TATA NEN Hottest Startup Nominees

The TATA NEN Hottest Startup Awards recognizes high-potential startup organizations in India. Startups seems to be a dime a dozen these days, so beating out hundreds of other new ventures is quite a feat. I’ve picked out some nominees that have a social twist to their operations.

Three startups are featured after the jump, but if you are interested in voting, check out the shortlist (a login is required to vote). The five startups that win the most votes by December 23 will win. Continue reading

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Pedal Your Way to Clean Water

Stories on water are either on the rise or are more likely to catch my eye – either way, another interesting design innovation to contribute to water issues is critiqued by NextBillion.net. A YouTube video on the site also explains the Aquaduct, a tricycle that aims to provide a means of transportation and simultaneously filter water.

Developed by Ideo (an extremely successful design company), the cycle uses energy from pedaling to filter two gallons of water from a 20 gallon tank- supposedly enough for a day’s worth of water for one family. Derek Newberry points out:

As with any shiny new BoP innovation, it’s important to remember that just because the product is inarguably cool doesn’t mean it will actually be applicable in the specific context of local consumers. Has research been done to confirm that the Aquaduct would be cost effective and functional for the BoP in different regions as compared to other available means of water filtration and transport? And I didn’t understand the idea of storing 20 gallons of water but having only two gallons filtered – is this really enough for a family? Does the user have to pedal around every time they want an additional two gallons of filtered water?

All insightful questions. I personally also take issue with the design itself. When I used to bicycle to my project every day in India, I realized that cycling was no simple joy ride – I needed to utilize the basket installed in front and the small clip in back to carry my daily necessities with me or throw in some fruits and vegetables I might purchase from the street vendor on the way home. With that removable tank put in the front, the Aquaduct might have to be a separate purchase for a family, in addition to their other bicycles.

At the same time, the creation of designs aimed for the developing world can be really useful social innovations, once they have been properly priced and adapted. The Aquaduct is another one to watch and see if it moves past the prototype phase.

India Celebrates World Environment Day

June 5 marks World Environment Day, and India is also celebrating in innovative ways. Here are several stories of how people and organizations are marking this day:

The show will present the journey of short listed candidates who will perform various time bound tasks and the winner, chosen through public voting under the guidance of a panel of eminent judges, will be declared as India’s Environmentalist during a 24-hour telethon, which will be a part of NDTV’s nationwide environment campaign later this year. The entries for the reality show will be open between June 5 and July 5, 2008.

The website http://www.green.ndtv.com, will enable visitors to write and read articles, view environment specific messages from eminent personalities and download environment collateral, screensavers and wallpapers. The website will also have a dedicated section on India’s Environmentalist, where people will be able to file their entries for the reality show.

  • Biker and creator of TreeCycle Project Shrenik Rao is partnering with UNEP to bicycle around India, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. He will “interact and discuss issues relating to the environment and global warming with individuals from all walks of life” along the way. Individuals wishing to support this journey can pledge to plant trees as part of UNEP’s Plant A Billion Trees campaign.
  • SOS Children’s Villages partnered with Coca-Cola India to hold painting competitions around environmental topics in 31 villages across the country with hundreds of children.
  • YES BANK, a new age private sector bank, today announced the launch of YES COMMUNITY, an innovative Responsible Banking initiative to be executed through micro-events being organised at the Bank’s retail branch network nationally. In the first year of its inception, YES COMMUNITY has adopted the theme of ‘Planet Earth’ for the Financial Year 2009. [Source: Moneycontrol.com]