50 Winners Get noticed by the Who’s Who in the Start-up Community
Access the state-of-the-art Incubation space @ Chennai & Trichy for Customized Start-up services from India’s pioneering Tech. Incubator TREC-STEP.
50 Lakhs* in Seed support for Top 10 start-ups
Reach Out Desks across Tamilnadu


  • Global

  • World class
    Incubator facility

  • Technology and business mentors

  • Access to

  • Knowledge

About Us

TREC-STEP, the country’s first and pioneering Technology Business Incubator with over 3 decades of intense incubation experience, has empowered over 250 aspiring entrepreneurs, from Start to Scale. TREC-STEP is the preferred ‘Development Lab’ for many, path-breaking National and International initiatives in Innovation and Entrepreneurship development and has contributed significantly to driving favourable policy change, benefitting innumerable Indian Tech start-ups. TREC-STEP has extensively worked with the World Bank, The European Union, UN Agencies and many other International development agencies, to further the spirit of Entrepreneurship in our society and has been well recognized through their several Awards. These experiences are now encapsulated as Incubation packages and unleashed as customized, need-based services, to budding Technology Start-ups of the Chennai NEXT Challenge 2019.

TREC-STEP supported under the NITI Aayog’s, Atal Innovation Mission and has now modernized its Incubation infrastructure to World-class standards at its 50 acre-campus in Trichy, which houses advanced Prototyping and Production facilities and 40,000 sq. ft. of modern Incubation space, to suit the needs of any innovative venture from manufacturing to IOT, AI/ML and other tech domains. TREC-STEP has also expanded its incubation footprint to Chennai and has operationalized the Chennai Innovation and Technology Incubation Centre, CI-TIC, at the heart of Chennai at Kilpauk, housing state-of-the art office space with discussion rooms and Conferencing facilities. Over 70 winning Incubatees are currently benefitting from the focussed Mentoring and Incubation services at Trichy and Chennai. The Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge 2019 shall now reach out to budding Tech Start-ups in other cities of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states as well, through their info desks and outreach programmes.

Valuable takeaways…

During the Chennai NEXT Challenge, aspiring tech Entrepreneurs receive a wealth of nurturing inputs from TREC-STEP’s curated team of over 50 business mentors, domain experts, investors and other start-up stakeholders, hand-picked from its vast worldwide network of Specialists, especially experienced Indian diaspora professionals in the US, also, European and Asian Business Incubation Networks, among others. The Experts provide crucial strategic insights to budding Entrepreneurs, connects to the Industry, etc, leading these New Exciting Technology (NEXT) ventures through a well-defined path, towards leveraging their market performance, successfully, all in an engaging and collaborative environment, amidst a vibrant community of fellow start-ups and dedicated Incubation managers, always ready to lend a listening ear and a helping hand. Winners are Seed funded too!

TREC-STEP facilitates an exciting environment where new tech business, gets done!


  • Technology

  • Labs, Testing,
    Prototyping facilities

  • IP, Legal,
    Financial etc

  • Common
    Production facilities

  • Customized
    Incubation services

  • Modern
    work space

  • Bootcamps and

  • Indo - US
    innovation bridges

  • Investor

  • Strategic
    Mentor Connects

What the Chennai Next 2018 Winners Say

‘Success breeds Success’ holds accurate for TREC STEP’s contextual and personalized services to SurfaceInsight. My Sincere gratitude to TREC STEP/CI-TIC and their mentors, who are passionate in shaping, modulating & nurturing us to become a “Unicorn” with a focus to deliver greater business value to Customers innovative.
Pagutharivu Muthuswamy
Surfaceinsight Technologies Private Limited
Thank You Team CITIC(TREC-STEP) for always pointing us in the right direction. May it be an Operational decision or be it Development activities you guys have always helped us in making the perfect decision. It’s necessary to find a mentor who can invest time to know your personal capabilities and business model, CITIC(TREC-STEP) has helped us in mentoring with the mentors from our domain(SaaS) expertise to validate and improvise our product idea.
Anand Ramachandran
Flaptics Cloud Private Limited
"We are very happy to be on board at Trec Step's CI-TIC, as incubatees and simply to say we are having an awesome experience of learning many thing at the Chennai incubation centre from time to time". "As an  Entrepreneur / Start up, we gain more knowledge and can conserve initial expenditure due to focussed support services provided Trec Step & CI TIC". "100% Knowledge gain, Operational efficiency & Savings Guaranteed."
Pay4printz Services Private Limited
My STRAINO ® won the prestigious ChennaiNEXT competition among tough competition from breakthrough innovations and business ideas. I feel at home being a family member of this incubation centre. Constant exposure to great innovators, business heads and reviews, mentoring and motivation is inevitable as a CITIC incubatee. What else is needed for a budding enterprise?! As a CITIC incubatee success is only a step away
Ayyavu Natarajan
Ayyavu Home Appliances
FindInbox had a very pleasant experience throughout the journey right from the days of selection process to being the winners & getting incubated with CI-TIC. The team at CI-TIC helped FindInbox become market ready with quality workshops & mentoring sessions. Overall our journey of entrepreneurship was certainly strengthened by CI-TIC.
Abhijith Jain
Findinbox Private Limited
When we started a year back, we were excited and nervous about getting about on our own. We pitched our venture in the Chennai NEXT Start-up challenge 2018 conducted by CI-TIC and from there on the journey has been extraordinary for us. Being recognised as Top 10 out of 130 applicants gave us the Brand advantage we needed while speaking to clients, apart from the Seed funding support. As an incubatee of CITIC the exposure we received in the form of Workshops, individual mentorship clinics and not to mention the connection to a great network of energetic fellow entrepreneurs has been very helpful in our entrepreneurial journey so far and we are grateful to the CI-TIC team for their efforts.
Hema Rajesh
Hivericks Technologies Private Limited
"CITIC has nurtured us, with facility, technology and support, when we most needed it. We still cherish the knowledge gained from their bootcamps and workshops. We are fortunate to get a support from India's oldest incubator and we believe that we would have never reached where we are without CITIC."
Estreetz Technologies Private Limited
Chennai Next was indeed a great opportunity for us at Xongl. While City's tech entrepreneurs find less support than the neighboring Bangalore, CI-TIC and its Chennai NEXT initiative are giving not only a platform to showcase and validate an Idea from the City's best angels but also the required funding and Incubation support are being offered. Being shortlisted among the top startups, it exposed us to a lot of new opportunities and connections, above all, a great start-up community to learn from.
Samrajayee Paul
Xongl Cloud Private Limited
SurfaceInsight is fortunate to be incubated to TREC STEP and overwhelmed to see TREC STEP/ CI TIC’s support to all their budding entrepreneurs, right from setting up companies to finding business connects. Apart from providing a shared working space and other paraphernalia, they go a step further in finding the right contacts to help entrepreneurs in accounting and legal areas too. TREC STEP/ CI TIC with their incredible feedback and monitoring, evaluates the incubatees and bring in other forums/ investors to help us in funding too. I truly appreciate and value your service and strongly believe our success is at least in part due to your sincere support and mentorship. Thanks for helping us focus on pursing our goals without any distractions and giving wings to our dreams.
Surfaceinsight Technologies Private Limited


The Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge had a resounding and successful launch last year and brought in tremendous interest from Investors, Mentors, Start-up networks and the like, that has spurred us into organizing a bigger and better round this year! Chennai NEXT is a prestigious global start-up competition designed to address the stage specific start-up needs of Tamilnadu’s innovative tech entrepreneurs, across several industry sectors. This Challenge is conceptualized by TREC-STEP, India’s first and pioneering Technology Business Incubator, having successfully incubated over 250 vibrant start-ups primarily in the deep-tech space. TREC-STEP’s customised mentoring and curated Investor and other vast support networks and modern infrastructure shall propel the participating tech start-ups into leveraged growth in the global markets, successfully.

Applicants with relevant expertise, aspirations and capability to take their innovative tech products to market, will be supported with intense Incubation support, focussed training and mentoring, access to funding on a milestone basis, among other supports. This Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge provides Innovators and Tech entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their innovative products/services. Participants gain global visibility and connections with key players in the tech innovation network and a vibrant peer community of supportive fellow entrepreneurs, helping these novel tech products find new markets and grow their clientele, while overcoming early stage challenges successfully. Top 10 start-ups shall be provided seed funding of upto INR 50 Lakhs, based on the recommendations of the eminent Jury panel.

The applications are open until October 20th 2019. Shortlisted Winners for the Semi-final and Final stages shall be notified. The Challenge Organizing committee reserves the right to modify the scheme as and when required, without prior notification, so please tune in periodically.

  • All Start-ups / proposed Start-ups, offering a new innovative technology solution (Product or service or process innovations.)
  • Have worked or working towards a proof of concept / have a prototype / a tested and validated technology / Initial pilot stage.
  • The start-up is in early-stage (Incorporated as a Pvt. Ltd Company or LLP, after April 2016 or plan to incorporate within a year)
  • Has a team of two persons or more.
  • The Product has good market potential and a strong impact on the targeted industry sector/s or consumers.
  • Creates new jobs and other benefits for society and the environment, overall.

The Start-ups-to-be do not have to be incorporated at the time of registering for the Chennai NEXT Challenge 2019, but they should have clear plans for this, within the current year and for their future growth. Incorporation is a vital criterion for selection for sanction of Seed support at a later stage, no funds can be transferred until the company is incorporated.

All Technology based start-ups are eligible and the domains/tracks for the Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge 2019 have been deliberately kept broad, to allow for game-changing innovation and out of the box solutions. The following distinct tracks are identified and also an ‘Other Tech sectors’ track. Participants should clearly choose one of the tracks when registering for the Challenge

  • Energy
  • Food, Agriculture and Environment
  • Industry 4.0
  • New Materials
  • Smart Mobility and EVs
  • Biotech
  • Data & AI/ML
  • Defence Tech
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Any Other Technology sectors

Please select only one track that best fits the product/service offered .

The Top 50 most promising and scalable start-ups will be selected by Chennai NEXT Jury panel and are groomed and given special audience to interact with prominent Members in the Start-up support community, such as sector specific Investors, top Industry experts, Entrepreneurs, TREC-STEP’s Incubation experts and fellow founders.

Top 25 semi-finalists are also invited to the Pitch Day, where they will have the opportunity to pitch in front of select Investors and eminent Jury panellists, while also competing for the 50 Lakh Seed capital. One-on-one meetings and feedback from the top-tier Jury panel members is also planned. Two grand winners, and eight other winners shall receive the Seed funding support after meeting all the due-diligence criteria. Jury’s decision, to award Seed fund to fewer start-ups and to fix the amounts to each, shall be final.

Applicants showing capability and commitment to be able to produce functional prototypes and take it to market will be awarded seed support, strictly on a milestone basis and starting in the form of equity/debt/other relevant structures. The exact amount and mode of each seed package shall be decided by the eminent Jury, based on the pitch, the application and business plan. The Challenge Organizing committee reserves the right to modify the rules and guidelines, as and when required, without prior notification. Please watch the website periodically for latest updates.

All 50 semi-finalists are eligible for the following

  • entirely free use of the state-of-the -art Incubation facilities at the Chennai Innovation and Technology Incubation Centre, CI-TIC, Kilpauk or at TREC-STEP Campus, Trichy, for the First 3 months, after selection as a Semi-finalist, to fine tune their Business strategies for growth. Customized services to suit individual start-ups shall be provided by experienced Incubation managers, domain experts and business and tech mentors.
  • subsequent subsidized rates for next 2 Years, for use of the state-of-the -art Incubation facilities at CI-TIC, Kilpauk and TREC-STEP, Trichy[ From 9th month onwards regular tariffs apply.]. Access to expertise and other state-of-the -art infrastructure shall continue.
  • Free entry for all training workshops and knowledge share events organized by CI-TIC and TREC-STEP and Partner Agencies, for start-ups, for 2 years.
  • Entry for Investor Round tables and Pitching sessions for next stage funding, for upto 2 years.

There are 3 main phases for selecting the Finalists. Selected Applicants will be informed at each step.

  • Top 50 selection – The Chennai NEXT judging committee will select the 50 best start-ups based on the completeness, quality of their online application and Technical and Commercial feasibility as decided by the Expert Committee.
  • Selecting Top 25 Semi-Finalists – The judging committee will select 25 Applicants based on the Challenge Selection criteria.
  • Selecting Top 10 winners - A judging committee made up of investors, tech experts and others in the field, will select the Top 10 winners after their pitches. They shall be recognized by the Chennai NEXT Jury and shall be eligible for Seed funding of INR 50 Lakhs[ After meeting the due-diligence criteria set by the Challenge Committee].

All Applications received will be reviewed for completeness in the preliminary round, by TREC-STEP’s core Incubation Team. Thereafter the Applications will be reviewed/interviewed by Chennai NEXT Challenge committee, comprising eminent members - investors, entrepreneurs, Industry executives and other domain experts in their field, who will work under NDAs. The applications will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation: The Start-up/proposed Start-up must offer a product/service based on a novel technology or have an innovative process to build a product.
  • Patent filed: The Technology should preferably be patentable, filing already done or underway.
  • Potential market impact: The company must have good potential to make a substantial long-term impact in the market and/or society.
  • Leadership and Team strength : The Start-up applicant must have visionary leadership with a team / prospective team, with capabilities and commitment to drive the Start-up towards success.
  • Business Viability: The company should have a sustainable business model and well-formulated plans for scaling growth.
  • Jobs and other social and environmental benefits: Ability to provide local jobs for youth and women. The offerings should be clean and safe with low carbon footprints.

The Jury will rate and select start-ups based on the quality of the pitch deck and the complementary information provided by the start-ups after the semi-final selection rounds (1-page summary & pitch deck slides).

TREC-STEP with its 3-decade experience in grooming 100s of new Entrepreneurs, working intensely with the Government of India, has designed the Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge specifically for innovative tech start-ups, acknowledging their intense nurturing needs and specific resources needed for promoting ventures based on deep technologies. In this 2019 round there will be intense focus to bring professional Incubation services to start-ups from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Pondicherry and others. Backing this Challenge is a larger focussed group of experts in various technology domains, including Industry experts, investors, seasoned Incubation executives, entrepreneurs and prominent Mentors, who have vast expertise and understanding of the needs and potential impact of innovative tech solutions being launched in the global markets. They continue to be part of this technology development and transfer continuum. The Vibrant Tech community of over 70 Start-ups, currently in Incubation offer peer learning and compete positively. They act as a huge pillar of support, they actively share notes on resolving common work issues, become internal clients to a few and more than anything offer a shoulder of support when you are going through a bad patch!

Another highlight of this Challenge is the ‘Indo-US Innovation bridge’, promoted by TREC-STEP and supported by pro-actively by members of Tamil Nadu Foundation Inc., a diaspora organization of eminent Technocrats, Professionals and serial Entrepreneurs, wanting to share their business advice and domain expertise gained over decades, with budding Start-ups. TREC-STEP has intense working partnerships with the European Business and Innovation Network (EBN), Technifutur, Belgium, Munich Technology Centre (MTZ) to name a few, in its vast global Network. Thus, the Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge 2019 provides a unique, golden opportunity for global visibility for early-stage start-ups and the right connections, to truly make Tamil Nadu a go to destination for New EXciting Technology – NEXT Start-ups wanting to accelerate their innovations into the world!

No. Applying for the Chennai NEXT Challenge is entirely free of charge and taking up Physical Incubation is optional. Chennai NEXT Challenge does not require any action from the applicants apart from providing the completed application material, and does not claim any kind of decision or power over the participants. However, in case Seed support is provided, then the Start-up needs to be housed inside or virtually linked to TREC-STEP, Trichy or the CI-TIC Incubator at Kilpauk, Chennai. The Seed support may be operated in Debt or Equity mode, based on the preferences of the particular Start-up and TREC-STEP.

The Application information will only be available to the following individuals:

The Chennai NEXT Organizing committee and our IT team, managing the online application process and our expert Jury members, who all are party to Non-Disclosure. However, if some information might be too sensitive (because of a pending patent), we advise that you refrain from sharing such specific technical details.

The tentative date for notification of Results is October 30th 2019. Please visit the website periodically for latest updates.

TREC-STEP is currently developing a network of local hubs across Tamil Nadu to bring mentoring support to your doorstep and is strengthening its partner networks, pan India. In this round of Chennai NEXT Start-up Challenge 2019, we are aiming to empower entrepreneurs from across Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states and helping them access opportunities within this ecosystem and gain global visibility.

  • 800+ Expressions of Interest
  • 130 Full Applications
  • 29 in Incubation and intensely groomed for becoming Investment ready
  • 10 Ventures Seed funded.

Chennai Next 2018 Events @ a glance

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