Urban Labs Innovation Challenge: Delhi Awards Ceremony

10:00 am–12:00 pm


The University of Chicago and Delhi government announced three winners in their first-of-a-kind crowdsourcing competition to cut pollution in Delhi. The winners of the Urban Labs Innovation Challenge: Delhi, a project of the Tata Centre for Development that is supported by Tata Trusts, together received more than Rs. 2 crores. They are now useing that money to work with the University of Chicago Urban Labs’ Energy & Environment Lab, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago’s India team (EPIC-India), and the Delhi government to implement and test their ideas. The winners were among nearly 250 students, researchers, entrepreneurs, non-profit and for-profit organizations and citizens from across India and around the world who submitted ideas for the Delhi Innovation Challenge.

“It has been inspiring to see the level of enthusiasm for this contest within Delhi and around India,” said Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. “With three promising winners chosen, the Delhi government now looks forward to collaborating with the talented academic minds at the University of Chicago to carry out these innovative ideas while establishing our city as a trailblazer for how working together can establish immense progress to improve our environment and the lives of our citizens.” 

“Having received so many creative and passionate ideas to improve Delhi’s environment, selecting the winners was a deeply challenging and competitive process. But we believe these winning projects hold incredible potential to improve the lives of Delhi’s citizens,” said Michael Greenstone, the director of EPIC and the Urban Labs’ Energy & Environment Lab. “We look forward to working with the winners and the Delhi government to test these ideas and now they are model projects proven to work in Delhi, throughout India, and beyond.”

The winners include: Chakr Innovation Pvt. Ltd, which are pilot their device that captures more than 70 percent of particulate pollution from diesel engines and converts it to black ink and paints; Climate Foundation and Tide Technocrats Pvt. Ltd, which are employing devices that turn rice straw into biochar to enrich agricultural soil and prevent the heavy air pollution in Delhi from rice straw burning; and Mahila Housing SEWA Trust, which are deploying cool roofing solutions in Delhi slums to bring down indoor temperature and allow dwellers to conserve energy and improve their productivity and quality of life.

“In putting these programs through the rigor of testing with the collaboration of the University of Chicago, we hope to scale them up into programs that can be employed in Delhi, but also in other cities in India and the world,” said Ashish Khetan, Vice Chairperson of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi.

“We believe the projects will reduce pollution in Delhi and hope to prove how successful such innovative partnerships can be at generating evidence-based programs that work,” said Anna Agarwal, senior manager of the Challenge for the University of Chicago-India.