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The five-year Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative aims to find innovative solutions to conserve and restore freshwater ecosystems. This is the third of five innovation challenges, focusing on tackling water pollution and ensuring water quality.
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Water holds profound environmental significance, and both its availability and quality are essential to sustain human life and biodiversity. Although water is essential for a flourishing environment, it is also a significant source of pollution within it.
Industrial runoff, agricultural practices, and plastic waste are common sources of water contamination, posing serious risks to both human health and the environment. Emerging contaminants from pharmaceuticals, pesticides, nanomaterials, microplastics, and the so-called “forever chemicals”, are further intensifying these risks. Based on a World Bank report, industries discharge around 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes into water bodies every year. "Forever chemicals," also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminate drinking water supplies for up to 200 million Americans today.
To tackle these issues, the third Aquapreneur challenge is seeking high-potential solutions to prevent water pollution and reduce the environmental impacts of contaminated water. This initiative aligns with recent global shifts towards implementing stricter water quality regulations, exemplified by the recent UN resolution on water at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) in spring 2024, which made decisive strides towards the protection of global water resources and the improvement of hazardous chemical and chemical waste management.
Solutions could include advanced filtration, the elimination of wastewater discharges, decision support systems to provide accurate and accessible data for measuring options for both the public and industries, as well as household water testing and filtration.

Prize Details

Up to 10 submissions will be selected as winners, recognized as Top Innovators, and become part of the UpLink Innovation Ecoystem, a curated programme designed for Founders, CEOs, Executive Directors, etc., which provides:

  • Access: Opportunity to participate in selected World Economic Forum and partner-led events, projects, and communities.
  • Visibility: Global exposure via the Forum’s and UpLink’s digital media channels.
  • Connections: Strategic introductions to selected organizations in the Forum’s and UpLink’s network.
  • Targeted support: Including programming and support on technical, business and operational matters.
  • Financial award: Up to 10 Top Innovators will each be eligible to receive CHF 175,000, from a total fund of CHF 1.75 million, in co-financing that has generously been made available by HCL.
Participant Criteria

I. Business viability

  • Financially viable business model: Solution demonstrates a sustainable business model and revenue approach, and presents proof of funding history, as well as investable opportunities for investors or philanthropic funders.
  • External risk: Solution has a plan to manage risks and uncertainties associated with achieving their desired outcomes.
  • Product-market fit: Solution can explicitly demonstrate how it fits customer needs in a local context and/or globally.
    - Governance, team, & operating models: Solution should have a legal entity attached to the project or technology and have a diverse leadership team with the right capacity and skillset to deliver on the project's mission. The operating model should show the extent to which the project has achieved financial viability and sustainable revenue streams or has a vision and plan for achieving it.
  • II. Intention to deliver impact
  • Sustainable & cross-sectoral impact Solution demonstrates clear benefits for multiple agendas, particularly society and the environment, and supports the water agenda in the long term, delivering impact that outlasts the length of the challenge.
    - Impact measurement, management & verification Solution demonstrates a clear impact monitoring, evaluation, and verification framework. The metrics and indicators should be tracked transparently; reference and apply relevant, robust standards; and receive independent credentialing and third-party verification.
  • III. Solution novelty and replicability
  • Solution differentiation Solution demonstrates novelty in its product or service offering, pricing, partnerships, or business model.
  • Proof of concept and replicability: Solution can provide evidence, for example from experiments or pilot projects, that the product or service is implementable across different geographies and cultural contexts.

The focus areas of this challenge include:

  • Prevent contamination at source
  • Drive new approaches to water management
  • Optimize public water and wastewater treatment
  • Offer water quality solutions for households
Additional details
January 2025

Hackathon Date


Who Can Participate

Not Available

Entry fee

Water management and Wastewater treatment


Enroll Now
Registration ends by:
August 13, 2024
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