Tenant Spotlight: Utopia Kathmandu launches their CITYLAB

5 April 2020 - Rachana Khatri

Utopia Kathmandu has been with the Nepal Communitere family as one of our most like-minded tenants since March 2018. Utopia is an urban innovation group for emerging cities and their slums. Utopia Kathmandu is co-building the city’s urban innovation ecosystem and currently led by a team of diligent urban planners and entrepreneurs developing ventures to make the city better for the many and not just for the few. Highlighting the significance of innovation for urban development, Dori Nguyen, Managing Partner of Utopia Kathmandu shares, “The dynamism and keenness for innovation across Asia has embedded in its urban residents’ great appetites to reshape city living.  This is the time to bolster this momentum, ensuring inclusive and adaptive design are central to a proactive urban environment.”

Nepal Communitere’s courtyard was a common space for design and fun for the Utopia team.

Utopia is creating a network of CITYLABS across Africa, Asia and Latin America to build an urban ecosystem for their cities. These CITYLABS are urban venture studios that help build and back urban startups and work alongside urban entrepreneurs, partners and government to rapidly envision, validate and launch new urban solutions that address urgent needs. Under CITYLAB, the team is building three different ventures: Early EducationX, Urban MigrantX and Circular WasteX. Early EducationX is redesigning early childhood education to be affordable, accessible and high quality, particularly for urban poor. MigrantX tackles pain points – including basic needs, strategic social capital, and market-relevant skills – of vulnerable youth moving to the city in search of income. Circular WasteX restructures Kathmandu’s waste system by ensuring a circular materials loop where materials do not fall out of use and are reintroduced into the market.

Drawing attention to the other core functions of Utopia Kathmandu, they also work as a company builder and urban fund, confounding urban startups and mobilizing funds into the larger ecosystem of urban entrepreneurs and solutions. They support their in-house and external urban ventures in using different tools like human-centred design and systems thinking to develop their projects. It also facilitates the operational activities of such ventures by supporting them to respond to the need; identify potential users and what they need; ideate business models; creating prototypes and testing them. 

The new Utopia Kathmandu CITYLAB

Nepal Communitere’s main goal is to help seed, support and grow bold organizations such as Utopia. It has been a wonderful experience to collaborate and support one another in different projects and initiatives focusing on design-thinking and innovation.  To be able to host Utopia Kathmandu as one of our tenants who is now moving on to exciting and bigger things is a true testament that a community hub like ours is critical to the success of these groups. Check out their Urban Venture Studio under CITYLAB at Tripureshwor where they plan to bring together other entrepreneurs, creatives and entities that are working on urban impact. Similarly, they are also launching CITYLAB Urban Innovation Fund to fund these impact makers. We wish the Utopia team the very best wishes with their new upscaling and look forward to more collaborations to build innovative solutions for Kathmandu.