Imagine H20 is a national non-profit whose mission is to inspire and empower people to solve water problems. They are currently holding their first annual water innovation contest, open to all entrepreneurs and innovators who have big ideas about how to create real-world solutions around clean water and sanitation.
The business plan competition offers $70,000 in prizes and professional services to the winners. They are looking for ideas and innovations to improve water efficiency in agriculture, commercial, industrial or residential applications- areas like water demand reduction, improved water use, and water recycling/ reuse.
Beyond hosting the competition, Imagine H20 doubles as an Incubator for water start-ups. Dedicated to helping the next wave of water entrepreneurs, the incubator program offers all competition entrants: business plan coaching, mentoring from water experts and business CEOs, team-building and networking, introductions to financiers, strategic partners, beta customers, and help securing lab space and office space.
Imagine H20 itself started with a team of entrepreneurs from Harvard Business School who had some ideas for a water start-up and found it surprisingly difficult to get basic questions answered and find the support they needed to get their ideas off the ground. Their solution? Start a non-profit to provide just those things. Thus, Imagine H20 was born in 2007.
“We knew we needed people, information, and programs to get started. When we couldn’t find them, we built a program to serve as a launch-pad for water innovation to the world…Imagine H2O,” they write on their website.
I had the chance to meet Imagine H20 Program Manager Brian Matthay after an appearance on the Business Boomer “Green, Sustainable Consumer-Facing Businesses” show.
“What resonates for me is that we’re looking at systemic rather than a project based solutions,” he said, explaining that he saw too many great water projects in Africa lose their effectiveness when they couldn’t get new parts or repairs. The Imagine H20 is looking for entrepreneurs and innovators with systemic solutions to big issues.
The competition is accepting entries until November 16, 2009.