Innovating for Clean Air in India

Cities worldwide are struggling with air pollution, which has become a major urban killer. The increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) can be part of the solution but rolling out the necessary infrastructure to enable this transition is not simple.

Connected Places Catapult, Energy Systems Catapult and Satellite Applications Catapult, ran a joint programme to support UK and Indian innovators in Bengaluru city to promote best practice innovation and technology exchange in order to help address these challenges.

Launched in May 2019, the IfCA programme ran for 22 months and was funded by the UK government’s Newton Fund. The goal of the programme was to work with innovative businesses, local authorities, academics and civil society organisations to develop interventions which have the potential to improve air quality. This included supporting the government of India’s FAME scheme to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles as well as trialling and demonstrating other activities which drive positive changes in urban air quality.

Our approach

Throughout the IFCA programme, Energy Systems Catapult and Connected Places Catapult identified market opportunities in Bengaluru, India for collaboration between UK and Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the air quality and EV transition sectors.

In order to ensure that the Catapult efforts are focused in the right areas, the IfCA programme commenced with extensive engagement activities and workshops with Indian stakeholders to identify some of the critical EV and air quality challenge areas for Bengaluru.

Following identification of these challenge areas, the Catapults’ launched an open call to find Indian and British SMEs who could deliver innovative solutions and were willing to be part of an urban “testbed” – an area of the city which has acted as an experimental ‘canvass’ upon which innovative interventions can be tested and evaluated.

The aim of the Clean Air Testbed was to enable the introduction and early adoption of the selected EV and air quality products and services by deploying them in real-life environments for up to 6 months from October 2020 through to March 2021. For the selected innovators, the testbed formed a safe space to test interventions in real life conditions, understand their impact, and interact with stakeholders in order to further develop their products and services – as well as showcase the efficacy of the solution to prospective partners and customers.

The IfCA team has been an outstanding support to our business throughout the programme. Proactive, engaging, and full of excellent ideas, the team have consistently provided us with opportunities to grow the business. The programme provides access to a wide network and offers a deep set of resources, and we’ve learnt a great deal along the way. It has positioned our business very well to expand internationally and we look forward to the future benefits this will bring. Thank you!
Harry Young, Co-founder, Airhead


From the UK end, the IFCA programme was funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), through the Newton Fund and delivered by Energy Systems Catapult, Connected Places Catapult and Satellite Applications Catapult. From the India end, it was a partnership of matched resources with various organisations in India, including: