10 Startups Showcased and 3 Winners Selected at TheCityFix Labs India ‘Pitch Day’
On September 4, eight months after the launch of TheCityFix Labs India, the 10 cohort firms showcased their innovative urban solutions in water, energy and waste management before an esteemed jury and officials from the office of Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MAUD), Government of Telangana. Following their pitches, three winning projects were chosen: WEGoT (in water management and efficiency), Hasiru Dala (in waste management) and The Solar Labs (in energy efficiency). The capstone “Pitch Day” event also included a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing between Energos and the Government of Telangana’s Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) to implement an energy savings solution in their offices in Hyderabad.
TheCityFix Labs India's “Accelerating Innovation” initiative has sought to establish a platform to help entrepreneurs and local governments find new solutions in water, energy and waste management – three critical services that often lag behind urban expansion in India’s cities. TheCityFix Labs is an initiative of WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, with support from the Citi Foundation, designed to help cities prepare, finance and implement sustainable urban projects.
In November 2018, following a six-week open call for applications from private companies and entrepreneurs with innovative solutions in these sectors, TheCityFix Labs India received 125 entries. Of these, 10 were shortlisted based on a meticulous screening process that evaluated each project’s potential to address a specific city’s needs through disruptive innovation; financial viability; scalability and replicability; and potential social, economic and environmental impacts. Among the 10 shortlisted projects were smart solutions like building a circular system for domestic waste, using artificial intelligence to assess optimal use of rooftop solar systems, and employing miniature robots to manage and maintain urban water infrastructure.
For the past 11 months, TheCityFix Labs cohort has been introduced to mentors and technical experts from a range of backgrounds, including local government officials, sector specialists and impact investors. WRI India Ross Center also worked with the 10 companies to nurture their ideas and evolve their business models to better match municipal decision-making and markets, using Hyderabad as a test case.
At the Pitch Day event, the jury included Rahul Kapoor, Director of Smart Cities Mission; Chandrima Sinha, Vice-President of Invest India; Deepthi Ravula, CEO of WeHub; K. Vidhyadhar, Director of the Government of Telangana's Directorate of Town and Country Planning; and Madhav Pai, Director of WRI India.
“All of our cohorts have mature products looking to scale up, and TheCityFix Labs is one such platform that can help leapfrog innovation,” said Rahul Kapoor during the jury deliberations.
Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director of Smart Cities Mission, was a guest of honor at the event. Congratulating the finalists on their solutions, Kumar said, “Tomorrow’s cities will not be known by how good or prosperous they were. They will largely be known for how well they innovated. We should acknowledge innovation is all around us. Smart cities are all about doing more for less. Anticipating problems of the future and working towards solving them. Smart cities are resilient, adaptive and become more livable with time. Leaders of smart cities have to be bold and work towards creating conditions for people to collaborate as innovations drive the economy.”
“India is urbanizing at a fast pace, and to ensure a resource-secure future, the nation needs to seek scalable solutions that are efficient and easy to deploy,” said Madhav Pai. “Today, several startups are bubbling up with smart and highly targeted solutions to improve urban services delivery. We aim to offer a platform for such innovations to help them build partnerships with cities and other partners to implement their solutions at scale.”
Jaya Dhindaw, Director of Urban Development at WRI India, added, “The rapid rate of urbanization in Indian cities along with the reality of climate change demand solutions that are not only sustainable but also cost-effective. TheCityFix Labs India is addressing this need by helping mainstream innovation in government to solve the ‘wicked problems’ of waste, water and energy in urban areas. The Lab, through its unique pitch-pilot-scale approach, has not only helped solutions gain visibility at the highest levels, but has also enabled policy dialogues about how to operationalize sustainability in cities by leveraging the power of innovative enterprises and investments.”