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Columbia University's Urban works innovation challenge for start-ups in India

Urban Works Innovation Challenge.  Photograph:( ANI )

ANI Mumbai, India Nov 05, 2019, 12.51 PM (IST)

Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai announces the launch of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2019-2020 for transforming India`s cities into safe and sustainable places through technical innovation.

The challenge, which is part of a three-year program inaugurated in 2018 and supported by the RMZ Foundation, gives young innovators a globally competitive opportunity to receive mentorship from faculty and alumni of Columbia University`s prestigious Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science as well as from distinguished entrepreneurs and academics in India.

Winning teams can also avail of unrestricted capital from a total annual fund of Rs 1.2 crores, and peer networks and infrastructural support from a tech-first collaborative workspace at The CoWrks Foundry for a six month period.

"There is a huge opportunity in this country to harness the imagination, invigoration, and forward-looking vision of the youth in India to think about how Indian cities can be at the foundation of a global economy that advances human development," said Patricia J Culligan, Professor of Civil Engineering at Columbia University.

Almost 600 million Indians will live in cities by 2030. Rapid urbanization poses serious environmental and societal challenges, including degrading air quality, rising plastic waste, hindered mobility, mental health problems, and reduced safety for women.

In this evolving landscape, there is growing recognition that the country`s urban workforce requires workplaces and city-wide ecosystems to become more productive, innovative, and inclusive.

"Solutions that make use of contemporary technology can play a critical role in addressing these needs, thereby making our cities and work environments sustainable and safe for all," said Dr Ravina Aggarwal, Director of Columbia`s Mumbai Center.

The 2019-2020 challenge will support tech-based solutions to transform 21st-century cities into sustainable and safe work environments that span diverse industries and socio-economic geographies.

Broad areas for solution development include green technologies, decentralised energy-efficient solutions, sustainable resource use, waste management, accessibility, health and wellbeing, and gender security.

The innovation challenge is open to applications till November 15, 2019, from start-ups, professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners intent on designing the future of Indian cities and improving urban work environments.

Teams with successful design prototypes will have the opportunity to pitch their design to leading corporations and investors.

"Our engagement with Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai and Columbia Engineering was formed with the vision of seeking out and empowering the most incredible minds doing deeply intentional and well-researched work into solving these problems at a global scale," said Nruthya Madappa, Managing Partner of The CoWrks Foundry.