Artificial intelligence, water, energy, transportation, waste management, healthcare, climate and smart agriculture will be the focus areas for the challenge.

University of California Berkeley launches Smart City challenge for startups in India Image for representation
Atom Startups Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 22:26
Written by  S. Mahadevan

An entirely new one of a kind challenge is being thrown to the startups in the smart city projects space. Termed the Smart City 4.0 challenge, the institution involved in this exercise is the Innovation Acceleration Group at the University of Berkeley, US.

According to a PTI report, the stated objective of this challenge is to encourage young entrepreneurs to identify local problems and develop innovative solutions which have a lasting social impact. Obviously, there has to a commercial angle to each of these projects and the profitability of the venture will have to be factored in.

A Smart City Co-Innovation Lab will first be setup in the city of Allahabad, UP. Allahabad is already figuring in the list of the first 100 cities identified by the government as part of the Smart City project.

The proponents of this concept and the challenge wish to turn the present trend, of thinking technology first and then finding the solutions around it, on its head. They recommend to their students and other startup founders to first go to ground zero, understand the actual problem that customers face and then look for the solution and build the technology around it. In a typical city-infrastructural development space this makes so much more sense, since any application of technology has to be practical, immediately of benefit to the users and the public and most importantly affordable.

Smart City 4.0 is the product of a joint initiative or collaboration with the United States India Strategic Partnership Forum 1M1B, a non-profit body.

The idea will be to invite young boys and girls in the age group of 18 to 29 to work on solutions to various problems that cities encounter, after making a study and understanding the requirements.   

Artificial intelligence, water, energy, transportation, waste management, healthcare, climate and smart agriculture are some of the focus areas identified under this program and there are attractive incentives as well for those who finish on top.

The organizers expect to pick up 15 to 20 startups in different categories and the best 5 will make their presentations to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh a year from now and they may be allowed to work with the concerned government departments to execute their ideas on the ground.

The best two will travel to Italy to showcase their innovation at the Global Social Venture Competition in Milan during April 2018 and can have a go at the prizes totaling $80, 000 (Rs. 52 lacs, approx.).

The whole program may be integrated into the Make in India scheme and besides the lab in Allahabad which will become operational by January 2018, cities like Vizag, Bangalore and Pune are also on their radar, to set up similar labs.

Image source: JCT600