The complexities of waste management and treatment is being exacerbated by rapid urbanization, changing consumer patterns and population growth. India, by virtue of its population size generates the most waste globally. To further move the needle towards a circular economy, innovations are necessary all along the waste management spectrum. Innovative solutions creating an efficient supply chain and maximizing the value of different waste streams can exponentially reduce the burden on the landfills. In India, the informal sector are the true champions of circularity, enabling material recovery through recycling. The timing is opportune, with the on-going technological advancements, the waste management sector is poised to create opportunities for climate change mitigation, economic growth, and livelihood enhancement of everyone involved.
Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management is a joint initiative of Social Alpha and the H&M Foundation, in collaboration with Saamuhika Shakti. It envisions to create an enabling ecosystem stack for innovators and entrepreneurs developing solutions to accelerate waste management and improve the overall quality of life of the informal sector in India.
Through Techtonic – Innovations in Waste Management 5 winners will be selected for the Social Alpha Waste Innovations Accelerator, supporting the startups in their lab to market journey.
Calling for applications
We invite innovators and entrepreneurs working on science and technology solutions that have the potential to create impact, scale across geographies and demonstrate business model sustainability to apply. Enterprises working on any of the following challenges in waste management:
In India, despite 20% of the municipal revenue expenditures being allocated to MSWM, the collection, segregation, and resource recovery rates are very poor. This resource intensive sector can optimize the process of handling, transporting, and processing waste by adopting innovative solutions to establish efficient systems, enable microentrepreneurial models and reduce the economic burden on ULBs.
Only 22-28% of the 80% of the collected waste is being processed and treated in India. In the fragmented ecosystem, there is no data of total waste generated, processed or its composition. The sector primarily relies on offline transactions to manage waste, with no system to connect bulk producers to the recycled rates of their products. Real time data can also empower the waste picker operations and create visibility to the recyclers’ activities for waste pickers to unlock the benefits.
In circularity, the pursuit is to use as much, or all the waste in a productive manner, ensuring material recovery to transform it into a raw material or recycling, promoting industrial symbiosis and downcycling. Reverse supply chains need to be established to be able to aggregate waste streams at scale. There is also an urgent need for innovative solutions promoting material recovery and value-added applications of low value waste streams to extract as much resource from the waste generated.
Launch Date/ Application
December 15th, 2020
January 31st, 2021
First round of evaluations
February 1st –February 15th, 2021
Call for Top 20 to develop implementation roadmap
Second round of evaluations
March 1st – March 20th, 2021
Announcement of Finalists
March 25th – 28th 2021
April 1st week
Frequently Asked Questions
The Program is looking for organizations with innovative solutions in the waste management space and working with the informal sector. Organizations with the potential to create impact, scale across locations and demonstrate business model sustainability.
Organizations registered in India are eligible to apply for the program.
Yes, you may apply if your solution has demonstrated impact and business model sustainability. Though, through the Program the Top 20 shortlisted applicants will need to build a one-year implementation plan to demonstrate their innovation by integrating the informal waste pickers into their operations. The winners will get to implement this one-year plan during the Accelerator.
Applicants are encouraged to submit applications that are technology-based solutions. Innovations can be a product or a service but must be aligned to the focus areas outlined in the program. There is a preference for tech-based innovations that have a high social impact potential.
The program is cohort-driven; however, the durations will vary based on the needs of each start-up and the implementation partner they would be working with. The first month will be an orientation launchpad where the portfolio managers will map an in-depth plan for the Accelerator for each winner.
Program structure details will be shared in advance with the winners.
The Accelerator program is for 12 months; however, it will vary from case to case based on the needs of the winning startups.
Winners will receive an incubation support covering one or many of the following depending on their needs assessment.
- Access to technical advisory and mentorship support for R&D
- Assistance in product development and design
- Assistance in development of a marketing plan
- Assistance in creating digital support tools
- Opportunity to implement the innovation with a test bed partner
- Hands on operational support, business mentorship and go-to-market strategic advisory
- International exposure and collaboration opportunities through the H&M Foundation and Social Alpha Network
- Potential opportunity to access Social Alpha’s seed support; and facilitated access to a large investor and donor network
There will be regular interface between the winning teams and the Social Alpha program implementation team. Each start-up will be allocated a portfolio manager to help with customized requests who will continually and regularly engage with the start-ups.
- Launch Date/ Application Start Date: December 15th, 2020
- Application Deadline: January 31st, 2021
- Announcement of Finalists: March 15-25th, 2021
- Pitch to Grand Jury: April 10-20th, 2021
Terms and Conditions
Please read the following terms and conditions before submitting your entry:
- Participating or proposed ventures should be independent entities, meaning that they should not be a subsidiary of an existing corporation or have legal ties to a government body.
- Existing non-profits can participate; however, they should propose a venturing idea or a plan to transform their existing solutions into a more sustainable solution.
- As Techtonic is looking for start-ups to work on establishing marketing channels for existing product and scale to new geographies and not research and product development, only those with developed ideas and/or prototypes should apply.
- The applicant should be a registered company in India. The shareholding by Indian promoters in the company should be at least 51%.
Submissions and Participation
- Submissions which are incomplete will be deemed void and disqualified from the evaluations.
- Submissions should be the original work of the participant/participating entity and should demonstrate positive social or environmental impact, have a disruptive technology innovation with potential to be sustainable and scalable in India (though not exclusively in the region).
- Winners agree to the use of their names, photographs, disclosure of their country of residence; and are required to cooperate with any other reasonable requests by the organiser relating to any publicity-related activities.
- Winners are required to submit a declaration of good standing and solvency at the final stage of evaluation. If there is any change in circumstance that invalidates their good standing and solvency, the team is to immediately inform the organisers.
- All participants own the rights to their ideas. Participants must properly acknowledge any trademarks, patented or copyrighted materials of others that are incorporated into the submission materials. Participants are responsible for obtaining any necessary permission before utilizing such materials into their submissions.
- Submitted ideas are protected in the spirit of non-disclosure, and all submitted materials will be treated as company confidential. The only people with access to the entry materials will be evaluators/judges, partners and select members of the organising committee. Materials will not be distributed to any other party unless requested by a participant. No other provisions are made to protect intellectual property.
- Participants are advised not to disclose critical information which would affect a successful filing of patent(s). All presentations are open to the general public, and some presentations may be videotaped. Attendance by media personnel is expected in the final stages of the program. Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by participants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions.
Decisions regarding the winners
- The selection of the ‘Winners’ is at the sole discretion of the judges and the organisers from Social Alpha and partnering organisations. Best efforts will be made to make decisions in accordance with this document.
- Throughout any and all phases of Techtonic, all decisions of the judges are final.
Disqualification and Organiser’s Right to Amend Competition Rules
- The organisers of Techtonic reserve the right to disqualify any participant who is found to have violated the spirit of the program guidelines and terms and conditions stated herein. Disqualified participants shall forfeit any and all prizes awarded to them.
- The organisers reserve the right to amend these rules at any point before the Closing Date of Techtonic in line with the overall goal of program.
- The indicated dates for Techtonic may be revised at any point of time by the organisers. Any change in schedule will be suitably intimated on the webpage and on other relevant platforms.
For any assistance needed in filling the application form, please reach out to us at