Innovation is fundamental for India to become a successful digital economy, a top executive from Intel said here on Friday.

He was speaking at an event organised by Intel India, in association with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) to felicitate 29 Student Innovators who are set to represent India at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2017 — the world’s largest pre-college Science and Engineering Fair — in Los Angeles, US.

“As we stand today, we look at how the world is changing in terms of innovation. Skills of yesterday and skills of tomorrow are very different. The question is do we want our future generations to be mere users of the technology or become innovators?” Kishore Balaji, Director of Corporate Affairs Intel South Asia, said.

“At Intel we have been engaged in trying to see how we can bridge this innovation skill gap among youth with various initiatives because we believe that innovation is fundamental for the country in its efforts towards realising its vision of becoming a successful digital economy,” Balaji added.

The students and their 20 projects were shortlisted from the Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS) National Fair 2016, and will compete at the ISEF beginning May 14-19.

“ISEF is a really good platform for us to showcase our talent and our research work in order to convey our message and idea to the world,” a student from Bengaluru said.

“Intel ISEF is lots of fun, science. The best minds from all over the world will come and we will get lots of opportunities,” a student from Raipur said.

This group of young innovators will represent India to compete against approximately 1,750 finalists from over 70 countries for approximately USD 4 million in awards and scholarships.

Till 2016, a total of 91 Indian students have won 121 awards and accolades at Intel ISEF competing against more than 6 million high school students from across the world.

From 1999-2016, 19 students from India also have had the unique honour of having minor planets named after them.

“The children from India have done incredibly well and made us feel proud and they would continue to do so,” Balaji said.