03/09/2018 – News / Innovation / Sustainability / Water / Urban Water Scarcity

Award winners float solutions for a world of water-scarce cities

Award winners float solutions for a worl

The winners of the 2018 Urban Drinking Water Challenge – a global innovation competition to deploy and scale decentralised drinking water solutions for fast-growing, water-scarce cities – were showcased at an award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday evening. The event was hosted by Founding Partners Bluewater and 11th Hour Racing, alongside Imagine H2O.


Over 160 startups from 37 countries registered for the Challenge. The three winning companies – Drinkwell (from Dhaka, Bangladesh), Microlyze (Denver, USA) and SmartTerra (Bengaluru, India) – represent a diverse range of technologies and entrepreneurial approaches to solve urban water scarcity and advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6).


Held at World Water Week http://www.worldwaterweek.org/ – the world's biggest water innovations event – the awards convened over 100 water leaders, investors and entrepreneurs, as well as record-breaking yachtswoman and Bluewater Brand Ambassador, Dee Caffari.


The Challenge’s Founding Partners have committed up to US$1 million in cash prizes, pilot funding awards and investment to the initiative. 

“Over the next three decades, projected demand for water in cities will increase by 70 per cent, resulting in more scenarios similar to Cape Town, which is suffering acute drinking water scarcity,” says Anders Jacobson, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Bluewater https://www.bluewatergroup.com/. “This competition unlocks the resources to validate and scale three promising solutions that prove the benefits of smarter water management in the face of rapid urbanisation and looming drinking water shortages.”


Winning innovations


Evaluated on the basis of commercial viability, impact and market readiness, the winning startups merge technology with innovative business models to improve the reach and sustainability of drinking water services. The Challenge’s award funding will enable each winner to launch a new deployment in a water-scarce city.


• Drinkwell http://drinkwellsystems.com/ is expanding its turnkey decentralised water purification systems across arsenic-contaminated communities in Bangladesh, focusing on the three million people in Dhaka that live in low-income communities, and are often given no choice but to drink from unsafe, illegal water sources.


• Microlyze http://www.microlyze.com/ is deploying real-time water testing devices to empower households and provide cost-effective monitoring for US utilities, helping protect the estimated 22 million Americans exposed to lead and other contaminants through their water often due to ageing infrastructure in cities.


• SmartTerra https://www.smartterra.io/ is equipping second-tier Indian cities with the tools for data-driven decision-making and operations to improve delivery and access for the underserved. Growth in these cities outpaces infrastructural improvements, and therefore water supply is often unequal leaving large segments of the population without safe and reliable access.


Imagine H2O’s evaluation committee included a diverse group of experts from institutions including the World Bank, Grundfos, The Schmidt Family Foundation, Anaergia, Rotoplas, Xylem, Aquaya Institute and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor.


Additionally, the Urban Drinking Water Challenge’s Evaluation Committee awarded an Honorable Mention to Majik Water, a Nairobi-based team developing an atmospheric water generation device in partnership with local communities.

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