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Calling a New Generation of Water Startups — IH2O’s 2020 Accelerator is Now Open

Applications for Imagine H2O’s 2020 Accelerator, the top entrepreneurial development program for founders in the water sector, are now open. Last year, 255 companies applied from 46 countries, showcasing an extraordinary diversity of opportunities, insights and technical ability, making the judging panel’s job of picking just 13 companies very challenging indeed.

2019 has demonstrated the deepening challenges in water management globally. From the wells running dry in Chennai, to the floods in the Midwest of the United States, the need for solutions has never been more pressing. Imagine H2O’s mission is to empower people to develop and deploy innovation to solve these water challenges globally.

Imagine H2O identifies, supports, and empowers entrepreneurs to build and scale their solutions. As a non-profit, our team acts through these changemakers, allowing Imagine H2O to maximize its impact across multiple water challenges concurrently. Our 10-year track record proves that this model works.

Since 2009, over $450m has been invested in Imagine H2O companies. In the past two years, IH2O alumni collectively raised, on average, over a third of all early stage investment in the water sector. Additionally, Imagine H2O has provided almost $1m in deployment funding to startups to prove their technologies in the field. This Deployment for Impact approach is on track to release over $200k in deployment funding in 2020.

Imagine H2O continues to evolve as an organization — going beyond the accelerator. Imagine H2O now runs two additional innovation programs — Imagine H2O Asia and the Urban Water Challenge. Imagine H2O Asia, our Singapore-based hub established in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, PUB (Singapore), Suez and Moya, bridges water innovations in to the Southeast Asian market. This is a powerful partnership and platform in a region that will increasingly rely on innovation to improve water resiliency.

We also recently completed IH2O’s second annual Urban Water Challenge, a program that provides funding and resources to support deployments in major cities. Alongside the Challenge’s Founding Partners Bluewater and 11th Hour Racing, IH2O is supporting six entrepreneurs to deploy solutions in six cities ranging from Da Nang, Vietnam, to Nairobi, Kenya. All six companies showcased their solutions at Stockholm World Water Week in August.

In reality, water is more of a theme than an industry. Water touches every sector, so IH2O’s Accelerator currently focuses on the following five themes:

While most applicants will fit into one of these categories, there are surprises every year. Novel technologies are not enough in this market. IH2O’s Accelerator application and evaluation process places an emphasis on innovative business models that are capable of bringing solutions to market quickly. Every applicant receives written feedback on their application. In general, we tend to look for the following qualities in an IH2O participant:

  1. Focus on an urgent, verified problem
  2. Solution designed in direct response to that problem
  3. Strong go-to-market strategy & unit economics
  4. A team with an unfair advantage in their chosen market

IH2O’s Accelerator supports companies through mentorship, founder development, marketing & visibility as well as access to IH2O’s deep network of customers, investors and supporters. The Accelerator’s centerpiece is Water Innovation Week 2020 (March 23–26), which will explore the theme “The Next Decade”. Over 500 professionals, partners, investors, and industry leaders from IH2O’s network will be in San Francisco, exploring the challenges and opportunities in water in the decade to come. The 2020 Accelerator participants will be showcased throughout the week, and will present at IH2O’s Water Demo Day. Register to attend Water Innovation Week 2020 here.

Although we’ve been proud to provide early support to industry success stories like Valor Water Analytics, Ceres Imaging, Fracta, Flo Technologies, Oxymem and others, we measure our own success by the combined quality of each cohort. The intake grows stronger with every year, and so does the organization’s support for founders. In 2019, Imagine H2O has worked with 26 individual companies and solutions across the world. Join this elite network of water innovators as an Imagine H2O company in 2020, by applying before November 1st at www.imagineh2o.org/accelerator.

Before applying, check your eligibility for the program, and check out this content from our staff and alumni that can guide your application:

We look forward to hearing from you.