Western Canada AquaHacking Challenge 2021 winners announced – teams set to solve water woes

September 15, 2021

Kelowna, B.C. – The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and AquaAction co-hosted a live-streaming of the AquaHacking 2021 – Western Canada Challenge finals yesterday afternoon, on Sept. 14. Three teams pitched their solutions to some of the regions most pressing water issues. Judges and participants voted for final placement and awarding of $45,000 in seed funding, helping teams take their water solutions to market.

The winners are:

3rd place – Eco-Water from University of Saskatchewan, winning $10,000 in seed funding for their project which addresses optimization of wastewater treatment plants with their innovative Eco-Model and Eco-Filter, to remove pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, from wastewater before it’s released back into the environment. 

2nd place – Eledigm from UBC Okanagan, tackling contamination of drinking water in cisterns by developing a hydraulic coupling for water delivery hoses and cistern lid, took home $15,000 in seed funding.

1st place – The SIP Project from UBC Okanagan, taking on drinking water contamination with a mobile filtration station in the form of a gravity filter backpack, won top prize – $20,000 to help get their project off the ground.

In addition, all finalist teams were awarded a spot in a local business incubator to help them with their new start-up, and legal support from Lavery Lawyers.

An additional $1,500 was awarded to the Audience Top Choice, Eco-Water.

“We are incredibly excited and proud to be the champions of the AquaHacking 2021 – Western Canada Challenge,” said SIP Project team member Elana Wood, “We have learned so much throughout this journey and it has been an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. We are looking forward to the future for Team SIP and are working to bring our product to market to help end water disparity ‘One SIP at a Time!’ Above all, we are so grateful to the AquaHacking network and to all of our mentors and supporters.”

“The persistence and passion shown by these teams to develop solutions to fresh water issues is inspiring and timely,’ added Kariann Aarup, Executive Director of AquaAction. “As the world seeks to mitigate the impacts of climate change and ensure healthy freshwater for future generations, ingenuity such as this gives us hope,” she said.

Anna Warwick Sears, OBWB Executive Director, agreed.  “To see all these young people, who are putting so much thought and effort into developing solutions, and being a force for good, is really heartening.

“For sure, the AquaHacking program is an incredible learning experience for them, but all three projects are also very important,” Sears added. “They’re wonderful, genuine solutions to hard problems.”

What’s also incredible is that, due to COVID-19, recruiting was all done online. Teams, with members in different Canadian and even International time zones, such as those in Japan, Qatar, Syria and Russia, did their research and developed their solutions remotely. Several are second year university students, not long out of high school. “It’s all pretty amazing,” said Sears.

To watch the broadcast of the Western Canada AquaHacking Challenge final, visit https://youtu.be/JIjCAoEzCXs. A program with more on the teams, their solutions, the judges and more, can also be found at https://bit.ly/3BZBci5.

Special thanks to Western Canada AquaHacking Challenge  sponsors: De Gaspe Beaubien Foundation, RBC Foundation, Ovivo, Lavery Lawyers, IBM, Mitacs, Teck Resources, and Central Okanagan Foundation.

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