InnoCentive launches open innovation challenge with habitat for humanity to inexpensively harvest drinking water in Mexico

Global nonprofit seeking low-cost ideas to use rainwater or other sources for drinking water in urban areas of Mexico

Open innovation firm InnoCentive is supporting global housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity in a new challenge to find low-cost solutions to harvest water and remove impurities so that water is suitable for human consumption.

Around 768 million people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, and Mexico is one country that faces challenges in this area. Although more than a third of homes in Mexico suffer from water shortages, torrential rain does fall during certain months. However, without a proper management system, this water is unusable. Most rainwater is not fit for human consumption because of pollutants and microorganisms that cause severe illness when consumed.

The Challenge – Affordable Water Harvesting for Low-Income Households in Urban Areas – seeks to find solutions, both immediate and long-term, with experts predicting that Mexico’s drinking water issues will only increase over time.

“Leveraging rainwater can improve the water supply in Mexico, but the systems currently in place are not sufficient to make it drinkable,” said Patrick Kelley, vice president of Habitat for Humanity’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “We are looking for the InnoCentive solvers to come up with low-cost solutions that improve the availability of quality drinking water, with suitable storage capacity, to suit the needs of low-income urban households.”

Roofs are a reliable catchment surface for rainwater, but existing solutions have typically lacked a separation step to remove debris. Ideas must therefore separate debris and incorporate a flushing component to remove initial contaminated rainfall. They must be low-tech, simple to install and, ultimately, provide water that is drinkable after boiling.

InnoCentive, a Wazoku brand, is the Open Innovation Marketplace component of Wazoku’s Enterprise Innovation Platform, a suite of tools to power innovation at scale across global enterprises. InnoCentive has a strong track record working with NGOs, nonprofits and businesses, who benefit from the expertise of its global network of nearly 500,000 registered expert problem ‘solvers’.

“Clean drinking water is easy to take for granted for those that have it, but sadly, that’s not the case for millions of people around the world,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku. “Addressing the world’s biggest challenges, such as providing clean drinking water to every human on the planet, requires big solutions. This is exactly the type of challenge that open innovation and the InnoCentive crowd can help address.”

InnoCentive’s partner SeaFreight Labs, a crowdsourcing consultancy that delivers solutions to the global sea freight community, supports this challenge as part of SeaFreight Labs’ commitment to the Pledge 1% movement.

“Open innovation is a highly effective way for any organisation to address a challenge of this type,” said Harry Sangree, Founder and CEO, SeaFreight Labs. “It’s a critical issue, and crowdsourcing will help provide a solution to this RTP (reduction to practice) Challenge.”

Habitat for Humanity has previously run open innovation Challenges with InnoCentive.