Ajaita Shah from India has been named the 2017 Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Catalyst pitch competition Grand Champion during the closing plenary of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Her startup, Frontier Markets, is a last mile distribution solution for energy products with a focus on solar technology that empowers women. Frontier Markets gives women in India the tools they need to teach their communities about the benefits of solar power and sell solar products.
As the Grand Champion, Shah will receive $50,000 USD in Amazon Web Services credits; a Dell laptop computer; admission to the 2018 Circular Summit from Alice; an exclusive virtual mentoring session with an Amazon Executive; $100,000 USD in Google Cloud credits; an interview for Inc. Magazine by Elizabeth Gore, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Chairman of the Board of Alice; admission to the 2018 Circular Board Accelerator cohort from Alice; and will be designated the Cognizant “Genesis Award” Winner and receive $2,000 USD in cash, courtesy of Cognizant.
Jainesh Sinha, founder of GyanDhan, from India; Fiona Edwards Murphy, founder of ApisProtect, from Ireland; and Maria Burns Ortiz, founder of 7 Generation Games, from the United States; all made the finals for the GIST Catalyst pitch competition. As finalists, they will receive $10,000 USD in Amazon Web Services credits, a Dell laptop computer, a Circular Summit scholarship from Alice, and $20,000 in Google Cloud credits.
Molly Morse, founder of Mango Materials, from the United States, received the Women First Award from Amazon Web Services. As the Women First recipient, she will receive $50,000 USD in Amazon Web Services credits, an exclusive virtual mentoring session with an Amazon executive, and a Dell laptop computer.
Runner-ups will receive $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits, $20,000 in Google Cloud credits and a Dell laptop computer. And each of the remaining semifinalists will receive $1,500 in Amazon Web Services credits. In total, GIST Catalyst semifinalists competed for over $400,000 USD in startup resources.
Semifinalists in the GIST Catalyst competition were chosen based on a combined score that took into account their performance during the public vote portion of the competition, their pitch video, and feedback from expert judges who reviewed each of the over 75 startups that competed.
During the competition, semifinalists were split into four pitch sessions based on the four GES focus industries, which are Healthcare and Life Sciences, Digital Economy and Financial Technology, Energy and Infrastructure, and Media and Entertainment. One finalist was chosen by a panel of judges from each focus industry during the pitch sessions. The four finalists then competed in one final pitch session, after which a panel of judges picked Shah as the GIST Catalyst Grand Champion.
The GIST Initiative works to empower and strengthen science and technology entrepreneurs around the world through online and in-country programming and partnerships.
A full list of semifinalists, including name, country and description of startup, can be found online at GISTNetwork.org. For media inquiries, please contact Tomás Harmon via email at [email protected].
CORRECTION: Vaishali Neotia, founder of Merxius Software, from India, did not advance to the finals but was a runner-up in her category. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated her placement in the competition.