About this Challenge

NSDC Innovations for Skills Challenge 2014 is organized by National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC). The objective is to look for proposals, which will positively impact and create a multiplier effect in the skill development space. The proposals can be from enterprises, which have solutions to reduce cost, enable new processes and create a higher impact than the existing practices in the current skill development space. Proposals must be validated with a proof of concept. Through this challenge we will not be supporting "Ideas". All initiatives must have at least a pilot that has seen some traction along with a scalable business proposition.

The Challenge aims to identify and invest in 10 to 15 innovative fundable enterprises that are robust, have sustainable models to impact the skill development ecosystem by achieving faster, inclusive, and sustainable growth of India. In the larger context, anything that is innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and has the capacity to impact at scale and stand the test of time.

Guidelines & Selection Criteria

The Challenge is sector-agnostic and open to skilling enterprises from across India. We are keen to get applications from enterprises working in certain high growth and high employment potential sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, real estate, arts/handicrafts, informal sector and others. The entries should have a positive impact and create a multiplier effect in the skill development space.


Enterprises that have achieved traction either with their products, process or innovation, among targeted groups or have a proof of concept either through running operations or demonstrated pilots are welcome to apply.

They need to fall into one or the other following primary innovation categories:

  • Placement & Linkages
  • Post Placement & Engagement
  • Sourcing & Financing
  • Training-to-Certification
  • Open Innovation which impact skill ecosystem


Any entity (e.g. Company, Cooperative, NGO/Trust/Society) registered in India can apply:

  • For-profit organizations/companies
  • Subsidiary of corporate entities
  • Individual Entrepreneurs with a legal entity
  • Not-for-profit (Society Act, Trust Act & Sec 25 Indian Company Act)

Additionally, any entity, which fits within the criteria, specified in the NSDC Funding Guidelines. Though in short – whether it be for-profit or non-profit;

  • Enterprises should be able to provide with quantitative evidence of market demand (i.e. revenue or proof of concept) regarding their innovation/concept
  • Driven by a management team which have created a clear corporate structure as well as a future plan for the enterprise
  • Enterprises must be able to demonstrate a measurable impact in the skill development space

Solutions must relate to one or more of the categories listed below:

Categories Sub-categories
Placement & Linkages Entrepreneurship Program & Funding
Industry Linkages
Job portals
Post Placement & Engagement Almuni Connect
Continuous Learning
Housing & Transportation
Sourcing & Financing Awareness & Lead Generation
Counselling & Conversion
Student Financing (Loans)
Training-to-Certification Assessment & Certification
Content Delivery
Content Generation
Master Training Programs
Product Innovations
Training of Trainers
Open Innovation which impact skill ecosystem Enterprises with specific focus on People with Disabilities

Winners may be selected from any of the above-mentioned categories. However, the finalists cannot have the same solution as any other previously funded entity, nor may any two finalists provide the same solution– but they may address different problems within one and the same sector.

Focus Sectors (but not restricted to):

  • Agri-businesses
  • Value Chain based Food processing, Horticulture, Floriculture
  • Arts and Handi-crafts/Handlooms
  • Tourism, Hospitality and Travel
  • Automobile / auto-components
  • Electronics hardware
  • Textiles and garments
  • Leather and leather goods
  • Chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Gems and jewellery
  • Building and construction
  • Building hardware and home furnishings
  • IT or software
  • Transportation/ logistics/ warehousing and packaging
  • Organised retail
  • Real estate
  • Media, entertainment, broadcasting, content creation, animation
  • Healthcare
  • Banking/ insurance and finance
  • Education/ skill development
  • Unorganised sector
  • Any other

Exclusion criteria of the Challenge

Enterprises/organisations that will not eligible for this Challenge:

  • Enterprises who have received Innovation Funding from NSDC previously
  • Enterprises who are already under the due-diligence process of NSDC

For any other queries, refer to the NSDC Funding Guidelines

Process & Deadlines

Applicants will be considered on a First come First serve basis.

Application will be reviewed through a rolling process.

*Dates Actions
12th August 2014 Launch of the Challenge
12th August 2014 Call for Applications
28th September 2014 Applications closed
12th December 2014 Jury Presentations
13th December 2014 Winners Announced
16th December 2014 Winners fast-tracked for the investment process of NSDC

*Timelines may shift under extraneous circumstances

There will be a first round of application (Application 1, available both online & offline).

After the review of the Application (Application 1), a detailed application template (Application 2) will be provided to the shortlisted applicants.

The process involves Field verifications to be conducted during the Challenge process.


Debt Investment opportunity by NSDC, which might be up to; but not limited to; INR 3 Crore and as per NSDC funding guidelines.

  1. What is the NSDC Innovations for Skills Challenge 2014 and why it has been set up?
  2. The NSDC Innovations for Skills Challenge 2014 has been launched to encourage enterprises and organizations with innovative, multiplier & scalable innovation to contribute towards the development of a sustainable vocational skills ecosystem. The Challenge will identify 10-15 potential investable companies, which will undergo the investment process of NSDC with the objective to finance them.

  3. Can a company/organization apply in more than one category?
  4. Yes

  5. What is the nature/mode of Funding?
  6. For this Challenge, the only mode of funding is through debt investments. In exceptional cases, other mode of funding such as grant loan or equity can be analysed and ascertained.

  7. What is the applicable tenor and rates for the Debt Funding for this challenge?
  8. Debt should be repaid within 10 years or earlier (including moratorium period, if any).

    Interest Rate is 6%

    Simple interest rate to be charged during the first 3 years of moratorium period. In case moratorium period extends beyond 3 years (if deviation is allowed by NSDC), interest rate would be compounded on quarterly basis. The compounding of interest would be done only for the period over and above the period of 3 years.

    Any deviations to be approved by NSDC

  9. How many people are to be trained?
  10. Minimum number of people trained over a period of 10 years (50,000 people as specified in the NSDC Funding guidelines) may not be applicable for the Innovations for Skills Challenge 2014. However, every business model will have milestones of performance based on its offering.

  11. Will NSDC take Seats in the organization's Board of Directors?
  12. Where NSDC funding is in the form of Debt, NSDC retains the option to take a seat on the Board of Directors

    Where NSDC funding is in the form of Equity:

    • < 10% stake, 1 Board seat taken
    • > 10% stake , 2 Board seats taken
    • However, NSDC Director/s will NOT have any management responsibility
  13. Are only Indian companies or organizations allowed to participate?
  14. Yes, Only Indian Companies or Entities Registered in India will be allowed to participate.

  15. What are the expected outcomes of the Challenge?
  16. Refer to Q No. 1

  17. Other than the expected monetary awards, are there non-monetary awards also available?
  18. Finalists will receive non-monetary rewards:

    • Warm introduction to leading investors and industry peers
    • TiE mentorships for 6 months,
    • Access to discounted co-working spaces at reputed accelerators
    • Access to major entrepreneurial events pro bono or discounted
    • Network opportunities: introductions to investors
    • National Visibility: Offline and online media
  19. When can be expected to receive the investments?
  20. NSDC targets to fund as many enterprises in FY14-15. However, funding close is on a case basis and depends on submission of all requisite documentation and approval by NSDC Board.

  21. For Funding related queries please refer the

    NSDC Funding Guidelines

Organizer details

An initiative of National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC); this challenge is being managed by Ennovent India Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

For any questions, write to:

Vineet Kumar