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MIT's first competition for water startups is underway

Inaugural MIT Water Innovation Prize encourages new ventures that address water challenges.
Eight teams are participating in the first annual MIT Water Innovation Prize.
Eight teams are participating in the first annual MIT Water Innovation Prize.
Image: MIT Water Innovation Prize

Building upon growing interest in water innovation throughout MIT and Massachusetts, the inaugural MIT Water Innovation Prize establishes a platform to launch ventures intent on addressing water challenges.

Organized by the student-led MIT Water Club, the prize joins MIT's growing force of initiatives tackling water issues. This year, the Institute established the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) to spearhead research addressing water and food security. The MIT Water Club is itself in its third year, with growing membership from both MIT and local industry. Massachusetts has also seen a rise in water innovation efforts such as those led by the New England Water Innovation Network. Additionally this year, clean-technology accelerators in the Northeast are spanning their reach to include a focus in water, including expansions by Cleantech Open and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Catalyst Program.

The MIT Water Innovation Prize creates a platform for team learning and support, to commercialize breakthrough, scalable water technologies and processes across a range of domestic and global sectors. Eight teams are participating in this year's inaugural event, with ventures addressing water challenges related to monitoring and analytics; oil and gas; recycling and reuse; and drinking water and sanitation. The prize's organizing team also represents a diverse cross-section of the MIT community, with undergraduates, doctoral students, and MBA students from the school's various courses, including engineering, business, technology, policy, and urban planning.

In addition to leveraging the significant research and entrepreneurial strengths of MIT, participating ventures receive mentorship from investment, corporate, and entrepreneurial players engaged in the water sector. The prize culminates in a "final pitch," in which teams will compete before a panel of esteemed judges. Winners will receive $20,000 in innovation grants, with generous support from PepsiCo.

The MIT Water Innovation Prize Final Pitch will be held on Monday, April 6, starting at 5:30 p.m. in Kirsch Auditorium (Room 32-123) in the MIT Stata Center (Building 32). Free ticket registration is available at

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