Water. It is the newest word in cleantech innovation, and a resource that every individual and company must consider on a daily basis. According to a report published by the World Economic Forum in January 2015, the water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation). Additionally, the World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program estimate that about 1 in 10 people worldwide lack access to clean water, and about 1 in 3 lack access to a toilet.
In the United States, several major water challenges have emerged across all industries: increasing water scarcity, water quality issues, safe wastewater treatment, climate volatility, and aging water infrastructure to name a few. With so many areas to tackle, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs have taken notice and begun the search for new solutions- including a number of our startup teams at Cleantech Open Northeast.
Of the 31 Semifinalist teams participating in the Cleantech Open NE Accelerator Program this year, 8 teams or about 25% of all teams fall into the water innovation tech category. These teams are pursuing solutions in a number of water areas, including purification and desalination, wastewater treatment, water pipeline efficiency, and water consumption. I had the pleasure to ask a handful of these teams at Cleantech Open’s most recent business clinic about their passion for water innovation and how their startup company is going to have a significant impact.
MICROrganic Technologies out of Castleton-on-Hudson, New York has developed a manufacturing process to produce microbial fuel cells, a platform technology that cleans wastewater and desalinates seawater while producing energy.
“Water treatment is incredibly energy intensive, but our technology turns water treatment from an energy sink into an energy generation tool,” explains Carol Maxwell, CEO of MICROrganic Technologies. “We generate energy from cleaning wastewater rather than using it.”
Nu Ecological Engineering and Design of Boston specializes in making use of plants and natural processes to develop aesthetic onsite wastewater treatment systems for campuses and housing developments.
“I love ponds and marshes and wetlands,” muses Nu Ecological Co-Founder Max Rome. “So the idea of moving towards a world where our wastewater infrastructure is more a part of those natural systems--and less like factories--that’s the kind of world I would love to live in.”
Proper Pipe, Inc. of Boston has manufactured a pipe joint with the capability to non-intrusively pressure test the integrity of the joint, both at the time of installation and while the pipeline is in service.
“Water is the foundation of life; it is our most precious resource, and it’s only going to get more expensive over time” argues Founder Abel Jimenez. “So Proper Pipe can actually save the most valuable resource that we have.”
Wicked Science I/O of Peabody has developed a non-invasive sensor to monitor water consumption in real time, which allows homeowners to evaluate trends in water usage and alerts homeowners of water leaks.
“A hundred years ago people would look at a water meter and not really pay attention to it. We are allowing people to pay attention to it and forecast what’s going to happen.” relates Founder Allesandro Agnello. “We’re working in a brand new field that others are just starting to explore, and we are looking at everything in the landscape.”
MICROrganic Technologies, Nu Ecological Engineering and Design, Proper Pipe, Inc., and Wicked Science I/O are four startup teams that have joined entrepreneurs from around the world in traversing the turbulent waters of this cleantech track. With the passion and creativity demonstrated by these entrepreneurs, there is hope for smoother sailing in the future.
Check out all Semifinalist Teams participating in this year’s Accelerator Program!
By Rebecca Noyes on in Northeast