NITI Aayog will set up 1,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) in various schools this year under a mission aimed at fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. The Aayog, last year, had selected 457 schools to set up Atal Tinkering Labs under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). It had received more than 13,000 applications from various schools from all states and Union Territories. “This year, NITI Aayog calls for application from all schools, government and private, to fund 1,000 new ATLs,” Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said in a statement. Kant said companies like IBM, Intel and Ola have expressed their willingness to provide mentorship. ATLs are dedicated work spaces for students (Class 6th and Class 12th) to acquire innovation skills, develop ideas and build prototypes using latest equipment such as 3D printers, robotics etc. Grant-in-aid that include one-time establishment cost of Rs 10 lakh and operational expense of Rs 10 lakh for a maximum period of five years to each ATL is provided to selected schools for setting up these labs.The statement said that the AIM will soon launch a strategic initiative, Mentor India, to engage leaders who can guide and mentor students in the ATLs. “Mentor India is envisaged to be the largest formal volunteer mentor network in India,” it said. Under the Atal Innovation Mission, the Aayog is running initiatives like Atal Incubation Centers and ATLs to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.