San Francisco, CA
The United Nations has predicted a 40% shortfall in global water supply by 2030, due to increasing demand, changing climate and weather patterns, and mismanaged use. While in Cape Town, South Africa, for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, 11th Hour Racing saw first-hand how drinking water scarcity can impact the quality of life and the environment in large cities. Around the world, this problem often affects the poorest parts of the community the hardest.
The UN forecasts that 54% of the Earth’s population currently living in urban areas will rise to 66% by 2050, a mass urbanization that will exacerbate the challenge of managing living environments. The Challenge aligns with U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 6, which calls for universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
The Urban Water Challenge, an initiative of Imagine H2O, supported by Founding Challenge Partners 11th Hour Racing and Bluewater, deploys and invests in water solutions for tomorrow’s megacities. The Challenge is designed to create direct and scalable impact for water-scarce cities and at-risk communities, inspire community awareness and public action, promote the role of innovation and entrepreneurship, and facilitate the deployment of real solutions to a real problem. This global innovation challenge ties together issues of water scarcity as a result of climate change, equity issues surrounding drinking water, and plastic waste caused by limited access to clean reliable municipal water.
Imagine H2O (IH2O) is a nonprofit organization that empowers people to develop and deploy innovation to solve water challenges globally. Since 2009, the organization’s water innovation accelerator has helped over 100 startups with the resources, insight and visibility to launch and scale their businesses. In 2017 and 2018, IH2O portfolio companies received 30% of early-stage investment in the water sector. In 2019, IH2O launched its first hub outside the United States. IH2O Asia will be a Singapore-based, regional accelerator program that bridges global innovation to cities and communities across Southeast Asia. https://www.imagineh2o.org/urban-water-challenge
Watch above: Our Program Director, Todd McGuire joined each of the founders of the winning organizations, along with Anders Jacobson, CEO, and Co-founder of Bluewater, for a “sofa session” to learn about the challenges the organizations are tackling. Watch below to find out what drives these innovators.
Watch above: Minhaj Chowdhury, CEO & Co-founder of Drinkwell, a winner of the 2018 Urban Water Challenge, discusses the company’s deployment in Chittagong, Bangaldesh. Funded by the Challenge Founding Partners Bluewater and 11th Hour Racing, Drinkwell provides clean water access to hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh.