Photo: Kaare Smith

Students and startups catalyze water solutions as part of the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2021

Thursday 19 Nov 20


Linda Weiss
Projekt coordinator
+45 93 51 09 95


Marie Louise Møllebæk Pollmann-Larsen
Project Manager
+45 61 65 56 69

About Next Generation

Next Generation is a programme developed by DTU Skylab with the purpose of engaging students, university associated start-ups and youth-organizations at high-level international events and summits. Sustainability forms the core theme of the programme’s course collaborations, journeys, sprints and tailored tracks for start-ups, next generation academics, entrepreneurs and influencers.


The initiative was kick-started in 2018 as part of the P4G Summit in Copenhagen with the focus on co-creation and partnerships in order to achieve the global goals. Inclusion of youth as a way to broaden democratic dialog in host countries is at the heart of the initiative. Since its inception, Next Generation enabled the engagement of more than 200 young professionals to become change agents who created 60 scalable solutions to accelerate urban climate solutions

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition

The IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition is the global event for water professionals covering the entire water cycle. As the Congress rotates through cities and countries, each event has an extra emphasis on issues of specific interest to the region.

Denmark is hosting the Congress in 2021 from 9th – 14th of May.

See more:


80 young people from all over the world present new innovative ideas towards smart livable cities


With support from Poul Due Jensen Fonden and Ramboll Fonden, DTU Skylab now plans Next Generation Water Action, the 3rd edition of ‘Next Generation,’ that will be part of the international IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in May 2021. DTU Skylab and partners will involve 80 young, talented students, researchers and technology-based startups from Denmark, India, South Korea, Ghana, Kenya, USA and Mexico tocollaborate on ideas and solutions that address pressing challenges within the water sector. Participants will work towards the primary goals of Sustainable Development Goal #6 of keeping water clean and accessible.


"The ‘innovation ecosystem’ presented by DTU Skylab is a clear step in the right direction, promoting a learning and knowledge exchange within an interactive network to respond to end-user needs carefully identified by a group of accountable water business experts,” "
Ines Breda, Board member, Emerging Water Leaders, IWA. ​

The initiative will actively involve invited students and startups from February to May 2021 through course collaborations, virtual mentoring and acceleration sessions. From May 9th- 14th, when the IWA World Water Congress will take place in Copenhagen, participants will engage through a physical, multi-hub setup. DTU Skylab develops the program in close partnership and with support from partners such as Grundfos, Rambøll Water, Innovation Centre Denmark in India and South Korea, The Embassy of Denmark in Ghana, The International Water Association (IWA), The Danish steering committee to the Congress and IWA Young Water Professionals network.


‘’We look forward to take the learnings from previous Next Generation initiatives to enable students, technology based startups and young researchers to use Next Generation Water Action as a platform and opportunity to drive new perspectives, partnerships, ideas and action targeting Water for smart livable cities,“ says Marie Louise Pollmann-Larsen, Project Manager at DTU Skylab.


Next Generation academics and entrepreneurs are the driving force

IWA World Water Congress is the venue for sharing insights into how pioneering science, technological innovation and leading practices shape the major transformation in water management. The Congress in Copenhagen 2021 poses a unique opportunity for the ‘next generation,’ represented by university students and entrepreneurs, to build skills, networks and take part in influencing the discussions with their perspectives and ideas.


“The ‘innovation ecosystem’ presented by DTU Skylab is a clear step in the right direction, promoting a learning and knowledge exchange within an interactive network to respond to end-user needs carefully identified by a group of accountable water business experts,” explains Ines Breda, Board member, Emerging Water Leaders, IWA.


Stating, Collaboration with next generation professionals is pivotal to effectively drive environmental, technological and societal progress for a sustainable future, which in the aftermath of the Next Generation Water Action initiative can be enabled through local IWA Young Water Professionals chapters around the world,” Nadia Schou Vorndran Lund, representing IWA Young Professionals in the Danish Congress Steering Committee, explains how the conference’s partnership with IWA Young Professionals ensures a youth-led and youth-driven program beyond the IWA Congress.


Strengthening DTU’s International Agenda

The international outreach and involvement of young professionals will focus on strengthening DTU’s existing partnerships and international university alliances, such as inviting students and startups through Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea, TEC de Monterrey in Mexico, MIT in Boston, as well as with technical universities in Ghana, Kenya and India.


“Next Generation is a great opportunity to insert the promotion of new technology and water tech startups into our work with the Government of India. We hope it will create a community of young Indian, Danish and global water tech entrepreneurs that will lead global change in the future.” reflects Jakob Williams Ørberg, Counsellor, Innovation, Research and Higher Education, Royal Danish Embassy in Delhi who is supporting the recruitment of talents at local universities and innovation hubs in India.


Eske Bo Rosenberg, Research & Innovation Counsellor, Innovation Centre Denmark, Seoul adds that “Next Generation Water Action fits like a glove in ICDK Seoul’s strategic focus on smart water management and in particular the area of sludge to energy, where we see a great potential for Danish-Korean cooperation.” ICDK, Seoul is working closely with the city of Daegu on defining one of the five challenges that young academics and entrepreneurs take to develop technology-based solutions. The result will be invaluable insights and fresh perspectives that will benefit the city far beyond IWA in Copenhagen 2021.


Next Generation Water Action is open for applications from talented young academics and entrepreneurs.  In some of the targeted countries, our partners will undertake participant recruitment.


You want to learn more about Next Generation? - Check out our website:

Next Generation Water Action Challenges

The ‘Next Generation Water Action’-initiative’s unique involvement of global talent before and during the congress will strengthen the students’ and entrepreneurs’ abilities and skills to affect the future of water solutions. 50 selected students from leading technology universities (from a mix of bachelor’s, master’s and PhD programs) will, in the course of their academic semester, approach five challenges from the public and private sectors that relate to the five, core congress themes:

·       Water Utility Management

·       Wastewater treatment & Resource Recovery

·       Drinking Water and Portable use

·       City Scale Planning and Operations

·       Water Resources & Large Scale Water Management


The initiative will provide students with mentorship from experts, including Grundfos, Ramboll and IWA YWP.

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