Water Innovation Engine

Established by the United Nations High Level Panel on Water and led by the Australian Government, the Water Innovation Engine (WIE) is a pioneering partnership to stimulate more innovation and investment in the water sector.

The WIE brings together governments, funders, and entrepreneurs to foster innovations that accelerate impact for water-related aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 6; 'to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.' We're seeking to advance the wellbeing of less-advantaged populations in low- and middle-income countries.

Our implementing partners are the Global Innovation Fund and Grand Challenges Canada. Both partners have a successful track record of finding, funding, and graduating innovations to investors and governments.

Current opportunities to engage with the WIE are The Water Data Challenge and The Urban Sanitation Challenge.

Why is this important?

It is estimated that 780 million people do not have sufficient access to a steady supply of safe drinking water. While 71% of our planet’s surface is covered with water, less than 3% of that is freshwater.

The problem is compounded by a lack of adequate sanitation in communities, which has dire consequences for public health and economic growth. By tackling water and sanitation issues, we are seeking to advance the quality and longevity of people's lives in low- and middle-income countries.

How does the Water Innovation Engine work?

The Water Innovation Engine welcomes proposals from innovators, covering a range of areas that include urban water and sanitation, water data, and water resource management.

The Engine sources, selects, and finances innovative solutions to problems set out by the Steering Committee. Innovators may request grant, debt, or equity funding.

The Urban Sanitation Challenge

Sustainable urban sanitation that works for the poor

This challenge has now closed. 

The Urban Sanitation Challenge explored breakthroughs to help cities deliver cost-effective universal urban sanitation.

The lack of adequate sanitation in cities has dire consequence for the urban environment and public health, as well as negative impacts on economic growth and disproportionate impacts on women and girls.

Water & Life 


Water & Life is a non-profit social enterprise, providing bundled water and sanitation services to low-income households in urban, non-sewered communities in Bangladesh.   

Water & Life will refine their  sanitation delivery model and expand the coverage of its community services from 3% to 60%. Funding will also be used to help Water & Life build the capacity of its team and scale awareness activities to create demand for its services. 


Clean Team 


Clean Team delivers sanitation services to low-income households. The enterprise delivers safe, affordable in-home toilets; customers pay a small weekly fee for the service and a cartridge-based toilet that can be used in-home.  

Funding has enabled Clean Team to enhance their customer relationship management platform and purchase additional toilets to match demand, while moving their manufacturing from China to Ghana, expanding waste collection and treatment, and transitioning the CEO and Board composition to reflect the enterprise's growth stage.  



LOOWATT SARL is a Madagascar-based for-profit social enterprise working to provide access to high-quality and closed-loop sanitation services for all. 

The WIE has enabled Loowatt to expand its services across two communities, streamline costs in its service delivery model, expand the product line to cater to the poorest neighbourhoods and expand the scope of their demand creation activities. 




Sanivation’s innovation is a waste processing system for non-sewered urban communities that cost-effectively manages, treats and converts fecal sludge into charcoal briquettes. 

Sanivation will develop materials for factory replication to other municipalities, create a simplified project financing model for its waste treatment process and finalize a five-year sanitation plan with the local municipality.  

The Water Data Challenge

The Water Data Challenge is implemented by the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), an evidence-based, venture-capital-inspired funder of scalable innovations. 
We are seeking breakthroughs that cost-effectively improve smallholder farmers’ productivity, income, or resilience; or that help to optimize water use at the system, watershed, or basin level so as to enhance resilience or promote inclusive growth.  The breakthroughs could involve new ways to generate, assemble, and use data; new institutional mechanisms or business models for using and disseminating data; and new ways to build capacity – for individuals, firms, social enterprises or governments.   



CityTaps is scaling a smart, prepaid water meter that bridges the gap between water utilities and the urban poor in Niger. 

Funding criteria

  • Innovative, transformative solutions
  • Health impact
  • Strategic partnerships
  • Path to Scale and Sustainability
  • Gender integration
  • Capable and passionate team

What funding is available?

Up to $1 million will be provided to support innovations to scale. Funding is provided to test and refine the business or implementation model, technologies and/or product as required.

All innovators are required to secure 1:1 matched funding (in-kind contributions do not apply).

When do applications close?

Applications are currently being accepted, and are reviewed on a rolling basis.

How do I apply?

Visit the Global Innovation Fund for instructions on how to submit an initial two page application. When filling in the form, please note "Water Data Challenge" at the top of the Application Summary field.

Where can I learn more?

For more information, head to the Water Data Challenge website.