I recently participated in Villgro’s Unconvention for Social Enterprises and was surprised to so many innovative new ideas emerging from Pune. In fact most of these ideas were addressing social problems in primary healthcare and sustainable energy. I wondered how such interesting ideas got clustered together in Pune and I soon realized the reason: the nurturing done by Venture Center, Pune!
Venture Center is a technology business incubator established by the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) in Pune. The center particularly focuses on enabling new ideas in healthcare, energy, environment, biotechnology and chemical sciences. Technology-based innovations need a lot of support in research & development and pilot run their experiments. NCL Pune Venture Center nurtures such fledgling new businesses during their start-up phase by offering access to technology support, business mentoring, scientific resources, and enabling a generally supportive environment at its business incubator.
The ‘Lab2Mkt Program’ is the flagship program of NCL Venture Center that is currently helping 35 technology startups to close the gap between a concept and raising finances for a full-fledged company. Today, NCL Venture Center has become the largest business incubator in India dedicated to science & technology, enabling 166 new companies to establish their business since 2007. Evidently, the organization has been honored with the National Award for Technology Business Incubation for this year. I have compiled a few of the best innovative startups incubated by NCL Venture Center that are working on new technologies in energy and environment:
Enriched biogas to process waste by Noble Exchange
The massive pile up of garbage lying in landfills across all Indian cities has become a serious health hazard. The land filling of bio-degradable waste can pollute the environment and produce green house gases (GHG), which contribute to climate change. Noble Exchange Environment Solutions incubated by Venture Center specializes in processing of food waste through its anaerobic digestion technology to generate bio-gas rich in methane that can be compressed used for commercial purposes.
Noble Exchange has set up a sustainable waste management unit for processing 500 tons of organic waste per day in Pune and is now setting up the largest capacity food waste processing plant in the world in Bengaluru. Meanwhile, Noble Exchange is also working on producing India’s first recycled copier paper to be manufactured from 100% post-consumer office waste and will carry the FSC certification.
Green Roads by Bitchem Asphalt Technologies
Bitchem Asphalt Technologies promotes its “Green Roads” philosophy in building road infrastructure and encourages the use of cold road paving technologies for reducing carbon emissions and promoting environment-friendly construction practices. The company has been granted exclusive license for its Cold Mix Technology for bitumen by CSIR-CRRI, which is a mixture of unheated stone aggregates and emulsions or cutback and fillers, which are mixed at ambient temperature without any heating. Bitchem is currently working on promoting its green roads idea to be adopted under the national Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna for rural road construction being carried out by the National Rural Road Development Agency.
Ecosense Strip by Module Innovations
Every year millions of people are infected by urinary tract infections, while thousands of children die of diarrhea, due to expensive and delayed diagnosis. To tackle this menace, Module Innovations has created a solution that can give quick results as well as cheap enough to be used by common man in developing countries like India. The company’s proprietary diagnostic technology called Ecosense Strip can detect bacterial presence in 30 minutes with colorimetric readouts. It will be easy to use just like a pregnancy strip. This strip will bring down the diagnosis time from 3 days to 30 minutes. Its speed of detection, coupled with affordability and simplicity makes Ecosense easy for mass commercialization.
Micro-grids by Gram Oorja
There is no discussion that there is a massive power shortage, which is particularly evident in rural areas. There is a drastic need for creating a localized micro-grid energy system that utilizes cheap local resources. Gram Oorja has created a chain of solar micro-grids and biogas-based cooking grids to fulfil the electricity, cooking and drinking water needs of remote, tribal communities in Maharashtra. Since 2012, the social enterprise has already made an impact on 2,000 households in 50 tribal villages.
Gram Oorja has successfully completed 9 micro-grids, 40 solar drinking water projects and one biogas based cooking grid. The surprising element of Gram Oorja’s business model is it has taken funds from ICICI Bank and is collecting fees from villagers, which ensures that there is a steady flow of revenues for expanding its infrastructure and providing maintenance services.