Published: 24th December 2019
This start-up tells us how bad climate change really is. Here's why they won the Space Oscars for their idea
Blue Sky Analytics, a pioneer in its field, won the Space Oscars presented by ESA recently. It plans to move from analysing air quality at present to producing datasets based on water quality
A proud IIT-BHU alumni, Abhilasha Purwar may be de-facto drawn to technology, but she is a pure environmentalist at heart. This is one of the reasons why she co-founded Blue Sky Analytics, a geospatial data intelligence start-up based in Delhi in 2018 along with her brother Kshitij Purwar, who dropped out of college at the age of 20 to become a full-time developer. The duo's strong belief that an 'enviro-tech wave' is going to take over the start-up game, as e-commerce and health tech did in the past, bore fruit when Blue Sky became the first Indian start-up to win the ‘Space Oscars’ award presented by the European Space Agency recently.
Blue Sky Analytics, a Big Data and AI start-up providing environmental intelligence by analysing large volumes of satellite data, ground IoT measurements, and ancillary public datasets on air quality, carbon emissions in different regions, etc, was the winner of the Copernicus Masters Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, an international competition that awards prizes to innovative solutions based on Earth observation data, for its innovation in using geospatial data for improved environmental monitoring. “We are nerds at heart, so Space Oscar is more real to us than real Oscars”, the ecstatic sibling duo said after receiving the award.
According to Abhilasha, the 'environmental tech' wave is going to be the next big thing and that is why she was so keen on riding it. “I could have gone for a regular MBA after BTech, but I chose to pursue Environmental Management at Yale because I sort of predicted that it is going to be the 'profession of the next decade'. I have been close to people studying climate change like the IPCC and the researchers, and have friends who did movies on the melting of ice caps, the ozone layer, etc. I am also much more aware of the dangers and the risk that has not been translated to laypersons in India,” says Abhilasha, adding, “I have a multi-pronged approach towards the environment and found that working on environment tech is a great business proposition in this age as consumer preferences are changing drastically and people have growing concerns about the environment. We wanted to make use of this window of opportunity.”
Abhilasha believes that people in India and all over the world have not understood the real danger that climate change poses. “We really underestimate climate risk. The narrative around climate change is not very smart right now. It is a very 'doomsday' kind of narrative — which is not accurate at all. It is going to be very disruptive to life, health, economy, politics in ways that we have not experienced before. Even the politics around CAB and NRC has a climate change angle as we can expect more immigrants from Bangladesh coming into India in the future as the former, being a low-lying region, is highly affected by the ice cap melting in Antarctica,” she avers, informing us that therefore it is important to study and analyse data properly to come up with practical solutions than just saying 'the world is going to end'.
What is their vision exactly and what's in store for the future? “Our vision is to build something like the Bloomberg for Environmental Data and enable global stakeholders to make data-driven sustainable decisions. We have covered analyses related to air at this point and will slowly move to water in 2020. I am proud to say that we have already been approached by insurance companies and healthcare players,” Abhilasha smiles.