March 1 - April 22, 2023


We cannot live without water. It’s part of everything we do – from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed. Threats like climate change, pollution and aging infrastructure impact our water supplies and security.

Join us in solving water challenges to expand water access and resilience for all.

  • Over 8 weeks, solve one of the following Challenge Statements in teams of up to 5 students
  • Prizes awarded for projects in 2 tracks – high school (secondary) & university tracks
  • Be mentored by & participate in webinars with water industry experts 
  • Join the Water MasterClass, a series of engaging video classes, to learn a range of important water topics from water sustainability to design thinking.


Your team will choose one of the following challenge statements to work on:


The world is on a race to minimize the dependence on fossil fuels. Green Hydrogen has emerged as one of the potential decarbonization pathways for heavy industries and transport. Green Hydrogen is generated through a process called electrolysis that uses renewable energy and water as a feedstock. The chemical reaction requires 9 kg of water to produce 1 kg of Hydrogen, but in reality the water consumption can reach at least 60 kg including cooling and treatment.

While Green Hydrogen can help to reduce GHGs emissions, hydrogen production implies increased water consumption. Thus, as the Green Hydrogen market expands, evaluating the repercussions on already stressed water systems on a country, region and even global level is of primary importance. Help us to assess the water impact of Green Hydrogen by analyzing data available publicly and resources provided by Xylem. 

Challenge Statement #2 - AWARENESS TO ACTION

Through Xylem’s innovative partnership with Manchester City FC, more than 1 billion people have been reached with water awareness, education and volunteerism initiatives. The goal of the next phase of the partnership is to accelerate action on critical water challenges by driving a further 100 million people to participate in water-related initiatives in their communities. Central to this will be the launch of a new, global program where involvement in educational content, games, and real-life actions earn you points to redeem unique prizes, including funded trips to take part in Xylem & Manchester City ‘water and football’ events.

Your challenge, with the support of a leading digital design agency, is to build unique new modules that leverage video, content and gamification to further drive engagement on the ‘Water Heroes Academy’ platform. Playful Games, Quizzes, Weekly Quests, Location-based Real-time Social Science-Backed Water Conservation Nudges – let’s use technology to change the world!


Land-based plastic pollution accounts for 90% of plastic waste flowing into the oceans. The predominant cause in third-world countries is the lack of efficient trash collection services. Thus, waterways are used as a substitute for proper trash disposal. The most polluted waterways are those characterized by closer proximity to urban areas, landfills and coastlines.

Using data science against publicly available datasets (i.e. satellite imagery, GDELT, ESRI), quantify and map at least one waterway affected by this issue. Then, propose a solution to prevent plastic waste from choking those waterways and spilling into the oceans, taking into consideration climate and soil characteristics as well as local customs and regulations.


The built environment is responsible for 40% of annual global CO2 emissions, out of which 68% is due to building operations. Given that existent buildings will represent 2/3 of the built environment in 2040, a broad action plan to decarbonize the building sector is needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal.

Energy consumption and water resources management play a major role in determining the environmental impact of commercial buildings (i.e. offices, malls, sport venues, hotels etc.) Consider a typical commercial building in your region: you are asked to identify the main intervention points and required upgrades to turn it into a “green” one. Your project should include a quantitative assessment of how the implementation of the proposed countermeasures will lead to GHGs reduction, by improving energy efficiency and water use.


High School Track

For students enrolled in:

  • High school
  • Secondary school
  • Pre-university or equivalent

University Track

For students enrolled in:

  • College or university bachelors programs
  • Community college
  • Vocational schools
  • Polytechnics
  • Coding bootcamps
  • Other tertiary or post-secondary schools or equivalent

Participants must be at least 13 years of age and no older than 25 years of age at the time of the challenge start, March 1, 2023 to participate.

See Official Rules for full details of eligibility.

*If a participant is under 18 years of age, a Parent/Guardian Consent & Release form, which can be obtained during registration, must be submitted. Failure to do so will end in disqualification of participation at the Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge 2023.


Your projects will be judged on the following criteria:


Will this solution have a far reach and market potential?

How does it affect your community or what social impact does it have?

Challenge Fit and Feasibility

How relevant is the proposed solution to the stated challenge?

How well does it solve the problem in a real-world setting?


Is the project new and disruptive?

Does the project deliver a fresh and compelling user experience?


All prizes will be divided equally amongst the winning team members.

University Students

Grand Prize: $5,000

 Challenge Prize: 4 x $1,000

1 winner per Challenge

People’s Choice: $500

High School Students

Grand Prize: $5,000

Challenge Prize: 4 x $1,000

1 winner per Challenge

People’s Choice: $500

Additional Prizes

Xylem Watermark is Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program. Our mission is to provide education and equitable access to safe water and sanitation to support healthy lives and help build resilient communities.

Through Xylem Watermark, Xylem works with best-in-class nonprofits to address the full spectrum of water challenges by providing financial support, water technology, and sanitation and hygiene education. Xylem Watermark works with these partners to deliver sustainable solutions, combining community-based interventions with regular monitoring to ensure projects meet local water needs.

Innovation Challenge winners will win an opportunity to select a water-related cause of their choice for Xylem Watermark to donate to in their name! Winners can select one of Watermark’s global partners, whom you can learn about below, or another charity of their choice that is vetted and registered with Benevity.



Water Master Class:

On Demand

Xylem's Water Master Class videos for students to learn about global water challenges and solutions. Guest speakers include Al Cho, SVP, Chief Strategy and Digital Officer for Xylem and George Hawkins, former CEO of DC Water.

Innovation Challenge Kick Off:

Tuesday | March 1 at 6:00am PT / 9:00am ET / 2:00pm UTC

Opening Ceremony and Innovation Challenge Overview. Learn about the innovation challenge, how to win a challenge and presentation/demo tips.

Challenge Statement Webinars:

Wednesday | March 8 at 7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm UTC

(Challenge Statement #1)

Friday | March 10 at 6:00am PT / 9:00am ET / 2:00pm UTC

(Challenge Statement #2)

Monday | March 13 at 8:00am PT / 11:00am ET / 4:00pm UTC

(Challenge Statement #3)

Friday | March 6 at 6:00am PT / 9:00am ET / 2:00pm UTC

(Challenge Statement #4)


Innovation Challenge Begins!

Tuesday | March 1, 2023

Background resources and data are released for the four challenge statements. Have fun innovating!

Team Formation Webinar

Wednesday | March 2, 2023

Join this webinar to find teammates for your project.

Project Deadline:

Saturday | April 22, 2023

All final presentation videos and projects must be submitted by 1:00pm PT / 4:00pm ET / 8:00pm UTC in order to qualify for the innovation challenge. Late submissions will not be accepted.


April 25 - Early May

Judges will review projects.

Winners Announced:

Early May

The Xylem Global Student Innovation Challenge winners will be announced!  

TBC | Mid June

The winning teams will be recognized during a virtual awards ceremony with Xylem.

June and July - The top teams from each track will be invited to apply for the Xylem Ignite Innovation Incubator, to further develop your projects

Previous Winners Testimonials


Team Uplift: Urban Predictive Learning Implemented Flood Tracking
Surya Tallavarjula – California, USA

“The problem was to find a way to predict flooding events given rainfall discharge and gage height data. I used machine learning to predict flooding severity based on these factors. I created an app where the user can input values for discharge, gage height, rainfall and the output is flood prediction.

I think that challenge is a valuable opportunity for us students to showcase our ideas and actually use our skills to tackle real-world problems."


Team H2Optimizer: Kickstarting Water’s Race to Net Zero

Tan Li, Jocelyn, Ch’ng Jing, Lin Yong, Ong Wei - Malaysia

“We propose to combat the greenhouse gas emissions in a Malaysian wastewater treatment plant with a combination of Floating Solar Panels, thus reducing reliance on burning of fossil fuel and natural gas to generate electricity, Sludge Processing to generate energy in the form of biogas, and Aeration & Monitoring System.

We hope that through the implementation of our strategies we would be able to achieve the vision of Net Zero in the near future.”


Team AquaFlo: Keeping Water Flowing in Rural Communities

Judy, Kate, Safa, Da Yun, Kai – Canada

An estimated ⅓ of the hand-pumps in Sub-Saharan Africa are out of service at any given time and stay down due to limited information. Our app and SMS/IVR system act as a one-stop-shop for everything related to hand-pump troubleshooting and reporting. As a team passionate about using technology for social good, this challenge statement allowed us to impact and improve the quality of life for a large population.



Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to solving critical water and infrastructure challenges with innovation. Our 17,000 diverse employees delivered revenue of $5.2 billion in 2021. We are creating a more sustainable world by enabling our customers to optimize water and resource management and helping communities in more than 150 countries become water secure. Join us at

Xylem Ignite

Xylem Ignite is our global youth program to build a strong network of passionate student leaders and empower them to drive real changes in the water industry.

We recognize the mounting environmental challenges impacting humankind and the need to prepare the next generation of young talents to solve water issues. Under our 3 key program pillars – Innovation, Education & Community Involvement, many activities ranging from hackathons to the Incubator program, are held to enroll, ignite and nurture our NextGen Water Leaders.

It is a critical moment in time for water, but also one with incredible new opportunities. If you’re passionate about solving water, we welcome you to join our activities!


If you have any questions regarding the challenge and eligibility, please reach out to us immediately!

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