Imagine H2O Prize Competition to Drive Water Innovation



As 3p readers know, the growing scarcity of freshwater is causing significant social and environment problems around the world.  From a rise in cholera in parts of Africa to chronic water shortages in Australia as a result of drought, people everywhere are feeling the impact of the global water crisis.

Imagine H2O, a non-profit that aims to turn the world’s water problems into opportunities for entrepreneurs, is running a business plan competition to encourage water technology innovation.  Through the inaugural Imagine H2O Prize Competition (which is accepting entries until Nov. 16, 2009) and its business incubator, the organization aims to bring water technology from entrepreneurs, investors, inventors and academics around the world to address critical water challenges.

As research from global water organizations, such as the World Water Council, indicate, addressing water conservation is critically needed.  Participants of Imagine H2O’s competition will not only help solve a timely global issue, they will also receive assistance to bring their business idea to market.  In addition to having the opportunity to receive $70,000 in cash and in-kind services, competition participants will also benefit from Imagine H2O’s incubator program.

“Imagine H2O’s mission is to inspire systemic and sustainable solutions to the world’s water challenges,” said Brian Matthay, Imagine H2O’s program manager. “Through our annual prize competition we identify promising entrepreneurial ideas and then use our start-up incubator program to nurture these ideas into businesses that are both profitable and help solve major water problems.”

Imagine H2O aims to build a Silicon Valley for water via its incubator program, which will place winners in an ecosystem of talent that will assist them in starting commercially viable water businesses. The winners will have access to Imagine H2O’s network of partners, customers, and financiers, as well as receive thousands of dollars in business and legal support, all of which will help entrepreneurs develop their brilliant ideas into products or services that have commercial potential and social value.

In addition to cash prizes, Imagine H2O’s incubator resources will provide winners with direct and ongoing assistance from leading water, business and legal experts and organizations, including Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the National Water Research Institute, to achieve their goals.

The focus of this year’s competition is water efficiency — a timely topic considering that water scarcity is an urgent problem in the U.S. and the world.  Business plan entries may focus on the efficient use and supply of water in agriculture, commercial, industrial or residential environments.

“Imagine H2O chose water efficiency as the focus for the inaugural competition because reducing water waste is, in some ways, the low hanging fruit of water solutions, it resonates with a wide range of stakeholders, and because water efficiency leads to a number of additional benefits beyond improving available water resources,” said Matthay. 
To learn more about the organization and the Prize Competition, visit

Recent Imagine H2O Workshop at Babson
Recent Imagine H2O Workshop at Babson

By Nayelli Gonzalez & Ellisa Feinstein

Nayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli Gonzalez is Managing Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at, a capacity building organization that supports the growing ecosystem of impact-focused conveners, accelerators, and mappers. A sustainability innovation strategist and storyteller dedicated to purpose-driven work, Nayelli has advised startups, nonprofits, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to drive engagement and amplify positive impact in the world. She's a trained journalist with an MBA who writes on sustainable business and social impact trends for a variety of publications.

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