The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) has announced that it is joining forces with Aqua Forum to bring, for the first time, the national AquaHacking Challenge to Western Canada. The challenge in the Basin will be one of four events being held across Canada in 2019-2020.

“This hits a real sweet spot for us,” said Water Board executive director Anna Warwick Sears. “It brings together so many of our interests, like raising awareness around – and solving – water issues, expanding partnerships with post-secondaries and the tech community, doing something bold and innovative, and engaging the entire community.” The enthusiasm was echoed by OBWB’s board of directors who voted unanimously to participate.

“As we expand our programming across Canada, we are thrilled to be working with the OBWB in the Okanagan to deliver the first AquaHacking Challenge in B.C.” said Isabelle Bourduas, Aqua Forum’s COO. “Our objectives are to leverage young tech talent for the benefits of freshwater and to build lasting and impactful collaborative relationships between leading water organizations and the tech & innovation sector in B.C.—and across Canada.”

As a startup-incubator program focused on demand-driven innovation, the AquaHacking program starts with tangible fresh water issues selected by local water leaders and focuses on developing solutions.

Photo: Claude Perras, Executive Director of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation addresses the audience. Photo: Aquahacking.

So far, between 2015 and 2018, the program has resulted in 12 active start-ups with 75 per cent still active. Ten critical water issues are actively being worked on, including microplastics, blue green algae, sewage overflow. As well, more than 800 tech-engaged youth are now more water-aware.

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“The challenges we face in the Okanagan are not so different than those in other regions,” said Sears. “Looking at past outcomes from this program, the tech solutions coming out of this challenge could reach far beyond our own valley and deliver national, and even international, benefits.”

Additional information on the AquaHacking Challenge can be found at www.aquahacking.com.

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