Although India, along with the rest of the world suffered wide and devastating consequences of the COVID pandemic, it was not all gloom and doom this year. When necessity became the catalyst for invention, socially conscious bright innovators took to the drawing board and came up with innovations that not only helped the world be a better place but also made us all proud. 

Today, we will be looking at innovations that happened across all economic spectrums that are massively transformative and inspiring:

#1 Eco-Innovator Laxmi Gives ‘Shayya’s’ Made from COVID Scraps

Laxmi Menon, an eco-innovator came across a heart-wrenching sight when she was on a trip to Bengaluru. A sight that most of us have seen so much that we have become too unsensitized. Under a bridge was a family that was sleeping, with bare minimum clothes, and a small baby in tow. 

Menon felt terrible for the baby and family. She decided she wanted to do something in her own capacity. As an innovator and a designer, she felt it was her responsibility to find solutions for everyday problems and find sustainable solutions. 

At this juncture, Menon came up with the idea of ‘Shayya’(word meaning ‘mattress’ in Sanskrit). Shayya is created with the help of PPE scraps. More importantly, no machine, thread or needle is required to make these mattresses. 

The product aims to resolve two important problems: lack of bedding at Covid centers and management of waste’. The way the baby and family she saw under the bridge didn’t have a mattress, the treatment centers for COVID were also short of mattresses.

With hard work and perseverance, 700 shayyas have been donated to old age homes, COVID treatment facilities, and homeless shelters. To boost this initiative, Laxmi has been providing online training to NGOs, students, and other governing bodies. 

#2 Bangalore Startup Nunam Provides Power Through Old Discarded Batteries

This year, Bangalore-based startup Nunam(Sanskrit for ‘The Future’) won the top award from French energy giant EDF group at Pulse India Competition which is aimed to support startups that are working towards developing sustainable energy solutions.

Nunam, a non-profit start-up, first obtains large quantities of lithium-ion batteries that have been discarded from electronic gadgets like laptops from sources like electronic scrap dealers.

The company then takes those used batteries and creates an entirely new energy storage device: The Nunam “power bank”. The device can supply power to small devices like smartphones, lamps or fans.  takes the used batteries and creates a new energy storage system: the Nunam mobile “power bank”. Thanks to Nunam’s innovation a laptop with little to no residual battery power can now play its being the source of light for a fruit seller on a market.

Giving batteries a second life has a long-standing impact on the country’s energy plans. Today, 90% of batteries do not get recycled and end up in landfills, causing a lot of chemical pollution. But even if recycling becomes a common practice in the near future, it is way better to not recycle that which can be repurposed. 

The long-term goal of the Nunam team is to offer the Nunam energy storage system for half the price of conventional energy storage systems.

#3 Fasal Kranti Helps Farmers Save 3 Billion Litres of Water 

Precision farming, a farming technique where approach where inputs are utilized in precise amounts to get increased average yields, compared to traditional cultivation techniques is still in its infancy in India. But Fasal, a precision farming based startup is on its way to change things, one crop yield at a time. 

In November 2020, the startup introduced the fourth interaction of their IoT device, on-farm sensors called ‘Fasal Kranti’. These little self-deployable devices take a few minutes to deploy at farms. These devices are equipped with more than 12 sensors that monitor climatic factors like wind direction, solar intensity, rainfall, etc. Additionally, they also monitor micro-climatic conditions such as temperature, humidity, leaf wetness, etc. 

Using these devices, farmers can understand their farms better and can avail the benefits of more precise disease management to protect their crops and reduce chemical usage that is harmful. It also helps farmers in upto 50% of reduction in water usage. According to their press release, Fasal Kranti has already saved over 3 billion liters of water across all the farms. 

#4 NID Student Wins James Dyson India Award for “Earth Tatva”

Shashank Nimkar from the National Institute of Design(NID) made the nation proud by winning the James Dyson India Award 2020, He won the award for his invention ‘Earth Tatva’, a discovery he made when he was working towards creating a method to use the waste of raw materials into other products.

Shashank used ceramic waste, which is commonly known as ‘grog’ and clay that was usually discarded after the production. This new innovative method can be used in the production of mass level brand-new commodities. Additionally, these products can be recycled multiple times and can be manufactured with zero-waste. 

Nimkar has stated that this inventive form of production is capable of reducing mining for natural resources and landfills up to 60 percent. The deal for this youngster got a little sweeter when he not only got an award, but got the prize money of the deal £2,000 (approximately 1.90 lakh). 

#5 15-YO Neha Bhatt Wins National Award With Her Agri-Sprayer

The betel nut(paan) farmers in India have always struggled to get a good yield due to various factors. From lack of fungicides to lack of resources to difficulty in managing and curbing pests, farmers have been plagued with multiple issues and the need for a technological intervention has increased year on year. 

This is where the story of 15-year-old Neha Bhatt begins. An inventive individual from Puttur in Western Kannada, Neha too saw the plight of the farmers around her. While most people would have looked away and continued with their lives, Neha initiated to find a solution. She observed that betel nut farmers sprayed a fungicide “Bordo”, which contained copper sulphate, water, and lime. This mixture was applied using traditional equipment and involved a lot of labor cost. 

To curb the inefficiency, she researched for three years, interacted with farmers around her, and conducted experiments. In 2020, she introduced agri-sprayer. This machine is not only able to reduce human labor, but is also helpful in saving time and money. 

The 10th class student went on to receive third prize at CSIR( Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) InnovationAward from School Children 2020 and received a cash price of Rs. 30,000.

#6 Binesh Desai AKA  ‘Recycle Man’ Convers Face Masks Into Bricks

We all have been told that nothing is useless in this world. Gujrat based social entrepreneur and innovator Binesh Desai has become an embodiment of that notion by turning industrial waste to new assets. Known as the “Recycle Man” Binesh was also listed in Forbe’s 30 under 30 in the social entrepreneur category in 2018. Binesh is the founder of Eco-Eclatic, a company that has deployed around 150 products and has recycled more than 600 tonnes of waste. 

Binish Desai’s latest invention — Brick 2.0 —came at an opportune time when Desai decided to create an opportunity out of covid crisis. Having already designed the famous P-Block(bricks made from industrial paper and gum waste), Desai decided to convert the discarded face-mask people used and turn them into bricks that can be used commercially.

The process is fairly simple, and that’s where its genius lies. The PPE scraps(body covering, masks, head caps) is isolated for 3 days. Then the fabric is appropriately sanitized, shredded, and resanitized. After that it is mixed with paper sludge and a binding agent. Once the mixture is formed, it is pressed by hands into molds.  First, the PPE material from body coverings, masks and head caps is isolated for three days. Then the fabric is sanitized and shredded before it is sanitized again. Next, it is mixed with 47 percent paper sludge and a binding agent and pressed by hand into various molds.

Although the pandemic has opened a new pandora’s box when it comes to waste, ideas like these are what is going to help the world and environment.