How we work

During the Kumbhathon, innovators "spot" opportunities, and "probe" the feasibility of technological solutions with broad and deep social impact in India and beyond. This bottom-up innovation empowers smart citizens and communities -- the essence of smart cities -- with information to improve lives and livelihoods. At the beginning of the week, teams of innovators with skills in engineering, business and design, form to strategize about problems possible solutions. In mid week they describe their projects, map milestones, and identify risks. They spend time with individual mentors, as well as with a panel of mentors who critique their projects and advise them on key issues to address, or perhaps why and how to pivot.

Mentors provide invaluable feedback and encouragement to innovators. On the last day, each team gives a pitch to the entire group assembled. At the end of each Kumbhathon, the innovators emerge with a sense of accomplishment and empowerment -- that they can address a complex problem with a creative and effective solution.

roles & responsibilities



  • Provide innovation platform by organizing buildathons that bring together creators in and around Nashik to identify problems and develop solutions within the Focus Areas.
  • Identify innovators who represent top talent within their respective fields who can fill the future work-force pipeline.
  • Host a collaborators meeting during the buildathons to strategize, gather feedback and adapt model as needed.
  • Identify new global collaborators to engage for these efforts based on existing and new relationships at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Provide connections to the University in undergraduate and graduate departments to leverage students and faculty members with relevant skill-sets and previous experiences.


  • Host a space with the needed infrastructure (building, internet, etc.) to support the innovators.
  • Provide additional coaching and required services to formalize projects.
  • Match innovators with investors and corporate collaborators.
  • Engage with local stakeholders and build long-lasting relationships with the government, trade associations, academic institutions and private sector corporations/companies.


  • Join the Emerging Worlds Special Interest Group at the MIT Media Lab to gain access to the innovation sandbox and scale opportunities.
  • Sponsor a specific Emerging Worlds project on location.
  • Sponsor an Emerging Worlds Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.
  • Provide company resources and utilize existing distribution channels to projects to expand from pilot stage.  
  • Propose challenges, ideas, solutions and prototypes on an ongoing basis to MIT’s Media Lab to incorporate into the Focus Areas.