The Union housing and urban affairs ministry has launched a ‘Swachhata Startup Challenge’ which aims at involving innovative startups in the sanitation and waste management sector in the country.
The objective of this challenge is to encourage startups to come forward and drive catalytic transformation in the aforementioned sectors, the ministry said.
The initiative was launched on January 27 in partnership with the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – a public financial institution that implements the policies defined by the French Government.
In an official statement, the ministry said the challenge, which is open to startups registered in India and French actors collaborating with an Indian startup as a joint venture, invites solutions across four thematic areas – social inclusion, zero dump (solid waste management), plastic waste management and transparency through digital enablement.
The challenge provides a prominent platform to participating enterprises to showcase their innovative products and services along with significant monetary and mentorship incentives.
Top 10 awardees will receive Rs.25 lakh along with one year of dedicated incubation support from French Tech, the French government's initiative to promote startups, the statement said.
"Apart from these, eligible startups will get additional incentives which include up to Rs 50 lakh follow-on investment from Villgro, the implementation partner of the challenge. Each winner will also get up to 100,000 USD worth credits and technology support from technology partner Amazon Web Services," the ministry stated in its notification.
Launching the challenge, secretary, housing and urban affairs, Manoj Joshi said, "The Swachhata Startup Challenge, launched today, is a step towards ensuring innovation and smart governance in SBM-U 2.0 by incentivising the startup ecosystem to help realise our vision of garbage-free cities."
Besides Joshi, Emmanuel Lenain, ambassador of France to India, and Ugo Astuto, ambassador of the European Union (EU) to India and Bhutan, were present during the launch.
Elaborating on the French government's role in promoting innovations in the waste management space in India, Lenain said that France and India are committed to taking joint action against plastic pollution, and the ‘Swachhata Startup Challenge’ is a concrete step in this direction.
"This initiative comes at a time when France and the EU are looking to work closely with India on the international stage to negotiate a global treaty on plastic pollution," Lenain added.
Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0, launched on October 1 last year, aims to achieve the vision of 'Garbage Free Cities' over the next five years.