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
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.
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Can software save the environment? Five undergraduate students from Columbia University who participated in the Urban Works Innovation Challenge (UWIC), believe it can! They are combining artificial intelligence with human ingenuity to explore a solution for waste management in India.
Smart water management! Segregating waste at source and boosting the circular economy! Helping the urban workforce cope with mental health problems! These are the app-based solutions proposed by the three winning Indian startups of the 2019-2020 round of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge.
Successful startups focus on creating value for their customers rather than chasing high valuations. Distinguished startup founders and domain experts shared their insights into the entrepreneurship ecosystem of India at a panel discussion as part of the Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2019-2020.
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