to entities that habitually provide such services to their clients. Both non-profit and for-profit entities can propose service agreements
  3. Equity Investments
    Equity investments in for-profit enterprises willing to receive equity investments. The for profits enterprises need to be registered companies.

Selection Criteria
The selection criteria are as follows -

  1. Reach
    The solution should reach and empower a large number of Indians, especially in the NHB.

  2. Depth of Impact
    The solution should have a deep impact on the lives it touches.
  3. Innovation
    The solution should have either tech or non-tech novelty that disrupts current systems.

Track #1 Grants

  • What is a Grant?
  • Grants are non-repayable funds given by one organisation(corporation, foundation or trust) to a non-profit entity, educational institution or business.
  • Who all can apply to the Challenge?
  • Any non-profit organisation that has a valid and subsisting FCRA registration can apply to the challenge.

    Individual innovators can also apply if they have a collaboration with such an organisation having a valid and subsisting FCRA registration. The validity period of the FCRA registration must be provided by the applicant organisation.
  • What types of sub-sectors innovation should be from?
  • Digital safety for a digital society is a horizontal issue. Therefore, your non-profit could work in sectors ranging from health care to retail to education, or even be cross-cutting. The Digital Society Challenge is sector agnostic.
  • What stage of innovations can be submitted to the Challenge?
  • The applicant can be an organisation/individual at any stage of innovation. It can be a concept, a minimum-viable product, a locally implemented solution or a scaled up innovation. 

    For early stage ideas however, it is important to be able to defend your credibility as an innovator in the form of POCs or by sharing previous work, organisational collaboration etc.
  • What will the shortlisted innovators receive from the challenge?
  • The winners will receive:

    1. Funding to take their idea forward
    2. ONI access, advice and mentorship
    3. Invitations to ONI events for networking
  • What is the amount awarded under this challenge?
  • It is a variable funding. You should provide the amount of funding you are looking for to make your product or program viable and to effectively reach the NHB. It can fall under one of following categories:

    Small          Less than Rs. 50 lakhs
    Medium      Rs. 50 lakhs to 1.5 crore
    Large          More than Rs. 1.5 crore
  • How many entities will be funded under the challenge?
  • We do not have a limit on the number of winners to be funded under the challenge. It will depend on the quality of submissions and their funding requirements. 
  • What would be the duration of the funding and mentorship?
  • Funding will range from six months to two years, depending on the needs of the organisation.
  • Can I submit more than one innovation to the challenge?
  • Yes, you are free to submit any number of innovations/ projects to the challenge.
  • What languages can I submit in?
  • We can only accept submissions in English. If you’d like to write your application in another language, you can use Google Translate or any other translation service available to you to translate your submission and any supporting documents into English.
  • Are there any specific geographical regions that the challenge is focusing on?
  • We will fund non-profits who address digital safety for India’s Next Half Billion.The organisation must be based in India.
  • As an individual, how old must I be to participate in the challenge?
  • If you are participating as an individual, you must be above 18 years of age.
  • Will have to share/ forgo the ownership of my idea/innovation if I submit to the challenge?
  • No, you will continue to own your idea/innovation even if you submit to the challenge or are funded under it.

  • Will the complete grant amount be provided in one tranche?
  • If the grant amount is large, it may be split into tranches that are disbursed at specific dates.

Track #2 Service Providers

  • What is a Service Agreement?
  • A services agreement is an agreement under which one organisation agrees to provide services to another organisation in exchange for remuneration. A Services Agreement is often issued in response to a request for proposal.
  • Who all can apply to the Challenge?
  • Any for-profit or not-for-profit organisation that habitually provides services to its clients, in its ordinary course of business (which can be clearly demonstrated), can apply to the challenge. Individuals can also apply as independent contractors.
  • What types of sub-sectors innovation should be from?
  • Digital safety for a digital society is a horizontal issue. Therefore, your innovation can range from health care to retail to education, or even be cross-cutting. The Digital Society Challenge is sector agnostic.
  • What stage of innovations can be submitted to the Challenge?
  • The applicant can be an organisation/individual at any stage of innovation. It can be a concept, a minimum-viable product, a locally implemented solution or a scaled up innovation. 

    For early stage ideas however, it is important to be able to defend your credibility as an innovator in the form of POCs or by sharing previous work, organisational collaboration etc.
  • What will the shortlisted innovators receive from the challenge?
  • The winners will receive:

    1. Funding to take their idea forward
    2. ONI access, advice and mentorship
    3. Invitations to ONI events for networking
  • What is the amount awarded under this challenge?
  • It is variable funding. You should provide the amount of funding you are looking for to make your product or program viable and to effectively reach the NHB. It can fall under one of following categories:

    Small          Less than Rs. 50 lakhs
    Medium      Rs. 50 lakhs to 1.5 crore
    Large          More than Rs. 1.5 crore
  • How many entities will be funded under the challenge?
  • We do not have a limit on the number of winners to be funded under the challenge. The number of funded entities will depend on the quality of submissions and their funding asks.
  • What would be the duration of the service agreements and mentorship?
  • Service agreements will range from six months to two years, depending on the deliverables identified in the project.
  • Can I submit more than one innovation to the challenge?
  • Yes, you are free to submit any number of innovations/ projects to the challenge.
  • What languages can I submit in?
  • We can only accept submissions in English. If you’d like to write your application in another language, you can use Google Translate or any other translation service available to you to translate your submission and any supporting documents into English.
  • Are there any specific geographical regions that the challenge is focusing on?
  • We will award contracts to innovators who address digital safety for India’s Next Half Billion. The organisation itself can be based outside India.
  • As an individual, how old must I be to participate in the challenge?
  • If you are participating as an individual, you must be above 18 years of age.
  • Will have to share/ forgo the ownership of my idea/innovation if I submit to the challenge?
  • Yes, all material and product created under this process will be intellectual property of Omidyar Network India. We can explore different licensing models to share this IP with the organisation or individual.

  • Will the entire funding be provided in one go?
  • Funds will be provided on successful completion of deliverables identified in the project. Some funds to cover costs may be provided on signing the agreement.

Track #3 Equity Investment

  • What is an Equity Investment?
  • An equity investment is money that is invested in a company by purchasing shares of that company by an individual/organisation.
  • Who all can apply to the Challenge?
  • Any early-stage for-profit organisation can apply to the challenge.
  • What types of sub-sectors innovation should be from?
  • Digital safety for a digital society is a horizontal issue. Therefore, your start-up may work in sectors as diverse as health care to retail to education, or even be cross-cutting. The Digital Society Challenge is sector agnostic.
  • What stage of innovations can be submitted to the Challenge?
  • The applicant can be a start-up at any stage of innovation. It can be a concept, a minimum-viable product, a locally implemented solution or a scaled up innovation. 

    For early stage ideas however, it is important to be able to defend your credibility as an innovator in the form of POCs or by sharing previous work, organisational collaboration etc.
  • What will the shortlisted innovators receive from the challenge?
  • The funded start-ups will receive:

    1. Equity investment to take their idea forward, on terms to be agreed, based on usual market standards for early stage start up investments
    2. ONI access, advice and mentorship
    3. Invitations to ONI events for networking
  • What is the amount awarded under this challenge?
  • You should provide the amount of funding you are looking for.
  • How many entities will be funded under the challenge?
  • We do not have a limit on the number of start-ups funded under the challenge. The number of funded entities will depend on the quality of submissions and their funding requirements.
  • Will ON India take an equity position in my start-up?
  • Yes, Omidyar Network India will receive equity in your start-up. If your start-up is shortlisted, we will discuss valuation and other commercials with you, with a view to reaching mutual agreement on the same.
  • What languages can I submit in?
  • We can only accept submissions in English. If you’d like to write your application in another language, you can use Google Translate or any other translation service available to you to translate your submission and any supporting documents into English.
  • Are there any specific geographical regions that the challenge is focusing on?
  • We will fund entrepreneurs who address digital safety for India’s Next Half Billion. The start-up itself can be based outside India.

Omidyar Network India invests in bold entrepreneurs who help create a meaningful life for every Indian, especially the hundreds of millions of Indians in low-income and lower-middle-income populations, ranging from the poorest among us to the existing middle class.
 
To drive empowerment and social impact at scale, we work with entrepreneurs in the private, nonprofit and public sectors, who are tackling India’s hardest and most chronic problems. We make equity investments in early stage enterprises and provide grants to nonprofits in the areas of Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. 

Omidyar Network India is part of The Omidyar Group, a diverse collection of companies, organisations and initiatives, supported by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay.

"We invest in bold entrepreneurs who help create a meaningful life for every Indian"