All-women smart city delegation visits Delhi & Bengaluru
Guest article by Dr. Azadeh Dindarian, founder of WasteLedger. WasteLedger facilitates trust, transparent and efficient reporting, monitoring and auditing of the reverse supply chain of products of complex and multi-stakeholder industries-conceptualization phases.
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit two cities in India, New Delhi and Bengaluru as part of StartUp AsiaBerlin and Female Entrepreneurship in Berlin and India (FEBI)* program. I was honored to be amongst an exclusive group of female entrepreneurs within the Smart city domain from Berlin, London, and Jakarta. Eight superwomen with whom I have connected immediately and started our exciting learning journey.
I was excited to find out and learn directly from government officials, start-ups, corporate partners and customers about ” Smart City” in India. For example: “what does smart city looks like in India?” and “how do you measure success in this context?”, business culture, stakeholders including customers’ expectations and needs, scale of innovative technology adoption, role and responsibility of government in smart city projects, availability of resources and infrastructure which would support the projects. Given that the biggest issues Indian cities are facing are waste management, access to clean water and renewable energy, pollution, mobility and road traffic, how are Indian cities prioritising the challenges? a
On the first day, we were greeted and welcomed by Ms. Parashar, Deputy Director-General- Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC). One of the highlights of the day was to get to know about Indian culture in general and business culture and type of expectation by customers, a workshop given by Amrita Gandikota, Manager, IGCC.
An introduction to the Indian start-up ecosystem and Governmental initiatives are given by “Invest in India”, “Start-up India” and “AGNIi” in a meeting with Anusha Bhagat, Saravjeet Singh and the Invest India team as well as Kuhan Madhan, fellow at Smart City Mission.
Some of the facts about Indian start-ups and smart city initiatives are summarised below and shows that India has a great potential to achieve what they have envisioned and they are in the right direction with direct help of government’s initiatives and incentives for start-ups, research institutes and corporates:
- India has 22 000+ start-ups,
- 100 smart cities with 100 million inhabitants
- 9% of entrepreneur in India are women
- Over 500 million online Citizens
- India is setting up 50 Solar Parks of 40GW and 60 Solar cities
- India is the 4th largest automotive market in the world and the central government allocated USD 1.4 Bn demand incentive for the adaption of Electric Vehicles.
- Fourth largest railway system in the world
- Ranks second in food production
We met Mr. Padam Vijay from India Urban Observatory at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Mr. Abhishek Dubey from PWC and exchange on problem areas and innovation requirements for urban developments. They shared the best use cases within their Smart cities, using multi-dimension solutions for all aspects of smart city and gave us a glimpse of the real-time applications and how they are using data for cleaner, efficient cities from various sources and sensors. Further, Dr. Manosi Lahiri from “ML Infomap”, a powerful woman and a role model for female entrepreneurs, talked about her journey as an entrepreneur and how to access the data and establishing B2G partnership within the smart city projects.
We had the honour to attend Dinner reception held by the German Embassy in New Delhi where we had a chance to meet customers, presented our start-ups and exchange on future, limitations and available policies of Smart City, E-mobility, and Agri-tech in Germany and in India.
On the second day of the delegation, we were surprised and thrilled by the enthusiasm and dedication of female entrepreneurs which we met at the event organised byMs. Aishwarya Malhi, co-founder of REBALANCE. We met energetic and powerful, Ms. Krithika Ram, Program Director- WEConnect India, and role model and female entrepreneur Ms. Meeta Wasan from DOON consulting. During this session, we got a glimpse into the female entrepreneurship in India and the struggles they are facing and support they are receiving from various governmental organisations, NGOs and corporates.
“STARTERS CFO” gave us an overview of how to set up a company corporate tax structure in India and how the Indian government helping businesses to smoothly operate within the country.
On the third day, we were on an early flight from New Delhi to Bengaluru where we were welcomed at the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce office.
Highlight of the day was meeting with an inspirational leader Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary to the Planning Department and Chairperson of Tumakuru Smart City Corporation Limited, Mr. Kalayil, and Mr. Bhoobalan and their colleagues. We were invited to present our start-ups to her and she was actively listening and advised us how our solutions can be used and implemented within the Tumakuru Smart City project. What really stuck with me in this meeting was the power of people and the team that helped Tumakuru Smart City project to be successful. The cooperation between government, start-ups, and corporates is crucial for the success of the Tumakuru Smart City and their commitment to have green infrastructure for citizens and implementing UN-SDGs.
We had a chance to meet and exchange on the topics in details with investors and key women leaders at a networking dinner in Bengaluru.
On our second day in Bengaluru, INFOSYS BPM ( Ranked #3 on 2019 Forbes ‘World’s Best Regarded Companies’ List) hosted us at their Electronic city campus, a campus known as “A Blend Of Futuristic Vision And Sustainability” more than 30,000 employees are working in this self-contained city. Information on Infosys innovation fund and international collaborations, Infosys start-up initiatives and Infosys R&D were presented to us by the representatives of the company. We had a chance to present our solutions and the feasibility of the collaboration between start-ups and Infosys were briefly discussed.
For our meeting with “IIIT Bangalore” we were greeted by Gopinath Sheregar from IOTracx- AgroBlock, we were given an insight of start-ups based at IIIT (i.e., FiboTalk, GREENdzine and City Surveillance) their support networks within and outside of the institute. We were introduced to Prof. Kumar and discussed about sensors and their applications in smart city projects. I was in particular impressed by a high number of female students within the IIIT campus.
Our afternoon session with “NSRCEL” was quite a success as we were able to get to know female founders from Bengaluru and we exchanged on various topics such as market, stakeholders, investments criteria and challenges women founders are facing
On our last day, WRI Smart city research centre hosted us and gave an overview of their projects and we listened to the start-ups which they are supporting such as Hasiro Dala, CityFix Labs, STAMP, Better Bus Challenge, 3I Mobility.
The visit to NASSCOM IoT Lab and meeting with Start-up Karnataka, Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS) and getting to see “Elevate start-ups” and their products was a great way to compare solutions for various problems in Germany and India.
We sat down with the representatives of the German corporates and disucussed how to support women founders and how government can step in to help. We concluded the trip with a well organised German-Indian pitch off night with a powerful keynote speech about “ Women in Tech” by Ms. Margit Hellwig -Bötte, German Consul General in Bengaluru.
I came back to Berlin and realised how much I have learned on this trip. Amongst others, I came back with new business contacts, cultural awareness, new friendships, confidence, knowledge of Indian Sustainable Smart City projects and infrastructures, available and working solutions and clarity on future direction.
This delegation would not take place without coordination and support of many individuals. Special thanks to FEBI organisers – Amrita Gandikota from Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Bengaluru, Colette Beukman and Oleksandra ‘Alex’ Kovbasko, from enpact e.V., StartUp AsiaBerlin and Johanna Block, from Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises and Julia Karst from GIZ.
*The FEBI project established in 2018 by the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises in Cooperation with GIZ GmbH, supported by BMZ through Bund-Lander- Pilotprogram and enpact e.V.