Solutions to global freshwater crisis boosted by £1.5m funding


Ten start-ups have won a share of £1.5m in funding from HCL Group to scale up solutions to the global freshwater crisis.

Global demand for freshwater will exceed sustainable supply by 40 per cent by 2030 with major implications for the global economy and society. New solutions to the problem are needed and funding has come from HCL Group together with UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum. Start-up funding is part of a five-year £12 million investment by the HCL Group to drive further innovation in the freshwater sector.

Access to water plays a critical role in food production, education, job creation, health and well-being and the preservation of the natural world and is vital to achieving the UN’s 2030 sustainability agenda.

The ten start-ups are the winners of the Global Freshwater Innovation Challenge, the first of five challenges under HCL and UpLink’s Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative. Launched in September 2022, the challenge called for innovative solutions that would strengthen data-driven decision making, improve freshwater resilience in the face of climate change and restore water quality around the world.

The water-focused entrepreneurs, or “aquapreneurs”, were chosen from 227 solutions submitted to the challenge, and will now each receive $190,000 in vital funding from HCL Group. Start-ups awarded funding are:

Epic Cleantec, based in the US, is a water technology company leading the water reuse revolution in the urban built environment. Kilimo, based in Argentina, uses big data and machine learning to verify, improve, and offset water usage in agriculture. bNovate Technologies (Switzerland), an automatic, remote biosensor to monitor and detect bacterial concentration in water supplies. Indra Water (India), electrically driven, decentralised wastewater treatment solution with no added chemicals in its primary treatment.

Majik Water Technologies (Kenya), an atmospheric water generator system that uses proven condensation-based techniques to capture water moisture from the air. NatureDots Private Limited: AquaNurch (India), de-risking fisheries and water managers from ecological stressors, enabling remote-control and real-time monitoring of aqua-farms. Oneka Technologies (Canada), a wave-powered desalination solution to produce drinking water using renewable energy created through waves.

Openversum (Switzerland), a locally assembled and managed membrane filter that removes pathogen heavy metals from water. RainGrid Inc. (Canada), building community-scale, property-based, digital networks for net-zero residential property rainfall runoff while generating verifiable ecosystem credits, and Wateroam Pte Ltd (Singapore), production of safe, speedy and high-quality drinking water without electricity.

 “These innovations are crucial to meet the increasing global demand for clean water and support the transition to a greener economy,” said Olivier Schwab, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “With water scarcity threatening countries all around the world, it’s essential to identify and empower the innovative start-ups that will help secure access to this precious resource, now and for future generations. The Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative, launched by UpLink and HCL, will connect these world-class innovators to the resources, expertise and vital funding they need to scale and drive truly transformational change.”

WEF’s presentation of all innovative solutions that will be scaled up using funding from HCL Group can be found here

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