2nd annual program promotes deployment of data technologies in California
Imagine H2O announces new programming and partnerships at WaterGala '17
SAN FRANCISCO, March 16, 2017 -- Imagine H2O, the water innovation accelerator, showcased the winners and finalists of its 8th annual innovation program at WaterGala ‘17, an event yesterday evening featuring over 350 industry executives, investors, utility managers, government officials and sustainability experts. Twelve promising water data startups were selected from a global field of 180 applicants in 30 countries.
Utilis won top honors with its cost-competitive satellite imagery solution to detect leaks in water distribution systems. Over the past 12 months, Utilis has surveyed over 75,000 miles of buried pipe infrastructure and identified over 8,000 suspected leaks. Arable Labs, a crop and weather sensor, and Triple Bottom Line Enterprises, a data solution for designing affordable piped-water systems, were recognized as the runners-up.
"We are honored to be part of Imagine H2O's program this year and be recognized for our work to improve resilience of drinking water infrastructure around the world," said Lauren Guy, Founder & CTO of Utilis. "The resources, insights and network of advisors that Imagine H2O offers will be instrumental in helping us develop and scale the impact of our business this year,” added Elly Perets, CEO of Utilis.
These three companies, along with the remaining finalists, advance to Imagine H2O’s 2017 Accelerator Program and will benefit from cash awards, mentorship, industry exposure as well as introductions to customers and investors. Imagine H2O’s 2016 portfolio companies are on the path to raise over $30 million in financing and secured a host of customer deployments with the organization’s Beta Partners, a network of over 50 municipal, agricultural and industrial end-users.
“Data innovation is fundamental to improve how we manage water,” said Chris Morrison, Asst. Vice President, Ecolab (Water) Global Technology Partnerships who served on the judging panel. “The twelve companies advancing to Imagine H2O's 2017 accelerator represent the kind of business innovation, visionary talent and technological know-how required to advance resource sustainability.”
Imagine H2O also announced a new three-year sponsorship with American Water, enabling the organization to provide customer validation opportunities with the nation’s largest investor-owned utility. Partnerships such as these further expand Imagine H2O’s capability to support the deployment of innovation to solve water challenges globally.
Imagine H2O’s other partners include Wells Fargo (Headline Sponsor), Suez, Tetra Tech, American Water, Morrison Foerster and a network of private family foundations. GE Water & Process Technologies and the Water Environment Federation were primary sponsors of WaterGala ‘17.
The twelve finalists showcased at WaterGala '17 and selected to participate in Imagine H2O's 2017 accelerator include:
- Acoustic Sensing Technology (UK): Acoustic signaling hardware and analytical tools to measure and monitor the serviceability of sewers and pipes in real-time. With faster and cheaper performance than CCTV surveys, SewerBatt’s high-accuracy assessments generate actionable data for intervention and maintenance scheduling.
- AquaSeca (USA): High-performance, non-invasive leak detection and remote monitoring system for plumbing infrastructure in high-rise commercial buildings. Easy-to-install acoustic sensors are strapped onto water pipes to manage water consumption data, generate alerts and trigger automatic shut-off valves.
- Arable Labs (USA): Proprietary in-field monitors and predictive analytics tools measure real-time microclimate weather data and plant growth drivers to generate actionable insights on yield, harvest timing, and crop quality. Initial focus on US specialty crops including strawberries, grapes and tomatoes.
- EMAGIN (Canada): Cloud-based, Artificial Intelligence platform to help water utilities proactively manage infrastructure operations. HARVI, the company’s flagship product, provides system-wide monitoring, generates alerts for anomalies, and creates GIS-based visualization of system KPIs.
- Flo Technologies (USA): Water monitoring and control system for homes that proactively identifies water risks and abnormalities, learns water consumption habits and triggers alerts via wifi to a user's smartphone.
- FREDsense (Canada): Portable, cost-effective biosensor and testing platform that can detect chemicals down to one part per billion in under one hour. The hand-held detector and single-use cartridge system transmits data and analytics to decision makers and can be customized for a range of different contaminants.
- Hydromodel Host (Spain): Groundwater management solution delivers real-time visibility and accurate predictability to water engineers, city planners and other users. Field data and numerical models are integrated to provide a suite of planning, management and collaboration tools to manage groundwater sustainably.
- Lotic Labs (USA): Financial risk management for industrial businesses facing the threat of volatile environmental conditions. Initial products help water and wastewater utilities manage financial stresses due to droughts, extended wet periods, and unplanned maintenance.
- Pluto AI (USA): Analytics platform for water resource management. Pluto AI extracts wisdom from unstructured data in real-time using Artificial Intelligence algorithms. This enables water facilities to prevent water wastage, predict asset health, and minimize operating costs.
- Sutro (USA): Broad spectrum colorimetric sensor technology and analytics platform to measure real-time water quality and chemistry. The proprietary sensor is self-calibrating and does not require a human-testing interface. Broad application to a range of contaminants from nitrates to arsenic.
- Triple Bottom Line Enterprises (Ethiopia): Smart-phone enabled tools for land surveying, pipeline design and network management to develop affordable piped water infrastructure in rural communities. Flowius, the company's latest product, combines analytics with a radically affordable design methodology to improve access to water for households and farms.
- Utilis (Israel/USA): Cost-competitive, high-accuracy remote sensing technology for leak detection in water distribution systems. Using spectral satellite imagery to monitor drinking water in the ground, proprietary algorithms identify leaks in user-friendly GIS reports and quantify the financial implications of non-revenue water loss.
PORTFOLIO UPDATE: Apana (IH2O '16)
Investment to Be Used to Accelerate International Sales Growth, IoT Platform Advancement
BELLINGHAM, Wash., January 17, 2017 – APANA, Inc., the leader in automated water management for business, today announced the successful completion of a $3.5MM Series A round of financing, led by global water and environment management company Kurita Water Industries Ltd. of Japan.
APANA simultaneously disclosed that it has added new customers for its Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) solution, such as California vintner Fetzer Vineyards. “We are proud to be the first winery in the world to install this unique technology from APANA,” said Cindy DeVries, Chief Operating Officer of Fetzer Vineyards. “Implementing digital solutions like APANA’s allows us to leverage environmental data to achieve our sustainability initiatives – and to help drive forward a more sustainable way of doing business.”
Carwash leader Mister Car Wash has also signed on for a multi-site pilot. Other customers include major retail grocery chains, hotels and breweries, while Costco Wholesale, an early adopter, continues to grow in locations using the APANA solution.
In addition, APANA was recently recognized for its leadership on cooling tower water use efficiency, receiving an Innovation Incubator (IN2) award funded by Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), as well as an Innovative Conservation Program grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The Series A finance will largely be used by APANA to expand sales and marketing of its industry-leading business intelligence suite for buildings and cooling towers to direct and channel partners, and to continue development of its IIoT solution using LoRa® radio technology aimed at wirelessly connecting waterflow sensors throughout an entire campus to their cloud- based analytics platform.
Michiya Kadota, President of Kurita Water Industries, said of the investment: “Kurita is deeply committed to innovation, and this strategic investment in APANA’s cutting edge solution marks an important step in integrating data analytics into corporate water stewardship. We also expect to create significant synergy between APANA and Kurita.”
“Since its founding 5 years ago, APANA has been making it possible for commercial and industrial businesses to make water management and savings an integral part of their operations for the first time,” said Matt Rose, co-founder and CEO of APANA. “With funding from global industry leader Kurita and others, we will be able to accelerate growth and create an even more powerful water intelligence platform that combines remote sensing with prescriptive analytics at minimal capital cost.”
Besides Kurita, investors include Cowles Company of Spokane, Element 8 of Seattle and Urban Innovation Fund of San Francisco.
APANA customers have demonstrated an average 22 percent savings in water use, and average payback on capital expenditure of 18 months. APANA’s solution is eligible for up to 50 percent rebates in a growing number of states, including California, Washington and Nevada. Financing options are also available.
APANA has successfully deployed hundreds of systems in the United States and internationally. APANA’s solution is designed to serve a wide range of water-intensive businesses in the industrial and commercial sectors, including supermarket and grocery, resort and hotel, education, carwash, food & beverage processing and manufacturing, and commercial buildings.
APANA is a technology and services company that helps commercial and industrial businesses manage water. The APANA solution provides business with detailed insight into their total water footprint, identifying process drift, mechanical malfunctions and failure points. Real-time, automated information empowers frontline operators with data to address problems when they occur and to institutionalize best practices throughout the organization's water processes. Companies also use APANA intelligence to reduce compliance risk and strengthen operational sustainability. Learn more at www.apana.com
About Kurita Water Industries
Headquartered in Tokyo, Kurita Water Industries Ltd. is an international market leader in advanced water and environmental management. More than 5,000 employees support its customers to improve efficiency of industrial plants and reduce environmental footprints through comprehensive capabilities that combine three business segments: Water Treatment Chemicals, Water Treatment Facilities, and Maintenance Services. Learn more at www.kurita.co.jp/english
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Imagine H2O also announces expanded network of market partners to support innovation
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 15, 2016 -- Imagine H2O™ (IH2O™), the water innovation accelerator, launched its 2017 Water Data Challenge today. The program will identify and engage promising startups delivering data and analytics solutions to drive smarter water resource management in industrial, municipal and agricultural markets. Winning teams will participate in IH2O's flagship business accelerator, benefiting from cash awards, mentorship, industry exposure, as well as introductions to customers and investors.
Since 2009, IH2O has transformed emerging water startups into scalable, high-impact businesses. Over 70 startups have leveraged the accelerator program to win customers and receive more than 1 in every 10 dollars of early-stage investment in the water sector. "Imagine H2O's recognition and support have been critical to our company," says Ashwin Madgavkar, CEO of Ceres Imaging and a 2016 IH2O Winner. "In addition to customer and investor access, we've benefited from Imagine H2O's network of experts who understand the unique financial and technical aspects of building a water technology business."
IH2O is also expanding its capabilities as a path-to-market through a global network of more than 50 leading corporations and municipalities committed to deploying water innovation. TheBeta Partners Program—a network of potential customers for emerging water technologies—provides startups with much-needed testing and validation opportunities to grow and scale their businesses. This exclusive channel includes utilities serving 55M residents and companies accounting for $80B in revenue in agricultural, industry and manufacturing. Visit IH2O's website to view a full list of members.
The 2017 Water Data Challenge and accelerator program coincides with a growing demand for actionable data and analytical tools to inform water resource management. As water systems face increasing pressures globally, the opportunity is ripe for new solutions enabling water users across sectors to monitor and manage scarce resources more effectively. "Data is a major opportunity for entrepreneurs to adapt successful business models and technologies from other sectors to the water industry," explains Scott Bryan, President of IH2O. "This program, supported by the IH2O's growing network of Beta Partners, highlights the organization's unique approach to solving water challenges from real-time testing in drinking water to precision irrigation."
An independent panel of technology experts, venture capitalists and business leaders will select up to twelve finalists to receive cash awards, in-kind professional services and an invitation to participate in the accelerator. Imagine H2O's financial supporters include Wells Fargo (Headline Sponsor), Tetra Tech, Suez North America, and Morrison Foerster.
Applications are due by November 7, 2016. More information about the program and the application process is available at http://www.imagineh2o.org/accelerator.
Second annual program offers cash awards and support to leading policy innovators
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12, 2016 -- Imagine H2O (IH2O), the water innovation accelerator, today announced its second annual California Water Policy Challenge. The competition will showcase policy proposals enabling the deployment of water data innovations and technologies. The winner and finalists will be eligible to receive up to $40,000 in cash awards, mentorship from leading experts and introductions to strategic partners. The results will be announced at a leadership event in Sacramento in April 2017.
Data is vital to help California's farmers, businesses and communities monitor and manage water resources more effectively. Promising data solutions exist—from remote farm sensing and monitoring to real-time quality testing. Policy change will help drive adoption of these technologies in the market. The Policy Challenge highlights actionable policy recommendations that dismantle obstacles to innovation and strengthen the quality of water accounting and management.
The Milken Institute, the Water Foundation and the Pacific Institute join IH2O as program partners to support the Challenge and the winning teams.
"California's success in renewable energy is largely a result of policy innovation," said Buzz Thompson, Professor of Stanford Law School and Director of the Woods Institute for the Environment who will also be judging the Challenge. "It's time California gave water the same attention it has given energy. IH2O's program allows us to identify practical, intelligent policy approaches that can get water data solutions deployed inCalifornia."
Since 2009, IH2O has transformed emerging water startups into scalable, high-impact businesses. The organization's accelerator has helped over 70 companies win customers and receive more than 1 in every 10 dollars of early-stage investment in the water sector. By supporting the development of data-driven water solutions through forward-thinking policy, IH2O expands its commitment further to advance the market for water innovation.
"The Policy Challenge provided us with valuable exposure and recognition at an important time for our organization," saidCynthia Koehler, Executive Director of WaterNow Alliance and a 2016 Finalist. "Since participating in this unique initiative, we've grown our capacity and secured strategic partnerships to help accelerate our activities."
IH2O's inaugural Policy Challenge attracted over one hundred submissions from academia, NGOs, government entities and the private sector. The program fostered cross-sector dialogue with government and philanthropy to unlock innovation opportunities and drive policy change. Applications for the 2017 program are now open. Winners will be determined by an independent panel of California water experts and supported with cash awards, mentorship and visibility.
About Imagine H2O
Imagine H2O (IH2O), the water innovation accelerator, empowers people to deploy and develop innovation to solve water challenges. Recognized as a proven path-to-market for emerging water technology businesses, IH2O partners with leading customers and investors to support entrepreneurs globally. In 2016, IH2O announced a multi-year water data commitment at the White House Water Summit. The initiative supports data-driven solutions in water through a series of programs, including the 2017 California Water Policy Challenge. Join us at www.imagineh2o.org.
Minneapolis, Minn., USA and Athlone, Ireland. April 13, 2016 –The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW), announced today its investment in OxyMem Ltd. The investment will accelerate the commercialisation of OxyMem’s promising wastewater treatment technology – the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR). The MABR technology has the potential to bring wastewater treatment closer to energy neutrality by reducing energy consumption for aeration by up to 75 percent.
Snehal Desai, global business director for Dow Water and Process Solutions, commented, “Global water demand trends are making wastewater infrastructure a major challenge for populations and industries across the globe. OxyMem’s MABR technology shows excellent promise in lowering operational costs for the wastewater treatment process due to reduced energy demand. This also makes the technology a strong sustainability value proposition – it can help encourage greater adoption of water reuse and as a result, advance a circular economy that makes water a well-managed resource, sustained by advances in science and technology.”
Wayne Byrne, Managing Director of OxyMem, added, “I believe that we have an important technology that can make a sizeable contribution in the wastewater market where there is a significant need for more efficient infrastructure solutions. Securing the investment from Dow, an innovation leader augurs well for the future of the company. We look forward to an exciting journey with Dow Water & Process Solutions business on board.”
OxyMem, a University College Dublin spinout, and fast growing Global Cleantech 100 company has been commercialising an innovative infrastructure solution to reduce costs for wastewater treatment – the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR). OxyMem’s breakthrough technology tackles the industry’s biggest challenge – energy costs. Conventional wastewater treatment consumes 2-3% of a nations electricity production. This is due a 100 years reliance on bubble aeration for conventional treatment plants, which suffer high energy losses because of the oxygen transfer limitations in the process. OxyMem’s MABR does not have these limitations. OxyMem uses hollow fibre, gas permeable membranes, to support a fixed film ecosystem allowing for direct delivery of oxygen to the micro-organisms which break down the pollutants. OxyMem‘s drop in solution can be easily retrofit into existing infrastructure to improve capacity, achieves superior energy performance, with lower sludge production. Please visit www.oxymem.com to learn more.
About The Dow Chemical Company
Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company is driving innovations that extract value from material, polymer, chemical and biological science to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow’s integrated, market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 180 countries and in high-growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture. In 2015, Dow had annual sales of nearly $49 billion and employed approximately 49,500 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 6,000 product families are manufactured at 179 sites in 35 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.
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Imagine H2O's 7th annual program highlights growth opportunities for water data businesses
Imagine H2O® (IH2O®), the water innovation accelerator, announced the winners of its 2016 Water Data Challenge. Ten promising data-driven water businesses were selected from a global field of 90 startups in 20 countries to participate in IH2O's 7th annual innovation program. Winning teams will participate in IH2O's rigorous business accelerator, benefitting from cash awards, mentorship, industry exposure, as well as introductions to customers and investors.
"Data is a fundamental tool to improve how we monitor and manage water," said Andy Wheeler of GV (formerly Google Ventures) who served on the judging panel. "Imagine H2O's Data Challenge attracted some of the most promising data solutions to tackle pressing water challenges globally."
The Challenge's winner was Ceres Imaging (Oakland, CA), a breakthrough aerial imaging solution for agriculture. Offering a proprietary imaging technology and analytics platform currently unmatched in the industry, Ceres provides farmers affordable access to actionable data to manage water stress and fertilizer application.
Ayyeka (Jerusalem, Israel), a modular remote monitoring solution for water infrastructure, and Apana (Spokane, WA), a commercial water use management and detection platform, were both recognized as runners-up. IH2O's 2016 cohort offered a full range of innovative data solutions to critical water issues and all ten were showcased at the organization's annual Water Gala on March 16 in San Francisco.
"Once again, Imagine H2O attracted a broad and diverse field of really interesting startups and the finalists all stand to benefit from the organization's expertise, resources and network," said Steve Kloos, Partner at True North Venture Partners and a member of IH2O's advisory board. "I am honored to play a role in this important initiative to advance water innovation."
IH2O's judging panel, which includes leading industry experts from venture capital firms, water utilities and engineering businesses, assessed companies for their market viability, value proposition, and go-to-market strategy. During 2016, IH2O will provide accelerator participants with capacity building and strategic advice and connections to the organization's global network of investors and customers committed to deploying water technology.
Inaugural Imagine H2O Water Policy Challenge Aims to Drive Water Tech Adoption
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Imagine H2O™ today announced the results of its inaugural California Water Policy Challenge. The initiative, which seeks to advance the market for water innovation through forward-thinking policy, attracted over one hundred submissions from academia, the private sector, government entities and NGOs. Successful applicants presented Imagine H2O with actionable policy recommendations to drive adoption of water technologies by California's cities, farms and industries.
Public policy is vital to help California deploy water technology more effectively while inspiring the State's innovation economy to tackle the looming water crisis. Imagine H2O, the water innovation accelerator, launched the California Water Policy Challenge to highlight the need to overcome regulatory barriers to innovation and catalyze public-private collaboration on policy design and implementation.
"The California Water Policy Challenge demonstrates a growing interest in how policy can incentivize water technology adoption in the California market," said Nimesh Modak, Director of the Policy Program at Imagine H2O. "We hope this program serves to foster new partnerships with government to deliver real policy change and unlock innovation opportunities."
The Challenge's judging panel, comprised of experts in California water policy, selected a winner and three finalists to be featured at a forum in Sacramento on February 9, 2016. Policymakers and key stakeholders will discuss the proposals and the opportunities and challenges in the path towards implementation.
The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) teamed up on the winning proposal and will receive up to $25,000 in support. The partnership presented a compelling case for how discrete policy improvements to water reuse and recycling standards could incentivize water users to deploy on-site treatment technologies. "On-site water treatment is a widely recognized solution with considerable promise in the California market," says Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of AWE.
"We look forward to developing a policy framework for onsite water systems that protects public health and allows for innovation and broader adoption of treatment technologies," says Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources with the SFPUC.
The Challenge recognizes three additional proposals as Finalists. The Freshwater Trust aims to improve coordination between groundwater and flood control agencies through a novel recharge crediting scheme; Greywater Action and the Decentralized Water Policy Council offers guidance to streamline permitting of residential greywater systems; and WaterNow Alliance addresses constraints in public finance to better empower utilities to adopt new sustainable water technologies at scale.
2016 Imagine H2O Policy Challenge Winner
- Alliance for Water Efficiency and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
2016 Imagine H2O Policy Challenge Finalists
- The Freshwater Trust
- Greywater Action and Decentralized Water Policy Council
- WaterNow Alliance
About Imagine H2O
Imagine H2O provides entrepreneurs around the world with the resources, insight and visibility to launch and scale innovative water businesses. Since 2009, Imagine H2O's accelerator has helped over 60 innovative companies win customers and receive more than$1 in every $10 of early stage investment in the water sector.
7th annual water innovation program selects 10 data startups to participate in the Imagine H2O Accelerator
Business accelerator expands capabilities to support scalable water innovation solutions in developing countries
CHICAGO, Sept. 28, 2015 Imagine H2O, the leading accelerator for water innovation, has secured a three-year funding commitment from the SUEZ North America Foundation to support its programming. In keeping with SUEZ's strategic commitment to advance the market for water innovation, the foundation has agreed to direct grant funding and employee volunteer resources to support growth and development of Imagine H2O's accelerator. SUEZ will also join Imagine H2O's Beta Partners Program, a global network of end-users in the private and municipal sectors committed to implementing new technologies.
"Imagine H2O is a proven path to market opportunity for entrepreneurs in the water sector," explains Bob Iacullo, President of the SUEZ North America Foundation. "We're proud to be part of this solution and believe that larger companies can play an active role in sourcing and adopting innovation in the water sector."
The two organizations announced the partnership during an event showcasing Imagine H2O's portfolio companies at the annual WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference. The announcement comes shortly after Imagine H2O launched its Water Data Challenge, the organization's 7th annual water innovation business competition and accelerator.
"Partnering with the SUEZ North America Foundation expands our ability to connect entrepreneurs with customer opportunities in the water industry," explains Scott Bryan, President of Imagine H2O, "SUEZ's global footprint will allow our international portfolio of innovators to develop and prove the value of their solutions".
Imagine H2O's business accelerator enables participating startups to successfully introduce innovative solutions into the marketplace. Since 2008, over sixty companies have benefited from the program's introductions to industry mentors and global network of customers and investors. The program's alumni represent $1 in every $10 of early stage investment in the water sector.
The SUEZ North America Foundation joins Imagine H2O's industry sponsors and partners, which include Wells Fargo, Tetra Tech, the American Water Works Association, and the Water Environment Federation.
About Imagine H2O
Imagine H2O provides water entrepreneurs with the resources, insight and visibility to launch and scale successful businesses. The Imagine H2O Accelerator has helped over 60 innovative water companies win customers and receive more than $1 in every $10 of early stage investment in the water sector. Imagine H2O partners with leading utilities, corporations, investors, academic institutions and associations committed to advancing water innovation. Imagine H2O recently launched the California Water Policy Challenge to source policy ideas that accelerate the deployment of technologies to improve water resource management. To learn more about Imagine H2O and connect with water entrepreneurs from around the world, please visit www.imagineh2o.org.
About SUEZ North America Foundation
The SUEZ North America Foundation is fully funded by SUEZ North America, which operates across all 50 states and Canada with 3,430 employees dedicated to environmental sustainability and leading the resource revolution. The company owns 16 water utilities, provides contracted public-private partnership services to 84 municipalities, offers water treatment and advanced network solutions to 16,000 industrial and municipal sites, provides drinking water and wastewater services to nearly 7.5 million people on a daily basis, processes 55,000 tons of waste for recycling and manages $3.3 billion in total assets. The company had revenues of $1.1 billion in 2014 and is a subsidiary of Paris-based SUEZ.
7th annual innovation challenge targets scalable data businesses
Program sources policies that accelerate the use of water tech to combat California's drought
Organization links startups to growth opportunities via international innovation pipeline
March 17, 2015 -- Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) announced a $1 million commitment to support Imagine H2OTM, the leading platform for global water innovation, to support the organization’s programming to bring promising water innovations to market.
The global water crisis presents one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Yet despite water’s importance, and the water market exceeding $600 billion in sales, the water innovation economy needs a boost. Water innovators receive only about 1 percent of venture capital and angel investment dollars.
Imagine H2O, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and empower people to turn water challenges into opportunities, addresses that market failure through a series of programs in business, leadership and policy. Imagine H2O’s portfolio represents more than $1 in $10 of early-stage financing in the water sector, and Wells Fargo’s support will help the organization magnify this impact.
“While we are committed to sustainability in our operations and provide capital to clean energy business solutions at Wells Fargo, we understand that many of the environmental challenges we are facing cannot be solved short term,” said Mary Wenzel, head of Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs. ”This is why we are proud to foster water innovation and collaborate with Imagine H2O to help build more sustainable and resilient communities with long-term solutions.”
Imagine H2O is a recipient of a Wells Fargo Clean Technology and Innovation grant. The grant program began in 2012 as part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to provide $100 million to environmentally-focused nonprofits, colleges and universities by 2020. It is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and is strategically aligned with the company’s vision and values to foster economic development, especially in underserved communities, to accelerate the global “green” economy. The goal of the program is to inspire innovation from entrepreneurs and fund research entities working on critical environmental issues.
“This commitment recognizes Imagine H2O’s approach to identifying and accelerating water innovation,” said Scott Bryan, Imagine H2O Chief Operating Officer. “We will leverage this support, and commitments from other philanthropic partners, to scale Imagine H2O’s efforts to help innovators turn new ideas into powerful solutions.”
Imagine H2O will announce the winners of its 6th annual competition for water innovators at its annual gala event in San Francisco on March 18. The competition attracted over 100 entrants from 20 different countries offering scalable solutions to water and wastewater infrastructure challenges.
About Imagine H2O
Imagine H2O inspires and empowers people to solve water challenges and turn them into opportunities. In addition to financial support for the best ideas, the Imagine H2O Accelerator helps participating entrepreneurs turn their plans into transformational, real world solutions. To learn more about Imagine H2O's global ecosystem for water innovation and connect with water entrepreneurs from around the world, please visit www.imagineh2o.org.
About Wells Fargo
Since 2012, Wells Fargo has provided more than $37 billion in environmental financing to environmentally beneficial businesses. This includes $3.8 billion in financing for affordable housing and commercial properties in low- to moderate-income communities. Wells Fargo has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent from 2008 levels and increased energy efficiency by 24 percent, water efficiency by 38 percent, and waste diversion by 65 percent since 2012. The company also has made strategic environmental grants totaling $40 million through two environmental grant programs focusing on community-based environmental projects as well as clean technology innovation and advancement. Last year, the company launched Innovation Incubator (IN2) to support clean technology start-ups in commercial buildings.
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.7 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,700 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet (wellsfargo.com), and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.
Imagine H2O Announces Top Startups in Global Competition to Advance Water Security
Organization to Connect Innovative Water Technology Businesses to Market Leaders in Food & Agriculture Sector
SAN FRANCISCO, March 19, 2014 -- Amid ongoing drought in leading agricultural regions, Imagine H2O, a global nonprofit organization catalyzing entrepreneurial solutions to water challenges, today announced the winners of its 5th annual Business Innovations Competition. The winning startups receive a total of $200,000 in cash and in-kind services as well as access to customers in the Food and Agriculture Sector.
Aerial crop monitoring startup TerrAvion won the early-stage track of the competition. California Safe Soils, a startup recovering water and nutrients from food waste, won the growth-stage track. Startups from Canada, Australia, Israel, and Wisconsin were named runners up. These teams led an international field of over 70 water entrepreneurs from 11 different countries. Among the leading trends in this cohort were waste-to-value and water data collection and management.
"From an industry perspective, it's exciting to see numerous entrepreneurs and startups around the world addressing this critical need for new technology for reducing water use in food production," said Imagine H2O Judge Chris Morrison, Assistant Vice President of Global Water Technology Partnerships at Ecolab. "Large and small beverage and food firms are now looking for improved devices, chemistry, and programs to reduce water waste."
Imagine H2O's judging panel, which includes leading industry experts from companies such as Google Ventures, America Water, and True North Venture Partners, based its selection of the winners and runners up on their commercial viability, customer value proposition, go-to market strategy, and financial plan.
Imagine H2O's approach to technology innovation connects startups with international market leaders. This year's accelerator program, in collaboration with the BlueTechValley, features over a dozen leading commercial growers and food processors, including Groupe Danone's Stonyfield Farms, Earthbound Farms, Paramount Farms and SunMaid, together representing over $30 billion in annual revenue.
Global food production accounts for 70% of total freshwater use, according to a recent U.N. report. California, which leads the U.S. in agricultural production at $47 billion in annual revenue, uses as much as 80% of available water. Amid the drought that continues to grip this region and much of the Southwestern U.S., the need for improved water resource management via innovations in the food supply chain becomes increasingly dire. Since its founding in 2007, Imagine H2O has become the platform through which those needed business innovations reach water customers.
"With uncertainty comes great potential for disruptive technologies and business models," said Imagine H2O COO Scott Bryan. "The recent droughts in major food-producing regions like California poses an opportunity to entrepreneurs, businesses, and policymakers alike to take bold action toward securing a sustainable water future."
Imagine H2O's portfolio represents 1 in every 10 dollars of investment into new water companies. Over 350 startups have participated in this program. The program's major financial supporters include Wells Fargo (Headline Sponsor), Grundfos, Cooley LLP, the California Water Foundation, and the Stiefel Family Foundation.
Imagine H2O's 5th Annual Competition Accelerates Promising Water Innovations for the Food and Agriculture Sectors
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 8, 2014 -- Imagine H2O, a nonprofit organization that supports market-based solutions to water challenges, announced the finalists of its fifth annual business innovations competition today. The twelve companies selected to advance to the second round will compete for over $200,000 in cash and in-kind service and admittance to Imagine H2O Accelerator's program. Imagine H2O's previous winners and finalists collectively represent 1 in every 10 dollars of early-stage financing in the water sector. This year's winners and runners-up will be honored at Imagine H2O's Entrepreneurship Showcase and World Water Day celebration on March 18th.
A 2012 U.N. World Water Assessment Program survey indicates that agriculture currently accounts for more than 70% of global potable water usage. As many of the leading agricultural regions in the U.S. continue to be gripped by drought, the need for innovative water resource management in food production becomes increasingly dire. Imagine H2O's proven path-to-market opportunity advances emerging businesses that offer promising solutions to this and other looming water challenges.
"Entrepreneurs are responding to a growing demand for water innovations that contribute to global food security," said Imagine H2O Chief Operating Officer Scott Bryan. "This field is rapidly evolving and Imagine H2O is excited to be working with some of the most promising technology startups addressing the food and agriculture sector's water needs."
Over 70 start-up companies from 11 countries submitted entries related to Imagine H2O's current Food and Agriculture theme. Competitors presented a diverse range of methods to improve water management within the food processing and agriculture industries. The program's major financial supporters include Wells Fargo (Headline Sponsor), Grundfos, Cooley LLP, the California Water Foundation, and the Stiefel Family Foundation.
Each finalist will also receive admittance to the Imagine H2O Accelerator, which includes access to beta customers and pilot partners. The inaugural Beta Partnership Program, developed in partnership with the BlueTechValley, features leading commercial growers and food processors that together represent over $30 billion in annual revenue.
Imagine H2O's judging panel, which includes leading industry experts from companies such as Google Ventures, Ecolab, and True North Venture Partners, based its selection of the finalists on their commercial viability, customer value proposition, go-to market strategy, and financial plan. The finalists, listed alphabetically, are:
OptiEnz Sensors (Fort Collins, CO) www.optienzsensors.com sells an in-place monitoring system that continuously measures the concentration of organic chemicals in water, milk, juice, and other liquids using a patented replaceable enzymatic sensor tip. A wide range of organic chemicals can be measured, enabling applications in a broad range of markets including food and beverage, industrial biotechnology, and the environment.
Precision Hawk (Indianapolis, IN) www.precisionhawk.com is an end-to-end solution for solving the Big Data problem in the agriculture space. Precision Hawk manages the challenges of flying a UAV, conducting complex aerial data collection along with the management, storage and processing of that data for the user.
TerrAvion (Livermore, CA) www.terravion.com provides a service that delivers aerial maps and imagery for agriculture overnight at low cost. This system allows growers to monitor the canopy of every tree, vine, or plant in the field every week and adjust their inputs, particularly irrigation, to increase yield.
WatrHub Inc. (Toronto, ON) www.watrhub.com is a data and analytics company that delivers actionable intelligence for the Municipal, Industrial, and Agriculture Water sectors to enable faster and more confident decision making. The WatrHub Online Intelligence Center helps water and wastewater technology companies find timely and actionable sales leads, and connects water and wastewater operators with their peers to share best practices.
Wellintel (Shorewood, WI) www.wellintel.com develops groundwater technology and information systems to help homeowners and farmers learn about and sustainably manage their groundwater resources. With these insights customers secure property value, improve service, lower costs, and make groundwater sustainability possible.
ZYMtronix Catalytic Systems, Inc. (Ithica, NY) www.zymtronixcs.com eradicates antibiotic-resistant bacteria in contaminated agricultural waters and captures the pharmaceuticals used to target them. ZYMtronix decreases the costs of ensuring healthy livestock, helps deliver the public's need for a pharmaceutical-free environment, and provides a solution for meeting government-mandated environmental quality standards.
BioGill (Sidney, Australia) www.biogill.com uses breakthrough technology in the biological treatment of wastewater. BioGills are above ground, non-submerged bioreactors that provide the ideal oxygen rich environment for microorganisms to thrive and break down nutrients in the waste stream. Biogills are helping businesses achieve regulated discharge standards at low cost and low energy.
California Safe Soil (West Sacramento, CA) www.calsafesoil.com provides unique full-cycle Fresh Food Recycling technology, turning organics from supermarkets into liquid fertilizer for farms in only three hours. This fertilizer assists California Safe Soil's agricultural customers in saving money, improving crop yield, and reducing nitrate runoff into groundwater.
Livestock Water Recycling (Calgary, AB) www.livestockwaterrecycling.com equips dairy, hog, and anaerobic digester operations with its innovative and cost-effective manure treatment technology. The technology recycles clean water and fertilizer nutrients from livestock manure for reuse at the farm, reducing fertilizer waste and improving water efficiency.
OndaVia (Hayward, CA) www.ondavia.com delivers a fast, laboratory accurate, microfluidics-based water analysis system that enables real-time, trace-level chemical analysis. Using Ondavia's portable instrument and analyte-specific, consumable cartridges, users can measure water contaminants down to part-per-billion levels on-site, in under five minutes.
Silver Bullet Water Treatment Company (Denver, CO) www.silverbulletcorp.com provides a safe and highly efficient water treatment system for HVAC cooling towers and livestock drinking water systems that eliminates bacterial growth and controls calcium scale buildup and corrosion. The system increases the operational efficiency of a cooling tower, saving water and energy. In livestock drinking systems, the Silver Bullet System eliminates bacteria without the use of hazardous chemicals to improve overall herd health.
Tal-Ya Agricultural Solutions (Tel Aviv, Israel) www.tal-ya.com features trays specially designed to concentrate water and fertilizer directly to the root of each plant or tree, creating a "personal greenhouse" for each plant. These patented, easy to install trays enable farmers to prevent weed growth and reduce water use by 50% and fertilizer use by 30%, while accelerating growth dramatically. The farmer is able to improve his ROI and obtain more from each acre.
Imagine H2O Names Winners of Consumer Innovations Prize
SAN FRANCISCO, March 19, 2013 -- Imagine H2O, a global organization that spurs water solutions by advancing entrepreneurship and innovation, today announced the winners of its fourth annual business plan competition focused on Consumer Innovation. Awards were given to companies solving a range of critical water challenges, including leak prevention, stormwater drainage, landscaping water efficiency and bottom-of-the-pyramid water distribution.
The winners of Imagine H2O's international competition, revealed at a gala event at the Autodesk Gallery, included Leak Defense Alert for the pre-revenue track, with Dlo Haiti and Innogation named runners up in the same category. PaveDrain won the competition's early revenue track.
"These companies provide solutions that will make a difference in an individual's everyday water use," said Gary Kremen, a Silicon Valley angel investor, water district official and Imagine H2O judge. "Once again, Imagine H2O has identified promising early-stage water startups and will offer the winners with a path-to-market opportunity." Kremen is the first investor and board member at WaterSmart Software; a company identified by Imagine H2O's inaugural competition in 2009. Imagine H2O has attracted leading innovators like Kremen, who founded match.com and Clean Power Finance, to support the world's need for water innovation.
Imagine H2O focused this year's competition on Consumer Innovation as a way to catalyze and support entrepreneurial solutions related to a variety of water opportunities including point-of-use filtration, residential efficiency, onsite reuse and recycling, outdoor irrigation, monitoring and other residential or personal solutions. The consumer water innovations sector also represents a large opportunity to bottom-of-the-pyramid companies focusing solutions on issues in water quality and scarcity in developing countries. According to Scott Bryan, the Chief Operating Officer at Imagine H2O, "Consumer demand for products ensuring safety and improved efficiency will expand as water resources become more scarce. As a result, we are optimistic about the opportunity for promising entrepreneurs to deliver innovative products and services into the consumer market."
The competition's winners will join Imagine H2O's Accelerator Program where they will receive market insight, connections and business resources. "In the near future, we at Leak Defense Alert hope that every home will have our system, and we look forward to working with Imagine H2O to realize this dream," stated Scott Pallais, the CEO of Leak Defense Alert. Doug Buch, the founder of PaveDrain said, "We're really excited by our product and believe that the Imagine H2O Accelerator Program will facilitate key connections to scale our business."
The winners were chosen from a competitive selection of finalists by Imagine H2O's judging panel, a group of leading experts and investors in the water sector. The business plan competition's winners were selected based on their commercial viability and promise. This year's prize attracted over 70 startups from 12 countries led by serial entrepreneurs, experienced executives and graduate students. Several private foundations and corporate sponsors; including Headline Sponsor, Wells Fargo, support Imagine H2O's competition and business accelerator.
March 21, 2012. San Francisco, CA - Imagine H2O, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs to turn water challenges into business opportunities, today announced the winners of its third annual prize competition. Bilexys (Brisbane, Australia) won the Prize's Pre-Revenue track while Nexus eWater (Canberra, Australia), and Tusaar, Inc. (Lafayette, Colorado) were named runners up. New Sky Energy (Boulder, Colorado) won the Prize's Early Revenue track.
The winners were chosen from a competitive selection of finalists by Imagine H2O's judging panel, a group of leading experts and investors in the water sector. Highlighting that business plan innovation is critical to the long-term success of water startups, the winners were selected based on their commercial viability and promise. This year's prize attracted 50 startups led by serial entrepreneurs, experienced executives and campus engineering programs.
"This year's Imagine H2O prize finalists represent an impressive and encouraging pool of interesting ideas from around the world. These early-stage companies view wastewater not as waste but as a resource to be economically mined for value such as upgraded water, energy, or products," says Steven Kloos, Partner at True North Venture Partners and Imagine H2O judge. "Imagine H2O is an enabling innovation platform and I look forward to monitoring the progress of these companies."
This year's prize topic was wastewater, of which an estimated 90 percent goes untreated worldwide. Wastewater is typically defined as water that has been contaminated by human contact, whether residential sewage, agricultural runoff, or industrial pollutants. In order to re-use wastewater, multiple steps are required, including a variety of chemical and biological treatments and a significant amount of energy. The wastewater market is valued at $200 billion per year across the industrial, commercial and residential sectors worldwide. This year's competition was geared to wastewater management, water reuse, treatment, resource recovery, and energy production.
"It's exciting to see Imagine H2O's ability to identify a global field of promising water startups," explained John Taft, CEO, RBC Wealth Management U.S. "As Imagine H2O's Founding Sponsor, we're proud to be associated with this market-driven initiative and support entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to the global water challenge."
About the Companies
Bilexys (Brisbane, Australia) is developing an alternative manufacturing platform for the production of chemicals and plastics. The Company's process technologies involve bioelectrochemistry and the use of wastewater as the source of its raw materials. Traditionally, wastewater treatment has been viewed as an operating expense of an industrial complex. Bilexys approaches wastewater treatment as an opportunity to biologically convert the organics within wastewater into high-value chemical products (including sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide). The chemicals produced by the Bilexys method reduce the need for our clients to purchase and bring in chemicals, providing significant environmental and economic benefit to its customers, with potential payback within two years. Bilexys, a spin off from the Advanced Water Management Centre at The University of Queensland, was formed and incubated by UniQuest - one of Australia's leading technology commercialization companies. Bilexys has significant operational experience on industrial sites, culminating in the recent operation of a pilot plant at a pulp and paper company, producing food grade sodium hydroxide from their wastewater. Bilexys CEO, Eric Donsky, is a seasoned technology entrepreneur who is the former CEO of BioAmber and TearLab.
Tusaar, Inc. (Lafayette, Colorado) is commercializing a unique media based technology to remove contaminating heavy-metals from multi-chemical process and waste water. Using base technology licensed from the University of Colorado-Boulder, the team at Tusaar has developed a media that sequesters over 40 different metals from industrial waters and provides a solution to coal combustion fly ash pond management and related groundwater contamination, a serious problem for coal-fired power plants. Tusaar media also enables customers to separate toxic waste metals from other hazardous chemicals thereby simplifying disposal and management. Waste volume and related cost reduction of over 95% has been achieved at customer sites leading to payback in less than one year. The Tusaar team of five has over 75 years of relevant technology and industry experience. CEO & founder, Gautam Khanna, has business development experience at Dell, Whirlpool & Pentair, has served as CEO of Pentair Water India and been involved in the global water industry for over twelve years.
Nexus eWater (Canberra, Australia) harnesses the power of a home's wastewater stream by converting gray water into near-potable water, while recycling the water's energy for hot water heating. This decentralized solution allows homeowners to reduce water use and reduce their carbon footprint by internalizing water heating costs. The executive team includes the former CEO co-founder of ADS Water and the former VP of Perpetual Water.
New Sky Energy (Boulder, Colorado) employs a chemical process that combines CO2 and industrial wastewater to make usable CO2-negative solids. This process allows customers to profitably reduce CO2 emissions while manufacturing onsite the chemicals they use every day. New Sky's CEO, Deane Little, is a PhD molecular biophysicist.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 17, 2011 – Imagine H2O launched its global Water-Energy Nexus
Prize to attract and accelerate new water businesses with energy-saving innovations. “To our
surprise, the winners don’t just save energy, they also make use of the valuable energy stored in
water and wastewater,” says Scott Bryan, Director of Operations. The First Place winner,
Hydrovolts, uses floating hydro-kinetic turbines to convert the flow of a canal into a distributed
energy source. The two runners-up, Blackgold Biofuels and Fogbusters, are unlocking the energy
resources found in fat, oil and grease (FOG), which are some of the most energy-intensive wastestreams in the water grid. “Remarkably, these companies are turning cost-centers into profit centers and unlocking important energy potential to make our water infrastructure more efficient and robust,” says Kate Gasner, Imagine H2O’s Prize Manager.
Attracting more than fifty teams from around the world including the United States, Canada,
Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Singapore and Israel, Imagine H2O’s 2010 Water-Energy
Nexus Prize challenged entrepreneurs to create businesses that reduce the energy needed to move and treat water and wastewater. “The water-energy nexus is of tremendous technical and social importance because you can't generate energy without water and you can't supply clean water without energy,” says Steve Kloos, Advanced Technology Leader at GE Power & Water, and a judge for this year’s prize.
Created to help find sustainable, entrepreneurial solutions to global water problems, the Imagine
H2O Prize offers over $100,000 in cash, business and legal support, and access to a network of
partners, customers, and financiers to accelerate the process of bringing these ideas to market.
Imagine H2O is the leading ecosystem for water entrepreneurship and innovation.
One of Imagine H2O’s goals for its 2010 prize is to increase awareness of the connection
between water and energy, a relationship often underappreciated by the public. The EPA
estimates that retrofitting one out of every 100 homes with water-efficient technologies could
save 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and prevent the release of 80,000 tons of
greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. In some parts of the country, you can save more energy byturning off the tap than by turning off the lights. For example, in California, as much as 19% of
the state’s energy use is dedicated to moving, treating, and heating water.
Seattle-based Hydrovolts, which took the top prize, provides power to irrigation districts, water
treatment facilities, canal operators and nearby consumers. Featuring a floating “flip-wing”
turbine that is portable and easily installed, Hydrovolts brings a new clean energy solution to
existing water infrastructure. “We're very optimistic about the global market opportunity,” says
Hydrovolts CEO Burt Hammer. “Canals are an untapped energy resource, and they are
essentially the same around the world so we expect to expand our impact rapidly. Participating
in the Imagine H2O contest helped us refine our business plan, recruit investors, and initiate new
partnerships. We’re thrilled about continuing to work with Imagine H2O’s ecosystem for water
RUNNERS UP: BLACKGOLD BIOFUELS & FOGBUSTERS
Runner-up Philadelphia-based Blackgold Biofuels is operating a pilot program at San
Francisco’s Wastewater Treatment facility, turning fat, oil and grease (FOG) into biodiesel.
According to, CEO & Co-founder Emily Bockian Landsburg, BlackGold’s technology “results
not only in a reduction in the amount of energy required to treat the FOG, but in an
environmentally friendly fuel that can be used onsite or be sold for a profit.”
Runner-up Fogbusters’ patented technology works in conjunction with existing treatment
systems to recover FOG from wastewater without the use of chemicals. Currently used at major
food processing plants, Oakland, CA-based FogBusters is also gaining traction with potential
users in the oil and gas sector. According to CEO Bradley Mart, the FogBusters technology is
“the first big breakthrough in oil/water separation in 25 years.”
Imagine H2O’s judging panel, which features many of the water sector’s leading experts,
selected the top ten finalists, rewarding them entry to Imagine H2O’s Accelerator Program where
they are provided industry expert mentors and professional services. The judges evaluated all
business plan entries based on commercial viability. “Only a small number of water start-ups
receive funding each year because while there are many existing technologies that hold
promising solutions, few can offer the business model to effectively enter the market,” says
Tamin Pechet, Co-founder and Chairman of Imagine H2O. “We’re looking for great ideas with
great business models to enter our Accelerator Program.”
The three winners were honored at Imagine H2O Water Innovator’s Showcase in San Francisco.
Hundreds of clean-tech leaders, including water entrepreneurs, investors, water utility
executives, government officials and industry experts, gathered to discuss where and how
innovation is taking root in the water sector. The event included a special address from Timothy
Brick, the former Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Since launching the inaugural prize last year, Imagine H2O has seen an overall improvement in
the technical sophistication and entrepreneurial backgrounds of submissions in this year’s
competition. “Several were based on National Science Foundation-funded research and
developed from PhD engineering programs,” Bryan says.
“Imagine H2O leverages entrepreneurship to tackle water challenges and inspires people with
ideas to launch new businesses,” explained John Taft, CEO of RBC U.S. Wealth Management,
who represented Founding Sponsor RBC at the event. “We are especially pleased to see the
quality of this year’s finalists and their commitment to turning water challenges into
“Imagine H2O has successfully developed a model to catalyze water entrepreneurship and to
help bring promising businesses to the marketplace,” says Debra Coy of Svanda & Coy
Consulting, and a returning judge to this year's competition. Last year’s inaugural Imagine H2O
prize focused on end-use water efficiency in agriculture, commercial, industrial or residential
applications. Fruition Sciences received first place for their innovative way to give the vineyard
farmer real-time status of key variables necessary for growing wine grapes. Several 2009
Finalists have increased their customer base and attracted investments from angel and venture
capital investors. This year, Imagine H2O expects even greater outcomes for its Water-Energy
Nexus Prize winners and finalists as a result of its expanded Accelerator Program.
Imagine H2O is joined by its founding sponsor RBC, and sponsors Cooley LLP, PwC, Full
Circle Fund, Early Growth Financial Services and a number of private foundations focused on
sustainability and entrepreneurship.
Water Efficiency Competition Winners Announced
SAN FRANCISCO, March 8, 2010 – A web application that alerts wine grape farmers when their vines are thirsty. Rainwater storage that’s easy to install and fits in tight spaces. Technology that tells water utility customers their usage rate and rewards them for cutting back. These are the winning business ideas for the inaugural Imagine H2O Prize and they’re ready to save the world hundreds of billions of gallons of water.
In its first year, the global competition rewarded business plans that offer the greatest promise of breakthroughs in the efficient use and supply of water. First Place went to Fruition Sciences, which has developed an innovative way to give the vineyard farmer real-time status of key variables for growing wine grapes. Already used successfully by nine grape growers in California, Fruition’s web application has generated significant water savings while decreasing or eliminating yield loss and improving quality.
“We saw a real challenge in the wine industry,” says Sébastien Payen, co-founder of Fruition, which operates out of both California and France. “There were absolutely no plant-based sensors to optimize water management.” So he combined his co-founder Thibaut Scholasch’s dissertation research on vine water status variations with his own mastery of recent sensor and information technology and voilà! Their winning idea was born.
“Fruition showed us a very targeted plan, a promising technology and the ability to execute their idea,” says Scott Bryan, Director of Operations of Imagine H2O, a nonprofit building a “Silicon Valley” for water in the Bay area. “In the water sector, most entrepreneurs want to be in every single market, but Fruition has started out with an intriguing niche market where they can polish their idea and then go broader into other agricultural markets. “
Rainwater HOG’s H2OG tank, which is a food-grade, rectangular module made of low-density polyethylene that can store water horizontally or vertically, was a runner-up. “The HOG makes it easy for people to harvest and use rainwater instead of city water for their irrigation and even inside their homes, and can thus reduce a building’s city water use by more than 50%,” says HOG designer Sally Dominguez, who co-founded the company with husband and CEO, Simon.
“Rainwater HOG showed us a clear plan and demonstrated they could scale it,” says Brian Matthay, Program Manager of Imagine H2O. “They have a clever approach to a very basic solution: rainwater collection. It’s a great way to water your lawn or keep emergency water on hand. You can even use HOGs as insulation around your house. And it will be a DIY project someday.”
Working as an architect in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, Dominguez noticed most of her clients were inner-city dwellers that wanted to save water but didn't want to lose valuable space. When she couldn't find a sustainable horizontal tank on the market, she designed her own. The H2OG is available in the USA, Australia and the UK with markets being developed in India and Japan.
WaterSmart Software also earned runner-up status for its web-based application that allows water utilities to optimize their water conservation programs. WaterSmart empowers utilities’ residential customers to take water saving actions by providing water use information, customized recommendations, and rewards for their efforts. “The judges were impressed that within 60 to 90 days of being incorporated, WaterSmart had really made some inroads with major municipalities that demonstrated demand for their product,” says Matthay.
Once it goes to market (two pilot programs will launch this year), WaterSmart could save participating homeowners an average of 3,000 gallons of water per year. In some cases, a total water use reduction of 20%. “Conservation can be a cost-effective ‘new’ source of water,” says Peter Yolles, who co-founded San Francisco- and San Diego-based WaterSmart with Rob Steiner.
With more than fifty teams from all over the world submitting entries, the Prize was created to help find sustainable solutions to global water problems through entrepreneurship. The competition offers prizes of $70,000 in cash, business, legal, accounting and tax support, and access to a network of partners, customers and financiers to help bring their ideas to market.
“We hope this competition can bring more attention to water and sustainability issues,” says First Place winner Scholasch. Indeed, “awareness has been an obstacle to moving the water market forward,” says Tamin Pechet, Chairman and Executive Director of Imagine H2O.“Be it public awareness of the looming water crisis, investors trying to ferret out potential business solutions, or would-be entrepreneurs networking with the vital players who can be of support. The Prize is intended to become a magnet for water entrepreneurship and give the finalists extraordinary exposure to the investment and business community.”
The competition’s inaugural prize focused on water efficiency in agriculture, commercial, industrial or residential applications, such as water demand reduction, improved water use, water recycling and/or reuse. “There are alternate sources of energy – but there are no alternate sources of clean water,” says Ralph Petroff, member of the judging panel and a water technology CEO for 20 years, who currently advises technology start-ups as CEO of Magna Vista Group. “Increased water efficiency is the only solution. We will run out of clean water long before we run out of oil.” Future years’ competitions will have different prize topics addressing other critical water problems.
“Business has an important role to play in developing the next generation of solutions to the world’s water challenges,” said Gordon Nixon, President and CEO of RBC, founding sponsor of Imagine H20. “We are thrilled to have played a role in bringing this inaugural competition to life and congratulate all the finalists and winners.”
Imagine H2O has financial backing from RBC, the Full Circle Fund, Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and other private foundations. Its growing list of partners includes the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the National Water Research Institute, Babson College, the Stanford University Conservation Program, and others.