New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) The IIM Calcutta Innovation Park and Josh Talks, a regional content and upskilling platform, have announced the launch of "City Champions 2024", an initiative dedicated to identifying, championing and supporting organisations working towards sustainable urban development, officials said on Tuesday.

According to a 2022 World Bank report, 600 million people will be living in urban cities in India by 2036, representing 40 per cent of the population. This will likely put additional pressure on the already stretched urban infrastructure and services of Indian cities.

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With support from the Omidyar Network India, the City Champions programme aims to identify selected organisations across eight thematic areas -- public safety, climate action, water and sanitation, city planning, city welfare, youth and child welfare, urban public transport and sustainable infrastructure.

"We believe in actively fostering innovation and entrepreneurship that address big social challenges and catalyse livelihood opportunities. This collaboration aligns perfectly with our mission to support and nurture businesses that leverage technology and impact the sustainable development goals," CEO of the IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) Subhrangshu Sanyal said.

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"Through this partnership, we look forward to providing valuable resources, mentorship and opportunities for growth to the selected organisations, ultimately empowering them to drive positive change in the country at large," he added.

The IIMCIP is a not-for-profit company established under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.

City Champions 2024 is set to empower 16 impact-driven organisations with enhanced capabilities, market readiness, investment readiness and accelerated growth and expansion over a 12-week capacity-building program with the IIMCIP Park as an accelerator partner.

"City Champions reached more than three million people in 121 cities last year and we are hopeful to reach more people this year. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to building livable, sustainable, and safe cities for all citizens.

"Through this, we aim to provide social organisations with the necessary tools and resources to scale their efforts effectively and create lasting impact," Supriya Paul, CEO and co-founder of Josh Talks, said.

Omidyar Network India is an investment firm focused on impact partnering.

"We are proud to support the initiative in fostering a vibrant ecosystem of change-makers dedicated to addressing the pressing challenges faced by urban communities," said Shilpa Kumar, partner at Omidyar Network India.

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