Xylem Ignite Global Student Innovation Challenge: winners announced

More than 800 high school and university students from around the world competed to solve global water issues through the second annual Xylem Ignite Global Student Innovation Challenge competition, with 12 winning teams receiving money from the US$20,000 prize pool.

Image © Peppygraphics - stock.adobe.com.

Over an eight-week period, students were tasked with developing ideas to solve one of four critical water challenges – data storytelling for water insecurity, creating a floating city master plan, keeping water flowing in rural communities and kickstarting water’s race to net zero.

Team SWiFT from Santa Clara, California was the grand prize winner in the secondary (high) school category, awarded for their efforts to improve the life span of a water pump.

“The big problem is that water scarcity and water stress are plaguing many countries in Africa,” noted the team. “More than one million hand pumps installed there support rural communities with one in five people relying on them for drinking water.” By creating a unique design to reduce repair time and provide easy access to troubleshooting, the team was able to address a 30% pump failure rate.

A member of the winning Swift team. -

Team AquaFlo from Ontario and British Columbia in Canada was the grand prize winner in the tertiary (university) category for their design of two different technical solutions to notify users when a water hand pump is out of service. Their concepts include an innovative mobile app, interactive voice response and an automated message service system.

“We are passionate about using technology for social good and were immediately drawn to the challenge of keeping water flowing in rural communities,” said the AquaFlo team. “We saw a real opportunity for us to improve the quality of life for a significant part of the population.”

The winning Aquaflo team. -

The winners of this year’s competition will also be given the opportunity to enroll in Xylem’s Ignite Innovation Incubator, a program that provides support for participants to scale their concepts and advance them toward market readiness.

“We’re committed to championing student innovators because young people hold the key to a more water-secure future,” said Patrick Decker, Xylem’s CEO. “The results of this year’s competition show the power of their creativity and passion to address major water challenges.” 

Xylem recognised the grand prize winners in a virtual ceremony.