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Chennai student team bags third place at the UK-India Social Innovation Challenge 2017

A project titled ‘Providing deflouridated water to villages affected by flouride contamination’ by a student team from Chennai-based Loyola Institute of Business Administration has won the third spot in the recently held UK-India Social Innovation Challenge 2017. A team of six students from the Institute participated in the prestigious challenge, which was a UK-India Social Entrepreneurship Education Network (UKISEEN) initiative and witnessed a total of 50 submissions by ​​students from universities throughout the UK and India.

​​The top project of the Challenge was ‘A BCD Egg’ by Claire Scott from UK-based Cranfield University and it focused on reducing the risk of using unsafe drinking water. The first runner up was University of Southampton’s Alexandre Beardshall for ‘Juamaji’, an Enactus Southampton project providing communities in Kenya and Malawi with a reliable source of water and fish using solar distillation. A cash prize of £1,500, £1,000 and £500 has been awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place holders respectively. ‘A BCD Egg’ will also receive 6 months mentorship from members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), namely Ms. Shuchita Sonalika (Director and Head-UK, CII), Ambassador Dinesh Patnaik (Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK) and Mr. David Golding (Head of European and Global Engagement, Innovate UK).

Eight Indian projects had made it to the shortlist of the top ten projects of the Challenge. Of these, the team from Loyola Institute impressed the panel of judges the most with their efficient solution. Their project focused on two solutions – the first one being providing domestic water filter based solutions and the other was providing defluoridated water for agricultural and irrigational purposes using fly ash as the raw material. Water being the most vital survival need, contaminated water takes a huge toll on the wellbeing of masses. Therefore, this project promised mega utility impact. It delved into the depth of the underlying issue of providing clean water and sanitation to the masses as well as envisageda realistic and efficient solution to overcome it at domestic as well as commercial level. For this competition, the team was supported by their Institute as well as the Chennai Water Board.

Monica M, one of the six students from the Loyola Institute team, said, “It was a great experience for the team, we got the exposure which has heightened our confidence in our purpose. Our success has given us the hope to implement this project on a commercial scale now.”

This was the first competition launched by UKISEEN with the aim to find, fund and support innovative and sustainable solutions to the global problem of providing clean water and sanitation. It was a collaboration between the Social Impact Lab at the UK-based University of Southampton, the Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, the open innovation platform Babele, the British Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Congratulating the top three winners, Dr. Pathik Pathak, the Director of Social Enterprise at University of Southampton and the Founding Director of its Social Impact Lab, said, “The UK-India Social Innovation Challenge shows how our two countries can work shoulder to shoulder to tackle the pressing challenges of our age. Clean water and sanitation is an urgent problem for our world, and through this Challenge we hope to found some game-changing innovations which can improve the lives of millions.”

The Challenge was open from 17th of January to 24th of February and students could participate in the competition either as an individual or in a team. The mandate was to propose a business model for a social enterprise which tackles the United National Sustainable Development Goal No. 6: Clean water and sanitation. The participants of UK-India Social Innovation Challenge 2017 were required to create a hard impact through one of the following challenges: Ensuring access to drinking water; Adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene; Improving water quality; Increase water use efficiency; Protect and restore water-related ecosystems; and Support and strengthen local participation.

In the initial phase of the Challenge, the participants had to submit a social business model canvas for their proposed solution along with an overview of the problem and solution landscape on the open source innovation platform Babele. The top 10 entries were selected basis an assessment of the competitors’ understanding of the problem area, the sustainability of their proposed venture and the degree of innovation. The shortlisted participants had to submit a 5-minute video explaining their solution and these videos were the basis for determining the top 3 proposals. The videos are available on the Babele community site here: https://babele.co/#!/community/203/projects

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