Water data continues to be a hotbed of innovation and this year things will get even more interesting. Imagine H20, which runs an accelerator program for companies working in the water technology space, just announced 12 new startups that are part of their 2017 cohort. The program offers three key areas for development: mentorship from industry veterans, access to customers and investors, and industry visibility.
Each year a theme is picked when recruiting companies. In previous years this has covered infrastructure, food and agriculture, wastewater, consumer innovations, efficiency and the water-energy nexus. But both 2016 and 2017 have focused on water data.
“This group is as diverse as any group we have had before – six countries, very different problems being tackled, pre-product to Series B, hardware and software – they have it all,” said Tom Ferguson, vice president of programming at Imagine H20. “That makes our job seriously exciting and challenging – figuring out how to help them get from A to B over the 10-month program faster than they would be able to on their own. We have to think hard about our own advice, our network, our customers, investors – so as to make sure the companies get the support they need. What makes our job easier is that the entrepreneurs are exceptionally talented, clear-thinking and committed to the process. It’s going to be a fun year.”
More than 180 startups from 12 countries entered, and the list was narrowed down to 12 this week. “In addition to an exceptional team and a logical explanation of the opportunity and execution, our judging panel typically look for evidence of focus on a specific problem and market, and some evidence of product–market fit,” said Ferguson. “For the purposes of the Challenge, in-depth primary market research to show they know their customer is as good as having products in the market. That allows us to reduce bias to more proven technologies, and to work with the highest-potential ones.”
Here’s an overview of the 12 companies:
A broken or leaking pipe can mean a huge loss of resources, among other problems. Even finding the problem when the pipe is buried underground can be time-consuming, disruptive and expensive. Acoustic Sensing Technology uses sonar to find and assess problems in pipes deep underground. It combines hardware, software and data analytics and can survey up to 330ft (100m) in under three minutes.
Attention farmers: Arable makes the Pulsepod, a solar-powered device that aids with natural resource management. The product can be used to assess rainfall, crop water demand, water stress, microclimate, canopy biomass and chlorophyll.
One of the most common causes of property damage is non-weather-related water damage. AquaSeca has jumped into the market to find a solution: a sensor that straps to the outside of exposed pipes and monitors and analyzes water flow. It can then track consumption, spot leaks and send alerts when abnormal flows are detected.
Dubbing its product “the smartest pool test on the market,” Sutro’s smart monitor floats in your pool and monitors its chemistry; its app alerting you when you need to make an adjustment. It also coordinates with Alexa and Amazon Prime for easy ordering of chemicals.
Designed for water utilities and industrial water users, EMAGIN’s HARVI platform helps water operators more easily manage water systems using artificial intelligence. It creates a virtual clone of the physical infrastructure that can be accessed through a cloud-based application. And it provides insight into usage based on historical data, current weather, major events nearby or other factors. “These predictions are then used to iteratively simulate the impacts of control decisions until an optimal decision is found and delivered to the operator in real time,” the company’s website explains. “The geospatial tab provides a real-time visualization of the system with the ability to filter key water quality or hydraulic parameters.”
Flo belongs in the “smart home” class of new technology. It provides a monitor, alarm and control system for home water systems. By analyzing water temperature, pressure and flow, it can detect irregularities and allow you to shut off the water remotely. It can also help with conservation by letting you know how much water you’re using and where in the house.
FREDsense is all about helping people to more easily and affordably test water for contaminants. It “combines biology and engineering to detect chemicals in your water,” according to the company’s website. “We use a biosensor with an electrochemical output to create a system that is fast, sensitive and unlike anything else on the market, allowing anyone to know exactly what is in their water.” The product is geared toward “metals mining and oil and gas operations, agricultural communities and urban municipalities,” and others who may need real-time water-quality data. It currently focuses on organic compounds and heavy metals but also plans to include pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other contaminants in the near future.
Those involved in implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act may want to take note of this one. Hydromodel is a cloud-based groundwater management system that is designed for planners, water managers and aquifer users. It enables users to get real-time data, updates groundwater models with field data that is automatically uploaded to the cloud-based application and allows you to run future sustainability scenarios under complex conditions.
Lotic specializes in risk management for businesses that rely heavily on water. It can harness data to provide customized assessments of the impacts of droughts, floods and other water-related issues that would be of use to folks such as hydrologists, engineers and utility managers.
If you have time-stamped water data that comes from devices such as sensors and meters, then Pluto provides an analytics platform to make management smarter using “Deep Learning.” “We enable our customers to prevent water wastage, predict asset failures and minimize operating costs,” the company explains. “Our solution ingests data from various data sources and provides actionable insights in real time.”
3BL’s mission is developing “solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues for people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” This includes their product Flowius, a way to hook up rural communities to “radically affordable” piped water systems, preventing people from having to walk to haul water.
Eyes in the sky can be eyes underground. Utilis helps detect leaks in water infrastructure using aerial imaging taken from satellite-mounted sensors. And it can do so over vast areas – thousands of square miles. “The Utilis algorithm detects treated water, by looking for a particular spectral ‘signature’ typical to drinking water,” the company explains. “Eventually, the user is presented with a leakage graphic report overlaid on a map with streets, pipes and size information.”