An interview With Dr. Mugdha Potnis-Lele Senior Manager – Social Innovations, Venture Center

John Hoffmire: Tell me about Venture Center’s work with social enterprises via your social innovations vertical.
Mugdha: Venture Center is very committed to social innovation and entrepreneurship. We actively nucleate and nurture enterprises that focus on solving socially important problems and are working to build sustainable entities (for profit or not-for-profit) to deliver the solutions to society.
Currently, our focus areas include affordable health and attrition, assistive technologies, empowering farmers, clean energy, sustainable resource utilization, environment and circular economy, water, sanitation, hygiene and any other social sectors that can leverage Venture Center’s innovation ecosystem.
We help social entrepreneurs through various initiatives supporting startups at different stages in their journeys.
For example: Venture Center’s Include and Eklavya programs provide mentoring support to some of our mid and late-stage social entrepreneurs, where we have partnered with CSIR-NCL and their CSIR-800 program.
Our Social Innovation Tech Fellowship program, supported by Government of India’s Department of Biotechnologies’ Biotech Industry Research Assistance Council, aims to support entrepreneurs at the idea stage. Currently we have supported 15 entrepreneurs in the fields of maternal and child health, elderly health, sanitation and waste to value.
We run active campaigns around social impact themes such as: antimicrobial resistance, sanitation and waste to value, energy and bioenergy, maternal & child health (Project: Vatsala) and more recently in the response to the COVID 19 pandemic we have constituted the Pune Diagnostics Action Group (PDAG).
We present our Social Innovation Lecture Series, which highlights social innovators and entrepreneurs, their journey, models for delivering social impact, lessons learnt, and tips for the next generation of social innovators and entrepreneurs.
For the rest of the interview, go to:

Dr. Mugdha Potnis-Lele is the Senior Manager for Social Innovations at Venture Center and an alum of the Chevening Research, Science and Innovation Leadership Fellowship (CRISP) program at Oxford (2016)

Dr. John Hoffmire is the Chairman of the Center on Business and Poverty, the Director of Employee Ownership at Teamshares, and Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Mutual and Co-owned Business