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The Climate Startup Week

Climate change

With climate change and its associated issues being among the greatest crises faced by nations around the world, the conversation around the matter has never been as charged with urgency as it is at present. This also has the consequence of making climate change one of the strongest drivers of innovation and entrepreneurship, as budding entrepreneurs see combating the climate challenge as one of the strongest ways to make an impact and establish a foothold in the marketplace. 

The Climate Collective Foundation has been a longstanding partner of the AGNIi Mission in our CleanTech efforts. Starting with supporting India’s first solar hackathon in 2016, the Climate Collective has been facilitating numerous initiatives over the years, which are centred around providing funding and mentorship opportunities for both early and late stage startups, including Climate Launchpad, Climate Ready, Climate Runway and Climate Takeoff. 

In September, AGNIi partnered with Climate Collective for their Climate Startup Week initiative and organized a webinar for our stakeholders in order to spread awareness of the event with Pratap Raju, Founding Partner at Climate Collective.  

As part of the Climate Startup Week, the AGNIi Mission helped organize a panel discussion on Government Policy supporting Climate Tech Startups, featuring the following speakers: 

•    Dr. Preeti Banzal, Adviser/Scientist ‘G’, from the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor. 
•    Shruti Rai Bhardwaj, Scientist ‘E’, from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. 
•    Professor Anil Gupta, Head - National Institute of Disaster Management.
 
The session was moderated by Pratap Raju and explored numerous facets of climate change and the sheer multifaceted nature of the issue, as it concerned anti-pollution measures, disaster management efforts, the barriers put up by the gap between lab research and technology commercialization, as well as the nature of waste management policies in India. 

For instance, the National Clean Air programme, instituted to combat air pollution, could also have a co-benefit in reducing India’s carbon footprint if it has the side effect of reducing our reliance on high-emission fuels. Entrepreneurs not well-versed in technologies could set up systems and supply chain solutions that would make the implementation of climate interventions a little easier. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data processing technologies could have an impact on both climate adaptation by providing low-cost early warning systems for natural disasters, as well as climate mitigation by improving energy planning when building our infrastructure. 

Innovators looking for opportunities might also want to explore the demand in waste-management, as there is considerable demand in developing waste-exchange platforms that can help ensure compliance with EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) policies, especially in e-waste. Due to waste-exchange being dominated by the informal sector for so long, it would also be imperative for innovators to integrate informal sector players into their operations to ensure their efforts are sustainable. 

There is a considerable demand for multi-hazard warning systems, as the multifaceted nature of climate risk makes it nearly impossible to develop a one-size-fits-all solution to the uncertain issue of climate adaptation. Hence, there is a demand for innovators in multiple sectors to apply themselves, and to future-proof their solutions so that there are no unforeseen downsides to their short-term benefits. 

The speakers also acknowledged the ongoing challenge of Research and Development (R&D) lab results not always translating into market-viable solutions and committed to continuing to work on addressing the matter. Several remedial measures were discussed, such as adopting a consortium model, R&D labs increasing their accessibility to others, providing more opportunities for scientists not well-versed in English to pitch to stakeholders in their native tongue, and examining outdated paradigms that result in a disproportionate focus on sectors such as engineering, while neglecting others such as biotechnology

Lastly, the speakers also discussed the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) intervention in CleanTech and raising awareness of strong initiatives that can encourage greater networking and involvement in the sector. With the increasing demand and adoption of renewable energy systems as well as AI and Information Technology (IT) based solutions, the life cycle of products and their end-of-life management will become a major issue that CSR initiatives will have to contend with. The office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) is also undertaking efforts to connect CSR initiatives to academia via Centers of Excellence. 

The AGNIi Mission’s engagement with the Climate Startup Week would continue throughout September. As both AGNIi and Climate Collective have provided each other opportunities in our mutual goal of advancing strong Indian innovations in CleanTech, AGNIi remains committed to building on this partnership for the foreseeable future.