CEO – Atal Innovation Center, CATALYST-IFMR


A tried and tested Entrepreneurial Leader to drive a new, distinctive ‘Social Enterprise Development’ program from its conceptualization to scale for the IFMR Graduate School of Business at KREA University with program locations in Jaipur and Chennai. The CEO will be responsible for designing long term program strategy, including the definition of key innovation areas, development of products & services having strategic and long-term value, establishment of key operational & funding partnerships, as well as setting up and managing an execution team to achieve defined goals. The role will be initially based in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Context: Atal Innovation Center CATALYST-IFMR

Catalyst was set up in 2016 as a donor funded program focused on investigating coordination and market facilitation gaps to accelerate digital payment adoption & usage in micro merchant ecosystems as a stepping stone for access to broader financial services such as savings, credit, and insurance. It was set up in Jaipur under an anchor partnership with the Govt. of Rajasthan, and has advised the Ministry of Finance, National Digital Payment Mission and Niti Aayog. Since its inception, it has worked in the areas of (i) supply chain payments, (ii) digital payment acceptance by fixed store as well as roving businesses, and (iii) digital finance for the urban poor households. As part of these efforts, it also set up a product incubator ‘Fintech for the Last Mile’ to promote new solutions and entrepreneurs specifically addressing last mile pain points of traditionally underserved communities. It is now keen to extend its product innovation efforts to micro enterprises in peri-urban and rural geographies, linking these initiatives more tightly to ongoing programs to strengthen livelihoods and promote market linkages.

Recently, Catalyst was selected for a five year grant by the Atal Innovation Mission at the Niti Ayog to set up an Atal Incubation Centre (AIC) in Jaipur as a separate legal entity under IFMR. The primary goal of this Incubator is to identify high quality startups from across India to help them design and implement scalable solutions to catalyze last mile financial inclusion. It will build on Catalyst’s previous efforts and scale its successful initiatives. It will also tap into synergies with the broader IFMR university ecosystem. Over a five-year horizon, the scope of the program may also extend beyond fintech to other priority inclusive technology domains such as education, health, agriculture, etc. Catalyst intends to leverage strategic partnerships to enable additional sponsorships to support & grow the program, tap venture funding for participating and promising startups, drive new industry relevance, and support policy advocacy for innovative business models to emerge and scale.

Catalyst’s parent organization, IFMR, under new and dynamic leadership is itself undergoing a transformation with the launch of KREA University to set up a new paradigm in immersive education. Organizationally, the Catalyst incubator will fall under the ambit of the IFMR Graduate School of Business at KREA University, which will contribute resources to advance its mission as well as enable synergies with its own curricula and student body.

The Role

The CEO will be the single point of leadership for the Atal Innovation Center CATALYST-IFMR, and its product incubation program. In consultation with relevant IFMR leadership, she/he will be responsible for designing a long-term program strategy, including innovation areas to prioritize, a roadmap of offerings, startup selection and engagement strategies, etc. She/he will define the value proposition offered by the incubator for startups as well as additional stakeholders, lead the development and deployment of its offerings, and build any necessary internal capabilities to support these. He/she will engage with the broader innovation ecosystem and establish key partnerships across potential sponsors, VCs, other incubators, industry players, policymakers, and knowledge partners. He/she will also be tasked with building & leading a high performing operations team to achieve the stated goals of the Innovation Center. The CEO will be based in Jaipur, and will closely work with the IFMR/ KREA university senior leaders, and report directly to the Dean of the Business School.

The Responsibilities

Innovation leadership

•     Define vision, long term strategies, plans and success metrics to ensure Atal Innovation Center CATALYST-IFMR becomes a leading university affiliated incubation program;
•     Detail multi-phased innovation programs under Atal Innovation Center CATALYST-IFMR as well as define process for startup selection, onboarding and graduation models;
•     Develop program curricula for participating entrepreneurs & startups, including innovation contests, boot camps, mentorship programs, and other services offered;
•     As spokesperson and champion of incubator program, engage key internal & external stakeholders to be able to tap the best entrepreneurial talent and partners.

Program management & execution

•     Develop tools for strategic planning, prioritization and milestone-based execution of overall program;
•     Design frameworks and mechanisms to evaluate startups across team strength, product quality, business model, and other relevant parameters;
•     Identify and build requisite internal capabilities to support incubation program, including team, infrastructure, partners, capabilities, etc.;
•     Design financial strategy to ensure long-term self-sustainability of the incubator, including potential equity participation, other direct revenues, and viability gap financing;
•     Oversee financial management of the Center to ensure efficient allocation of resources, highest standards of compliance, and achievement of targeted returns on investment;
•     Lead an operational team to execute vision of incubator and achieve its defined goals and targets.

Partner and Donor relationship management

•     Identify and engage relevant partners across funding, technology, knowledge, and implementation to build an effective partnership ecosystem in new priority areas;
•     Build relationships, engagement models and collaborate with partners during all stages – from ideation to role definition to MOU development to execution;
•     Work with broader internal leadership to secure additional funding for phased program expansion and key areas where needed.

The Person

The right candidate will be highly motivated cross-functional leader, who can define strategic priorities, analyze potential options after factoring in associated risks, execute multiple parallel initiatives, inspire teams, and drive change. A strong track record of entrepreneuriship and/or innovation management is highly desirable.

Qualification and Experience:

•     Deep expertise in digital technology based products and infrastructures; financial services and inclusive technology expertise preferable.
•     Direct or indirect experience with start-ups and technology innovation ecosystems;
•     Relevant work experience in formulating, developing, implementing and managing strategic business initiatives and/or product platforms;
•     Strong execution skill set – including focus on data-driven decision making, comfort with ambiguity, and ability to drive rapid “learn & implement” iterations, strong bias for action and outcomes-based orientation;
•     Ability to build, inspire and retain a high performing team to drive incubator goals;
•     Ability to identify, evaluate and engage strategic partners that can drive value;

Other Skills:

•     Intrinsically motivated change agent with the passion and mindset to drive large scale impact;
•     Strategic problem solver and creative thinker who can articulate multiple strategic options and their relative merits/risks and engage the right expertise to prioritize solutions;
•     Outcomes-oriented management style that balances empowerment with performance accountability;

•     Structured, data-driven and detail oriented in decision making;
•     Strong analytical capabilities – able to assess different business models, understand what is working / not working in different contexts, and identify potential solutions;
•     Innovative, out-of-the box thinker who is hands-on and willing to go as deep or broad as necessary to achieve outcomes;

•     Excellent communicator in English & Hindi, both oral and written – able to express complex technical issues in plain language, without losing the important points;
•     Adaptable to change and comfortable across diverse cultural, geographic and operational situations;
•     Empathetic with demonstrated ability to build deep relationships and motivate teams;
•     Established network in government, industry, and finance sector would be an asset;

Application Instructions:
Deadline: March 18th, 2019
Please submit: Updated resume along with a less than 500 word statement of interest clearly stating why you’re interested in this role, and why you’re the right candidate.
Questions and application submission: Please contact email address: , mention the subject line as “CEO – Atal Innovation Center CATALYST-IFMR”