BIRAC-SoCH is an Innovation Challenge Award envisioned to offer a unique platform to Start-ups/Entrepreneurs working in the community health sector. The focus of the Challenge is to facilitate a promising technology idea that can be translated into an efficient technology which addresses the issues of community health in a defined time limit.

Presently, more than 80 crore Indians depend on the usage of biomass fuels for their cooking needs, of which a disproportionately high number comprise rural households. Most prevalent cooking practices in the rural and community settings include indoor cooking, with poor ventilation, on inefficient-basic mud/stone stoves, often characterized by the use of air blowers for better flame, making every day cooking a very hazardous affair for health and environment alike. Severe, continued exposure to indoor/household air pollution is known to cause 1 million premature deaths in India every year, where over 66,000 are those of children under the age of 5. Alternate options for moving to cleaner cooking solutions include switching to cleaner biomass based cook stoves, induction-based systems, LPG, solar based cooking and biogas-based cooking. However, each of these cooking solutions has their own limitations and face challenges in adoption and scale up, thus the clean cooking sector needs much focus and efforts in promoting the adoption of the clean cooking solutions.

It is towards realizing this end that BIRAC has intended to launch SoCH Award to facilitate Indian innovators to offer solutions for clean cooking based challenges having national and global relevance.

Theme for SoCH 2020-2021

Innovative, Efficient and Affordable Solutions for Clean Cooking in Rural and Community Settings

Scope of the Challenge

  • SoCH is aimed to facilitate Indian innovators by offering recognition and financial support to them towards combating the challenges of community health.
  • Expression of Interests (EoIs) and detailed applications are invited for the above mentioned theme and the potential applicants will then be shortlisted for Hackathon spanning across one and a half years.
  • Award Remuneration
  • 10 shortlisted applicants to receive INR 5 lakhs each and incubation/mentorship support for development of Minimal Viable Prototypes (MVP) in 3 months.
  • 5 finalists to receive additional INR 10 lakhs each and incubation/mentorship support for product development, design & fabrication to deliver final products in 3 months.
  • 2 winners of the theme selected after the 3 months of user acceptance field trials to receive INR 50 lakhs each and a continued incubation support (if required) for ensuring effective after sales of the product post the deployment.

Eligibility Criteria


  • The applicant must be an Indian citizen.
  • The primary applicant should be the Project Leader who meets the eligibility requirements mentioned below.
  • If the applicant is formally employed (or registered as a student) with a non-profit academic or research organization, then the applicant has to produce a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the head of the organization clearly indicating that the organization has policies in place to allow the applicant to accept the award (if successful) as an individual and has policies in place to allow its employees creation of technology products while in service or while in sabbatical leave or while in EOL.
  • If the applicant is formally employed with a for-profit company, the applicant has to provide an No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the head of the organization clearly indicating that the organization has policies in place to allow the applicant to accept the award (if successful) as an individual and has policies in place to allow its employees creation of technology products while in service or while in sabbatical leave or while in EOL. Alternatively, the applicant needs to apply as Company.
  • An individual who is a promoter shareholder of any company or one of the partners in any LLP will not be allowed to apply as an individual, irrespective of the percentage of shareholding of the applicant in the company. (In such a case, the application can be submitted through company/LLP route, in case the company/LLP meets the required eligibility criterion as detailed below)

Company/Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

  • The Company or LLP should be registered under the Indian Companies Act, 1956/2013 and The Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 respectively.
  • The incorporation date of the Company/LLP should not be earlier than 3 years from the date of launch of SoCH.
  • A company is considered as ‘Owned’ by resident Indian citizen if minimum 51% of the capital in it is beneficially owned by resident Indian citizens and/or Indian Companies, which are ultimately owned and controlled by resident Indian citizens
  • A Project Leader who meets eligibility requirements mentioned below must represent the Company/LLP’s application
  • The Company/LLP must have its own in-house R&D facilities that are functional and adequate to execute the project.
  • An applicant company, in which any promoter holding more than or equal to 20% of the shares, is a co-promoter of another ineligible company or a partner in another ineligible company/LLP then the applicant will be rendered ineligible. In case applicant is an LLP: An applicant LLP, in which any of the partners is also a partner in another ineligible LLP or is a co-promoter in another ineligible company, then the applicant will be rendered ineligible.
  • Entries can be submitted by individuals/ group of individuals/organizations, as long as they are planning to take the solution to the market either through their existing (applicant) company or a new company that they plan to set up or are willing to transfer the technology to another entrepreneur/startup that can take it to the market. The same will need to be specified in their application.
  • As there is a requirement that the project should start with immediate effect, the team composition should be well thought out and should be ready by the time of submitting the entry.

Essential Qualification

Project leader

Every proposal must clearly identify a Project Leader who will take responsibility for the technical and managerial aspects of the project execution. The Project Leader must be technically qualified to undertake the project. The Project Leader must have completed basic undergraduate training in natural sciences/engineering/medicine.

In the event that the proposal is shortlisted for Hackathon in front of the Expert Selection Committee, then the same Project Leader will be required to present the case for support. In the event that proposal is shortlisted for funding support, then the Project Leader will be required to sign the project agreement.

Application Process

  • BIRAC launched SoCH on 20th March 2020 on BIRAC portal.
  • The call for proposal will close on 30th July 2020 at 5:30 pm.
  • The applicant needs to apply only online to submit their EoIs by registering and logging on to either BIRAC website: or MyGov portal:
  • Later selected applicants will need to apply their detailed applications on BIRAC website:
  • Applicants are advised to fill-up and submit their EoIs and detailed applications early without waiting for the last date in order to avoid any last minute contingencies. The system stops accepting applications automatically after 5:30pm on the last date of receipt of application.
  • Applicants are advised to provide sufficient details in their applications to allow for an informed and fair evaluation/review. Applicants are advised to provide self-contained proposals with essential supporting materials provided as uploads.
  • No changes will be accepted once proposals are submitted.
  • Providing incorrect information will lead to outright rejection of proposals.

Selection Process

The evaluation process comprises broadly the following steps

  • As a first step, EoIs will be screened for eligibility and appropriateness under SoCH scheme.
  • A detailed application will be invited from the selected EoIs.
  • 10 shortlisted applicants for Hackathon will be provided mentorship, incubation support (by the Clean Energy International Incubation Centre (CEIIC)) and a grant support for 5 lakhs each to work on expert feedback and produce prototypes.
  • Detailed technical (lab) and controlled field testing of the products will be done to select the top 5 Finalists/solutions from the shortlisted ones (could be more, if more appear to be promising).
  • Selected Finalists will get 10 lakhs each for design for manufacturing and product fabrication to deliver 5 final products.
  • Detailed and participatory user acceptance trials will be conducted in the field and a due diligence reports by the experts will then be examined by the selection committee, subsequent to which proposal will be finally approved for the grant of the award.
  • Once the two winners are announced, the deployment &monitoring of their solutions in the field and quality of after sales service will be supported by Social alpha and its partners.
  • If for any reason the team decides to discontinue the project in the first 6 months, then all of the unutilized fund should be returned to BIRAC with immediate effect.

Important Dates

  • Call announced: 20th March 2020 on BIRAC online portal
  • Last date for submission of EoIs: 30th July 2020 at 5:30 pm
  • Evaluation and short listing of EoIs (1 month): 31st July- 30th Aug 2020
  • Detailed applications invited from selected EoIs (1 month): 31st Aug- 30th Sep 2020
  • Selection of top 10 solutions through evaluation of detailed applications (1.5 months): 1stOct-15th Nov 2020. Carrying out other activities relevant to this stage: 16th-30th Nov 2020
  • 10 shortlisted applicants to receive INR 5 Lakhs each and incubation/mentorship support to deliver prototypes in 3 months: 1st Dec-28th Feb 2021
  • Selection of top 5 Finalists/solutions through detailed Technical (lab) and controlled field testing of the products (2 months): 1st Mar-30th April 2021
  • 5 Finalists to receive INR 10 lakhs each and incubation /mentorship support for product development, design & fabrication to deliver final products in 3 months: 1st May-31st July 2021
  • Detailed and participatory user acceptance trials to be conducted in the field for 3 months: 1st Aug-31st Oct 2021
  • Announcement of 2 winners of the theme to receive INR 50 lakhs each: Nov 2021


  • The contest is open to Indian Citizens.
  • BIRAC will be supported by Social Alpha as Knowledge Partners in the challenge process and the Clean Energy International Incubation Centre/CEIIC–(an initiative of GoI and Tata Trusts and anchored by Social Alpha) as incubation partners.
  • Shortlisted and finalist startups at every stage will be incubated by Social Alpha at CEIIC and will need to subscribe to the Social Alpha incubation processes and guidelines which will be communicated to them once shortlisted.
  • The decision of Panel of Experts will be final and binding with regard to selection on all stages.
  • The grant money at the shortlist and finalist stages will need to be spent towards product development and achievement of milestones as recommended by the selection committee and failing to do so may disqualify the applicant from further rounds.
  • By making a submission in the contest, all participants warrant and represent that to the best of their knowledge, their submission is original and does not violate or misappropriate any third party trade secret, “know-how,” copyright, patent or other intellectual property right. Participants also warrant and represent that there are no obligations of any nature, legal or otherwise, which would prohibit, restrict, or interfere with their participation in the Contest or submission of their design report, and agree to obtain any necessary clearances, authorizations and/or approvals prior to participation.
  • The participants agree that BIRAC will share information submitted by the participants as to panel experts, reviewers etc. (any information that you may not want to share publicly should not be submitted).
  • BIRAC does not claim ownership over Intellectual Property Right (IPR) for the Innovation that is sent to us by submitting an application. The IPR shall remain with the applicant at all times.
  • BIRAC reserves the right to publish the grantees information with regard to 1. Title of the project, 2. Brief summary, 3. Deliverables 4. Principle Investigator 5. Team etc.
  • By entering the Contest, each participant agrees to release BIRAC from and against any losses, damages, rights, claims and actions of any kind arising from (i) an exclusion or disqualification of such participant pursuant to these rules; (ii) late or unsuccessful efforts to notify winners of any prize; (iii) forfeiture of a prize and the selection of an alternate winner; (iv) late, lost, delayed, damaged, misdirected, incomplete, illegible or unintelligible entries; (v) telephone, electronic, hardware or software program, network, Internet, or computer malfunctions, failures or difficulties of any kind; (vi) failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions; (vii) any condition caused by events beyond BIRAC’s control that may cause the Contest to be disrupted or corrupted; and (viii) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind relating to participation in this Contest.


  • Any correspondence with participant will be done through an email provided by the participant at time of filling the application form. Organizers are not liable in case of email delivery failures.
  • For any queries, please send mail at: Social Alpha:; and BIRAC:


BIRAC reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, suspend this contest and modify the rules, prizes & funding related to the contest without prior notice. In no event shall BIRAC/Social Alpha/CEIIC/MyGov or any other organizers be liable for any claims, losses, expenses or damages, arising out of or in connection with the foregoing.