Swiss Bluetec Bridge: a bridge to innovation

A group of around ten people carry bottles of water in Nepal.
By providing disadvantaged populations with advanced Swiss technology and innovation, sustainable access to water and sanitation is accelerated. © SDC

The SDC supports Swiss start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that facilitate access to water for some of the world’s poorest communities. 

It is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water. In order to tackle the ambitious challenge set out in the sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all by 2030 – the involvement of the private sector is vital. The SDC launched the Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative in 2013, which grants interest-free loans to Swiss start-ups and SMEs developing innovative solutions in the water sector. The loans allow them to demonstrate the relevance of their prototypes and attract private investors. By bridging the gap that exists between research support and private funding, the Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative aims to harness the potential of cutting-edge Swiss technology to benefit some of the world’s poorest people.   

The businesses involved in the initiative are selected by a panel of experts: they have to offer innovative solutions in the area of water that are aimed at developing countries and will benefit low-income populations. Swiss Bluetec Bridge currently supports six start-ups and SMEs operating in six countries of the Global South. Three new businesses are set to be added to the list soon.

Swiss Fresh Water and Weconnex are already benefiting from the initiative: the loan granted by Swiss Bluetec Bridge has allowed them to develop and validate their business model. These two companies alone now provide drinking water to around 110,000 impoverished people living in rural areas of Senegal and Nepal, and have therefore significantly improved the state of health of the populations concerned.