Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) is a pioneering initiative by IIT Madras.

It is an all India Eco-innovation and Entrepreneurship contest with a vision to “ To create a global impact by addressing three major Planetary crisis – Resource Depletion, Pollution, and Climate change through powerful interventions, innovative technologies, entrepreneurship, and policy interventions”.The primary goal of the contest is to foster cutting-edge deep-tech and circular economy solutions that address Environment challenges in Energy, Materials, Agriculture, Air and Water domains. By leveraging the collective ingenuity and expertise of talented individuals from across India, the challenge seeks to build eco-start-ups which can address the planetary crises such as Climate change, Pollution and Food security.

The program’s motto ‘Ideate, Innovate, Incubate’ essentially summarise IIT Madras’s continuous efforts to enable an ecosystem where students/early stage start-ups from across the country ideate and innovate for the greater good of society and incubate start-ups to become job creators.

The contest’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is one-of-its-kind initiative in its category that exclusively focuses on energy and environment technological innovations at a national level and supports the eco-entrepreneurs.

Carbon Zero Challenge (CZC) initiative was conceived at IIT Madras in 2017. The previous cohorts of CZC were supported by U S Consulate Chennai, Polaris (a Virtusa company) in collaboration with Shaastra (IIT Madras student technical festival), Industrial Waste Management Association (IWMA), Thales and Aquamap.Carbon Zero Challenge 4.0 is sponsored by Thales.

CZC initiative identifies, mentors, and financially supports clean-tech innovations across India in five thematic areas: Air, Energy, Materials, Soil and Water.


To create a Global impact by combining three powerful factors “Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Energy & Environment & Youth” to protect future generations.

Reach of CZC

    • Reached out to approx. 200,000 targeted audiences through emails, phone calls, using platforms such as Manthan and NPTEL and social media.
    • Received 2300+ ideas from 25 Indian States, 2 Union Territories and New York
    • Engaged with 200+ academic and industry subject experts for training, mentoring & evaluation of the participating teams.
    • Reached out to approx 1600+ Students and Researchers from 600+ Colleges across 25 States in India and 270+ Early stage Startups
    • Trained and mentored 4000+ Participants on sustainable metrics and Customer discovery
    • Awarded 4+ Crores for developing prototype and seed grant

Impact of CZC and CZC Teams

    • 15 new Cleantech startups established
    • 10 SDG addressed by CZC teams
    • Fostered 18 women leaders and 25 early stage startups
    • Converted 8 Faculty led teams and 42 student teams to entrepreneurs
    • 25+ CZC teams went on to get more funds, grants and investments
    • 15+ teams got incubated after CZC

Impact of CZC events

CZC is an advocate of circularity, ceaselessly leading the charge in resource conservation. We not only aim to unearth cutting-edge technologies and innovations to usher in this transformation but also lead by example through our events, conducting them in a sustainable, eco-conscious manner. The CZC team is unwavering in its commitment to infuse sustainability into every facet of the CZC journey.

Our events are not just occasions, but sustainable showcases where waste is minimized at every turn. We adorn our gatherings with eco-friendly decorations, avoid single-use plastic bottles and packaged food, and gift functional eco-friendly mementos. These efforts not only reduce our carbon footprint but also create a ripple of motivation, inspiring other event organizers at IIT Madras to follow suit. The CZC team has become the trailblazer, sought after by many for insights and connections. CZC has set the trend.