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HCL Group and UpLink Announce Winners of Zero Water Waste Challenge, Part of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative

IndiaHCL Group and UpLink Announce Winners of Zero Water Waste Challenge, Part of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative
  • The Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative is a five-year $15 million investment to drive freshwater sector innovation from HCL, a leading global conglomerate.
  • The 10 winning Aquapreneurs were selected from a pool of 192 global applicants
  • The winners will receive a financial award from a total pool of 1.9 million CHF in funding to scale their start-ups and deliver freshwater solutions worldwide.
  • Witnessed participation from diverse regions, with notable contributions from Africa (16%), Asia (18%), Europe (13%), and other global regions
  • Of the winners this year, two are from India, four are from Europe, two from South America and two are from the United States of America.

HCL Group, a global conglomerate and UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, today announced the top 10 water-focussed entrepreneurs who will receive a financial award from a total pool of 1.9 million CHF as part of the Zero Water Waste Challenge. HCL Group committed $15 million investment in total to drive freshwater sector innovation for five years until 2027. In less than a year, HCL Group’s commitment saw a 10x return on its investment as the first cohort of ‘Aquapreneurs’ collectively raised $54.5 million after joining the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem.

L- Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson, HCLTech along with the two Aquapreneurs at World Economic Forum 2024 (Photo: Business Wire)

The Zero Water Waste Challenge is the second out of five innovation challenges, under HCL Group and UpLink’s Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative. The focus of this year’s challenge aimed at capturing and protecting freshwater supply, water reuse and recycling of materials and saving water in agriculture.

Top 10 water-focused entrepreneurs or “Aquapreneurs” were selected from a pool of 192 global applicants. Out of these, most of the applications were from Africa (16%), Asia (18%) and Europe (13%). These Innovators come from eight different countries and are bringing cutting edge innovative solutions in areas such as greywater reuse, rainwater capture, advanced filtration, precision agriculture, and data analytics and AI.

Announcing the winners, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCLTech said, 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. These innovations reshape our approach to water, optimizing its use and conservation. HCL stands committed to supporting these innovations for a positive global impact. Congratulations to the winners of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative 2024.”

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.”

Two of the top 10 innovators were selected to present their solutions at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in 2023:

  • We are thrilled and humbled to be recognized as a Zero Water Waste challenge winner,” said Karina Peña, CEO and Co-founder of FieldFactors, “joining this cohort will allow us to bring our technology to the global stage, increasing community resilience to the impacts of climate change.FieldFactors is a water technology start-up providing circular solutions for urban water management and climate adaptation. Specializing in climate change adaptation, the company designs and implements integrated solutions to combat urban flooding, drought, and heat stress, fostering biodiversity with green space.
  • Being named an Aquapreneur is validation for our vision to eliminate urban water pollution,” said Asim R. Bhalerao, CEO of Fluid Analytics, we look forward to working with HCL and UpLink, World Economic Forum to bring our vision to life globally.Fluid Analytics Inc. is a water analytics company committed to addressing urban water pollution. With unique mathematical and machine-learning models trained on diverse datasets, Fluid Analytics Inc. has successfully deployed solutions, monitoring over 1.5 billion litres of urban water pollution and enabling the treatment and reuse of 800 million litres daily.

The other entrepreneurs that were awarded prize money from HCL Group and support from UpLink are:

  • Juan Carlos Escobar, CEO and Co-Founder and Rina Martínez, Co-Founder of AQUAKIT SRL, (Bolivia) – A grey water treatment technology that enables the recycling of household greywater for non-potable uses and reduces wastewater emissions.
  • Amira Cheniour, Co-Founder and CEO and Taher Mestiri, Co-founder, Chief Technology Officer of SEABEX SAS (France) – An AI-powered precision irrigation solution that uses a digital twin to help farmers produce more food with less water.
  • Gokul Krishna Govindu, CEO of SmartTerra (India) – An AI-powered analytics software designed to analyse data and reduce water losses in city-scale and built environment networks.
  • Trupti Jain, co-founder of Naireeta Services Private Ltd (India) – A community-based rainwater harvesting technology that filters, injects and stores rainwater for use in dry seasons.
  • Mulundu Sichone, CEO at PYDRO (Germany) – A cost-effectiveself-powered smart flow meter for water pipes, helping to reduce water leaks, prevent pipe bursts and perform quality checks in real-time and 24/7.
  • Laurence Battaille, CEO and Gregoire de Hemptinne, Co-founder of SHAYP (Belgium) – An IoT-enabled SaaS solution that monitors water consumption in real estate buildings in real-time helping building managers to eliminate leaks and related damages.
  • Greg Newbloom, CEO and founder of Membrion (United States) – 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.
  • Jaime de la Cruz Gonzales, CEO of Kran Nanobubble, (Chile) – A nanobubble technology solution optimizing water efficiency in agriculture, water treatment, and aquaculture.

In addition to the financial reward, winners will receive exclusive access to events, projects, and communities led by the World Economic Forum and partners.

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