The Urban Venture Challenge was organised by the IIMB-Real Estate Research Initiative and was supported by Stanford’s The Center on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law and Asia Initiatives. The challenge aim was to identify entrepreneurs who are working on ideas and ventures that will transform India’s cities. Thematic areas of focus included urban infrastructure, liveability and inclusive cities.
The actual pitches by companies was preceded by a startup bootcamp workshop for the entrepreneurs. There was also a keynote speech by Professor Jagan Shah, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, and a panel discussion, hosted by urban expert V. Ravichandar, on which Mumbai Angels’ representative Abhishek Bhatewara (of Rohan Builders – a real estate and construction group headquartered in Pune) was also a panellist. The panel discussed the opportunities and challenges to make urban transformation a reality. Post the panel discussion, 12 organizations working in the social impact space made a pitch to the jury comprising of industry, investors, government, and academia.
The winners included a start-up that channelises youth to locate problems in urban spaces and then work together to solve them. Another one had created innovative air quality monitoring solution helping actionable intelligence.
Abhishek Bhatewara says, “Urbanization is happening at a rapid rate, not just in India, but most developing economies around the world. This no doubt unavoidable, but it comes with its set of challenges such as accessibility, pollution, safety. Solution to these problems although traditionally falls under the perview of the government, we cannot expect the government to solve them all. And this is where there is a need and opportunity of the social ventures. And some of these ventures, with the right business and revenue models, are definitely capable of giving superior returns on the investment.”