The Epic Ground Water Challenge

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Launching The Epic Groundwater Challenge Linked to SDG 6!

SAP Next-Gen and Startupbootcamp AfriTech will be hosting The Epic Groundwater Challenge linked to SDG 6 from 17 August 2018 – 24 September 2018.

Applications closing on September 12th!

Water is the ultimate systems challenge. It is a unique resource that underpins all drivers of growth – be it agricultural production, energy generation, industry or manufacturing. It connects these sectors into a broader economic system that must balance social development and environmental interests. Groundwater is a key component to water resource management and often evades decision-makers as it is hidden beneath our feet and yet supports the majority of the 3% of freshwater on the planet. Considering 40% of global irrigation is from groundwater, its over-extraction is resulting in lower water tables thereby reducing its potential for future use. In South Africa alone, it is estimated that at least 70% of the 250 million people depend on groundwater as their primary source of water. As such, a decision to allocate more surface and groundwater to any one sector implies that less water will be available for other economic uses, public water supply, social services, or environmental protection.

About The Epic Groundwater Challenge

With a projected 40 % gap between demand and supply of freshwater resources by 2030, Startupbootcamp and SAP Next-Gen are collaborating with the World Bank’s Water Global Practice, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Water Initiative to discover disruptive startups and innovative approaches that can work with public and private stakeholders to potentially scale groundwater assessment solutions in emerging economies.

Given groundwater is the elixir of life, 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are in decline with 13 of these aquifers in critical stress. The world can no longer afford to degrade freshwater resources as aquifers are being over exploited due to mismanagement and lack of data. By properly monitoring groundwater levels, decision makers are able to determine annual and long-term changes of groundwater storage, estimate the recharge rate, determine direction and gradient of flow and, most importantly, understand and manage aquifer systems. This information supports better management of water resources at local, national and regional levels. However, many developing countries are not able to collect this information effectively from reliable sources due to high costs and logistical hurdles.

The Challenge:

Around the world, groundwater is an increasingly important resource and in Tanzania alone, the available freshwater resources per person have dropped by nearly 50% in the last 25 years. Over the same period, the size of the economy has tripled, and formal and informal irrigation has expanded. The agricultural sector is also expected to suffer an estimated US $200 million in annual losses because of weather-related shocks, largely from drought perpetuated by climate change. As such, stakeholders need reliable information on the availability of groundwater for a sustainable agriculture future.

This challenge focuses on improving the collection of groundwater data with 4IR technologies using Tanzania as a test case that can then be implemented in similar developing countries. Given that groundwater is often used for household consumption and agriculture practices, this information will strengthen the knowledge base on the state of groundwater resources, and lend sight to monitoring water quantity, quality and extended aquifer mapping. This data and information collection will ultimately lead to better resource management. Future analysis and sharing of information also needs to be improved, feeding into a fully operational groundwater-availability modelling and decision-support system for better water resources management and allocation.

Applicants will be screened based on the ability to collaborate with SAP Next-Gen, Startupbootcamp AfriTech, and other potential corporate sponsors and if selected, will participate in a tailored program with supporting corporates on launching scalable and sustainable solutions. The program will run between 17 August 2018 – 24 September 2018 and will include master classes, mentoring, and opportunity to run lean pilot engagements with sponsoring corporations.

Who should apply?

Startups utilizing 4IR technology-enabled solutions in groundwater management such as but not limited to: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Drones, Information of Things (IoT) Sensors, Remote Sensing etc.- what the World Economic Forum as coined the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)  for use in Tanzania with the ability to be replicated in similar developing countries.

This challenge encourages ideas from regions all around the world as groundwater mismanagement plagues every single economy.

We are also looking for startups that can encompass the majority of the following characteristics for global scalability.


Key Challenges for applicants:

  • Does not duplicate existing solutions for the availability of groundwater
  • The solution should either build on or combine existing technologies or apply 4IR technologies in novel ways to address the challenge
  • Transparent, rapid data collection on groundwater availability
  • Automated aggregation of groundwater data resulting in actionable information for stakeholders
  • Predictive modelling for future groundwater usage
  • User-friendly interface, easily accessible on tablet or smartphone
  • Open data platform to provide access to all stakeholders for further use and analysis
  • Lower-cost than current methods
  • Devices, techniques and/or services to detect and monitor new and existing groundwater sources and measure consumption
  • Devices or systems to monitor groundwater levels to estimate the recharge rate, determine direction and gradient of flow and understand and manage aquifer systems
  • Groundwater-availability modelling and decision-support system for better water resources management and allocation
  • Techniques to address water scarcity and reduce overdrafting of groundwater, stream depletion, land subsidence and salinity

Why apply?

The experience is extremely valuable for successful applicants as they will be able to build their startups with the potential of working with industry water sector leaders.



About SAP Next-Gen


If you have any questions about the application or the program, feel free to drop us a line at

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10 September, 2018 - 12 September, 2018


10 September, 2018
12 September, 2018
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