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IIT Madras Carbon Zero Challenge 2022 launched

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Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Carbon Zero Challenge’s (CZC) next edition is focusing on ‘Resource Depletion and Pollution,’ which has been accelerated by the crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

CZC 2022, an all-India eco-innovation and entrepreneurship competition, aims to accelerate lab-to-market transition of eco-innovations in India by funding innovations from proof-of-concept, lab-scale solutions to working prototypes or pilots.

Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, launched the third edition of Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) today (24th August 22) at an event on campus in the presence of CZC Principal Coordinator, Prof. Indumathi M. Nambi and other stakeholders.

Shortlisted teams will get funding and mentorship support to establish start-ups and take their idea to the market through commercialization. In addition, CZC 2022 winners will get Rs. 10 lakh as start-up seed grant and continued support from IIT Madras such as access to IITM incubation resources and Angel and VC funding.

Asia will have more than 1 billion vehicles by 2035 with as much as 80 per cent of air pollution in Asia’s cities being attributable to transport sector, according to reports by Asian Development Bank (ADB). Environmental degradation was costing India around US$ 80 billion annually, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

The last date to apply is 24th September 2022. The details of the competition and application procedure can be obtained from CZC2022 web portal – https://czeroc.in

Addressing the launch event, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Based on experiences gained from previous editions of CZCs and other research initiatives, IIT Madras is going to establish a ‘School of Sustainability’ that will work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). CZC 2022 is going to give us a feel of challenges and technology needs in the field so that our Research, Course Curriculum and other activities are targeted towards solving issues in meeting SDGs  and the overall direction of this upcoming School of Sustainability.”

Thanking Thales and other supporters of CZC 2022, Prof. V. Kamakoti added, “Seed funding is important to convert an idea into a working prototype and support teams through preincubation and incubation. HomoSEP, which was supported during the earlier editions of CZC, has converted into a product and the third device has been given recently to a family member of a person who was engaged in manual scavenging.”

Further, Prof. V. Kamakoti said, “IIT Madras will open up its patenting mechanism to the participants of this contest to get their innovations patented. The Institute also has a strong incubation ecosystem that can help start-ups mature and convert their ideas into a viable business.”

The Theme for CZC 2022 is CZC for ‘CRC’ (or) ‘Circularity in Resources Conservation.’ The idea is to highlight the need to balance demand and earth’s supply through resource conservation, rethinking design and materials to enable reduction, recycling, recovery and reuse of resources. The industry and public service systems need non-polluting technology to achieve this and low carbon, land footprint.

Highlighting the key focus areas of CZC 2022, its Principal Coordinator, Prof. Indumathi M. Nambi, Faculty, Department of Civil Engineering Department, IIT Madras, said, “CZC 2022 would focus on fostering innovative solutions incorporating circularity and sustainability for managing and conserving the following resources – Air, Water, Soil, Materials, and Energy. The competition will focus its target applicant pool on teams that have already demonstrated and validated lab-scale proof of concept, with a clear technological advancement.”

Further, Prof. Indumathi M. Nambi said, “The focus will be on technologies that aid in recovery of resources and pollution mitigation that are not receiving sufficient attention from the investment community. The proposed solutions by teams participating in this competition should have low carbon, water and eco footprint and have a large societal impact.”

The Key Aspects of Carbon Zero Challenge 2022 include:

Ø  Wider Range of Solutions: Solutions to sustainability challenges can be deep technology, a new business model, a new app-based inventory, IT /IOT/AI and data analysis, a new policy intervention, or a combination of the four.

Ø  Faculty-led/Research scientist-led teams: Faculty initiation and involvement are key to sustaining the momentum and continuing the journey to higher TRLs and Incubating Start-ups.

Ø  Focus on Commercialisation of research: CZC will invest in developing the “go-to-market capabilities” of the selected teams and expect the teams to develop their alignment and relevance to the marketplace.

The competition is expecting a good mix of applications from academic/ research labs and early-stage start-ups. Around 100 teams are expected to be shortlisted by October 2022, of which 25 teams will be given prototype funding up to Rs 5 lakh per team.

The teams will also be trained to sharpen their market orientation and entrepreneurial quotient and develop the sustainability report for their product to market it as a clean-tech company. The teams will be connected to experts in industry and academia to hone their technical and business skills.

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