Crowdsourcing Disruptive Ideas Solve Global Water Challenges

The SAP Next-Gen program and Startupbootcamp AfriTech are collaborating with the World Economic Forum’s Global Water Initiative and the World Bank’s Water Global Practice to tap the creativity of startups and accelerate solutions to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.

Water is the ultimate systems challenge.  It is a unique resource that underpins all drivers of growth – be it agricultural production, energy generation, industry or manufacturing. It also connects these sectors into a broader economic system that must balance social development and environmental interests. A decision to allocate more water to any one sector implies that less water will be available for other economic uses, public water supply, other social services, or environmental protection.

A global effort from Startupbootcamp AfriTech, SAP Next-Gen, the World Economic Forum’s Global Water Initiative, and World Bank’s Water Global Practice aims to accelerate solutions and close a projected 40 percent gap between demand and supply of freshwater resources by 2030. By discovering disruptive startups and innovative approaches working with public and private stakeholders, the organizations are collaborating to potentially scale groundwater assessment solutions in emerging economies.

In the preliminary phase of the initiative — from August 17 to September 24, 2018 — startups can apply to join a cohort working on disruptive solutions for global water challenges. Selected startups will participate in a tailored program of master classes and mentoring with supporting corporates. The aim is to launch scalable and sustainable solutions through lean pilot engagements with sponsors. Follow-up phases of the initiative aim to globally scale the solution concepts.

“Water resource management is a critical challenge of our time, and we believe startups can play a key role in developing disruptive solutions,” said Philip Kiracofe, CEO and co-founder at Startupbootcamp AfriTech. “Through the Epic Groundwater Challenge, we will accelerate startups from around the world that are focusing on Water Management, Waste Water Treatment, Water Conservation, Water Quality, Water Supply, Smart Water Use, and Sustainable Development, developing bold new solutions aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goal 6.”

Innovation with Purpose Meets Innovation 3.0

“Innovation 3.0 is the new frontier for accelerating solutions to the UN Global Goals,” said Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen. “Our partnership with Startupbootcamp AfriTech in support of the Global Water Initiative is an example of how crowdsourcing the embedded knowledge of a global community of startups, accelerators, corporates, purpose driven institutions, academia, and citizens can result in rapidly uncovering new solutions to address the UN Global Goals.”

Startups will address challenges in several areas:

  • Does not duplicate existing solutions for the availability of groundwater
  • Devices, techniques, and/or services to detect and monitor new and existing groundwater sources and measure consumption
  • The solution should either build on or combine existing technologies in novel ways to address the challenge
  • Transparent, rapid data collection on groundwater availability
  • Techniques to reduce over-drafting of groundwater, stream depletion, land subsidence, and salinity
  • Devices to monitor groundwater levels to estimate the recharge rate, determine direction and gradient of flow, and understand and manage aquifer systems
  • Groundwater-availability modelling and decision-support system for better water resources management and allocation
  • User-friendly interface, easily accessible on tablet or smartphone
  • Predictive modelling for future groundwater usage
  • Automated aggregation of groundwater data resulting in actionable information for stakeholders
  • Predictive modelling for future groundwater usage
  • Lower cost than current methods
  • Open data platform to provide access to all stakeholders for further use and analysis

Applications are now open at bit.ly/sdgwater2018; the deadline to apply is September 12, 2018.


Startupbootcamp AfriTech is part of the global Startupbootcamp family of industry-focused programs supporting early-stage tech founders to rapidly scale their companies by providing direct access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners, and investors in their industry. Founded in 2010 in Copenhagen with a core mission of supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs through all stages of their growth, entrepreneurs around the world have joined the Startupbootcamp movement in 19 programs across 6 continents. Startupbootcamp now has more industry-focused accelerator programs than any other organization, and holds events in more than 100 cities each year supporting the world’s most talented founders with hands-on mentorship and access to key industry connections.

Learn more at Startupbootcamp Epic Groundwater Challenge, F6S Epic Groundwater Challenge, and VC4A Epic Groundwater Challenge. For media enquiries related to Startupbootcamp AfriTech and the Epic Groundwater Challenge, contacts Jo Griffiths (+27 (0) 729 180192, jo@theloudhailer.org).


The SAP Next-Gen initiative, a purpose-driven innovation university and community aligned with SAP’s commitment to the 17 UN Global Goals for sustainable development, supports SAP’s more than 404,000 customers across 32 industries in more than 180 countries. The program leverages over 3,600 educational institutions in 113 countries, more than 100 SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces at universities and at partner and SAP locations, and more than 72 SAP Next-Gen Chapters, as well as startups, accelerators, tech community partners, venture firms, futurists, purpose-driven institutions, and SAP experts.