Logistimo was among the four grand prize winners of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge. The company, led by CEO Anup Akkihal (front row, far left), was the winner in the Income Growth and Job Creation category. ( photo)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced its 2017 Inclusive Innovation Challenge grand prize winners, with Indian American-led Logistimo among the recipients.

Logistimo won over three other finalists in the Income Growth and Job Creation category in the competition's second year.

Other grand prize winners selected were AdmitHub, EFL and LaunchCode in the Technology Access, Financial Inclusion and Skills and Matching categories respectively.

A total of 16 companies were selected as finalists in August with four winning grand prizes Oct. 12.

Getting goods and services to rural communities can be a challenge, stymied by inefficiencies, information asymmetry and the inability to appropriately aggregate demand, MIT said.

India-based Logistimo has created a platform to increase visibility in the supply chain and ensure that things like vaccines and medical supplies make it where they need to go, it said.

Constrained by availability, reliability and affordability of transport, villages lack access to essential goods, rendering them underserved and disconnected from mainstream value chains, MIT went on.

Local vehicle operators suffer information asymmetry, favoritism of entrenched relationships, and inability to appropriately aggregate demand. This status quo perpetuates limited opportunities and uncertain working hours for local transporters, all while failing to capture carbon-footprint reduction opportunities through smarter capacity utilization and scheduling, the institute added about Logistimo.

The auction-based platform – using demand aggregation, load/route/schedule optimization and fulfilment tracking – better connects demand to local capacity, alleviating most collection and distribution obstacles, according to Logistimo.

Its vehicle-agnostic approach supports milk runs and line-hauls, seamlessly integrating trucks, bikes, boats and UAVs alike, it said.

During 18 months, the platform has performed 14,000 deliveries for 1,000 customers.

Logistimo, on its website, describes itself as "a tribe of diverse, compassionate and technically skilled people – working in a highly directed and collaborative environment, where experimentation, evidence–driven design, software development and in-the-field impact realization are paramount to our deoxyribose nucleic acid."

The company is led by Indian American Anup Akkihal, the chief executive officer.

Akkihal is an action researcher and systems thinker with experience in building technology and crafting stategy in the military, pharmaceutical, agriculture, energy, automotive and retail industries, his bio says.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Akkihal studied at Johns Hopkins University and MIT.

Other people leading the way at Logistimo include chief technology officer Arun Ramanujapuram, chief financial officer Amar Kalmadi, operations director Sharath Chandangoudar and engineering director Charan Malemmarpuram.

The grand prize winners were each awarded $150,000 with the 12 remaining finalists earning a $35,000 prize each.

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