IIT Madras Carbon Zero Challenge Announces Top 25 Teams With Promising Sustainable Tech Innovation

    Inam Ansari
    April25/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    IIT Madras

    Chennai (The Hawk): Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has announced the top 25 teams that form the fourth Cohort of the annual Carbon Zero Challenge, a pioneer pan-Indian competition to encourage start-ups in the Sustainability Sector.
    The teams were announced during the ‘Embarkment’ event held on the campus today (24th April 2024).
    The CZC 4.0 launched the fourth cohort during January 2024 and has provided funding to 100 tems with over Rs. 5 crore in total. It has served as a seedbed for 13 start-ups and has transformed 42 students/researchers and eight faculties into entrepreneurs.
    The selected top 25 teams comprise students, early-stage startups, faculties, and researchers who showcased their sustainable and circular economy solutions in Water and wastewater, renewable energy, sustainable packaging and building materials, eco-friendly cold storage and transportation and waste management. These teams will be given six months and upto Rs. 5 lakh to develop their prototype.
    The Challenge is being supported by Thales, a French multinational company, and Aquamap Centre for Water Management - IIT Madras. The latest edition of CZC4.0 received 850 applications with validated proof of concept from 25 States, from which 25 teams were shortlisted after two rounds of stringent evaluations by 50 experts.
    The primary goal of Carbon Zero Challenge is to foster cutting-edge deep-tech and circular economy solutions that address environmental challenges in Energy, Materials, Agriculture, Air and Water domains. By leveraging the collective ingenuity and expertise of talented individuals from across India, the challenge seeks to build eco-start-ups which can address planetary crises such as Climate change, Pollution and Food security.
    Addressing the event, Chief Guest Thiru A.R. Rahul Nadh, IAS, Director, Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “The Theme of Carbon Zero Challenge 4.0 is ‘circularity and sustainable innovative solutions’ in resources, which is the need of the hour. The world is grappling with a growing demand for resources while the supplies are limited. The world needs to move towards circular economy and the Carbon Zero Challenge serves as a great platform towards this purpose. The prototypes developed here will have the potential to revolutionize various sectors from energy to water and waste management.”
    Thiru A.R. Rahul Nadh added, “It is important to equip and empower the cities to face the challenge of climate change. The climate change and its impact are based on the impact of using natural resources. Our department has taken various initiatives such as alternatives to plastic shopping bags. We are facing a climate crisis and reaching net-zero emission is no longer an option but a necessity. I appreciate Carbon Zero Challenge and IIT Madras for working in this direction. The Government of Tamil Nadu looks forward to working with all of you in developing sustainable solutions.”
    The Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) is a pan-India Eco-Innovation and Entrepreneurship contest aimed at accelerating the transition from lab-scale models to prototypes. It has completed three cohorts and supported 75 prototypes. CZC 4.0 has inducted another 25 teams, thereby supporting a total of 100 teams.
    Addressing the event, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “IIT Madras recycles 100% of its water in the campus. Sustainability has now become important in many fields with SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) being a driving force. With this in mind, IIT Madras started the School of Sustainability, which has more than 80 faculty and 100s of students who are working on varous aspects of SDGs. They are working on everything from public policy to water, renewable energy, battery systems, and electric vehicles besides many other areas. Our goal is to get these research outputs to market with many faculty involved in nurturing statups”
    Prof. V. Kamakoti added, “We are also seeing a number of patents on sustainability and a large number of start-ups are coming up focussed on SDGs. India is a country with a lot of diversity. You solve a problem for India, you solve the problem for the world. I am extremely happy to note that the Carbon Zero Challenge has now funded 100 innovations in the sustainability sector.”
    Highlighting the need for such events to achieve a sustainable future, Prof. Indumathi Nambi, Principal Coordinator, Carbon Zero Challenge, IIT Madras, said, “Carbon Zero Challenge has reached a milestone today with 100 teams coming on board our family of eco-startups since we started in 2017. Our teams are on a mission to reduce carbon footprint and water footprint while working on circular solutions for resource recovery with each team reducing 100 to 500 CO2 equivalents /annum. Our teams collectively address 12 of the 17 sustainable development goals. Look forward to support the journey of more eco-innovations from lab to market” Prof. Rajnish Kumar, Associate Faculty, School of Sustainability, IIT Madras, said, “The School of Sustainability has three different ways to improve our sustainability - Through Teaching sustainability-related courses, Strengthening research on sustainability and helping in policies on sustainability through engagement with the Government. IIT Madras is ranked No: 3 in India in QS Sustainability Ranking and we aspire to take it to No:1.”
    Each CZC team has demonstrated the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 100-600 kgCO2eq. The theme for this contest is ‘Circularity in Resource Conservation’, covering domains such as Air, Energy, Material, Soil, and Water.
    As part of the Carbon Zero Challenge, a three-day, in-person boot camp for the top 25 teams was conducted at IIT Madras. The Sustainability Mafia (SusMafia) conducted the boot camp as the official knowledge partner of Carbon Zero Challenge 4.0. The boot camp was led by SusMafia mentors and focused on equipping the teams with essential entrepreneurial skills. Over the next few months, these mentors will provide dedicated support, covering crucial topics such as Customer Discovery, Customer Research, Startup Fundamentals, Business Modeling, Ethical & Sustainable Leadership, Impact Measurement and Reporting, and an introduction to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).