Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai Invites Startups to Apply for Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-2021

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India | February 12, 2021: Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai announces the launch of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-2021, an invitation to passionate innovators and start-ups offering technology solutions to help transform our cities into sustainable, safe and resilient workplaces, particularly in the context of the COWID-19 pandemic. The Challenge is part of a three-year program launched in 2018 and supported by the RMH Foundation. It offers young innovators the opportunity to improve their solutions to some of India’s most pressing social challenges and benefit from tools, learning sessions and peer networks. The selected start-ups will be mentored by professors and alumni of Columbia University’s renowned Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as leading entrepreneurs and academics in India. They will also have access to unrestricted capital from a total annual fund of 1 rupee, and teams with successful prototype designs will be put in touch with leading companies and investors. Innovation in city works – Challenge 2020-2021

Speaking about the inspiration for this initiative, Michael Massimino, mentor at Urban Works, former NASA astronaut and professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, said, “Our planet is beautiful and fragile; it’s the only place we have. We need to protect our cities and make them stronger and safer to live in – that’s what Urban Works is all about.

Designing solutions for cities in crisis

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Urban India faces problems such as deteriorating air quality, increased plastic waste, reduced mobility, mental health issues and less safety for women. The COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted urban life and exposed vulnerabilities and risks in the functioning of our cities. In this changing landscape, we must ask what technological innovations can help cities adapt to the new normal, and how we can make our cities resilient. According to Dr. Ravina Aggarwal, director of the Columbia Global Center | Mumbai, “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the impetus to really rethink digital and virtual space, and how we can use it as an opportunity to serve the country.

The challenge for 2020-2021 is to develop online solutions based on applications and information technologies that transcend the sectors and socio-economic geography of cities in crisis. Key areas for solution development include green technologies, decentralized energy efficiency solutions, sustainable resource use, waste management, affordability, health and well-being, and women’s safety. Interested start-ups, self-employed individuals, entrepreneurs and researchers are invited to submit their applications by March 21, 2021.

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