Deborah Meaden crowns the winners of Water Innovators 2016

From wands for grownups to natural Botox, Deborah Meaden – Dragons' Den investor and entrepreneur – has seen all sorts in the den. But as she crowned the winners of our Water Innovators programme, she heard about projects that could be truly life-saving.

2 Nov 2016

Eight months of furious battling came to an end last week as Deborah Meaden announced the winners of Water Innovators – our very own Dragons' Den, you might say.  

Each year teams from private sector companies compete to solve real-life water, sanitation and hygiene problems in the countries where we work.

This year 30 dedicated teams from companies in the UK and Australia put their entrepreneurial skills to the test, focusing on Cambodia, where four million people don't have access to clean water, and more than nine million have nowhere safe to go to the loo.

And the winners are... 

Congratulations to Team Apsara from Anglian Water and Team LaBobo from Sydney Water!  

One of the winning teams of Water Innovators 2016 with Deborah Meaden, Dragon's Den investor and entrepreneur.
Team Apsara collect their award from Deborah Meaden at the awards ceremony.

Team Apsara said “We are overjoyed ... It’s an amazing feeling to know the hard work from all the teams is really paying off and already being used to help those who need it most."

As part of their challenge to increase access to safe water in hospitals Team Apsara created a virtual hospital tour to train staff. 

One of the winning teams of Water Innovators 2016 with Deborah Meaden, Dragon's Den investor and entrepreneur.
Joint winners, Team LaBobo from Sydney Water with the LaBobo – the handwashing device that inspired their team name.

Team LaBobo built on the existing LaBobo handwashing unit and transformed it into a multi-functional hygiene unit for use in a Cambodian household. 

“This is the first time Australian water utilities have competed in the challenge, and I’m so proud that Sydney Water has made such a big impact,” said Sydney Water Managing Director Kevin Young.

Deborah Meaden said “The winners cleverly combined their skills and talents to come up with their design and concept and crucially, the solutions found are not only simple, but affordable and sustainable.”

A win win situation

For our partners in Cambodia, the programme has been invaluable. Altogether the teams raised an incredible £139,000 to be spent on our work in Cambodia, and their ideas showed real potential. 

Taber Hand, Director of Wetlands Work!, one of WaterAid’s sanitation partners in Cambodia, commented “Through this innovative programme, partners like us gain access to global expertise that is otherwise completely beyond our reach. This is incredibly useful to us.”

Deborah Meaden added, “These teams and businesses have had a unique experience to test and learn the qualities needed for business. They’ve also supported WaterAid’s work delivering safe water and toilets to the worlds’ poorest people in Cambodia. Now that’s a win-win deal for everyone.”

Water Innovators 2017 begins shortly with challenges based on Nicaragua. For more information visit, and you can learn more about our work in Cambodia here.