Supporting entrepreneurs addressing water scarcity challenge in Southern Europe

The initiative seeks to promote 30 businesses that, through technological and social innovations as well as new services, provide tools to face the increasing issue of water access. The programme will provide training and mentoring, as well as economically rewarding the six best European projects.

Although there are still people that perceive water scarcity as something alien to Europe, the data shows that this issue is one of the main challenges that the continent will have to face in the coming years. A third of Europe is already suffering water stress situations with drought in Greece, Portugal or Spain, as well as difficulties in other countries like Germany, according to The European Environment Agency (EEA). With the objective of bringing innovative solutions for this reality, EIT Food will select a total of 30 start-ups -presented in Italy, Greece and Spain- that seek to cope with water scarcity. The call, which will be held for the first time this year, is already opened through this link and ends on 7 June 2020.

EIT Food, along with EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Manufacturing and EIT RawMaterials, intends to support innovators to reach the market with technologies and services that prevent and mitigate water scarcity, as well as the overuse of water. Start-ups working with social innovation tools/solutions are also invited to apply to this call, in particular, those focused on raising awareness, water governance, learning strategies and methods to save water, and organizational solutions to manage water more efficiently.

The aim is, without a doubt, to increase the competitiveness in Southern Europe through innovative solutions tackling water scarcity and drought, as well as its over usage, with the aim to move towards a sustainable water economy (water-efficient and water-saving).

Water scarcity challenges identified

To that purpose, solutions that – from the thematic categories of agrifood, climate, raw materials and manufacturing – give an answer to one of the significant challenges detected by our Body of Knowledge, -a group of 16 experts working on the identification of the main issues affecting water scarcity- will be selected. These challenges are:

  • digitalization for better water management,
  • raising  awareness and promoting education regarding local risks and measures,
  • unlocking water Governance and financial schemes for the sustainability of the water scarcity measures,
  • optimizing and matching water supply and demand,
  • ensuring production control and better water consumption to allow legal enforcement, and
  • fostering climate change readiness from the perspective of water.

The 30 selected start-ups will have to be already a legal entity or in a very advanced process to set one, and cannot be older than 3 years, neither have generated more than €1M in revenue in the last year and raised more than €500k in equity-based funding.  They will have access to a training and mentoring circuit that will end with the presentations of their projects and an economic prize-giving for the six best participants.

The applicators must be resident, citizen or legal entity based in the next countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine. The itinerary is created for the companies to develop their business and competitive skills, with the aim of incrementing business opportunities, find investors and have their solutions hit the market, in order to impact on the society.

Prizes of 10.000 and 5.000 euros for the best ones

The 30 selected star-tups will participate in a 3 step programme: training, mentoring and competition. It will start the 25 June 2020 of this year, with virtual training in business study cases in which business and mentors will be networking. Between June and October, mentoring sessions will be developed in order to advise each project in the achievement of the identified obstacles.

Finally, between September and October the ‘InnoWise Challenge Labs’ will be held in three countries: Italy, Greece and Spain. In each of the countries ten start-ups will compete in the different countries that can apply for the call, showing their solutions. The winner of each country will receive 10.000 euros and 5.000 the second, with six startups awarded in total, and these will be used for investments in machinery, the production of the first product runs, developing consumer tests or the payment of licenses and industrial propriety.

The ‘InnoWise Challenge Lab’ in Spain will be held the week of 24 September 2020 in Malaga during the Smart-Agrifood congress, the Italy one will be celebrated the week of 12 September 2020 in the Fiera del Levante, and the Greece Lab will be vinculated to the Green Deal in Athens, which dates are still to be confirmed. All those events will be on-site as long as the COVID-19 situation ensures the safety of all the people involved.

APPLY HERE