Programme on Open Innovation in Water & Sanitation: Utility – Entrepreneur 2023

Ecosystem development

EPMAPS-Waters of Quito (Ecuador), the Water State Commission of Queretaro (Mexico) and Cordovan Waters (Argentina) were the protagonists in a program on Open Innovation which had the aim of supporting the development of innovative solutions to address challenges in the provision of water and sanitation services by key operators in the region, promoting collaboration between water and sanitation service providers and local entrepreneurs. In June 2023, Cewas started this venture with a "Water Utilities Innovation Sprint" to equip innovation managers at service providers with the knowledge, attitudes and tools to manage collaborative innovation programs with young entrepreneurs. In the framework of this Sprint, each utility also selected one challenge in coverage and another in efficiency. Cewas initiated then a promotion campaign to invite young entrepreneurs from Quito, Queretaro and Cordoba, which ended with 170 persons registered. The parallel and in-person hackathons took place from Thursday 28th of September to Sunday 1st of October 2023, in which 41 teams had the opportunity to develop their solutions and business ideas in collaboration with experts and the utility staff. The following three teams were selected as winners:

• In Cordoba, Argentina, Aquared, with its idea of channels made from used and recycled tires to protect surface pipes in settlements without access to main water pipes.

• In Quito, Ecuador, Comsagua, with its with a proposal for dry toilets and transformation of feces into organic fertilizer.

• In Queretaro, Mexico, SCM Planeta Verde, with a drinking water supply system using wind-driven micro turbine condensers.

These teams are incubated in the Young Water Fellowship edition 2023-2024, which includes a series of virtual trainings, coaching and mentoring sessions, disbursement of seed funding, and participation in an in-person boot-camp in Lima in May 2024.

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