Milan - 7-9 May 2018



65 projects, 23 countries, 4 continents: impressive numbers reflect a global response to the call for the best solution to the water crisis

The top project will receive a 10.000 euro prize dedicated to Ambassador Giorgio Giacomelli in honor of his work on water conservation and management.

Milan, 19 January 2018 – The international call for submissions has concluded for the WaterFirst! Initiative, promoted by Seeds&Chips, The Global Food Innovation Summit, in collaboration with the National Research Council (CNR), The Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), and UNIDO ITPO Italy, the Italian Investment and Technology Promotion Offcies, part of the United Nations Organisation for Industrial Development. The international competition was launched to identify the most innovative technology and ideas to solve the problem of sustainable water management, the most urgent challenge with which the world will be confronted in the near future.

In just two months, “WaterFirst!” received an overwhelming number of applications from around the world, demonstrating both the urgency of the theme and global scale of the problem of water management: proposals came in from the Americas to the Middle East, and from Africa to Europe. The 65 proposals selected to advance to jury consideration will appear on the Seeds&Chips platform to share their work on developing intelligent methods and sustainable practices to meet the challenges of water conservation, pollution, waste, and sanitation.

The jury, composed of experts and scientific advisors to the Summit from IIT, CNR, and UNIDO ITPO Italy, will select and announce the 30 project finalists on 2 February 2018. These 30 semi- finalists will be awarded an exhibition space at the next edition of the Global Food Innovation Summit, to be held from 7-10 May 2018 at MiCo, Milano Congressi. The final 5 projects will receive a hospitality stipend for travel and accommodation costs to facilitate their participation in the Summit. Finally, the best project among the final 5 will receive a 10,000 euro award in recognition of their work.

Along with this cash prize, a special award dedicated to and named for Ambassador Giorgio Giacomelli, will be given to the winner of the WaterFirst! Initiative on May 10, during the Summit. Giacomelli, a Milanese diplomat who passed away in 2017, devoted his illustrious career to the conservation and management of water resources. In 2006, he was named an honorary member of the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation by then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.

Director of UNIDO ITPO Italy Diana Battaggia stated, “Emily Dickinson once wrote that ‘water is taught by thirst’. Today, almost 2 billion people suffer from thirst, with World Bank estimates expecting that figure to double by 2050. It’s not a problem that only affects developing countries: it affects the whole world, and the threat is only increasing. In large cities like Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Barcelona freshwater resources are running out and brackish water is inflitrating the subsoil. The fact is that 97% of the Earth’s water supply is salt water and we need low cost technologies to desalinate it. This is but one example which highlights the central role that technology must play in facing the challenge of the century.”

Roberto Reali of the CNR’s Department of Bio-Agroalimentari Sciences confirmed this: “The problem of resources has always been at the crux of agricultural production. Ameliorating access to resources, whether in advanced or developing countries, is the only way to shed light on both the constraints as well as the opportunities we face. It is only by investigating the planet’s resources that we can hope to formulate some answers.”

IIT Scientific Director Roberto Cingolani added, “If we look at the distribution of water resources around the world it’s clear that water is scarce where there are few energy resources, and such shortages lead to conflict and instability. The study of technology for the conservation and sustainable management of water must be a priority at the global level, and it is an area to which our Institute has been dedicated for a very long time.”

“It is immensely satisfying to receive such a large and diverse pool of candidates for this competition,” said Marco Gualtieri, founder and Chairman of Seeds&Chips. “This is a clear signal not only of the level of attention to water on a global level, but more importantly of the profound committment to meet this challenge with innovative and sustainable solutions. We are proud to award the best project and include them in our ecosystem so that they can effectively contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We are convinced that initiatives like these, with partners like UNIDO, IIT and CNR, who are authorities in the field, will be an essential tool both to find and support concrete solutions that address this incredible challenge. Moreover, we are particuarly honored to be able to dedicate this award in memory of the extraordinary example left to us by Ambassador Giacomelli.”




Seeds&Chips, The Global Food Innovation Summit, founded by entrepreneur Marco Gualtieri, is one of the most significant global events in the field of Food Innovation and is an exceptional showcase entirely dedicated to the promotion of technologically advanced solutions and talent from all over the world. The Summit brings together some of the most influential actors in the world of food innovation to discuss the themes, models and innovations that are changing the way food is produced, transformed, distributed, consumed and experienced. At the Third Edition of Seeds&Chips, President Barack H. Obama delivered the keynote address in his first post-presidency appearance. The Summit welcomed over 300 international speakers, 240 exhibitors and 15,800 visitors, recording 131 million social media impressions in four days. The Fourth Edition of the Seeds&Chips Global Food Innovation Summit will take place at MiCo, Milano Congressi, from 7-10 May 2018. The Fourth Edition will welcome another impressive roster, including former US Secretary of State John Kerry.


For more information please contact

Press Office: Seeds&Chips, The Global Food Innovation Summit

Close to Media – Tel +39 02.70006237

Davide di Battista, Paola Lavezzoli, Francesca Pollio

davide.dibattista@closetomedia.it; paola.lavezzoli@closetomedia.it; francesca.pollio@closetomedia.it

Press release