Now that the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem 2022 winners have been formally introduced, you’ll wish to be taught extra about every profitable staff and the story behind every innovation. The Cisco International Downside Solver Problem is a web based competitors that awards money prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs fixing the world’s hardest issues. Since 2017, the competitors has awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 start-ups from 25 nations.
We’re excited so that you can be taught extra concerning the 2022 profitable groups addressing a number of the largest challenges we face by technology-based options.
On this weblog we are going to find out about Agri To Energy (A2P Power), winner of the $100,000 USD Local weather Influence and Regeneration Prize. Their resolution addresses the issue of crop waste burning in India, which causes unhealthy air air pollution, damaging carbon emissions, and a monetary burden for already struggling farmers. A2P’s expertise platform makes use of AI and satellite tv for pc imagery to determine areas the place crop waste burning is prevalent, and creates a market the place crop waste will be became clear biofuels as an alternative.
Co-founder and CEO Sukhmeet Singh earned a bachelor’s diploma in mechanical engineering and an MBA earlier than becoming a member of the Indian Faculty of Enterprise, the place he led an entrepreneurship program and consulted with governments and trade on coverage points. In 2018 he co-founded A2P Power alongside together with his co-founder Dr. Robert Berry to create a marketplace for biofuels derived from crop waste. I sat down with him to be taught extra about his journey and the influence A2P is making in India.
What impressed you to develop this resolution?
Sukhmeet: I grew up within the Chandigarh space in northern India. Once I was a toddler, there wasn’t as a lot visitors and industrialization as immediately, so it was a lot cleaner. Once I got here again after just a few years of learning and dealing outdoors my metropolis, I had two younger youngsters, and I noticed that each winter there was numerous smoke and air air pollution. The air high quality index (AQI) is often round 50 or 60 in cleaner cities, however right here in India it goes as much as 400 or 500. The docs would say to not let the youngsters play outdoors when it’s on the peak. A giant motive for that is that 35 million tons of crop waste is produced yearly in simply two states in North India, and most of it will get burned on the sphere and produces black smoke. Roughly 500 million tons of crop waste is generated yearly in all of India, and a few experiences say 30 to 40 p.c will get burned. On the identical time, 60 to 70 p.c of the electrical energy generated at thermal energy vegetation in India nonetheless comes from coal burning, and numerous that could be a low-grade coal.
I used to be engaged on a crop diversification coverage undertaking with the Authorities of Punjab the place I interacted with farmers, and I spotted that this was not a farmer-specific drawback, it’s a cross-sector drawback. There, I used to be launched to Dr. Robert Berry, who was Dean of Engineering at Aston College (UK) and main a European Bioenergy Analysis Institute undertaking exploring using applied sciences to remodel paddy straw into gasoline and agricultural merchandise. In 2018, we noticed that there was a superb enterprise alternative as a result of on one hand, we have now numerous agricultural biomass and then again we want cleaner fuels in thermal energy vegetation. So we determined to start out a corporation, Agri To Energy, to make use of crop waste for energy era.
I’m significantly grateful to Aston College and the Oglesby Charitable Belief for his or her help of the analysis, feasibility institution, and early commercialization of this work.
Are you able to clarify how your resolution works?
Sukhmeet: When it comes to gathering the crop waste, we work with farmer entrepreneurs. These are typically youthful people in a village who wish to do one thing further aside from farming. They spend money on assortment equipment and conduct outreach with particular person farmers to gather the waste from them. This advantages farmers as a result of they aren’t spending time or cash on gasoline to set their crop waste on fireplace. Simply these financial savings alone can improve their income by seven p.c.
From the manufacturing facet, we arrange vegetation the place we will produce biofuel, which is mainly inexperienced sustainable gasoline made out of stubble, which is mainly the crop waste. We promote the inexperienced gasoline to companies that wish to shift from utilizing coal to biomass fuels. Know-how additionally performs an essential function. The time between harvesting one crop and sowing the subsequent crop is roughly 30 to 40 days, and if the gathering isn’t achieved inside that point, the crop waste will get burned. So we had the concept to make use of expertise for extra environment friendly assortment of crop waste. We began utilizing satellite tv for pc pictures of areas with a excessive depth of fires, which signifies there’s a considerable amount of crop being burned. This enabled us to concentrate on areas that can have the largest provide of crop waste.
What’s revolutionary about the best way you might be fixing the difficulty? What units your resolution aside?
Sukhmeet: A key differentiation for us could be using expertise. We are able to inform by satellite tv for pc imagery the place crop waste is getting burned and the way a lot, so we all know if it’s a superb place to do an intervention. I don’t assume any firm is doing that.
Our expertise platform has additionally grow to be a market for biofuels. Once we had been organising manufacturing vegetation, we realized that we will’t meet the necessity throughout India. There’s a a lot greater demand for biofuels now as a result of the India authorities has set carbon neutrality targets for all companies. We had been working in [the state of] Punjab however getting many queries from companies in different states that wish to shift from coal to biomass fuels. That’s after we realized our expertise platform might additionally allow small biofuel producers, small-scale farmers, and patrons to attach with out our involvement.
Some greater biofuel manufacturing vegetation could wish to purchase stubble from as a lot as 10,000 acres. However some households personal solely a small quantity, perhaps 6 to 7 acres. That’s the place the platform comes into image: it helps to consolidate small provides of crop waste or biofuels into greater portions for patrons.
The expertise platform has one different profit: it permits companies which might be shopping for the biofuels to see their influence. By means of the dashboard they will see how a lot revenue farmers are producing and the way a lot carbon emissions are being prevented, and all that may movement immediately into their ESG reporting.
How will profitable a prize within the Cisco International Downside Solver Problem provide help to advance your corporation?
Sukhmeet: We’re in a spot proper now the place we wish to scale up from a product and expertise perspective, and likewise from a go-to-market perspective. With out this funding, we’d discover it very troublesome to scale. Now we will rent people who find themselves extra environmental centered, or who’ve a expertise background and may work with corporates to in the end assist them of their journey to shift from fossil fuels to those inexperienced fuels. As I mentioned, India has already set web zero targets, so we really feel there’s an excellent alternative proper now for this type of product, and this prize cash will assist us seize that market by scaling our complete platform.
What recommendation do you’ve for different social entrepreneurs?
Sukhmeet: It’s very arduous if you find yourself in a sector the place you need to change habits, so acknowledge that it’ll be an extended journey. However persist with your core, and don’t lose sight of why you began the group. Construct merchandise, each bodily merchandise or expertise, check out beta merchandise, and attempt to get to market as quickly as potential. Getting buyer suggestions is admittedly, actually vital, too. The journey of being an entrepreneur is thrilling, but it surely’s an extended journey. You simply have to stay to it.
Keep tuned for extra articles in our weblog sequence, that includes interviews with each Cisco International Downside Solver Problem 2022 profitable staff!