Seven finalists identified for Ashirvad Water Challenge

They were shortlisted out of 140 applicants whose innovations included solutions to water leakage and distribution, wastewater treatment, water purification, atmospheric generation of water, and enabling water ecosystems

Updated - February 28, 2023 01:39 am IST

Published - February 27, 2023 03:36 pm IST - Bengaluru

A representational photo of a woman selling painted earthen pots in Bengaluru.

A representational photo of a woman selling painted earthen pots in Bengaluru. | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) and Ashirvad Pipes, in partnership with the office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Central Government, has announced the seven finalists of the Ashirvad Water Challenge who were selected from among 25 water innovators.

They were shortlisted out of 140 applicants in 2022 whose innovations included solutions to water leakage and distribution, wastewater treatment, water purification, atmospheric generation of water, and enabling water ecosystems.

Several of these solutions use deep tech interventions, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and aim to be cost-effective and are potentially scalable to water-stressed households across the nation.

The Ashirvad Water Challenge has a prize totalling ₹2.5 crore. A sum of ₹75 lakh in milestone grants will be awarded to five of the seven finalists at this stage. These finalists will now compete for ₹1.75 crore that will be awarded to the winning solution and runner-up.

“Inspired and overwhelmed by how the vast ecosystem in water has come to support an audacious idea from The/Nudge Institute that aims to bring the spotlight and give wings to India’s leading water-tech startups,” says Kanishka Chatterjee, director of The/Nudge Prize.

“Our advisors and deep thinkers like Prof. Asit K Biswas (world leading hydrologist, University of Glasgow), Madhavan V.K. (CEO, WaterAid); the jury members; Jal Jeevan Mission and various other partners, have provided catalytic attention and efforts for these start-ups to scale their solutions and refine their approaches to solving for India.”

Deepak Mehrotra, Managing Director of Ashirvad Pipes, said, “Water security is a major challenge for our country, and Ashirvad Pipes is committed to finding sustainable solutions.”

Selection of the finalists from the pool of 25 semi-finalists was spread across two rounds. They were first evaluated by a team of independent evaluators from IIT Jodhpur, headed by Professor Pradip K. Tewari, Professor Chair at the Jal Jeevan Mission.

The final selection was led by five jury members — Sunderrajan Krishnan (Executive Director, INREM Foundation),  Sapna Poti (Director - Strategic Alliances, office of the Principal Scientific Adviser), Yogendra K. Singh (Director, Jal Jeevan Mission, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation), Mala Subramaniam (CEO, Arghyam), and Vishwanath S. (Zenrainman; Advisor, Arghyam & Trustee, Biome Environmental Trust).

The selection criteria for the jury were the startups’ scalability and replicability, economic feasibility, social outcomes, organisational readiness in terms of business plan and funding, environmental impact and sustainability, and the improvement in quality in the targeted water. 

The finalists will now work towards proving their progress on parameters across water management and overall impact in the space. They will address the biggest challenges identified in their journey to scale, and address them through a strategic plan or action on the ground.

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