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BRAC Announces Winners For Urban Innovation Challenge 2018: Meet The 5 Urban Innovators

BRAC announced winners For Urban Innovation Challenge 2018. The grand finale of the Urban Innovation Challenge was held at the BRAC Centre on Monday, 27th November 2018. Five teams won awards in four different categories for innovating effective solutions for a number of urban problems such as healthcare, housing and renewable energy at the grand finale of Urban Innovation Challenge. Winners are Nirvana and City Bird in renewable energy category, Jotno Healthcare in healthcare category, Onushongo in low-cost housing and Drinkwell in water sanitation and hygiene categories. Responsive Urbanist received honorable mention from WASH category.

This is the second time BRAC hosting Urban Innovation Challenge, a program designed to incubate and support early stage social enterprises developing innovative solutions to the growing challenges faced by the people living in cities across Bangladesh.

The complete list of winners:

1. City Bird

Leveraging the idle rooftop solar panels that can be used to power residential water pumps to lift water from ground level to overhead reservoir.

2. Nirvana

Creates an affordable cooking solution for households through its designed digester, Lasiter. This digester is installed on rooftops and uses collected kitchen waste to produce gas for household supply.

3. Jotno Healthcare

Ensures delivery of authentic diagnostic and digital primary healthcare services to the doorsteps of patients through use of the Jotno Healthcare Box. This unit is equipped with the Jotno mobile app and Point-of-Care Testing devices with the capability to diagnose through 70+ vital pathological tests.

4. Drinkwell

Provides turnkey water solutions via metered Water ATM dispensing systems using RFID-enabled pay as you go cards. Drinkwell leverages mobile money platforms to enable utility providers to deliver safe drinking water in hard-to-reach areas.

5. Onushongo

Designs and constructs multi-purpose service points in urban slums that offer common facilities for the cooking and washing. Onushongo develops master construction plans for slum development with an aim to avoid the displacement that can accompany gentrification.

Honourable Mention Award: Responsive Urbanist

Designs and installs rainwater harvesting systems in public spaces to address the unmet demand for clean, affordable drinking water. This solution is particularly aimed at newly-arrived migrants who are financially vulnerable.

This year’s Urban Innovation Challenge, which is the second edition of the program, was officially launched in July with the theme “ Our cities, our solutions" with a call for application. The winning teams will receive grants of up to Tk 5 lakh to develop the proof of concept of their business, opportunity to pitch to BRAC’s investment committee, mentorship, venture-building training, office space, network, access to BRAC resources, and other facilities from BRAC.

Additional secretary of the environment and climate ministry Dr Atiqur Rahman was present as the chief guest at the event. Also present at the event were eminent environment scientist Dr Ainun Nishat, BRAC's senior director for strategy communications and empowerment and jury board member of the competition Asif Saleh, advisor to the Startup Project of the Information and Communication Technology Ministry Tina Zabeen, coordinator for the youth programme of Prothom Alo Munir Hasan, Director of EMK Center in Dhaka Naveed Akbar, chief executive of Green Delta Life Insurance Farzana Chowdhury, programme head of BRAC Urban Development Programme Hasina Mushrofa and representatives from a number of non-governmental organisations.

Dr Atiqur Rahman appreciated BRAC for its initiative to engage young people in innovative work, saying that such competitions, while bring youths opportunities to sharpen their ideas and develop their merit, help find practical solutions to many social issues.

Moinul Alam, team leader of Team Onushongo, winner of low-cost housing category said that UIC gave us a platform to reach out to a whole different class of people, apart from design sector. It was an interesting journey putting a whole design process into words, and challenged us through the angle of business, which as architects we lacked. Overall it was quite challenging, but enriched us in taking on the problems from a whole different angle.

Dr Ainun Nishat observed that there is no alternative to find innovations to ensure social progress. He also urged to find ways to effectively market rural products in the urban consumers.

Asif Saleh said BRAC puts high importance on building fruitful partnership for successful implementation of SDG. He also said, understanding a problem inside out is the most important part of any innovation exercise. For that it requires a team to be adequately dynamic and develop an efficient business plan as well, he added.

Cover photo: Guests are present with winners at the grand finale of 'Urban Innovation Challenge' organised by BRAC.

Read more:

  1. Finding A Sustainable Solution To Blood Donation Problem With Passion And Persistence With Md. Sahariar Hasan Jiisun, Founder, Bloodman
  2. Solving The Public Toilet Problem In Bangladesh, One Toilet At A Time: An Interview With Farhana Rashid, Founder and CEO, Bhumijo
  3. From Rangpur To UIC To Building An Impactful Business With Passion: An Interview With Abu Sayed Al Sagor, Co-founder and CEO, BD Assistant
  4. BRAC Announces Winners For Urban Innovation Challenge: The Complete List Of Startups In The First Batch Of UIC

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