HST Grand Challenge (HGC) is designed for startups, innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs working on cutting edge technology-based ideas that solve the problems of the highest relevance in three thematic areas. In addition to the prize money, the top startups/innovators will be handpicked and supported by IIT Mandi Catalyst. These startups and innovators will have access to grant and seed funding to create prototypes, build products, and commercialize.

Winners in three thematic areas of the HST Startup Grand Challenge

The announcement of winners in three thematic areas of the HST Grand Challenge. Congratulations to the winners. Winners get cash prizes and incubation support at IIT Mandi Catalyst. Thanks to all sponsors and partners.

Inaugural Session

December 11, 2021 | 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Shri Amitabh Kant


Ashutosh Garg

CEO, Eightfold.ai

Dr. Ajai Kumar Garg

Director, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Govt. of India

Rakesh Kumar Prajapati

Director of Industries, HP

Prof. AK Chaturvedi

Director, IIT Mandi

Dr. Venkata Krishnan

Dean SRIC, IIT Mandi

Dr. Prem Felix

Dean Faculty, IIT Mandi

Dr. Puran Singh

Faculty Incharge, IIT Mandi Catalyst

Award Distribution

December 12, 2021 | 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Prof. AK Chaturvedi

Director, IIT Mandi

Arvind Jain

CEO, Glean

Dr. Praveen Roy

Scientist-F, NSTEDB

Avinash Punekar

IIT Mandi iHub and HCI Foundation

Karan Mehta

Peak Venture Partners

Anuj Sharma


Saurabh Mittal

IIT Mandi Catalyst

Siddharth Gangal

CEO, The Solar Labs

Raj Bhat

IIT Mandi Catalyst

Program Schedule

Tentative Agenda, Dec 11 [10:00 AM - 12:30 PM]
Time Agenda
10:00 am -10:15 am Audience Joins
10:15 am - 10:30 am Welcome Address by Dr. Venkata Krishnan, Dean SRIC-IIT Mandi
10:30 am - 11:30 am Keynote Address, Ashutosh Garg, Founder, Eightfold.ai & Bloomreach, California-US
11:30 am - 11:45 am Address by Dr. Ajay Garg, Sr. Director, MeitY
11:45 am - 11:55 am Message from Sh. Rakesh Kumar Prajapati, Director of Industries, HP
11:55 am - 12:00 pm Message from Sh. Jai Ram Thakur, Honorable CM-Himachal Pradesh
12:00 pm - 12:05 pm About IIT Mandi Catalyst, Dr. Puran Singh, Faculty Incharge-Catalyst
12:05 pm - 12:10 pm Address by Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Mandi
12:10 pm - 12:25 pm Address by Chief Guest, Sh. Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog
12:25 pm - 12:30 pm Vote of Thanks, Mr. Avinash Punekar, CEO - iHub & HCI Foundation, IIT Mandi
Tentative Agenda, Dec 12 [10:00 AM - 11:15 AM]
10:00 am - 10:30 am Opportunities for Technology Entrepreneurs - Perspective from Silicon Valley
Arvind Jain (CEO-Glean &Cofounder - Rubric) in conversation with Mr. Saurabh Mittal
10:30 am - 11:00 am Address by Prof. Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Mandi
Address by Dr. Praveen Roy, Scientist-F, NSTEDB, DST Announcement of Incubation offers
Grand Finale Results - Announcement of Cash Prize Winners
11:00 am - 11:15 am Vote of Thanks, Dr. Puran Singh, Faculty Incharge, IIT Mandi Catalyst

Thematic Areas

In its fifth edition, HST 2021 will host the ‘HST Grand Challenge’ - startup pitch competition in three thematic areas. The grand challenge is focused on identifying and catalysing ideas and innovations that will amplify startups’ efforts and impact.

The New Age Alliance - Human Computer Interaction (HCI)

The new age alliance through Human-computer interaction (HCI) is all about enhancing humans’ cognitive and decision-making capacity through the use of technology without disrupting the natural order of events. This challenge aims to promote the use of intelligent interfaces and technologies in daily order of routine as well as in the complex business and social decision-making processes.

The multidisciplinary field of HCI focuses on the design of computer technology and, in particular, the interaction between humans (the users) and computers. While initially concerned with computers, HCI has since expanded to cover almost all forms of information technology design. The focus of HCI is to use computer’s intelligence and computation capabilities in decision making, prediction, estimation, communication, and processing.

Expert Panel :

Dr. Varun Dutt

IIT Mandi

Avinash Punekar

IIT Mandi iHub and HCI Foundation

Amarjeet Singh


Lakshmi Vaidyanathan

Jivass Technologies

Vivek Venugopalan

Ex-Fantain Sports

Dr. Aditya Nigam

IIT Mandi

Dr. Satyajit Thakor

IIT Mandi

Dr. Arnav Bhavsar

IIT Mandi

Dr. G. Shrikanth Reddy

IIT Mandi

Dr. Dileep A. D.

IIT Mandi

Atul Manohar


Namah Pandey

Intellect Design Arena

The critical element of HCI is the interaction and feedback loop between the machine and humans that result in enhancing the cognitive abilities of the humans. One may note that computer systems are primarily used as a communication medium. For an innovation/product to qualify as HCI, it has to have the elements of interaction and feedback with the humans. While most mobile/web applications are for mere communication between buyers and sellers, integration of recommendation systems, predictive analytics, decision automation qualify an application as the HCI-relevant solution.

As the applicability of HCI is very wide, it is difficult to give a single example that can represent the HCI area or its meaning. However, HCI has use cases in agriculture, landslide monitoring, farming applications, air pollution monitoring, digital pathology, neuroradiology, and body area networks.

Some of the popular examples of HCI are:

  • MRI or ECG system: A machine estimates the body’s vital signs and presents them in an understandable form.
  • Self-driving cars: A vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with little or no human input.
  • Autopilot systems: A system used to control the path of an aircraft, marine craft, or spacecraft without requiring constant manual control by a human operator.
  • Brain-computer interaction
  • Assistive technologies to aid and enhance human functioning and decision making such as smart cane for specially-abled

What's in the store? Have a quick look!

Important Dates

HST 2021 is on December 11-12, 2021 and this year the event will be held virtually.

How is Himalayan Startup Trek building a startup ecosystem in the hills?

Burrowed in the hills of Himalayan foothills, away from the city lights and the urban din, exists a startup ecosystem slowly budding and preparing to bloom! Here at the IIT Mandi Catalyst, we are ready to host the 5th edition of the Himalayan Startup Trek (HST), a two-day startup event hosted by IIT Mandi Catalyst.

The previous editions of HST since 2017 have proved to be highly impactful, with unceasing buzz throughout the two days with the presence of who's-who of the entrepreneurial and business world. The robust HST event schedules have invited pitch sessions from across the country, with opportunities to have investor one-on-ones. The events proved to be an amalgamation of startups, investors, corporations, and industry veterans from around the country to boost the startup ecosystem in the hills. With the current edition, we aim to leave the entrepreneurial minds inspired, zealous, and recharged for the times to come!

HST is a gateway for startups to Catalyst, IIT Mandi's in-house Technology Business Incubator. More than 160 startups, in various stages of their journeys, have gone through IIT Mandi Catalyst's processes as incubatees in the last three years. While addressing pressing issues of the modern-day world, these teams tackle problems, including those of the Himalayan region. They have been hand-held, funded, and groomed by industry experts from various trade domains.

The portfolio of startups is myriad. While some are working keenly on the local issues of the Himalayan people, others are building solutions to conserve the environment. From building sensors that predict landslides and alert residents of the area well in advance to making eco-friendly cook-stoves, the desire to help the community flows through their veins.

HST 2021 promises to be bigger and better with the kind of traction it is garnering in the country's far reaches. Founders of renowned startups, industry experts, and angel investors have been brought on board to ensure the event is ripe with the right mix of flavors from the startup arena. Mentoring on high-tech topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Social Impact ventures will provide sufficient food for thought during the two days to the budding innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Himalayas have long been regarded as the land of monks, mountains, and temples and solely a summertime get-away. HST endeavors to showcase its emerging entrepreneurial potential and spirit as well. In the past four years, IIT Mandi Catalyst has strived to cradle and nurture the nascent startup ecosystem silently burgeoning in the valley. With HST 2021 almost at the doorstep, IIT Mandi Catalyst sets out to invite startups from across the country and have the world witness the growth taking place in these hills. Hail the call of the mountains! Startup in Hills with IIT Mandi Catalyst!

Budding Startup Ecosystem in Himachal Pradesh

Among the fastest growing states in India, Himachal had at a CAGR of 10.8% during the decade 2005-2015. With per capita GSDP 1.5 times the national per capita GDP, the state has tremendous potential for business activity in agriculture, horticulture, biotech, food processing, clean energy, thermal energy, tourism, pharma and healthcare. Government of Himachal Pradesh, through CM Startup Scheme launched in 2017, is also promoting already flourishing startup culture in the state.

Glimpses From Previous Editions

Highlights of HST 2017
Highlights- Himalayan Innovation Challenge (HIC) 2019
Message from Board | Catalyst | HST 2018
Win incubation support from IIT Mandi Catalyst || Himalayan Startup Trek 2018
Starting up in Himalayas: Catalyst Startup Companies
How to Think About Technology || HST 2017
Product Development Issues || HST 2017
Legal Issues for Startups || HST 2017



The Himalayan Startup Trek is the flagship annual startup event hosted by IIT Mandi Catalyst (Catalyst) to bring together the stakeholders of the Indian Startup Ecosystem and connect them on a single platform. New venturing startups and seasoned mentors get to meet each other and pick each others' brains that help formulate new relationships and turn the ideas and innovations into products and services for the global market.
In its fifth edition, HST 2021 will host the ‘HST Grand Challenge’ - startup pitch competition in three thematic areas. The grand challenge is focused on identifying and catalysing ideas and innovations that will amplify startups’ efforts and impact.

IIT Mandi Catalyst was launched in 2016 by IIT Mandi as the first Technology Business Incubator (TBI) in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Away from pollution, long commute, noise, and other big-city problems, it offers a low-cost, peaceful, and high-tech destination to early-stage startups.

In only five years of its existence, Catalyst has emerged as one of the leading incubators in the region and is among the more active incubators in the country. In its short journey, Catalyst has supported over 160 startups in a range of sectors including clean energy, healthcare, enterprise management, agriculture, manufacturing, biotech, education, and consumer internet. The incubation program of Catalyst plugs the skill gaps of the startup founders through its mentoring and training programs. Catalyst has hosted over 100 such programs to date. Further, the funding needs of startups in the early stages are also met through the funding schemes hosted at Catalyst. Catalyst, to date, has disbursed or committed over INR 6 Cr for prototyping and commercialization purposes to the startups.

Amidst the pristine hills in the foothills of the Himalayas, the IIT Mandi Catalyst is the breeding ground for innovations within the Himalayas. A one of a kind Technology Incubation Center brings to the world the indigenous frugality of the mountain world and vice versa.

HST Grand Challenge (HGC) is an effort of Catalyst to identify and support innovative technology based solutions in three different broad categories. In addition to the prize money to top startups, Catalyst will pick a handful of most feasible ideas and enable willing innovators/entrepreneurs in prototyping, testing and implementing to create an impact in the ecosystem.
  • Theme 1: The New Age Alliance - Human Computer Interaction
  • Theme 2: The Foothill Innovators Challenge - Build for Himalayas
  • Theme 3: The Habitable World Challenge - Environment and Sustainability
  • Aspiring entrepreneurs, college students, young professionals at ideation and prototype stage
  • Registered startups as well as unregistered teams/individuals
  • Startups in early stages of building their venture (pre-seed stage)
  • Innovators/researchers having a validated technology and willing to convert it into a startup
  • Startups from anywhere in India
  • Each thematic area will have a prize money to be distributed between the top startups in the given theme.
  • Top startups will be provided incubation support and access to funding schemes at Catalyst.

Competent jury panels in each of the thematic areas will evaluate the applications in a multi-stage screen and selection process. The jury will include representatives of sponsoring agencies, incubation center, thematic expert, and technology experts.

  • Alignment will the advertised thematic areas
  • Alignment with the technological areas as applicable
  • Nature and extent of innovation and use of technology
  • Intention to build and implement the solutions
  • Marketability of solutions: stage of venture/idea, technical feasibility, market demand, idea or product validation, team
  • Incubation fit with IIT Mandi Catalyst
  • Alignment with IIT Mandi Catalyst’s overall vision and intent


We invite passionate entrepreneurs with their cutting edge ideas to make the best use of support being provided at IIT Mandi Catalyst

Contact Information

IIT Mandi, Kamand Campus, Himachal Pradesh-175005, India
01905 -267926, 267950

IIT Mandi Catalyst - Copyright 2021