Join us for the Virtual Celebration and Awards Ceremony on June 23rd at 8am EST.Follow the Xylem Ignite Website for the streaming link to join. 


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 Master Class, 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:

Challenge Statement #1 - Data Storytelling for Water Insecurity

For some of us, safe drinking water and dignified sanitation are services we have come to expect.  What if those great services aren’t the reality for all of us?  Indeed, major water and sanitation infrastructure issues have been seen to disproportionately impact vulnerable populations.   

Examine water or sanitation services in your community, region, or country.  Do you observe unfair access to services based on income, race, gender, linguistic or geographic isolation, or other socioeconomic factors? Develop promotional material, such as a video game, short promotional video, or a neighborhood campaign, to raise awareness for water to be managed more equitably in your community.  

Challenge Statement #2 - Floating City Master Plan

By the year 2050, an estimated 150 million people currently living in coastal areas land will live under the high-tide line. Scientific models predict several world's great coastal cities will suffer from rising sea levels if nothing's done. Instead of spending millions on coastal protection, design company Oceanix is testing floating cities as a resilient, sustainable, and viable solution. 

Imagine you and your family are living on an offshore floating city in the year 2050, with 10,000 other people. Provide a water master plan considering how water, wastewater and stormwater can be managed in this unique environment.

Challenge Statement #3 - Keeping the Water Flowing in Rural Communities 

Approximately one million well hand pumps are installed across Africa. While they are relatively sturdy and easy to maintain, it is estimated that one-third of these pumps are out of service at any given time, leaving entire communities without reliable access to water. Some communities also face declining groundwater supplies.

Americares, a global health-focused nonprofit organization, is partnering with these communities. Using publicly available data, you are asked to develop a solution that either: 

  • analyzes potential hand pump failure modes 
  • guides users on steps to take to repair the hand pumps 
  • assesses the long-term risks to groundwater supply

Challenge Statement #4 - Kickstarting Water’s Race to Net Zero

Global water and wastewater utilities, the plants that move and treat water, are responsible for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is as much as the entire ocean shipping industry. Water utilities must continue providing water for community health while contributing to the urgent need to reduce global emissions.  

A community water and sewer system has asked for your advice to implement a net-zero carbon plan in the next 30 years. You are given a profile of their current technology, energy and funding. What would decarbonization cost the utility? What benefits could it bring to the community? Your project submission may include technical plans, financial analysis, or proposal materials that could be shared with the local government to gain support. 


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, 2022 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 2022.


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



Wednesday | January 19, 2022 - The innovation challenge registration officially begins!


Get involved in Watermark, Xylem's corporate social responsibility program! Complete impactful water-related activities and earn points. The top performers have a chance to win prizes, including donations to charities of their choice.


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:

Monday | March 7 at 12:00pm PT / 3:00pm ET / 8:00pm UTC

 (Challenge Statement #1)

Tuesday | March 1 at 1:00pm PT / 4:00pm ET / 9:00pm UTC

 (Challenge Statement #2)

Monday | March 7 at 11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET / 7:00pm UTC

(Challenge Statement #3)

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

(Challenge Statement #4)


Innovation Challenge Begins!

Tuesday | March 1, 2022

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

Team Formation Webinar

Saturday | March 5, 2022 at 7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm UTC

Join this webinar to find teammates for your project.

Pitch Practice / Crash Test Webinar:

Tuesday | April 5, 2022 at 7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm UTC

Join us for a live webinar to share your project status, interact directly with mentors and get valuable feedback!

Project Deadline:

Friday | April 22 at 1:00pm PT /  4:00pm ET /  8:00pm UTC

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


Franz Cerwinka

Michael Gould

Xiangjie Kong

SVP & President, Emerging Markets


Global Education Manager


Vice President, Strategic Technology Initiatives


Shuping Lu

Brandon O'Daniel

Marie Raffin

President, Xylem China and North Asia


Senior Manager, Data Lake / Data Science


Innovation Engagement Lead

Thames Water

Claudia Toussaint

Sophie Wang

SVP, Chief Human Resources and Sustainability Officer


VPHR Water Infrastructure and Commercial Team Europe



Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to solving critical water and infrastructure challenges with innovation. Our more than 16,000 diverse employees delivered revenue of $4.88 billion in 2020. 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!


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