The HCL Group, in partnership with UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum (WEF), has opened applications for the third challenge of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative. This initiative is a significant effort to address global freshwater demand challenges, which are expected to outstrip supply by 40% by the end of this decade due to factors like population growth, climate change, and weak water governance.

The current challenge, titled the "Tackling Water Pollution Challenge," was announced during the 10th World Water Forum in Bali, Indonesia. It focuses on empowering changemakers who are pioneering groundbreaking technologies, strategies, and approaches to conserve, manage, and protect water resources.

Here are some key points about the challenge:
  • Application Deadline: Submissions must be made by 31st August 2024.
  • Winners Announcement: The top 10 winners will be announced in January 2025, and they will receive a total financial award of 1.75M CHF.
  • Detailed information and eligibility requirements can be accessed through the following link.
The challenge targets innovations that prevent water contamination at the source, optimize urban infrastructure for public water and wastewater treatment systems, and offer water quality solutions for households.

This initiative is part of a $15 million investment over five years by HCL to create an innovation ecosystem for the global freshwater sector on UpLink, aiming to drive the freshwater conservation and management agenda. Entrepreneurs and innovators are encouraged to apply and contribute to this significant cause.

The winners of previous challenge were — FieldFactors and Fluid Analytics. The previous 10 winning Aquapreneurs were selected from a pool of 192 global applicants.

While launching the challenge, Sundar Mahalingam, President of Strategy at HCL Corporation said, "At HCL, we understand the power of innovation and through our partnership with UpLink, we are empowering Aquapreneurs to scale their solutions and drive meaningful impact. The first two editions of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative have demonstrated remarkable success, with participating entrepreneurs showcasing solutions that address critical water challenges. The Aquapreneurs from the first challenge have raised $54.5 million grants and venture capital funding since joining the cohort. This validates the effectiveness of the initiative in nurturing and supporting innovative ideas that address critical water challenges. We are, therefore, thrilled to announce the third challenge, aiming to engage a broader network of Aquapreneur globally.”

John Dutton, Head of UpLink, World Economic Forum, added, “At UpLink, we believe innovation and collaboration are key to overcoming the complex water challenges facing our planet. UpLink and HCL Group will tap into the world’s brightest entrepreneurial minds working in this sector to help minimize the problem of freshwater loss by connecting them to essential resources, experts, and funding. The Tackling Water Pollution Challenge will ensure that the most scalable solutions are deployed to ensure that this vital resource is sustainably available to all.”

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