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Welcome to 2015 Singularity University Impact Challenge!

This challenge is presented by Singularity University in collaboration with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Challenge: How do you positively impact the severe drought situation in California by leveraging new and exponentially growing technologies to increase water supplies available in California?


At Singularity University, we have a history of fostering innovation in local communities by launching Global Impact Competitions in cities worldwide to address local, regional or national needs and challenges. As part of our goal to have impact by addressing critical issues in our own community surrounding Singularity University, we are launching a new competition in 2015–Singularity University Impact Challenge–to bring exponential technology solutions to local and regional challenges. This year our focus is the California drought, a multi-faceted problem that involves water supply, usage, policy and management systems.


Be Part of California's Drought and Water Solutions


Currently, California suffers from an annual water deficit in excess of 6 million acre-feet (7,400.89 million cubic meters), unsustainably drawn from the state’s two primary water resources–groundwater and surface waters. This water deficit is higher during a drought, and California is in the fourth year of one of the state's worst droughts in the past century that has led to fierce wildfires, water shortages and restrictions, and staggering agricultural losses. While the water problem in California is not new, there are multiple efforts across the state to reduce water consumption to counter balance the shortfall. California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order in April 2015 that cities throughout the state reduce water usage by 25 percent, a groundbreaking mandate from the Governor's office to limit water use for the first time ever.


Traditional water supply and demand solutions have overall failed to solve California’s water problems. We have an unprecedented opportunity–and the focus of this challenge–to generate 21st century water solutions today that promise innovative, resilient supplies for tomorrow.


It is important to take into consideration that water issues are not limited to California, but a growing concern across the United States. As drought, flooding and climate change restrict America's water supply, demands from population growth and energy production are expected to increase. While other U.S. States have not been ordered to reduce water use, 40 out of 50 states have at least one region that is expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years.  Water supply solutions in California can be a catalyst to address water issues throughout the United States and other parts of the world.


Three Winning Teams


Three winning teams will be chosen. These teams will have developed novel solutions using exponential technologies that are able to achieve the greatest gain (in total acre-feet or cubic meters) in new forms of water supplies, capture or reuse for any agricultural, industrial, commercial or residential application within the state of California (but can be equally applicable beyond California).


Judging Criteria


All applications will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • Use of Exponential Technology

  • Technical Feasibility & Rigor

  • Innovative Solution

  • Market Viability

  • Scalability

  • Design & Utility Function


Preference will be given to applicants that demonstrate proof of concept in the form of a prototype to validate their ideas or solutions.


A panel of judges, comprised of SU faculty, local and state government representatives, and Impact Partners will determine the 3 winning teams and the 3 runners up. The judges will evaluate all entries and assess compliance with the judging criteria.


The Prize

Three winning teams will be offered a space in the SU Startup Lab Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Program on our campus at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, access to the SU Startup Lab network of mentors and resources, and receive $5,000.  The EIR Program gives each winning team the same benefits as our SU Companies Program for the short time they are in residence at SU.


All winning teams and runners up receive recognition in the Singularity University newsletter, Impact Challenge webpage and through social media efforts.


Competition Schedule

  • Competition Opens: June 15, 2015

  • Competition Closes: October 23, 2015
The finalists will be invited to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges at a public Pitch Event.
  • Pitch Event: Monday, October 30, 2015 at Singularity University (The panel of judges will select 3 winning teams from the 8-10 finalists. The 3 runners up will be invited to spend a day at the SU Startup Lab to pitch their solutions to the SU community.)
  • Start date for 3 Winning Teams to become Entrepreneurs in Residence at SU Startup Lab: Between November and December 31, 2015.  Other start dates can be discussed.


Application Requirements


Summary of accomplishments

Abstract of idea or prototype. Include anticipated timeframe needed as an Entrepreneur in Residence at SU Startup Lab, possible start date, and what would be accomplished during that timeframe. There is a preference that the state date be no later than December 31, 2015.

Video of idea or prototype (must provide the URL/webpage to video -- DO NOT send the video)  

Competition Rules


The competition is open to international applicants.


Teams are welcome to submit an application and can submit more than one solution. A team is 2+ members. Submissions from individuals will be considered but preference will be given to submissions from teams.


Applicant must indicate compliance of Terms and Conditions by click through acceptance before applying.


Instructions for Applying

Step 1) Sign in at the top of the page.

Step 2) Once you complete the sign in process, you will get an email to confirm your registration. Check your spam box just in case! Please add us to your safe sender list so that you can continue to receive messages from us.

Step 3) Upload all application material on the site as per the instructions you will see upon log in.

Advisory Committee


An advisory committee comprised of SU faculty, local and global experts and partners will advise on the design and execution as well as provide oversight of the 2015 SU Impact Challenge.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about the application process, contact us at: (With subject line: SU Impact Challenge 2015)

Other Information

A video of this Challenge with further information can be found at:



  • Winners Announced: At a Pitch Event, End of September/Early October 2015 at Singularity University (The panel will select 3 winning teams that will be invited to become Entrepreneurs in Residence at SU Startup Lab. The 3 runners up will be invited to spend a day at the SU Startup Lab to to pitch their solutions to the SU community.)