Chennai : Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Virtusa Corporation organized the grand finale of the Second Edition of Carbon Zero Challenge, an All-India innovation and entrepreneurship contest, on campus today (7th June 2019). Its objective is to identify and curate practical innovative and indigenous solutions with a sound business case at scale to solve energy and environmental problems in India.
The challenge aims to create a global impact by combining three powerful factors of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Energy and Environment and Youth to protect future generations. The winners were announced on 7th June 2019 during the Grand Finale in the presence of a host of industry experts and dignitaries.
The Top Three Projects are:
Ø CIRCULAR ECONOMY DOMAIN: a self-sustained integrated closed cycle coconut shell activated carbon production process by PRISTINE ENERGIA, a student team from IIT Madras (Members: Muthu Kumar K, Syed Mughees Ali, Mentors: Prof. Varunkumar S, Mr. Thileepan Panchatsaram, Dr. Shantha K Shankar)
Ø ELECTRIC VEHICLE DOMAIN: Electric powertrain solutions for E-commerce logistics by CLEAN ELECTRIC, a startup from IIT-BHU Varanasi (Team Members: Akash Gupta, Praveen Kumar Yadav, Mentor: Laltu Chandra, S. K. Sharma, K. S. Ramanujan)
Ø CLEAN ENERGY DOMAIN: A tubular PEM Fuel Cell that is open-cathode and air-breathing, developed by ELICIUS ENERGY, an IIT Madras-incubated startup (Team Members: Sam Pearn-Rowe, Suseendiran Ravichandran, Amit Bhosale, Rishaban Radhakrishnan, Niyas Attashery; Mentor: Prof. Raghunathan Rengaswamy)
Two projects received a special mention from the Jury
1. AGRICULTURE DOMAIN: An agricultural dehydrator to increase the shelf life of fruits, vegetables and spices by Carpro Technologies, a startup from Coimbatore (Member: Uthayakumar. K., Surendran. PB, Mentor: Shri. Sriram Sankaran)
2. ELECTRIC VEHICLE DOMAIN: an Electric Kick Scooter by IngoElectric, a startup from Bengaluru (Team members: Nikhil Gonsalves, Manjunath Panthangi, Anirudh SC, Kartik KV and Mentor Mr Philip Mathias)
Sending a message for this occasion, Shambhu Kallolikar IAS, Principal Secretary to TN Government, Environment and Forests Department, said, “Innovations can bring about a paradigm shift in tackling energy and environmental challenges by providing affordable, low-carbon, scalable and industry-acceptable solutions. I believe Carbon Zero Challenge contest is a significant step in the right direction in encouraging home-grown technology to solve the nation’s problems.”
Further, Shambhu Kallolikar added, “The Government of Tamil Nadu is keen to encourage startups and innovation in the State and committed to support sustainable solutions. The State will also welcome green entrepreneurs and provide the necessary support for a startup in this sector to grow in Tamil Nadu, creating both solutions to problems and jobs.”
CZeroC19 started with 996 applications from 25 states across India. After a rigorous process of shortlisting by business experts and technical experts, 24 teams were selected. These shortlisted teams received training and mentoring in addition to the financial support of up to Rs.5 lakhs over a period of 6 months to build their prototypes and evolve their business models.
In his address, chief guest for the finale, Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer of MHRD, Government of India, said, “I am quite impressed by the quality of innovators identified and nurtured by Carbon Zero Challenge Team. Some of these innovators are really capable of making it big if hand-holded further. The Ministry of HRD will certainly consider partnering with Carbon Zero Challenge team for the next smart India hackathon initiative, especially for the theme on Sustainability and Waste Management.”
The progress of the teams were closely monitored throughout the contest with staged fund release, monthly progress reports, and a one-on-one mid-term review by a panel of judges. The contest culminated in a three-day exhibition launched on World environment day, June 5th, 2019 during which 21 experts headed by a three member jury panel from industry and academia evaluated the teams
The challenge is a one-of-its-kind contest and a pioneering initiative by IIT Madras and fully supported by Virtusa Corporation. The program’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is one-of-its-kind initiative in its category that focuses on the energy and environment technological innovations at a national level and supports the eco-entrepreneurs in the 5 thematic areas. The larger goal is to foster a sustainable ecosystem wherein clean technology ideas can emerge and develop into long-term solutions.
Speaking on the occasion as Guest of Honor, Sundararajan Narayanan, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Virtusa Corporation said, “For the second year in a row, we are proud to collaborate with IIT Madras in the Carbon Zero Challenge 2019. Our goal is to promote sustainable opportunities and inspire young entrepreneurs to drive sustainable development. Given this rapid pace of change, Virtusa is aptly positioned in the market to leverage our digital engineering heritage to innovate and help reduce environmental footprint, demonstrate ethical maturity and encourage a cohesive and mutually respectable corporate culture for its workforce.”
An Expert panel of Screening Committee from the thematic areas and clean technology fields evaluated the initial set of 996 applications and the Top 84 teams from all over India were shortlisted for Interviews. The shortlisted 84 teams pitched their project ideas to a Panel of Expert Jury on October 26th and 27th, 2018. From this, a total of 24 teams tackling agriculture, environment, energy, water and societal problems were selected to go to the next phase of CZeroC.
Presiding over the function, Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “This all-India competition identifies and nurtures young innovators and entrepreneurs to develop solutions that will help us to move to a greener and cleaner world. Technologies developed by these youth for clean water, air, energy and the environment are very important for the world, particularly India. IIT Madras has a vibrant ecosystem to encourage innovations through our student-centred Center for Innovation (CFI), pre-incubator ‘Nirmaan’ and the Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
About Cleantech Innovation Contest
Launched on 5th June 2018, this 2nd edition of the Cleantech Innovation Contest attracted teams comprising students/early entrepreneurs and/or startups from across 25 states. The name ‘Carbon Zero’ signifies the collective humanitarian goal of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, providing clean air and water and sustainability. Seeking out innovative solutions to address these is a small step towards achieving this objective.
According to Guest of Honor, Shri Madhavan Satagopan, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Technology, Virtusa Corporation, “At Virtusa, we are committed to building a sustainable future. We encourage innovation to accomplish customer demands and overcome challenges to aid sustainable growth. We are happy to be a part of this initiative with IIT Madras, which is a step forward in our sustainability endeavour for the future. Today, when technological innovation defines the wheel of human civilization and its progress, our commitment to sustainability has become pivotal. This collaboration with IIT Madras will solidify our commitment to building a sustainable future.”
Apart from funding support of the order of Rs. 5 lakh per team provided to build prototypes, the shortlisted teams received continued training and mentorship from experts from both India and abroad.
Padma Shri Awardee Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor, IIT Madras, addressed the finale and spoke about the importance of such events in promoting green innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
Prof. Indumathi Nambi, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, and Coordinator Carbon Zero Challenge, said, “A recent report indicates India is the third most polluted country in the world and 600 million people face extreme water crisis. Innovations & entrepreneurship in cleantech domains; water, waste, energy is the need of the hour. Motivating young minds to ideate, innovate, incubate should be the top priority of every academic institute. This is the motto for Carbon Zero Challenge”