Amrita School of Biotechnology selected among the top Indian Researchers to Develop Next Generation Sanitation Solutions

Amrita School of Biotechnology selected among the top six Indian innovators to contribute to the development of sanitation solutions as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: India. From a pool of 108 applications, these projects were chosen following an extensive, rigorous selection process by an expert committee.

Amrita School of Biotechnology had proposed for a proof of concept grants to use viral agents to target and kill pathogens and odour-producing bacteria in fecal waste and also develop for a way to integrate this into waste treatment systems

The “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: India” is a collaborative effort of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India; Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), A Government of India Enterprise; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund Indian researchers to develop innovative, safe and affordable sanitation technologies. This program is an India-specific program modeled on the Gates Foundation’s global Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. The DBT and the Gates Foundation invested a combined US$2 million, equally split, to support Indian investigators to drive research, development, and production of “next-generation toilets.”

The grants were announced today by Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary DBT & Chairman, BIRAC at the “Reinvent the Toilet Fair: India”, an event held in New Delhi that showcased innovative products and approaches that aim to bring safe, affordable and sustainable sanitation to those who need it most.

Co-hosted by the DBT and the Gates Foundation, the fair included more than 45 exhibitors representing 15 nations and featured projects to stimulate discussion among a diverse group of stakeholders working to improve global sanitation. These include efforts to create toilets that are not connected to water, sewer or electricity; improve the collection, treatment and disposal of human waste; address behavior change; and raise awareness of this critical issue for governments, stakeholders and local communities.

The fair was an opportunity to recognize India’s leadership and commitment to improving child health and fostering innovative solutions to persistent development challenges. It also was an opportunity to hasten manufacturing opportunities in India of existing sanitation products.

“Effective and comprehensive sanitation seems an impossible dream for India,” said Professor K. Vijay Raghavan. “Yet today we see a congruence of new and applicable science and technology, its affordability, and sustainable implementation. This congruence is a great opportunity which we cannot afford to let slip. By implementing effective solutions in each kind of social context, big problems can be dealt with in small units and be catalysts for scaling up. By working together to hit big barriers at the right place and the right way, they can crumble and the impossible can become real.”

Also announced today at the fair, the Department of Science and Technology for the Republic of South Africa is committing ZAR 30 million to field test technologies developed as part of the Gates Foundation’s global Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in rural communities and schools. The foundation is contributing US $1 million to support this testing.

“By applying creative thinking and new approaches to sanitation challenges, we can improve people’s lives. And we have no doubt that these new partnerships with India and South Africa will help us achieve this,” said Brian Arbogast, director of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We believe that with governmental leadership, new business models and innovation, we can dramatically increase the progress made in tackling this global sanitation crisis.”

The fair was an opportunity for the 16 global Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC) grantees, funded by the Gates Foundation, to exhibit progress and demonstrate project prototypes.

“We are impressed by the progress the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge grantees have made,” said Arbogast. “Our goal is to fund the development of complete solutions – solutions that are affordable, that work, and that people want to use. Our grantees have been working on aggressive timelines and we are very encouraged by the progress of these grantees have made since the first fair in August 2012. “

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