How can technology positively impact India and the world? That’s the question Google asked Indian non-profit organizations earlier this summer, and thousands of responses flooded in.
A team of up to 160 Googlers got all those submissions down to 10 finalists, and now the Google Impact Challenge has chosen – after a day of pitching in Delhi last week – its three winners along with a “people’s choice” award.
The four civic startups chosen each receive a Rs 3 crore ($500,000) Global Impact Award as well as Google mentoring to help get their projects off the ground. Here are the winners:
Over 80 percent of kids in India lack access to experential, hands-on learning. This startup wants to ensure that the nation’s kids get access to fun and engaging science classes. These mini science labs travel around rural areas via motorbikes. This is a superb idea. See the video for a further explainer:
Already operating for four years, Digital Green is an online knowledge forum and database of agricultural skills that can help farmers lower costs and increase productivity. It’s not just online, and also operates offline to train up some farmers to teach their fellow land-tillers using video screenings in villages. It’s aiming to use the money to reach a million farmers in 10,000 villages across India.
Janaagraha gives people online reporting tools that help them directly reach out to civic representatives. For example, someone could snap a picture of a dangerously crumbling wall or a massive pot-hole, and the idea is that the submitted report reaches the right agency who can fix the issue. The service aims to have 1.5 million users with help from Google’s funding.
We’ve seen a similar thing being done in India with SocialCops.
4. Social Awareness, Newer Alternatives (SANA)
This one got the People’s Choice award. SANA combines solar-powered micro-ionizing water purification and biodigesting technology to improve water and sanitation infrastructure for rural villages. Basically, it’s a green-tech solution to cleaner drinking water where the waste by-products can be used to generate power.
Google decided to give the six other finalists $250,000 in seed funding. We like civic startups around here because they are a refreshing change from the dross of photo apps and shopping loyalty programs and stuff that’s been done ad infinitum ad nauseum. Hopefully we’ll be hearing from a few of these Indian ventures in future.
See the Google Impact Challenge India page for details and videos of the other six finalists.
(Editing by Josh Horwitz)