In Conversation With | Arora & Bhedwar define the Power of Shunya

While we all have, over the years, learnt that ‘science is the mother of all inventions’, it is definitely the go-to destination for problem-solving times, be it miniscule daily issues or larger macro issues faced by industries across sectors. Working on these lines, science company DuPont works collaboratively to find sustainable, innovative, market-driven solutions to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, making lives better, safer, and healthier for people everywhere. DuPont addresses its science to solve some of the big challenges that face us today in food, energy and protection.

In India, DuPont provides a wide range of science-powered products and solutions for various industries such as agriculture, food and nutrition, automotive, energy, infrastructure and safety & protection. Today, DuPont in India is working collaboratively with customers, partners, government and other local stakeholders to bring science-powered innovations to help solve India’s most pressing challenges and work towards the aspirational goal of zero — zero hunger, zero darkness, and zero lives lost. In India, this commitment is titled “The Power of Shunya™”.

The Power of Shunya™ is a multi-platform communications, marketing and sales program, aimed at increasing DuPont’s brand awareness and driving business revenue growth. This content- led platform is the first in India has been developed in partnership with the Times Television Network, and connects to the company’s key business growth areas. The sotto voce approach reflects the company’s desire to brand by association rather than flood the marketplace with ads. We learn that The Power of Shunya™ aims to reflect the company’s belief that science-powered solutions and innovations play a vital role in addressing the challenges and aspirations of our growing nation.

The initiative has 2 key parts to it – the two television programs on Times Now and ET NOW and the activation plan. One titled - “Challenge for Zero” campaign – a university competition that identifies and showcases science-based innovations developed by premier science & tech students (partnering with B-school students to develop marketing plans for these innovations) and the other - Quest for Zero campaign –  a celebration of innovations already at work in India, developed by organizations  both big and small

While In Conversation with Adgully, Dr. Homi Bhedwar, Technology Director – Asia Pacific, DuPont and Jury Member, DuPont The Power of Shunya™ Challenge for Zero and Hemant  Arora , Business Head, Branded Content at ET NOW share more on the initiative.

Adgully: Tell us a bit more about the Power of Shunya as an idea.
Hemant Arora: Over a thousand years ago, Indian Mathematician Aryabhatta invented the concept of Shunya (zero), an idea so powerful that it went on to change the world. Shunya essentially means minimizing the negative and maximizing productivity & impact. Indian ingenuity has and will continue to solve India’s problems. For some Shunya is simply a digit which means nothing but Shunya has the power to transform India but also make a global impact.

Adgully: Share with us your experience during season 1 of Challenge for Zero.
Dr. Homi Bhedwar: I was delighted to witness the ‘power of science’ and the passion of young students in technology and business to achieve India’s pursuit of Shunya. I was amazed to see innovative approaches to address malnutrition, pain, energy deficiency, disability and a host of other challenges facing the country today. I believe this unique series gives young Indian minds a platform to share ground-breaking ideas that can help India become sustainable in the future.

Adgully: Were the innovations better and competition stronger than season 1?
Dr. Homi Bhedwar: Last year we saw many fine science-based innovations from college and university students. The past always creates a springboard for the future. The increased popularity of "Challenge For Zero", this year, has led to even more competitive entries. This year we had over 500 entries and from that pool 16 extraordinary innovations were chosen. I eagerly look forward to judge another round of brilliance and hope that we can implement many of these ideas and bring them to reality.

Adgully: What do these innovators have to look forward to? What according to you will the most valuable part of this experience be for them?
Dr. Homi Bhedwar: All sixteen teams will have the opportunity to showcase their innovations on the national and global stage. In addition to a handsome cash award, the winner will receive an all expenses paid opportunity to visit the global DuPont Headquarters in Wilmington, USA and DuPont Knowledge Center in Hyderabad, India. There they will witness DuPont’s market-driven science. They will see first-hand how inventions can be commercialized and translate into innovations. They will meet passionate scientists working in DuPont laboratories that are changing the world. The first runner-up team will also get a cash award and an opportunity to visit the DuPont Knowledge Center and learn how global science is used to address local needs. They will tour integrated science laboratories at DKC and meet scientists whose efforts are helping create solutions for global challenges, while transforming India into a science powerhouse.

Adgully: What is your take on the various innovations this season?
Dr. Homi Bhedwar: The increased competition in season 2 of the Challenge for Shunya has resulted in even more compelling innovations that are ready for commercialization. These innovations are insightful and powerful concepts that will each resolve a critical challenge being faced by our country. For example, one of the innovations Zeta is a Nano Purifier for remediation of waste water; another invention, the Smart Cane addresses the issues being faced by differently-abled; a hand-launched paper drone can survey small areas using a blue-tooth enabled camera; one team designed a fuel cell made constructed from paper using graphite from a pencil to create conductive electrodes. The innovations are numerous and compelling and as a jury member seeing them close-up, I can say confidently that the future of India is in good hands.

Adgully: Tell us about this season’s contenders. Who are the innovators to look out this season?
Dr. Homi Bhedwar: We shortlisted the 16 final innovations to compete in the show from 500 magnificent entries submitted by students. I believe that all these innovations are addressing a unique challenge being faced by a certain community/group. The jury of Challenge for Zero season 2 is marking each innovation and the final two will compete in the season finale. Only then, we will know the topmost and the strongest entries.

Adgully: Do India’s youth hold the power to change the country’s future? How important will it be for India’s youth to question the status quo?
Hemant Arora: Approx 2/3 of India is under 35 years of age. It’s the current generation which holds the key to India’s future and its very critical for young India to come forward and innovate to change the shape of things to come. The Challenge for Zero series specifically showcases the great work being done by young minds of India. A lot of our branded content properties are youth focused given the increasing affinity of brands (global & Indian) to this segment.


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