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Omidyar Network India & IIC launch fellowship program to support next generation of tech policy leaders

5th May 2020
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International Innovation Corps (IIC), a program of the University of Chicago Trust in India, and Omidyar Network India launched a fellowship aimed at bringing new talent to provide independent and thoughtful inputs to one of India’s most complex public policy issues – laws and practices governing emergent technologies in both the public and private sectors, commonly known as tech policy.

The fellowship aims to foster the next generation of thought leaders in tech policy who can collaborate with policy makers, research organizations, and businesses and inform policies for a people centric digital future for India.

The program will recruit ten individuals with an undergrad degree in engineering and two to five years of work experience, looking to explore an exciting new career opportunity. The fellows will be placed for two years with think-tanks and other independent organisations that engage in the tech policy discussions in the country.

Shriya Sethi, Director at IIC, said “The IIC program nurtures its fellows by providing a strong support system, a cohort-based peer group, regular feedback and guidance, and opportunities to work on important initiatives with high-level stakeholders. We have noticed a growing interest among young professionals that are passionate about both technology and its impact on society, to choose a career path that speaks to both. We hope that this fellowship equips the next generation with the skills, knowledge, and experience to shape the future of technology and how it interacts with our society”.

Shilpa Kumar, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network India, which has funded the fellowship, said, “Technology has fundamentally reshaped how we interact with the government, businesses, and each other. Our lives have improved dramatically, and tech has enabled us to reach and serve more Indians than ever before. As highlighted by the current crisis, tech has also opened up risks and challenges such as algorithmic bias, lack of privacy, digital exclusion, misinformation and online hate speech. These are difficult questions that will benefit from being explored by some of the brightest young minds of our country.

The Young Leaders in Tech-Policy Fellowship will focus on three areas:

  • Exploration of a critical new sector: The fellows will be part of an extremely selective cohort and will work at independent organisations at the forefront of tech policy. They will engage with cutting-edge issues like AI, ML, and data privacy. After the two-year fellowship, they have the option of continuing to work in tech policy, study further for an MBA/MPP, or return to their original sector with new skills.
  • Engagement with wider tech ecosystem: The fellows will be part of ON India & IIC’s network, and will gain exposure to different stakeholders like academics, start-ups, tech stalwarts, civil society, government, and grassroots organisations. This will help them gain exposure to different points of view, and an appreciation of the complexities of the underlying issues.
  • Evolution as a professional: The fellowship will be accompanied by a rigorous professional development program, including quarterly in-person meetings, fortnightly check-ins, and trainings in both soft and hard skills. Fellows will be encouraged to contribute to the space from day one, and to think about how their work makes a positive difference on the lives of ordinary Indians.