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IIT Madras and Thales announce fourth edition of Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC 4.0), invite applications across India





As part of its CSR efforts in India, Thales has extended its support for IIT Madras' Carbon Zero Challenge for second consecutive year.

Top 15 teams will be given prototype funding up to Rs 500,000 INR per team and the final 5 will be given additional seed grant of up to 1,000,000 INR per team including access to the IITM incubation ecosystem.

The deadline to apply for the contest is 18 February 2024.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, in association with Thales, announces the launch of the fourth edition of the Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC 4.0), an all-India Eco-Innovation and Entrepreneurship contest. The contest invites applications from students, early-stage startups, faculties, research scholars and anyone having validated proof of concept with the potential to transform it into a working prototype. The deadline for the contest is 18 February 2024.

The theme for CZC 4.0 is Circularity in Resources Conservation . The contest's primary goal is to foster cutting-edge deep-tech and circular economy solutions that address environmental challenges in the Energy, Materials, Agriculture, Air, and Water domains. By leveraging the collective ingenuity and expertise of talented individuals from across India, the challenge seeks to build eco-start-ups that can address planetary crises such as Climate change, Pollution, and Food security.

The CZC aims to facilitate the lab-to-market transition of lab-scale models to prototypes. The last edition, supported by Thales and Aquamap (Center for Water Management and Policy at IIT Madras) was highly successful, with 480 applications from across 25 states in India. Out of these, the shortlisted top 25 teams in the last edition received financial support of up to Rs.5 lakhs over six months to build their prototypes and evolve their business models. In the end, seven winning teams were selected who received start-up seed funding of up to Rs. 10 lakh each. Thales has again extended its support for the fourth edition of the Carbon Zero Challenge as part of its CSR efforts in India, marking the second consecutive year of its involvement in the initiative.

Some of the prototypes from the last edition of the CZC are:

Sewage/ Waste management: A synergetic approach to produce biochar from faecal sludge and spent graphite

Sustainable Food: Development of plant-based meat analogues

Biogas: An electricity-driven microbial process for boosting the calorific value of biogas through CO2 utilization

Innovation in agriculture: Valai Peat - Banana Plantation Post Harvest Management Solution

Water management and Wastewater treatment: Removal of water hyacinth using BARCO technology, technology for removing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) bacteria

Energy: NCF coated device for space heating and water heating using solar energy

What distinguishes CZC is its comprehensive support system. Beyond ideation, it provides substantial backing to top-performing teams, offering financial support, mentorship, entrepreneurship training, startup seed grants, and the potential for incubation at IITM.

Evaluation process: Based on the preliminary evaluations, 100 teams will be shortlisted, of which 15 will be given prototype funding up to Rs 5 lakhs per team. The teams will be trained on customer discovery, business models and sustainability metrics by experts.

The top 15 teams will be provided with funds for prototype development and will be monitored for 6 months. At the end of 6 months, teams will be given an opportunity to showcase their prototype at IIT Madras and will be evaluated by subject matter experts. The top 5 teams will be shortlisted for receiving the start seed grant of up to 10 lakhs and continued support, including access to the IITM incubation ecosystem.

The Carbon Zero Challenge aims to accelerate low carbon innovations and entrepreneurship to leave a sustainable world for future generations. Its a pioneering initiative by Sustainability Venture Studio (SVS), part of the School of Sustainability (SOS) at IIT Madras, fully supported by Thales. CZC funds, mentors, and trains clean climate tech innovators, particularly in resource protection and conservation such as soil, water, energy, materials and air systems, treatment and recovery of valuable resources from waste and water, including E-waste, EV batteries, agro-waste, industrial and household waste. The program aims to bridge the gap between research and technology development in academia and the market demands by translating eco-innovations to successful eco-startups in India, said Prof. Indumathi, IIT Madras.

At Thales, we are committed to fostering innovation that aligns with our values of sustainability and environmental responsibility. The Carbon Zero Challenge has proven to be an exemplary platform for driving eco-innovation and nurturing entrepreneurial spirit. Thales is proud to continue collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, for the fourth edition of CZC, advancing our shared vision for a sustainable future. By supporting initiatives like CZC, we aim to catalyse transformative solutions to ease the global fight against climate change and environmental degradation. We are excited to witness the impact the participating teams will make in addressing such critical challenges said Mr. Ashish Saraf, VP and Country Director for India, Thales.

For more information on timelines, team composition and application, visit


Pawandeep KAUR, Thales, Communications in India

+91 120 40 20 555

Prakhar Mishra, Chase India

+91 6394794255

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