Deadline: 11 January 2021

Nominations are now open for the 2021 MIT Water Innovation Prize – a start-up competition focused on water innovation that awards innovation grants annually to student-led teams from across the country and internationally. The Prize started in 2015 and has since awarded $100K to 12 teams.

As the main innovation-focused event of MIT Water Club, they help emerging entrepreneurs translate research & ideas into businesses, access mentors & resources, and build networks in the water industry. All approaches to water innovation are welcome, from engineering and product design to policy and data analytics.

The Water Innovation Prize application will open following our Kickoff event and remain open through December 2020 at which point semi-finalists will be selected. Semi-finalist teams will receive mentorship in January and February of 2021 in preparation for submission of their business plans and pitch materials in early March at which point a set of finalists will be selected. Finalists will receive additional mentorship and programming in preparation for our final pitch event in April 2021.

Prize information

  • The winners of the MIT Water Innovation Prize will be awarded innovation grants of up to $35,000.

General Criteria

  • The entry must involve a technology, product, service, or process aimed at solving a problem related to the world’s water challenges. The water space has numerous opportunities and challenges to solve related to policy, technology, data sensing, analytics, implementation, financing, end-to-end solutions, etc. They encourage diverse and creative submissions.
  • A team must be comprised of at least one student who is fully enrolled at any college or university, and it must be a student who presents the pitch.
  • At least one student presenter from the team must be available to attend a final pitch event in April 2021.
  • Teams are not eligible to participate in the Spring 2021 MIT Water Innovation Prize if they have secured combined funding, grants, prize money, or revenue greater than $100k (exclusive of funding explicitly awarded for research, technology, or product development).
  • Entering teams must be prepared to provide documentation to validate any claims that are made concerning the intellectual property underlying their business plans, including any claims concerning the licensing of Third-Party IP. Entries should be made with the full understanding of MIT’s regulations on Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Innovations at all stages are welcome to apply; however, past winners of the prize have been able to demonstrate the potential to take their innovation to market within a reasonable time horizon (~5yrs).

Prize payments are treated as income by MIT and the IRS, regardless of whether the payment is made to an individual or a company. Non-U.S. citizens are taxed on their prize money upfront at a rate of 30%, which is withheld from their prize checks.

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