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UNDP & AIM’s Youth Co:Lab Inviting Applications From Startups, Innovators Building Climate Crisis Solutions

Set up in 2017 by the UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to accelerate the implementation of sustainable development goals for APAC by empowering the youth

The programme was launched in India in 2019 when the UNDP collaborated with Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog

The fourth edition of the programme is scheduled for Oct 2021, and the last date to apply is September 30

India has long been famed for being amongst the countries with the youngest population. According to projections, the median age in the country will be 28 years by 2022. With such projections comes the opportunity to mould the young minds and leverage their ideas and potential, to further the sustainable growth of the economy and the country. 

With the aim to do just that, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation set up Youth Co:Lab in 2017. In India, the programme was launched in 2019 when the UNDP collaborated with the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and NITI Aayog.

Through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship, the programme aspires to develop a shared agenda for APAC countries to invest in and empower the youth and speed up the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme has already been launched in 25 countries and territories across the region.

For its fourth edition in India, UNDP India and Atal Innovation Mission have partnered with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) and Climate Collective Foundation (CCF).

Youth Co:Lab provides a platform for young and innovative minds to solve some of the most pressing challenges of the region and generate the best possible solutions. In short, it connects participating entrepreneurs with incubators, accelerators and investors to help take their ideas and solutions to the market.

The programme’s website claims to have empowered more than 8K young entrepreneurs in the APAC region so far. In turn, the young people helped launch and improve more than 1K startups addressing the SDG challenges.

“Youth Co:Lab, through a multi-stakeholder alliance will engage with key stakeholders of the youth-focused climate entrepreneurial ecosystem to work towards a predictable and efficient transition of ideas to successful enterprises through collaborative activities and dialogues,” Pratap Raju, director, Climate Collective Foundation

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Youth Co:Lab In India

Although the programme promotes a different theme every year, two previous editions have called for climate-related solutions. This year too, the focus is on climate action and green recovery as the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the global environment.

This year, the four focus themes are:

  • Circular economy and waste management
  • Sustainable transportation and e-mobility
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Sustainable food technology

In a press release shared earlier, Chintan Vaishnav, MD, Atal Innovation Mission, said, “History has shown time and again that large opportunities were harnessed by people with an entrepreneurial spirit. I invite all of our young innovators and entrepreneurs to participate in this incredible opportunity to unleash their creativity and build their solutions through the Youth Co:Lab.”

The release also quoted, Amit Kumar, head, inclusive growth, UNDP India, saying, “We have seen how young people are no longer passive or mere beneficiaries of development but are agents of progress. They are vocal, collaborative and innovative, creating new disruptive yet scalable solutions. Through Youth Co:Lab, UNDP and AIM have joined hands to identify, encourage and support such youth innovators working to combat the climate crisis in India.”

Who Can Join: Check Out The Eligibility Criteria

The programme is open to young startups, founders and aspiring entrepreneurs from all over India who can solve the challenges and/or create meaningful co-innovation opportunities related to any of the four themes mentioned above. Here are the additional criteria to get going:  

  • Teams led by people aged 18-29, with business, technical and other necessary skills
  • Have a prototype or product focussed on the above-mentioned themes
  • Ideas/solutions that are viable and scalable will be preferred
  • The startup/team should be less than 5 years old

Benefits For Participants

After getting shortlisted, the teams will have access to mentor connect, curricula support, networking opportunities and corporate handholding through the National Springboard Programme, implemented by CCF, KSUM, UNDP and AIM. Other benefits include:

  • Opportunity to get selected for the APAC Regional Springboard Programme
  • The top two teams will get the chance to represent India at the APAC Regional Summit 
  • A few teams will also get conditional access to KSUM labs and infrastructure, incubation space, partner networks and other resources
  • Support throughout the startup’s journey by being part of the Climate Collective community

Best solutions from the selected groups will get an opportunity to showcase their ideas and models during the National Innovation Dialogue — the Demo Day of the Youth Co:Lab programme.

UNDP & AIM’s Youth Co:Lab Inviting Applications From Startups, Innovators Building Climate Crisis Solutions

“Winners on the Demo Day will represent India in the Asia-Pacific Youth Summit and will be eligible for the Regional Springboard Programme. Winners will have a chance to associate with our partners in the multistakeholder alliance and may get an opportunity to sign a commercial contract and/or attract strategic investment,” said Ashok Panjikaran, head, business development & incubation, KSUM.

The fourth edition of the programme is scheduled for October 2021, and the last date to apply is  September 30, 2021.

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