World Bank Youth Innovation Challenge 2024: Water Solutions for a New Climate Reality

The World Bank Youth Innovation Challenge: Water Solutions for a New Climate Reality aims to accelerate innovation and unleash the potential of the world’s next generation of youth aquapreneurs.

The World Bank and its partners welcome all interested and qualified young aquapreneurs to submit proposals for creative solutions to one or more of four global water challenges:

  • Too much water
  • Too little water
  • Contaminated water
  • Mismanaged water


Participants entering the World Bank Youth Innovation Challenge will:

  • Build critical entrepreneurial skills in business plan development, prototyping, customer segmentation, sales, financing, marketing, fundraising, and sustainability with support from World Bank’s Corporate partners like Microsoft, Xylem and other learning partners like YBI, YMCA and other water tech companies.
  • Be invited to join the Microsoft Founders Hub offering the opportunity to gain free access to technology tools, resources and coaching to build solutions.
  • Improve business plan and pitch scalable solutions to water tech CEOs, VCs, and other impact investors
  • Receive market feedback from water and sanitation utilities, irrigation operators, and other end users worldwide.
  • Network with a global community of successful entrepreneurs, water experts, investors and other innovators.
  • Access a 6-month Accelerator Program that provides one on one mentoring by successful Water tech CEOs (winners only).


  • Between 18-34 years of age at the time of registration (i.e., as of December 8, 2023), and citizens of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank. The challenge is open to students, entrepreneurs, technologists, and other engaged citizens.
  • Individuals may form teams and submit entries on behalf of the team. Each team can list between 1-5 members who will be available to participate in the events associated with the challenge. If the team is from an existing venture with more members, select 1-5 to participate fully in this initiative. All team members need to fit the age criteria.
  • The team should either be working toward a minimum viable product, or have a minimum viable product which is intended to serve or serving customers in at least one low- or middle-income country, as specified in the list of countries above.
  • The team must address one or more of the following four tracks and challenges:
    • Too much water: The challenge of too much water includes issues such as flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and ocean acidification.
    • Too little water: The challenge of too little water refers to water scarcity, lack of access to water and sanitation services, drought and associated food and agriculture challenges.
    • Contaminated Water: The challenge of too polluted water entails issues such as contaminated drinking water with microplastics, forever chemicals or other toxins, and the public health challenges these pose.
    • Mismanaged Water: The challenge of mismanaged water includes poor service delivery, mismanaged water equipment and infrastructure, or operational inefficiencies in water and sanitation utilities.
  • Each team may enter only once. Teams that enter more than once will not be considered.
  • The 1-5 young innovators listed in the team should be willing and able to participate in virtual bootcamps, workshops, mentoring and networking sessions, led by industry experts. These sessions will be held online thus, participants must have access to a stable internet connection.
  • All sessions will be held in English thus, participants must be able to participate in and pitch their idea in English.

Judging Criteria

Applicants will be adjudicated by a panel of water specialists, based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to water challenges outlined in the four tracks: Is there a proven market need for the product or service with a target customer base able and willing to pay, within the water sector?
  • Innovation: Is the proposal innovative? Innovation can be completely new or an improved or adjusted way in which a process, product, or service solves a complex problem or challenge. Innovation unlocks opportunities, increases benefits, minimizes challenges and creates value in the community and society in which the team is operating.
  • Feasibility: The solution has the potential for long-term social, environmental, and financial sustainability. Is the team clear on its ability to deliver intended results given available resources and experience?
  • Impact: Ability of the solution to create meaningful and tangible impact on individuals, communities, and systems. Evidence that demonstrates ability to measure and achieve results, in addition to a roadmap that outlines a pathway to creating impact at a meaningful scale. Is the impact in the short or long-term?
  • Measurement of progress: What are the key metrics of success? Has programmatic progress impact been monitored or measured by a third-party or internally?

Deadline: February 23, 2024

Apply here


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