Solving Bangalore's Environmental Problems with Open Innovation

Published Jan-05-19

New waste management and energy conservation initiatives to solve a city's environmental problems.

Urban Development Department of the Government of Karnataka, India

The Story:

Solving Bangalore's Environmental Problems with Open Innovation Bengaluru (also called Bangalore) is the capital of India's southern Karnataka state and one of the country's most successful cities, a modern metropolis that is India's high-tech industry hub. However, it is a city beset by environmental problems that could derail its future. Among them are plastic waste, pollution, water scarcity, urbanization and loss of green cover.

Bringing Brilliant Minds Together

Radical thinking and solutions are needed to add to efforts already underway to address these challenges. To bring brilliant minds together, the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago and the Urban Development Department of the Government of Karnataka organized the Bengaluru Innovation Challenge, an open innovation contest to tackle the most pressing environmental and energy challenges in Bengaluru.

More than 170 ideas were submitted by entrepreneurs, organizations, citizens, civic leaders and others in India and across the world. A panel of judges whittled these down to eight finalists and two winners were announced at an awards ceremony in Bengaluru in November 2018.

The two winning ideas were:

Waste-Picker Franchisee and Variable Pricing Model for Total Waste Management services by Hasiru Dala Innovations: This concept is to develop safe and equitable waste management strategies that integrate waste-pickers.

There are more than 30,000 waste-pickers in the city, according to a 2015 citizen survey. These are individuals who salvage reusable or recyclable materials thrown away by others and sell them on or use them for their own needs. By formalizing what they do and providing a variable price model, this winning concept would allow them to increase their income four or five-fold and improve their working conditions.

Empowering consumers for electricity conservation by TIDE and WRI India: This winning concept aims to facilitate a culture of energy conservation and energy efficiency in the residential sector with a consumer-focused management initiative called VR Lite. Through awareness, knowledge and consumer reports people will be encouraged to save electricity. Home energy consumption in the city has increased during the last two decades and is set to increase eight times by 2050.

“The fact that these brilliant ideas have come from people and organizations who know the ground realities, gives me immense hope. I am very optimistic that together with experts at the University of Chicago and guidance from our Government, the winning ideas will give some long-lasting environmental solutions to Bengaluru,” said Dr. Shri. G. Parameshwara Deputy Chief Minister, Karnataka at the award ceremony.


Both winning teams will receive up to 1.5 crores (approximately $USD 210,000) in financing over the next two years. They will also work closely with the Karnataka Government and the University of Chicago to get their ideas off the ground.

Share on      
Next Story »

What Can we Solve for You?