In early May 2018, nominations opened for the 2018 Urban Water Scarcity Challenge, an initiative from partners Imagine H2O, 11th Hour Racing, and Bluewater Group with the goal of advancing resilient drinking water solutions for global cities. WQP Managing Editor Amy McIntosh asked representatives from all three parties—Anders Jacobson, president of Bluewater Group; Scott Bryan, president of Imagine H2O; and Jeremy Pochman, co-founder and strategic director of 11th Hour Racing—about the initiative’s mission and how people can get involved.
Left to Right: Anders Jacobson, Scott Bryan, Jeremy Pochman
Amy McIntosh: What is the 2018 Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge?
Anders Jacobson: The Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge will drive direct and scalable impact for water-scarce cities, inspire community awareness and public action, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and facilitate the deployment of real solutions to an existing problem. We believe human ingenuity can evolve, refine and develop technologies that create sustainable solutions to urban water scarcity issues.
McIntosh: How did the idea for the program come about?
Jacobson: We came up with the initial concept at Bluewater, but reached out at an early stage to San Francisco-based Imagine H2O, as one of the world’s foremost water innovation accelerators. We also embraced 11th Hour Racing, whom we had met through our joint involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race, as a natural partner because of the way they establish strategic partnerships within the sailing and maritime communities in order to promote collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of our oceans.
McIntosh: What types of solutions are you looking for?
Scott Bryan: The Urban Drinking Water Scarcity Challenge is looking for pioneering technologies and solutions and innovative new business models that can tackle urban water scarcity within the three specific areas of alternative supply, distributed access and delivery, and ecosystem health. We want to see ideas around decentralised, capital-efficient and sustainable solutions to develop and augment urban drinking water supplies, scaled technologies and business models that support decentralized drinking water purification and distribution systems and solutions that can empower cities to monitor and manage environment health of contaminated waterways and ecosystems.
McIntosh: Where will winners be announced? What is the prize?
Jacobson: We will announce three winning entrepreneurs on Aug. 27,  and they will be honored at a special event held on that day during Stockholm World Water Week, Aug. 26 to 31. The challenge’s founding partners, Bluewater and 11th Hour Racing, have collectively committed $250,000 in deployment awards to be evenly distributed amongst the three winners with market-ready drinking water innovations in urban centers globally. Additionally, the winners will be eligible for $750,000 in seed investment provided by Bluewater, as well as introductions to investors and customers in Imagine H2O’s global ecosystem.
McIntosh: How can people get involved?
Bryan: Eligible start-ups will be invited to submit complete applications by July 2, 2018. They can do this online at www.imagineh2o.org/urban-water-scarcity.
McIntosh: Why do you think programs like this are important?
Jeremy Pochman: All the strategic partnerships we enter drive innovation that tackles the challenges impacting our oceans and planet. We see the Imagine H20 Urban Drinking Water Challenge as an exciting opportunity to address the global and critical issue of potable water scarcity while supporting communities and cities to build water resiliency. WQP Scott Bryan is president of Imagine H2O. Jeremy Pochman is co-founder and strategic director of 11th Hour Racing. Anders Jacobson is president of Bluewater Group. Jacobson can be reached at [email protected].