Chennai, 2nd August, 2023: The Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) 2022) of Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT Madras) announced the top teams that developed eco-friendly and sustainable technologies. These teams were shortlisted from 25 teams from all over India that made it through the initial rounds and will receive start-up seed funding of upto Rs. 10 lakh each.
A pioneering initiative, the Challenge organised the grand finale Prototype Expo of its Third Edition from 26th to 28th July 2023 in the campus. The contest was supported by Thales, a French multinational company, and Aquamap Centre for Water Management – IIT Madras.
The primary goal of the Carbon Zero Challenge is to foster cutting-edge deep-tech and circular economy solutions that address Environment challenges in Energy, Materials, Agriculture, Air and Water domains. By leveraging the collective ingenuity and expertise of talented individuals from across India, the challenge seeks to build eco-start-ups which can address the planetary crises such as Climate change, Pollution and Food security.
Carbon Zero Challenge 2022 invited applications from students, early-stage startups, faculties, research scholars, and graduates having a validated proof of concept from all the States in India. It reached out to over 1,600 students and researchers from 600 universities and 270 start-ups across 25 states and 2 Union Territories in India. The competition has been the seedbed for 17 new clean-tech companies so far.
Congratulating the winners, Dr. R. Velraj, Vice Chancellor, Anna University, said, “In the last 23 years, carbondioxide level has crossed 418 PPM. It is increasing by 3 PPM every year. If it crosses 600 PPM, human beings cannot live in this planet…The environmental scientists and world organizations have realised this and are taking a lot of measures. We have to see if these will work out in the coming years. During the pandemic, everyone realized that if human actions is very less, then we are able to curtain the growth (of pollution). Sustainability is important for fast-developing countries like India. We can show the way to the entire world. Environment sustainability, Social sustainability and Governance sustainability are the key in UN SDGs…We should work towards net zero in emission, liquid discharge, solid waste and net-zero energy. Even in business, lots of weightage are coming that will prioritize companies with focus on sustainability.”
Further, Dr. R. Velraj added, “It is the duty of academic institutions and innovations to make every innovation associated with the concept of sustainability. I am happy that a separate competition has been created by Prof. Indumathi Nambi on Carbon Zero Challenge. I congratulate all the teams that have taken part in the event.”
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Pawandeep Kaur, Director of Communications – India, Thales, said, “We are going to continue our association with Carbon Zero Challenge to the next edition as well…We have seen such great projects coming out of Carbon Zero Challenge. I would congratulate all of you to come up till now and I look forward to seeing all these products in the market and be successful.”
Ms. Pawandeep Kaur said, “Thales is honoured to be associated with this transformative challenge as part of our CSR Initiative. This challenge is in line with our ESG goals to build a greener, cleaner and sustainable world. Thales is a global technology leader with over 75,000 people across five continents with a lot of focus on deep tech. This year, we are celebrating 70th year of Thales in India.”
The CZC 2022 received 480 applications from across 25 States in India. The top 25 teams comprising students, early-stage start-ups, faculties and researchers demonstrated their sustainable and circular economy solutions broadly in categories like agriculture, alternate energy, wastewater and waste management. After a rigorous process of shortlisting by Technical/Industry, Sustainability and Business experts, 25 teams were selected.
These shortlisted teams participated in a boot camp and were trained on ‘Customer Discovery and Entrepreneurship.’ In addition to this, teams received financial support of up to Rs.5 lakhs over six months to build their prototypes and evolve their business models. Unlike the CZC 2018 and CZC 2019, the teams entered an MOU with CZC with a motive to commercialise their prototypes.
Addressing the Grand Finale, Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “The rate at which our economic growth is taking place will make India soon the number two emitter of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) globally. When a climate change event takes place, it is the low-income countries like India which are the worst sufferers.”
Dr. Parasuram Balasubramanian, Board Member, Aquamap and an IIT Madras Alumnus, said, “If we recognize that we need to protect our land, air, water and environment, we need to do it for all of us, not one individual, as it is a collective responsibility. However, when it comes to action and doing something, there is a vacuum…All stakeholders from Industry to academic and Government need to come together towards these objectives. We need to impress upon the Government to spend the taxpayers’ money judiciously on green projects that generate jobs.”
Announcing the launch of next edition of Carbon Zero Challenge, Prof. Indumathi Nambi, Principal Coordinator, Carbon Zero Challenge, IIT Madras, said, “This event would not have happened without our sponsors support – Thales and Aquamap. Our start-up environment is booming across the world and in India but there is a gap in eco-innovations and successful start-ups in this domain. There are a lot of start-ups coming up in renewable energy, solar and now hydrogen. But there are also other areas particularly resources and materials, which are in short supply…Circular economy initiatives have started but are not moving at a very fast pace. We need start-ups to take this forward particularly in India, we need a lot of start-ups in areas like Agritech and resource recovery from waste not only lithium ion batteries and eWaste but also from sanitation and food waste.”
The teams of Carbon Zero Challenge 2022 that were recognised are:
– Surya Shakthi from Mumbai, Maharashtra:
Category of team: Research scholar- IIT Bombay
Proposed innovation: NCF coating transforms a dormant surface into a functional device that produces ‘green-heat’ utilizing only solar energy.
– Base’P sustainable foods from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Category of team: Startup
Proposed innovation: Development of plant-based meat analogues
– ElectroMethUp from Mohali, Punjab
Category of team: Research Scholar, IISER- Mohali
Proposed innovation: An electricity-driven microbial process for boosting the calorific value of biogas through CO2 utilization
– Amvyrad Greenrich, from Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Category of team: Students from M.G.R College
Proposed innovation: Bifurcation of Aquatic weed &Reap Cleansing Organon – BARCO
– ArimaAran from Bengaluru, Karnataka
Category of team: Start-up
Proposed innovation: Valai Peat – Banana Plantation Post Harvest Management Solution
– Aryabon from Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Category of team: Research Scholar – IIT Madras
Proposed innovation: A synergetic approach to produce biochar from faecal sludge and spent graphite
– Agnicart from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Category of team: Start-up
Proposed innovation: Bull driven cultivator cart with bose plough mechanism and lifting mechanism