Designing Cities that Work
The Urban Works Innovation Challenge supports innovators and entrepreneurs who are passionate about producing viable and interdisciplinary tech-based solutions for transforming 21st century cities in India into sustainable and safe work environments. 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 work environments sustainable and safe for all.
Teams are selected through a competitive process. Winners receive mentorship from faculty and alumni of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University as well as distinguished entrepreneurs and academics in India. Winning teams 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. Startups with successful on-ground pilots have opportunities to pitch their solutions to leading investors and corporations in the field.
“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."
2019-2020 Winning Startups
Winners of the Urban Works track of the Columbia Venture Competition
Co-founders of six exciting startups spoke at a series of panel discussions organized by Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai in Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, and Mumbai.
What is a strong demonstration of an early-stage startup’s success? A technically sound, commercially viable on-ground pilot.
What makes a startup investment-ready? Achieving product-market fit while maintaining good customer relationships and growing in different geographies/markets ensures investment readiness.
A strong believer in innovation, Ioannis Kymissis, Professor and Chair of Columbia’s Department of Electrical Engineering, speaks to the Center about innovation, startups, and mentoring Urban Works companies from India and the US.