Innovators Tackle Global Water Challenges: HCL and UpLink Award $1.9 Million to “Aquapreneurs”

Ten entrepreneurs receive funding and support for cutting-edge solutions to address water scarcity, pollution, and waste.

HCL Group, a global technology conglomerate, and UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, today announced the winners of the Zero Water Waste Challenge. Ten water-focused entrepreneurs were selected from a pool of 192 applicants to receive a share of a 1.9 million CHF prize pool and gain access to valuable resources and support.

The Zero Water Waste Challenge is the second of five innovation challenges under HCL and UpLink’s Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative, a five-year, $15 million commitment to drive freshwater sector innovation. This year’s challenge focused on solutions for capturing and protecting freshwater supplies, reusing and recycling materials, and saving water in agriculture.

The winning entrepreneurs come from eight different countries and represent a wide range of innovative solutions. These include:

  • FieldFactors (Canada): Provides circular solutions for urban water management and climate adaptation, specializing in combating urban flooding, drought, and heat stress.
  • Fluid Analytics (United States): Develops AI-powered water analytics solutions to address urban water pollution, monitoring over 1.5 billion liters of urban water pollution and enabling the treatment and reuse of 800 million liters daily.
  • AQUAKIT SRL (Bolivia): Offers a greywater treatment technology that recycles household greywater for non-potable uses and reduces wastewater emissions.
  • SEABEX SAS (France): Provides an AI-powered precision irrigation solution that uses a digital twin to help farmers produce more food with less water.
  • SmartTerra (India): Develops AI-powered analytics software to analyze data and reduce water losses in city-scale and built environment networks.
  • Naireeta Services Private Ltd (India): Offers a community-based rainwater harvesting technology that filters, injects, and stores rainwater for use in dry seasons.
  • PYDRO (Germany): Produces a cost-effective, self-powered smart flow meter for water pipes, helping to reduce water leaks, prevent pipe bursts, and perform quality checks in real-time.
  • SHAYP (Belgium): Provides an IoT-enabled SaaS solution that monitors water consumption in real estate buildings in real-time, helping building managers eliminate leaks and related damages.
  • Membrion (United States): Develops a ceramic desalination technology that removes metals, minerals, and salts from harsh industrial wastewater, enabling the water to be recycled in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.
  • Kran Nanobubble (Chile): Offers a nanobubble technology solution optimizing water efficiency in agriculture, water treatment, and aquaculture.

“In light of the current global climate change crisis and increasing scarcity of freshwater resources, the urgent need for innovative solutions to manage our freshwater supplies cannot be overlooked,” said Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCLTech. “These innovations reshape our approach to water, optimizing its use and conservation. HCL stands committed to supporting these innovations for a positive global impact.”

The winners will receive financial awards, mentorship, and access to UpLink’s network of experts and partners. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their solutions at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in 2025.

“Climate change, pollution, and overuse pose a grave threat to the planet’s freshwater supplies,” said Olivier Schwab, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. “UpLink and HCL are building an innovation ecosystem around early-stage, water-focused entrepreneurs that will provide them with the resources, expertise, and vital funding they need to thrive. The solutions created by these ‘Aquapreneurs’ will play a crucial role in bringing about the transformative change required to shape a sustainable, water-resilient future for all.”

The Zero Water Waste Challenge is a testament to the growing importance of water innovation and the power of collaboration in addressing global challenges. By supporting these entrepreneurs, HCL and UpLink are helping to ensure a more sustainable future for our planet.