Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai Launches Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-21, Invites Startups to Apply
Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai launches the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2020-21, and invites passionate innovators and startups with tech-enabled solutions to participate in transforming the cities into sustainable, safe and resilient workplaces, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The challenge is a part of a three-year program inaugurated in 2018 and supported by the RMZ Foundation. It gives young innovators a globally competitive opportunity to refine their solutions for some of India’s most pressing social challenges and gain from tools, learning sessions and peer networks.
The selected startups will receive mentorship rom 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. The selected startups can also avail unrestricted capital from a total annual fund of Rs.1 crore and teams with successful design prototypes will have the opportunity to pitch to leading corporations and investors.
Speaking about the inspiration behind this initiative, Urban Works mentor Michael Massimino, Former NASA Astronaut and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, noted, “Our planet is beautiful and fragile; it is the only place we have. We need to protect our cities and make them more sustainable and safer to live – this has been the focus at Urban Works.”
The challenge is aimed at designing solutions for cities in crisis as urban India is plagued by issues including degrading air quality, rising plastic waste, hindered mobility, mental health problems, and reduced safety for women.
According to Dr. Ravina Aggarwal, Director Columbia Global Centers, Mumbai, “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the impetus to really rethink the digital and virtual space, and how we can use this as an opportunity to be of essential service to the country.”
The 2020-2021 challenge focuses on designing app-based, IT-enabled, online solutions that span diverse industries and socio-economic geographies for cities in crisis. Broad areas for solution development include green technologies, decentralized energy-efficient solutions, sustainable resource use, waste management, accessibility, health and wellbeing, and gender security. Interested startups, professionals, entrepreneurs and researchers are invited to submit their applications by March 21, 2021.