urban works

Designing Sustainable Workspaces for India

Inviting applications from passionate young innovators who can create viable, interdisciplinary design solutions tailored for workspaces in the 21st century Indian market.

Winners of the 2018 challenge will specifically work on conceptualising and creating environmentally friendly, ergonomic, and cost-efficient solutions to improve the sustainability of Indian workspaces.

Teams with successful prototypes will have the opportunity to pitch their design to leading corporations in the field.

The challenge will provide young innovators a globally competitive platform to propose transformative solutions as they gain from tools, learning sessions, peer networks and unrestricted capital to put their idea into action.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with faculty and alumni from The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University as well as benefit from hands-on mentorship from distinguished entrepreneurs and academics in India.

They will also have access to a tech-first collaborative environment as they work alongside other creative entrepreneurs at The CoWrks Foundry, located at CoWrks in Mumbai and Bengaluru.



Applications from young professionals across disciplines are invited, to co-design concepts for 'sustainable workspaces.'

  • Engineering

  • Architecture

  • Design

  • Technology

  • Environmental sciences

  • Media

  • Public health

  • Public policy


Participants can apply as individuals or teams and will subsequently be organized into working groups based on their ideas.


Participants must be willing to commit a six-month period from October 2018, during which period they must be located in either Mumbai or Bengaluru.



Participants building solutions for the Indian context should focus on improving the overall sustainability in Indian workspaces and explore methods to integrate ergonomic, cost-efficient solutions that span industry and socio-economic backgrounds.

Examples of problems for which solutions could be developed include


By what means can we ensure that workspaces that not connected with centralized electric grids receive adequate cooling, efficiently utilize solar energy, and have access to viable water resources?


How can the use of green technologies help workers in both manufacturing and service sectors?


How can low-cost diagnostic tests improve workplace health?


How can low-cost sensors be deployed to create safer and more productive working conditions?

Participants are encouraged to design innovative solutions for sustainable workspaces in the broad categories of:

  • Sustainable resource use

  • Green technologies and infrastructure

  • Decentralized energy-efficient solutions

  • Ergonomics



  • Mentorship

    Hands-on mentorship from distinguished entrepreneurs and academics


    Access to investors, corporate networks and Columbia University's prestigious engineering school


    A dynamic workspace and collaborative environment within The CoWrks Foundry at CoWrks, Mumbai and Bengaluru


    Rs. 1.2 crores dispersed among successful participants


Young professionals and entrepreneurs from all disciplines, particularly engineering, architecture, design, technology, environmental sciences, media, public health and public policy, are encouraged to apply.

Participants will be required to commit a six-month period from October 2018. During this time period, they will be expected to work out of CoWrks in Mumbai or Bengaluru as participation in all the training sessions, workshops, public programs and networking sessions are critical.

Yes, you may apply as long as you are willing to relocate to either city for the given time period.

Yes, you can apply as an individual or a team of up to three people. Individuals (and teams of two people) will subsequently be paired with others based on their ideas to form a team of three people.

The list of broad areas mentioned in the guidelines are only an indicative list. We welcome out-of-the-box ideas and solutions that advance the mandate of sustainable workspaces.

No. All applications must be in English.

Applications must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. (Indian Standard Time) on October 1, 2018 to be considered.

Participants will benefit from hands-on guidance from academics, industry leaders, and experts from India as well as faculty and alumni from The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.

Each three-member team will own all rights to its final solution.

Financial assistance up to Rs 1.2 crores will be dispersed in a phased manner among all the teams that are selected in October 2018. The amount will cover all costs and no separate funds will be provided for relocation to Mumbai or Bengaluru, local commute or other expenses.

All queries should be emailed to mumbai.cgc@columbia.edu with the subject line Urban Works Innovation Challenge 2018 Participation.