Okanagan hosts film screening & preps for B.C. AquaHacking final, funding tech teams to solve water issues

Kelowna, B.C. – Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) and Aqua Forum are hosting two virtual events as the 2020 B.C. AquaHacking Challenge – aimed at tackling some of the province’s biggest water issues – enters its final stretch. The organizations are screening Brave Blue World on Friday, June 19, and even secured the film’s producer, Paul O’Callaghan, as a keynote speaker for the B.C. AquaHacking final on June 25. Both events are free and online.

“Despite the continued need for physical distancing with COVID-19, we’re very happy to be able to bring people together, to celebrate those who continue to work to ensure a clean, abundant water supply to meet growing demand,” explained OBWB Executive Director Anna Warwick Sears. “These two events are the perfect pairing.”

Brave Blue World tells the story of people and projects around the world, working to address various water challenges, including water contamination, wastewater, water scarcity, and more, issues we are facing right here in the Okanagan, Sears pointed out. Indeed, these issues – and others – are at the centre of the B.C. AquaHacking Challenge that was launched last fall, engaging young professionals across Canada to develop new tech solutions to address B.C. water issues.

The film is inspiring on its own, but also has some star power, with Liam Neeson as narrator and actor Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.org. “We invite people to join us in watching the film from the comfort of their own home, and at a time that works for them,” said Sears, adding that the documentary is available between 1 p.m. and 11 p.m. Pacific Time (PT).

Viewing numbers for the June 19 “Brave Blue World” screening are limited and REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED at https://braveblueworld-aquahacking.eventbrite.ca.

The film is the ideal jumping off point for the B.C. AquaHacking final, while energizing two other AquaHacking Challenges currently underway in Winnipeg and Atlantic Canada, added Désirée McGraw, Aqua Forum’s Chief Executive Officer.

“This year we are so proud, despite COVID-19, to host three digital events tackling water issues in Canada. And we are very excited about AquaHacking’s BC Challenge. It’s our first-ever challenge west of Manitoba, plus it was the first challenge to be launched this year and will be the first one completed! We could not have asked for better partners than the OBWB, and we look forward to selecting and showcasing innovative water solutions to wicked water problems. The future of Canada’s freshwater is in good hands!”

On June 25 at 1 p.m. (PT) the B.C. AquaHacking Challenge final will be hosted on the OBWB’s Okanagan WaterWise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OkWaterWise.

The final will include a keynote speech from O’Callaghan, pitches from the five final teams – with an opportunity for the public to vote for their top choice – and the awarding of prizes. Top prize is $20,000 in seed-funding and placement in a start-up incubator to help the team bring their solution to market. An additional $30,000 will be awarded to the other four teams to assist their projects to move forward. The five teams are:

  • Elite from UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, tackling stormwater contamination
  • GAPSS (Gravity Assisted Particle Separation Systems) from UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, working on stormwater contamination
  • Ozero from Sherbrooke University, Quebec, addressing invasive mussels
  • Above Atlantis from UBC Vancouver, University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, addressing flood risk, and
  • UniteAG from University of Victoria and Toronto’s Queens University, solving stormwater contamination.

Special thanks to B.C. AquaHacking Challenge funders: De Gaspe Beaubien Foundation, RBC Foundation, Real Estate Foundation of BC, Telus Friendly Future Foundation, Teck Resources, IBM, Mitacs, Ovivo and Lavery Lawyers.

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