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.

Calls will focus on developing countries but will also welcome applications from all sectors and organisations.
Innovators may request grant, debt, or equity funding.

The Engine sources, selects, and finances innovative solutions to problems set out by the Steering Committee.

Innovations are currently being sought for two opportunities:
New opportunities and challenges will be opened for consideration on a regular basis.

The Water Data Challenge
Enabling low-income farmers to have better access to data/information for decision-making

The Water Data Challenge seeks breakthroughs in the use of data to catalyse better water management in a way that improves the lives of smallholder farmers and other watershed dwellers living on less than $5 a day.

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.

The Urban Sanitation Challenge

Sustainable urban sanitation that works for the poor

The Urban Sanitation Challenge seeks breakthroughs in innovative approaches that 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.

One out of three women and girls around the world lack access to safe toilets, putting them at risk of health problems, sexual assault and harassment, For these reasons, there is a critical need to scale up sustainable sanitation systems in urban areas

Who can apply?

Applications are accepted from innovators, entrepreneurs, start-ups, researchers, non-profits, and government agencies. We particularly encourage applications from women-led organisations and organisations located in low or low-middle income countries. We are interested in proposals that have a partner from a low or low-middle income country.

Who can apply?

Applications are open to non-profits, for-profits (pre- and post-revenue) and other recognised institutions that operate in eligible low- or middle-income countries.

Funding criteria

  • Potential to scale to benefit millions of people
  • Depth of impact
  • Benefits for people living under $5 a day or for vulnerable groups
  • Ability to measure success and willingness to share lessons learned
  • Qualifications of the team

Funding criteria

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

What funding is available?

Pilot-stage proposals (proof of concept) may receive up to $230,000, and test and transition proposals up to $1 million.

Financial instruments are flexible and can be provided as grants, debt, or equity. Typically, private sector investees would receive debt or equity finance unless they are creating a public good.

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.

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.

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 “Urban Sanitation Challenge” at the top of the Application Summary field.

Where can I learn more?

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

Where can I learn more?

For more information, head to the Urban Sanitation Challenge website.