India clean air project calls for UK innovation

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UK businesses are being invited to apply for an innovation project aimed at improving air quality and electric vehicle integration in India.

The Innovating for Clean Air (IfCA) programme aims to support UK and Indian firms to tackle pollution at source in the city of Bengaluru by introducing innovations that improve air quality monitoring, addressing challenges related to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, power grid management and the integration of renewable energy.

Earlier this month, air pollution in India’s capital Delhi reached more than 20 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit, causing respiratory illnesses in people.

Led by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and delivered by Energy Systems Catapult, Connected Places Catapult and Satellite Applications Catapult – the IfCA programme is financed by the Newton Fund with matched resources from various partners in Karnataka and India.

Around 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted are in India, with air quality impacted by a mix of different emissions – fossil fuel burning power plants, heavy industries, construction, agricultural burning and urban traffic.

Through engagement with Indian stakeholders in Bengaluru, the Catapults have already identified some of the key EV and air quality challenges in the city and for Indian SMEs innovating in those sectors.

Energy Systems Catapult project lead, Andrew Stokes, said: “Improving air quality in urban areas of India will be helped by accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and we can only do that by addressing challenges on charging infrastructure, power grid management and the integration of renewable energy.

“We are calling on innovative UK SMEs that can deploy electric vehicle and air quality innovations into a real-life urban testbed in Bengaluru, for up to 9 months from March through to December 2020 and creating tangible collaboration opportunities for UK and Indian innovators.

“Over the two year lifetime of the programme we will help test, validate and improve interventions that increase the evidence base for policy to deliver cleaner air in Bengaluru and create a replicable model which can be used in other cities and countries.

“We want to provide export opportunities for UK companies in the wider environmental sector and strengthen the capacity to promote the economic development and social welfare in India.

The programme will also include work by Satellite Applications Catapult working with Earthsense to develop a unique measurement system for air quality by integrating satellite ground and mobile sensor data to deliver a detailed localised map of the air quality to help support the integration of EVs within the city of Bengaluru.

John Vesey, Business Manager for Health at the Satellite Applications Catapult said: “Through the IfCA project,  Satellite Applications Catapult are focussing on air pollution exposure in the hope to increase knowledge and inform the choices citizens of Bengaluru make when it comes to air pollution. To do this, we are working with Earthsense to create a MappAir solution which will combine on the ground sensor data and satellite imagery, which will then be integrated into a GIS platform as useable information.

“The Satellite Applications Catapult has supported a number of projects and initiatives exploring how air pollution monitored by satellites can better inform citizens and patients about their health particularly with regards to certain long-term conditions. We are excited to be creating an international example to add to our portfolio on air quality. The UK continues to have great expertise in modelling air pollution and including satellite-based observations as part of these models and we are pleased that IfCA provides the UK with opportunities to partner and collaborate with Indian counterparts to share expertise.

“Through the project’s open call we are looking for innovators to come forward with state-of-the-art ways to measure and visualise air pollution data, to support transport choices and inform the citizens of the hot spots of air pollution throughout Bengaluru – we would hope for this system to be a replicable model which can be used in other cities and countries. We are excited to be collaborating with other Catapults and look forward to further opportunities for this to also be a replicable model.”

Find out more and apply for the Open Call here.