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Announcing our 2020 Urban Water Challenge Finalists

Join our 8 startups as they advance progress towards U.N Sustainable Development Goals

The Challenge

We live in an era where innovation is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Technology is revolutionizing the way we live in cities — how we eat (Plenty), commute (Lime), pay (Stripe) and use energy (Nest). But has it changed the way we think about water?

There are many brave entrepreneurs and water leaders trying, but it’s been a slow process. Industry wide barriers make it extremely difficult for innovation to scale. Think safety standards, lack of funding, misaligned incentives, etc. In short, they need help.

That’s where the Urban Water Challenge (UWC) comes in. UWC was created to provide funding, unlock networks, and amplify success to accelerate the adoption of impactful solutions globally.

So let’s dive into the 2020 Challenge.

The Stats

This year, 235 applicants from 44 countries applied to our program, with the average company having already raised about $1.5M. Of these applicants, around 40% have female founders and 50% have female advisors. #WonderfulWomenInWater #YGG #WomenInStem

And with our spotlight this year on coastal resilience, we are excited that 73% startups indicated that their deployments had a coastal focus.

“This year’s Challenge had an impressive number of applicants, and diversity both with countries represented, and female-founded companies. 11th Hour Racing started supporting the Challenge after seeing firsthand how the water crisis is impacting coastal cities around the world. The status quo is not going to work any longer; we need better ways to conserve, reuse, and protect this natural resource and help cities become more water resilient in the face of climate change. With a majority of the applications focused on coastal resilience, it is clear that there are many innovative ideas and it’s time to take action through strategic deployment.”

– Michelle Carnevale, Grant Program Director, 11th Hour Racing

The Journey from 235 applicants to 8 finalists

Each applicant presented a case to our advisors and external evaluation committee that:

  1. They are solving for a problem that actually exists
  2. Their solution will exponentially make the problem better
  3. Their technology will positively impact cities, people and planet
  4. The deployment will incentivize wider adoption — and, in doing so, help build water resilient cities

The Final 8

  • Cloud to Street: Will provide accurate flood detection information using satellite and AI technology for a commercially scalable parametric flood insurance pilot in New Orleans, LA
  • Epic CleanTec: Will install an onsite decentralized wastewater treatment system that reuses wastewater for non-potable applications in San Francisco, CA.
  • Emrgy: Will deploy modular hydropower into sources of renewable energy to reduce operating costs, grid electricity consumption, and the carbon footprint in Phoenix, AZ
  • Field Factors: Will turn stormwater into a reliable local source of freshwater to promote climate resilience and green infrastructure in the Hague, Netherlands
  • Fluid Robotics: Will use AI based wastewater surveillance robot to reduce pollution in Pune, India
  • Sanivation: Will develop and operate non-sewered sanitation through a “waste-to-energy” model in Malindi, Kenya
  • Sentry: Will provide continuous data to enable analysis and optimization of water and wastewater quality in real-time to São Paulo, Brazil
  • Varuna Tech: Will install affordable sensors and an intuitive dashboard that increases visibility and efficiency for the water utility and provides assurance to communities about the safety of their water in Trenton, NJ and/or Monroe, LA

The Ways to Get Involved