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Ideas to implement -- US NRI ties up with IIMC for business plan competition 

Our Marketing Bureau  
The entrepreneurship cell of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, has tied up with California-based Astral Group to launch the country's largest business plan competition, i2i or ideas to implementation.

The team with the best business plan will get Rs 10 lakh, and the second- and third-best plans will get Rs 6 lakh and Rs 4 lakh respectively. The prize money will be sponsored by Astral and sister outfit Atesto, both promoted by non-resident Indian Dave Mukherjee.

Astral said in a release that the contest will be open to professionals also, provided they team up with students. Astral and IIMC have roped in a high-profile team of judges, which includes Mr Rajeev Memani of Ernst & Young, Mr Roopen Roy of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ms Lalita Gupte of ICICI and Mrs S Chander of The Chatterjee Group.

The release quoted Mr Mukherjee as saying that i2i will be open to the entire students community of India, unlike similar competitions in the US.

"Business plan competition is a new phenomenon not only in India, but also in the West. At Harvard, the concept is just four years old," Mr Mukherjee pointed out.

The board of judges also has Mr Arjun Malhotra of Techspan and Mr Kiran Nadkarni, who had set up Draper International's India business and is regarded as the father of VC funding in India, the release said.

According to Mr Nitin Gupta, president of the Entrepreneurship cell at IIM Calcutta, many students of business schools and technical institutions want to start their own business instead of merely taking up a "cushy" job after completing their studies.

"We aim to foster this culture and help fellow students set up their own startups by aligning them with venture capital funds and other professionals," Mr Gupta said.

Some venture capital fund managers from Silicon Valley are also being tapped for being on the board of judges. "Through Astral and our own contacts, we are talking to other venture capital funds and successful entrepreneurs for being on the panel and the final list will be announced shortly," Mr Gupta said.

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