Energy & Environment Lab University of Chicago and Karnataka Government Launch Challenge to Clean Up Bengaluru’s Environment

The University of Chicago and the Urban Development Department of the Government of Karnataka  launched the Bengaluru Innovation Challenge—an effort to improve air and water quality by crowdsourcing inventive ideas from citizens, civic leaders, academics, corporations, and other institutions across India.

The Challenge winners will receive funding support of up to Rs. 1.5 crore over two years to implement and test their ideas in the field, with guidance and input from the Government of Karnataka and leading faculty at the University of Chicago. If successful, these ideas could become policy solutions the government could implement at a large scale, and may provide an important model for other cities to follow.

Launching the Bengaluru Innovation Challenge, Shri. K.J. George, Hon'ble Minister for Bengaluru Development & Town Planning said, “Bengaluru is the engine of growth of Karnataka and I am glad to announce this competition here. This Challenge collects ideas from the community, from the people who live and work here and know this city and its problems best and I think that’s a very interesting way of looking for solutions.”

Urging people to participate, he added, “Please come up with environmental solutions, government is with you.”

The Challenge is a project of the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago and the Urban Development Department of the Government of Karnataka, in partnership with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago’s India team (EPIC-India) and UChicago Energy and Environment Lab.

“The answers to the problems that modern cities face today are often found hidden by those with unique on-the-ground knowledge,” says Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and director of EPIC. “This challenge presents a fantastic opportunity not just for the government and University of Chicago, but for students, researchers and innovative thinkers across India to share their novel ideas for solving the real energy and environmental problems of Bengaluru.”

The challenge, which is now receiving letters of interest, will screen applications over the next six months before announcing the winners in the fall of 2018.

“We’re excited to be partnering with the Karnataka government on this ground-breaking approach to identifying, refining, testing and scaling up new policy solutions proven to work,” says Anna Agarwal, Associate Director, Urban Innovation, UChicago Energy & Environment Lab. “Testing the ideas in advance ensures not only that the policy is designed to be successful, but also that it can be effectively scaled up and implemented.”

The Bengaluru Innovation Challenge builds on an earlier challenge that took place in Delhi in 2015-16 in partnership with the Delhi government. In that challenge, three winners were chosen from nearly 250 ideas from citizens, students, researchers, entrepreneurs, non-profit and for-profit organizations from across India and around the world.

Learn more about the winners of the Delhi Innovation Challenge here.

Learn more about the Bengaluru Innovation Challenge, and stay updated on the challenge, by visiting

7 February 2018