Friday, October 10, 2014

Sixth Accelerator Batch of MS Ventures Now Open

Microsoft has announced the opening of applications for the sixth batch for the Accelerator Program of Microsoft Ventures in India. Starting October 10, 2014 till November 30, 2014, Microsoft will receive online applications from technology startups. The names of shortlisted companies will be announced in a few weeks after applications close and they will be invited for a face-to-face session with a jury panel. The final list of startups will constitute the summer batch of calendar year 2015 and will begin the four-month acceleration program at Microsoft’s office in downtown Bangalore in end January, 2015. Their graduation day will coincide with Think Next event in June 2015, where the startups will get an opportunity to showcase their ideas to key industry influential, eminent investors, mentors from India and abroad as well as the leadership team of Microsoft Ventures.
Inviting applications for the new batch, Ravi Narayan, Director, Microsoft Ventures in India, said: “The continued success of our Accelerator Program reiterates India’s strength as a potential hub for startups and as an ecosystem of global importance. Along with the access to Microsoft technology, mentors and investors, we also provide opportunities to our startups to connect with customers, partners and world class entrepreneurs. Conducting sessions with top entrepreneurs and alumni batches to help them build top line products in an accelerated fashion is also on the agenda. The progress these startups achieve during their stint at the Accelerator is phenomenal, which proves why the number of applications have been increasing exponentially batch on batch. Around 82% of the companies from our first four batches received funding within a year; and three got acquired, including the recent acquisition of Bookpad.”
Commenting on the initiative, Santosh Panda, an alumni from the Accelerator batch two and Founder and CEO, Explara, said: “Microsoft Ventures is a great entrepreneurial hub that brings together industry and functional experts to create an excellent support system for startups. Apart from the acceleration, the program provides them with insights that help ensure a more effective method of tackling the ecosystem. The biggest advantage of the Accelerator program is that it is not time-bound, because one can always keep coming back after the batch concludes and will continue to be provided with a lot of support in terms of technology, architecture and investor relations.”
Venkatesan Seshadri, Founder and CEO, FlatPebble, a startup from the current batch, said: “Microsoft Ventures has really pushed us hard and that has put us on a solid growth trajectory. In the past two months, the team has helped us hone our customer base. We have grown four times of what we were when we came in. We are now looking at expanding our supplier base to similar levels and are confident that we will get all the required support and guidance.”
For the sixth batch, Microsoft Ventures is again looking for a mix of Indian and international companies—Indian startups which are ready for the next stage of accelerated growth and want to have access to global markets as well as international companies that are interested in Asian markets. Young companies, which are at the ideation stage and have extremely high potential, will also gain from the program.
The application process is quite simple:
* All that startups need to do is apply online. And in case they have queries, just read up the FAQs.
* Attend a Microsoft workshop in their city (Microsoft expert will conduct a series of workshops and coffee meet-ups in various Indian cities to meet startups and startup aspirants and answer their questions. 

Schneider Electric Gears Up for Challenges of Indian Smart Cities

Schneider Electric Infrastructure is gearing up to take on the challenges in handling Prime Ministers’s pet project of 100 smart cities in India.

At a seminar on ‘Changing India: A Smart City Revolution’, held in Bangalore on October 9, 2014, Schneider Electric President and Managing Director for India Anil Choudhry said it affords an opportunity for integrating technologies.

“Schneider is well positioned to contribute to the government’s vision of creating 100 Smart Cities." We  are already working on smart projects and is serious about the fact that smart infrastructure will form the backbone of any smart city.“Schneider’s experience as a developer of Smart Cities is impeccable. We can integrate technologies in brownfield surroundings and enmesh loopholes to achieve energy efficiency,” Chaudhry said.  

For Schneider it is necessary to identify the building blocks for making the government’s ‘Smart Cities’ project a reality. Such a city should weigh the socio-economic necessities, inadequacies of the country’s infrastructure and administrative mechanisms, and the skills that will guide the city planners, administrators and proponents to build and manage Smart Cities. The seminar saw the participation of speakers from a plethora of fields who put forward their views regarding building a successful smart city model for future India. 

The seminar saw the participation of speakers from a plethora of fields who put forward their views regarding building a successful smart city model for future India. In the course of the discussion, Nilesh Purey, Vice President, ICT, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City shared his views on the skill sets that will enable city planners drive a Smart City project. 

He said, “We need to develop good skills sets and learn from the West, especially in the areas of administration and municipality. This is something that we have successfully implemented at GIFT. Every employee at GIFT has visited at least two countries to understand and learn best practices in this area.” 

The smart city discussion also throw light upon the importance of PPP model in determining the success of Smart Cities, Manish Agarwal, Executive Director, Infrastructure Advisory, PWC India said, “PPP model is imperative for Smart City development and it should not be viewed just as a financing option. PPP brings in certain level of service commitment and offers immense scope for innovation.”
The panelist also put the spotlight on the socio-economic necessities that drive the Smart City objective, turning the table on the inadequacies of our country’s infrastructure and administrative mechanisms, and the skills that will guide the city planners, administrators and proponents to build and manage Smart Cities.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

PoPin Sets Up India R&D Centre; Targets 100,000 Users In 12 Months

Want to make your organization’s social, actionable? Popin provides the answer to CEO’s, Business Leaders, Editors and Top Level Management with an intuitively simple and attractive app that is available in both android and iPhone marketplace. The application called ‘Popin’ (portal of pain, internal) works on desktops, tablets and mobile phones.
PoPin is a SaaS based mobile and a totally secure web solution that facilitates the CrowdSourcing of ideas that the team automatically “votes” to the top. Selected initiatives can then be CrowdSolved with specific discussions to deliver timely and innovative impact to relevant corporate objectives.
Infact, the Irvine-based firm has set up its India centres in Hyderabad and Bangalore. It has hosted its cloud services of Amazon’s EC2 cloud and is targeting hot indian verticals including education, FMCG, BFSI and also political parties.  
PoPin is vertical agnostic and can benefit any vocation be it manufacturing, sales and marketing, consultancy, government, education…  Conversations can be contained, curated and controlled across the participants, be it employees, business partners or even customers in order to obtain near real time results through maximum engagement alongwith the “feeling of contribution”. It converts a disengaged corporate-employee environment to one of a fully engaged participation.
Founder and Global CEO, Hayes Drumright says ‘The current stampede to embrace social media as a valuable business tool has kicked up a big cloud of dust and created new layers of confusion for chief executives and other leaders. Most CEOs sense that social media marks an important breakthrough for business communications, but they aren’t sure how to fully utilize the technology to gain a competitive advantage. This is because leaders often have trouble distinguishing between “actionable social” information and what I like to call plain old “social noise.” There is a substantial difference between the two’
Announcing the formal launch of its development center in Bangalore which currently has a 20 member research, design and development team Sanjiv Gupta said ‘your imagination is the only inhibitor to coming up with ways that PoPin can help your organization improve engagement and uncover actionable and innovative approaches to business initiatives. While we all knew the urgency and importance of cutting through social noise that is invading your enterprise, with PoPin, you now know how and what to prioritize’.
Some of the few common uses we believe PoPin can help a CEO bridge stronger ties with his employees in a social actionable way is by building consensus for new strategies, innovation buy-in, change management and skip level management, merger-acquisition assimilation and streamline off-site meetings. It is also acts as fantastic survey and product, services road map tool.
Introducing the popin functionality Sanjiv Gupta, Director of PoPin, India, said another interesting feature of the app is you have the option of setting sessions as ANONYMOUS (so no one knows who enters what) or NAMED (everyone is explicitly identified) depending on the need to protect identities, prevent political responses or set accountability. A CEO or Head of Department will now be able to find higher levels of engagement and empathy by mixing audiences for select sessions such as combining internal engineers with customers in product roadmap discussions.
The 3 months old startup is funded by Angels. Its current target is it to expand its user base both in the global and Indian market. It expects the adoption chances for this app in the corporate world to be immense given the fact that information today is cluttered and there is no way a top level manager can find a near automatic and well defined way to dissect them and seek an actionable items that can help him improve his organizational and departmental efficiency. 
Currently PoPin draws revenue from each user billed on an annual basis. However, the revenue stream would be fine-tuned further as its global user base increases. Popin US is nearing an adoption base of 20,000 and expects to grow it by 10x within a year, with India contributing a handsome 50% of the Global foot-print.
The Genesis :
To succeed as a next-generation social CEO, business leaders need to engage more with their internal teams, partners and customers. But this requires leaders to contain, control and curate such social media conversations, rather than hosting unwanted social free-for-alls. This is the challenge most CEOs face regarding social, whether they realize it or not. 
For social to work in the C-suite, CEOs can use crowdsourcing software or new “actionable social” tools to solicit feedback from large groups. For example, department heads or sales managers can submit their own ideas and vote on the best ones to pursue for their group initiatives. This democratic format generates greater buy-in from constituents, which in turn leads to highly motivated individuals and better aligned teams. 
CEOs also need to manage which audiences participate in each initiative, doing away with the social free-for-all. For instance, some crowdsourcing projects might invite internal employees to participate, while others would query only external partners or suppliers, depending on the project focus. 
Another important aspect of this process involves structuring crowd-sourced discussions around certain specific topics, and blocking out other subjects to be avoided by the group. Leaders can also curate their social discussions by making some comments anonymous in order to solicit open criticisms, while requiring users to be clearly identified and accountable when voting on shared priorities.

Nasscom Eyes India As Global Hub For Engg & Design

To assess the effect of the continuously evolving engineering landscape in India, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) today organized its annual NASSCOM Engineering Summit 2014 in Pune. Focused on the theme of “Engineered from India”, the two-day summit is aimed to provide a platform for the engineering community to engage with each other, discuss issues of common interest and network with customers and partners to create a common framework for the engineering future in India.
Express his views, B.V.R Mohan Reddy, Vice Chairman, NASSCOM, said, “The rapidly increasing market for products and services and the presence of a large pool engineers and data scientists makes India a destination of choice for the global corporations for off-shoring their ER&D needs. The new paradigm of globally interdependent economies is fuelling the globalisation of R&D solutions. Major engineering challenges are being addressed by leveraging the capacities available in various geographies and building interdisciplinary collaboration. The next decade will largely be driven by disruptive technologies, changes in competitive landscape and consumer preferences, increased digitization and demand for mobility. We are positive that these opportunities will continue to be addressed by engineering companies to establish India as a strong destination for innovative solutions.”
Speaking on the side-lines, Vijay Ratnaparkhe, Chairman, NASSCOM Engineering Council, said, “We at NASSCOM have built an ambitious plan and vision to harness the engineering opportunity from India. The Engineering Council has been implementing multiple initiatives that focus on talent development, branding, new technologies like Internet of Things, policy interventions and special interest groups on focused verticals. The summit this year will provide a unique opportunity to companies for showcasing disruptive technologies and how they are redefining the engineering landscape in India.” 
India is fast emerging as a solution provider to the global challenges in the engineering and design arena. India today is a home to over 400+ global ER&D organization with most being the second largest centre outside their home location employing over 200,000 engineers. The scalable talent pool across diverse areas of science, technology and management, along with robust academic and research infrastructure and a progressive policy environment is spurring the industrial R&D activity in the country. India is also steadily building the entrepreneurship climate to enable successful growth and innovation. The ER&D services market has played an important role in developing the ER&D capabilities of the country. Escalating cost pressures and demand saturation in developed economies are encouraging firms to increase ER&D spends on efficiency improvements and product localizations.  India is now an ideal engineering hub for the global ER&D market with more companies using its supply base for future growth. It is important for major stakeholders of this industry –Government, industry and trade associations to ensure the growth trajectory of the industry and moving it to the next level of product development.

GOQii & Amazon Roll Out Health Services In India

In a strategic move to capitalize on the burgeoning ecommerce revolution in India, North California headquartered health & lifestyle company GOQii Inc today announced the launch of its GOQii life services in India exclusively on Targeted at the fitness enthusiasts, the GOQii Life service is the world’s first offering that combines an advanced fitness tracker, a mobile app and a personal coaching service. Exclusively available on, the GOQii pack has a starting price of Rs. 3999 and includes the proprietary GOQii band, the GOQii Personal Coach service and the GOQii app. The app is available for both Android (+4.3 version) and IOS (6.0+).

The GOQii ecosystem provides its users a holistic system by providing them a wearable fitness tracker along with personal coach, backed by world-class experts, and a way to embrace social philanthropy by converting “steps” into Karma Points, GOQii’s virtual currency to support the user’s social cause of choice. It also adds a social media angle by allowing users to interact with other GOQii users within the app through a social interface.

The mobile app inbuilt in the new GOQii Life is backed by some of the world’s renowned fitness experts and coaches like Kendra Markle, behavior experts from Stanford and Luke Countinho,  Leading nutritionist and ‘International Collaborator ‘with the University of Yale, Griffin – Prevention research center, CT, U.S.A thus enabling customers an easy access  to a personal trainers who  interact with customers one-on-one via the App, keep them motivated and on course to achieve their fitness goals.helps the person stay motivated and keep on course to get fit.

“India is witnessing an unprecedented online shopping boom and the e-retailing market in India will vastly expand as mobile broadband penetration rises. At GOQii, we are passionate about providing our consumer all the support needed to stimulate their body, mind and soul and to achieve a permanent shift to a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle,” said Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO of GOQii Inc. “Amazon is not only a marketplace but a brand established over the proven record of consumer-empowering innovations, and its dedication to deliver consumer delight to its consumer is aligned with the experience we wish to provide our users,” he added.

“We are excited to be the partner of choice for GOQii Inc. and offer our customers the exclusive access to GOQii Life, a unique fitness device especially during the ongoing festival season. This partnership gives us the opportunity to forge deeper engagement with fitness enthusiasts across the country and aligns with our vision of offering customers in India the widest selection at low prices, fast and reliable delivery, trustworthy shopping experience and add excitement to their festival shopping” said Samir Kumar, Director Category Management, Amazon India.

GOQii had launched a beta test of the device earlier this year and received much international acclaim and fan following in a short span especially through various social media platform.

Monday, October 6, 2014

ANSYS, Stanford & Honeywell Join for Fuel-Efficient Aircraft Engines

Engineers from Stanford University, Honeywell International and ANSYS are working together with simulation software to create more energy-efficient aircraft engines at lower costs.

As demand grows for increased gas turbine efficiency, engine manufacturers are challenged with creating designs that operate at higher temperatures. But that becomes a significant challenge as temperatures approach the melting point of some engine component material. A well-established method for maintaining turbine blade temperatures at acceptable levels is to employ “film-cooling,” a technique in which cooler, compressor-discharge air is detoured around the combustor then ejected from precisely-machined holes placed over the surface of the turbine airfoil. Excessive use of compressor air for turbine film cooling can, however, reduce engine efficiency.
Historically, film-cooling-hole-placement on turbine airfoils has been optimized by elaborate experiments, sometimes necessitating engine testing. For decades, research engineers have been developing computer simulations of film cooling geometries with the ambition of reducing – if not eliminating – the need for expensive, time-consuming rig testing.
Stanford, with support from Honeywell and ANSYS, is performing a new type of testing with 3-D magnetic resonance velocimetry to measure the velocity and concentration field in a test section. These methods measure the turbulent interaction of crossflow jets with the main flow, for a variety of jet configurations and orientations. These data sets provide an important benchmark against which the large available range of ANSYS turbulence models and computational methods can be compared. The objective is to develop validated models, methods and best practices for prediction of film cooling.
"This is the first time that an engineering software company has supported an extensive test series like this, and it illustrates the commitment of ANSYS to the continued upgrade of the turbulence models in ANSYS computational fluid dynamics solutions," said John K. Eaton, the Charles Lee Powell Foundation professor in Stanford’s School of Engineering. “Our combined efforts are aimed at validating the turbulent mixing models in these tools over entire complex flow fields, something that has never been done before. Conducting this testing over a wide range of film cooling conditions provides a comprehensive test of the predictive capability."
“At 30,000 feet in the air, there’s little margin for error,” said Brad Hutchinson, global industry director for industrial equipment and rotating machinery at ANSYS. “By always focusing on solving the most complex problems – like the thin film cooling challenge Honeywell and Stanford are addressing – ANSYS ensures that our customers are armed with the tools that will help them to create the most innovative products on the market.” 

IT Services Develops Three-Phased Approach for FATCA Quality Assurance

Mindtree, a global technology services company, today released results of their Strategies for Achieving FATCA Compliance survey.  Conducted in May and June 2014, the survey examined the challenges that risk, compliance and IT decision makers face in achieving FATCA compliance. 

 “This survey reinforces that there are still many hurdles to be overcome to become FATCA compliant,” said Gaurav Johri, Senior Vice President and Head of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance at Mindtree. He added, “What most risk, compliance and IT decision makers need to understand is that executing a comprehensive product assessment helps avoid unintended impact of FATCA on their offerings. An assessment validates the way a FATCA-compliant product is offered while dealing with the variables of the client, their location and the generation of US sourced Fixed, Annual, Determinable or Periodic (FDAP) income.”

Complying with FATCA through a product assessment is a complex task with multiple work-streams. To assist financial institutions, Mindtree has developed a FATCA quality assurance pack to reduce testing effort and costs up to 20%, identify gaps in the implementation process, report issues to stakeholders and enable informed decision-making. 

Part one of the pack focuses on test planning to assess the FATCA implementation and design a scope for data-centric, functional, performance, security and interface testing. Part two centers on the test automation, agile testing and product assessment. The third and final part of the pack examines the test results and identifies gaps.  

Additional Resources
            ·         Strategies for Achieving FATCA Compliance
·         Mindtree’s phased approach to product assessment and quality assurance
·         FATCA survey results
 The survey was conducted in partnership with Gatepoint Research, a subsidiary of SimplyDIRECT.

Thrust Laid On Tech Innovation At Indo-US Summit Welcomed

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) welcomes the recently concluded bilateral summit between the United States and India. The Summit was focused on discussing broad Strategic and Global partnership between the two countries and establish continued prosperity and security for their citizens and the world. During his visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized on the priority India accords to its partnership with the United States, a principal partner in the realization of India’s rise as a responsible and influential world power. 

 The two leaders recognized that the bilateral relationship between the two nations enjoys strong support in both countries, which has allowed the strategic partnership to flourish even post the change in government. Both leaders agreed to revitalize the existing partnership and find new areas for collaboration and mutual benefit. The bilateral summit laid additional focus on the need to foster innovation in a manner that promotes economic growth and job creation and to recognize in particular the contribution of the Indian and U.S. IT/ITES industry in strengthening India-U.S. trade and investment relations. 

Expressing his views, R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, said, “We are delighted with the enthusiastic welcome that PM Modi received in the U.S. – from the White House, from hundreds of American business leaders, and from the citizens of the U.S. NASSCOM is encouraged by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi’s recognition to the contributions of ICT sectors in the U.S. and India, and the synergies produced when these important sectors work together to resolve issues, innovate, and invigorate both  nations’ economies. We also welcome restarting collaborative dialogues such as TPF forum. NASSCOM has been working with the government to ease the trade relations and will continue to advocate for the removal of existing impediments and the prevention of additional barriers for India-based IT services companies providing valuable services to customers in the U.S.”

 At the summit, both the countries also recognized the critical role played by the U.S. and Indian businesses in sustainable, inclusive, and job-led growth and development. We welcome US and India partnership on the Digital India initiative and US industry to be lead partner in developing smart cities in Ajmer (Rajasthan), Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh). At the bilateral summit, the Prime Minister also mentioned the two trade missions to be organised in 2015 which will focused on meeting India’s infrastructure needs with U.S. technology and services. 

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