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Chennai student team bags prize in UK for water project

New Delhi : A team of six students from Chennai-based Loyola Institute of Business Administration has won the third spot in the recently held UK-India Social Innovation Challenge 2017, a competition between students from India and the UK on finding solutions for provision of clean water.

The Chennai team bagged the top honour for its project that focussed on provision of deflouridated water to Indian villages affected by flouride contamination. It also got a a cash prize of £500.

Interestingly, eight Indian projects had made it to the shortlist of the top 10 projects of the Challenge, which was a UK-India Social Entrepreneurship Education Network (UKISEEN) initiative. Overall, there were 50 submissions by students from universities throughout the UK and India.

This was the first competition launched by UKISEEN with the aim to find, fund and support innovative and sustainable solutions to the global problem of providing clean water and sanitation. It was a collaboration between the Social Impact Lab at the UK-based University of Southampton, the Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras, the open innovation platform Babele, the British Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The project from Loyola Institute focused on two solutions – the first one being provision of domestic water filter-based solutions and the other being provision of defluoridated water for agricultural and irrigational purposes using fly ash as raw material.

Against the backdrop of contaminated water taking a huge toll on wellbeing of people across the world, the project from Loyola Institute promises an impact on the lives of people. The project delved into the depth of the underlying issue of providing clean water and sanitation as well as envisaged a realistic and efficient solution to overcome the challenge at both domestic and commercial level.

For the competition, the Chennai team was supported by the Chennai Water Board. The team is not keen to rest on the laurels and intends to pursue commercial exploitation to ensure that the project has a utility value too.

“It was a great experience for the team, we got the exposure which has heightened our confidence in our purpose. Our success has given us the hope to implement this project on a commercial scale now", said Monica M, one of the six students from the Loyola Institute team.

Director of Social Enterprise at University of Southampton and Founding Director of its Social Impact Lab Dr Pathik Pathak said, “The UK-India Social Innovation Challenge shows how our two countries can work shoulder-to-shoulder to tackle the pressing challenges of our age. Clean water and sanitation is an urgent problem for our world, and through this Challenge we hope to found some game-changing innovations which can improve the lives of millions".

The winner of the Challenge was ‘A BCD Egg’ by Claire Scott from UK-based Cranfield University and it focused on reducing the risk of using unsafe drinking water.

The first runner up was University of Southampton’s Alexandre Beardshall for ‘Juamaji’, an Enactus Southampton project providing communities in Kenya and Malawi with a reliable source of water and fish using solar distillation.

The Challenge, open from January 17 till February 24 this year, had given a mandate to the teams to propose a business model for a social enterprise which tackles the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 6: Clean water and sanitation.

The participants of UK-India Social Innovation Challenge 2017 were required to create a hard impact through one of the following challenges: Ensuring access to drinking water; adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene; improving water quality; increase water use efficiency; protect and restore water-related ecosystems; and support and strengthen local participation.

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