Twelve start-ups from across nine Indian states working in sectors like agriculture, ed-tech, women livelihood, circular economy, and biodiversity have been announced as winners of the fifth edition of Youth Co:Lab National Innovation Dialogue, India.

Youth Co:Lab, co-created in 2017 by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of sustainable development goals through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Youth Co:Lab was launched in India in 2019 in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog. The 2022-23 edition received 378 applications from 28 States across the country.

According to Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, AIM, social start-ups are not just businesses but are actually “catalysts for social change”.

“They address pressing social and environmental challenges, stimulate economic growth, inspire other businesses, leverage technology, and promote collaboration. Their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit drives us towards a more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive future. Let us celebrate and support social start-ups as they continue to shape our world for the better,” he said.

Citi India CEO, Ashu Khullar said, “Citi places great emphasis on supporting the aspirations of youth and young entrepreneurs. There has been tremendous innovation and creativity in addressing various social challenges through the Youth Co:Lab. My congratulations to the top 12 finalists working across important fields for the country’s sustainable development.”

Shoko Noda, Resident Representative, UNDP India said, with 254 million young people aged between 15 and 24 years, India has a unique opportunity to lead innovation and social entrepreneurship and make the voices of young people count.

The winners across each thematic area received a seed grant of $5,000; while the runners-up received $3,000. This funding will help the winners scale their ideas into tangible products or services, a statement said.