HCL Group and UpLink announce winners of Zero Water Waste Challenge

HCL Group and UpLink have announced the winners of the Zero Water Waste Challenge, an integral component of the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative. This initiative represents a $15 million, five-year investment by HCL, a prominent global conglomerate, aimed at propelling innovation within the freshwater sector.

Out of an impressive pool of 192 applicants worldwide, 10 pioneering Aquapreneurs have been selected. These innovators, originating from diverse regions including Africa (16%), Asia (18%), Europe (13%), South America, and the United States, will be granted a portion of the 1.9 million CHF fund to escalate their startups and deploy freshwater solutions on a global scale.

During the announcement in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on January 17, 2024, the HCL Group in collaboration with UpLink, the World Economic Forum’s open innovation platform, unveiled these top 10 water-focused entrepreneurs. These Aquapreneurs have demonstrated remarkable ingenuity in areas such as greywater reuse, rainwater capture, advanced filtration, precision agriculture, and the integration of data analytics and AI in their solutions. They have not only secured financial backing but also an opportunity to be part of the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem, significantly enhancing their global impact potential.

The commitment of HCL Group to this cause is evident in the substantial return on investment recorded in less than a year. The first cohort of Aquapreneurs collectively amassed $54.5 million after joining the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem, marking a tenfold return on HCL’s investment.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Chairperson of HCLTech, emphasized the crucial need for innovative solutions to manage freshwater resources, especially in the face of the escalating global climate crisis. She remarked on the transformative potential of these innovations in reshaping water conservation and optimization strategies.

Echoing this sentiment, Olivier Schwab, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, highlighted the dire threats of climate change, pollution, and overuse to the planet’s freshwater resources. He lauded the role of UpLink and HCL in nurturing an innovation ecosystem that empowers water-focused entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and expertise to flourish and drive transformative change.

Two exceptional Aquapreneurs, Karina Peña of FieldFactors and Asim R. Bhalerao of Fluid Analytics, were spotlighted for their solutions addressing urban water management and pollution, respectively. They, along with other winners, are set to receive unparalleled access to events, projects, and communities spearheaded by the World Economic Forum and its partners, further amplifying their impact in creating a sustainable, water-resilient future.

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