Bharat Petroleum will fuel the growth of 4 Kerala startups working for environmental welfare

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BPCL will provide grants to four Kerala-based startups under Project Ankur; it will also offer mentor support and technical assistance.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) will back four Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) alumni startups, in the form of grants, technological and entrepreneurial support, and mentorship.

The agreement, which was signed at the Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, will now transfer KSUM’s mentees - GenRobotics, Sastra Robotics, Waferchips, and Nava Design - to the care of BPCL’s startup scheme, Project Ankur. Project Ankur aims to identify startups that pitch innovative technologies and business re-engineering ideas to forward the cause of environmental protection.

BPCL will aid the growth of four startups, namely GenRobotics, Sastra Robotics, Waferchips, and Nava Design | Image courtesy: Hindustan Times

The funding will be funnelled to the startups over a span of three years or 36 months, based on when the companies broach some pre-set milestones in their growth stories.

ET reports that GenRobotics, founded by Arun George, Nikhil NP, Rashid Bin Abdulla, and Vimal Govind MK in 2015, has developed a robot called Bandicoot, which will assist in cleaning manholes. They have even created an AI-powered Transformers-esque “robotic skeleton”, which can be used for defence purposes, space application, weight lifting, and “anywhere that requires some extra power and protection”, according to their website.

Sastra Robotics, founded by Achu Wilson, Akhil A, and Aronin Ponnappan in 2013, has developed industrial robotic manipulators, while Rohan Bhobe’s Nava Design has invented a machine to help farmers extract neera from coconuts.

Waferchips is a two-year-old startup founded by Sonia Mohandas and Archu S Vijay, and creates IoT products and microchips for use cases like home automation and healthcare, among others.

The Kerala Government in September 2017 announced that a “fund of funds” would be created for startups – and a corpus of Rs 500 crore was set aside to bolster Kerala-based startups. These funds will be allocated to worthy startups and individuals over the next three years. In fact, Rs 2.65 crore has already been awarded to 31 startups and student teams in December 2017; these teams showcased their innovations at the Grand Idea Day hosted by the state government.

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