Urban Water Challenge Winners Announced

The second annual program awards $250k in deployment funding to startups

The 2019 Imagine H2O Urban Water Challenge, founded by water tech innovator Bluewater and by 11th Hour Racing, honored three winners from India, Colombia and the United States at an awards ceremony during World Water Week in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, Monday evening. 

The winning entries are WatchTower Robotics (USA), Indra Water (India) and Zilper Trenchless (Colombia). Additionally, the Challenge showcased three startups as finalists — each of which received deployment award funding. Finalists include: SmarterHomes (India), StormSensor (USA) and Upepo (Kenya). 

The 2019 Challenge attracted 226 startups from 38 countries.  The winning startups will use Imagine H2O’s funding to deploy solutions in cities in three continents.  

  • WatchTower Robotics will map water pipe networks in 3D and detect leaks with its small-scale robots in Da Nang, Vietnam. 
  • Indra Water will deploy its modular, decentralized wastewater treatment systems in colleges and schools in Mumbai, India. 
  • Zilper Trenchless will install and replace water pipes using its trenchless technology in the greater Bogota, Colombia region. 

“The planet faces a great many environmental threats, not least growing water scarcity and ocean pollution, which requires human ingenuity be harnessed globally to avoid potentially cataclysmic consequences,” said Anders Jacobson, Co-founder and CEO of Blue, the impact led investment company owning Bluewater. “Each of the three winners of the 2019 Imagine H2O Urban Water Challenge provides an innovative solution to solving urban water challenges.”

“This is our second year supporting the Urban Water Challenge in part because, like Bluewater, 11th Hour Racing believes strongly that there is an urgent need for solutions to help communities globally tackle water quality and scarcity issues — whether related to the impacts of climate change, plastic pollution, or polluted runoff,” commented Michelle Carnevale, Grant Program Director of 11th Hour Racing. “We look forward to seeing the finalists deploy and test their technologies to create meaningful impact and inspire the next generation of water-focused entrepreneurs.”

The Challenge’s inaugural winners in 2018 used the awards to unlock pilot projects in Bangladesh, India and Denver, Colorado. In Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second largest city, DrinkWell is installing its first four water ATM systems that will then be scaled to 200 in collaboration with local government. In Denver, Spout is preparing for the deployment of rapid lead testing kits to improve the city’s response and planning. In Warangal, a city in the Indian state of Telangana, SmartTerra is progressing in its first pilot to digitize the utility’s operations as a model for other fast-growing second-tier cities.   

Winners of the Urban Water Challenge Discovery Track with the Challenge’s founding partners, 11th Hour Racing and Bluewater. From left to right: Bengt Rittri, Founder of Bluewater, Anders Jacobson, Co-founder & CEO of Blue, Daniel Zillante, CEO & Co-Founder Zilper Trenchless, Michelle Carnevale, Grant Program Director of 11th Hour Racing, Kelly Trott, Senior Director of Imagine H2O, Amrit Om Nayak, CEO & Co-Founder of Indra Water, Scott Bryan, President of Imagine H2O. Photo credit: Johan Lygrell

Header image: Urban Water Challenge finalists (left to right), Daniel Zillante, CEO & Co-Founder Zilper Trenchless, Vivek Shukla, CEO & Co-Founder SmarterHomes, Tyler Mantel, CEO & Co-Founder of WatchTower Robotics, Kevin Kihara, Managing Director of Upepo, Amrit Om Nayak, CEO & Co-Founder of Indra Water, Erin Rothman, CEO & Co-Founder of StormSensor, honored at Stockholm Awards Ceremony on August 26, 2019.

Photo credit: Johan Lygrell