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Heralding a Sustainable Future: 5 Startups Blazing a Trail in Cleantech & Agritech!

The program is meant to focus on scaling innovations for smart cities, cleantech, agri-tech, life sciences, and education.


This article has been sponsored by Yes Bank


A robot with a shelf life of 12 years to clean thousands of solar panels and save water; a technology that could convert wastewater into future fuel to produce electricity; a model that converts farm and food waste into nutritious cattle feed; and more — Sounds exciting, right?

India has seen a rapid growth in the use of clean and sustainable practices over the past few years. The renewable energy market in India alone is estimated to be at USD 17 billion and is expected to continue growing at 15% annually. The same applies to Indian agriculture. The agriculture and grocery market is the sixth largest in the world with retail contributing around 65 to 70% of the sales.

To further support this growth and increase adoption of renewables, India needs a collaborative approach to scale innovative cleantech and agritech solutions. In the recent past, many startups have emerged that are working towards harnessing renewable energy sources, water and waste management, and e-waste recycling, thus reducing the use of natural resources and also helping reduce emissions.

Startups are bringing smarter innovations to the market that need an evolved cleantech
ecosystem to help scale up.

Recognising this, YES Bank launched YES SCALE — a multi-track platform accelerator program in June, 2018.

The program is meant to focus on scaling innovations for smart cities, cleantech, agri-tech, life sciences, and education.

It provides a platform where these startups can be connected to industry leaders, experts, corporates, government bodies, investors etc., to help them scale their businesses to pave the way for a better and sustainable future.

The Better India got in touch with some of these startups to understand and share their ideas. Here’s a lineup of a few of them:

Krimanshi Technologies: International agri-business awardee by the UN and the latest debutant in the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list, the company upcycles surplus farm and food waste into nutritious cattle feed. Operating in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, it supplies cattle feed to 200 farmers every day across Jodhpur, Pali, Nagaur and Bikaner.

The farmers they cater to have reported a 20 per cent increase in milk production and a tremendous increase of fat content in milk. This thick-quality milk is now earning profits for the farmers. From the regular Rs 22 per litre, the farmers are now earning Rs 28-30 per litre of milk.

The company is now scaling to Jaipur and has high hopes from this partnership with YES SCALE. “This feels like the beginning of a new chapter. With industry partners like Godrej, our collaboration with YES SCALE looks optimistic,” founder Nikhil Bohra says.

Foundation for Environmental Monitoring: The secret to a good yield for a farmer is good soil. And the Foundation for Environmental Monitoring (FFEM) wants to ensure just that by making inexpensive soil quality testing devices for farmers that can be used along with smartphones

In a general scenario, soil testing can be a tiresome and tedious process, since samples have to be taken to the lab, which results in long waits.

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Source: FFEM

FFEM’s innovation helps farmers save time and energy by giving them instant results. Currently, this device can test the macronutrient and PH levels, and the company is in the process to track micronutrients too.

FlipRobotics: Did you know that a solar plant of 1 megawatt requires anywhere up to 3,300 solar panels? On a daily basis, the dust that accumulates on these solar panels affects their efficiency by 8-10 per cent, which increases depending upon the location and the condition of the dust.

Cleaning these panels requires manual labour, two to three litres of water per solar panel and at least seven days. Multiply this by 3,300! And as the required time increases, these panels continue to lose units of electricity.

“The solution that we have is robotic. With a shelf life of 10-12 years, these solar panel cleaning robots can do the same work in a limited amount of time, can be controlled using a remote control and provide real-time data. This means that you can increase the frequency of cleaning, while also saving costs on manual labour and thousands of litres of water!” says Jatin Sharma, the co-founder of the B2B robotics company.

“Yes Scale is giving us the confidence that we wouldn’t have to fret over capital or focus fully on technology. It eliminates uncertainties. Our product is not even out in the market, but we have sure-shot customers. That’s the power of it,” he adds.

Revy Environmental Solutions: Led by award-winning scientist Dr Vanita Prasad, Revy Environmental Solutions is working towards the goal of helping India turn its waste into energy.

Revy has manufactured “Granulated Sludge” comprising of carefully chosen microbes. This is more like a “software update” of the existing yet redundant anaerobic bioreactors in the country.

Unlike the existing ‘flocculant sludge’ or a colloidal mix of bacteria from cow dung and other sources, the solution is a breakthrough innovation in the field of wastewater treatment, converting wastewater in cities and industries into liquid fertiliser to produce electricity.

OxraGrid: OxraGrid co-founded by Akshat Kulkarni and Yash Kulkarni is leveraging IoT technologies for the power sector. Several parts of India struggle with power outages for hours each day, due to inefficiencies in the power grid.

The idea of this startup is to install low-cost sensors along the distribution network, use real-time data and software to identify these issues and predict when outages can take place, to fix them.

“The secret to a smart city is a smart grid. We want to solve the energy dilemma and help India access clean, secure, and reliable electricity. We believe YES SCALE can help us reach where we want to go with top industry partners and government institutions on board,” says Akshat.

It was interesting to see some of these startups that were selected for the YES SCALE program from a pool of over 200 integrate technologies like machine learning, IoT, and big data with innovative hardware solutions.

Based on their stages of development and the level of customisation required for the pilot solution, these startups will receive a grant to support the proof of concept testing. In addition, they will get exclusive access to technology and mentorship from industry leaders, along with an opportunity to raise additional funding of up to USD 1 million.

The industry partners in the cleantech track, include Grasim Industries, Schneider Electric India, First Solar, Freyr Energy, and Fourth Partner Energy, and in the agritech track, Godrej Agrovet, ITC, MTR, Big basket, Nestle, Olam International, FSSAI, with additional support from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, Villgro Innovations Foundation, Bharat Innovation Fund, UK Innovation Fund, Anthill Ventures, Artha Ventures, CIIE, among others.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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Written by Jovita Aranha

A lover of people, cats, food, music, books & films. In that order. Binge-watcher of The Office & several other shows. A storyteller on her journey to document extraordinary stories of ordinary people.