InvestH2O INTEGRATE session helps water pros net opportunities
Last month at InvestH2O, GlobalWaterWorks (GWW), AccelerateH2O, CurrentWater and Water Foundry debuted the first INTEGRATE Panel and Roundtable session. Participants shared knowledge and connections, and experienced the value of integration in roundtable discussions focused on specific ecosystems or practice areas.
Why INTEGRATE? With an estimated 56,000 water utilities and more than 3,000 different water associations, water industry silos run deep in essential areas of research and innovation. This can contribute to a myopic environment where the latest water research, technology, and policy advancements aren’t adequately integrated and implemented.
Are you fishing or netting opportunities?
Moderator Mary Conley Eggert, chief innovation officer of GlobalWaterWorks, drew an analogy of fishing for one fish at a time instead of placing ourselves in the midst of a “school” of opportunities.
The INTEGRATE name signifies how to dive in with the school, and hook into shared knowledge and resources: Participants Identify their ecosystem, and then connect with Networks, Technologies, Experts, Governmental organizations, Regional resources Assets/Capital and Talent. Finally, they can multiply their impact by Executing or going to market with partners and distributors.
The INTEGRATE session started with a panel discussion with Will Sarni, Founder and CEO of Water Foundry, LLC; Dr. Gregory Quist, CEO and President, SmartCover Systems; and Steve Frenkel, Executive Director, Current Innovation. Each of the panelists highlighted the power of integrating within ecosystems to accelerate water technology commercialization and adoption:
Global Water Strategist
Will Sarni, thought leader and author of three books on water technology and stewardship, discussed the “wicked water problem” – one that defies easy solutions. “In order to solve complex challenges, we need to change how we relate to one another,” explained Sarni. “When government and commercial entities come together, barriers to innovation can be overcome.”
Sarni highlighted the need for integration and partnerships to address the problem of finite water resources. We are seeing a number of multi-nationals and competitors coming together to accelerate innovation. They are addressing problems that cross geographic boundaries by establishing ecosystems that increase the value to all participants. The Israel California Memorandum of Understanding provides one example of this. Two innovative governments are sharing experts and experiences to explore how technology can help address California’s drought.
Sarni advised participants to think creatively about with whom to partner (to tackle our world’s water problems). “The right partners can complement your skillset and increase your knowledge and success ratio.”
Technologist and Entrepreneur
Greg Quist, CEO and founder of SmartCover Systems, said his company’s success was the result of collaborating with industry experts. “We asked utility leaders ‘What keeps you up at night?’ When three separate leaders answered ‘sewer overflows,’ my business partner and I decided to do some additional research.”
When research failed to turn up any patents in sewer monitoring, they set to work creating a solution to meet the utility leaders’ needs. In the state of California, where fines for sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) run as high as $10/gallon, there was instant demand for the team’s real-time level-monitoring solution. It didn’t hurt that a member of California’s regulatory team learned SmartCover Systems had a means to address the SSO problem that had been contaminating California’s environment and costing municipal and industrial clients time and money.
“There are three things that bring technology into the water industry,” said Quist. “If it makes you money, if it saves you money, or if it keeps you from going to jail.” Collaboration with regulators and customers helped SmartCover Solutions meet significant pain points right from the start.
Water Technology Innovator
Steve Frenkel is executive director of Current Innovation, a new organization that focuses on rigorously validating technologies and piloting those that show promise and can be scaled.
“Current aims to overcome barriers to technology commercialization and help utilities and industry adopt innovative solutions,” Frenkel said.
Current’s technology-to-market pipeline has three programs: Current Research amplifies and accelerates the research coming out of its consortium of universities. Promising innovations are then validated in the Current Demonstration, a program that helps to de-risk technologies for end users through rigorous technical, economic and market assessment followed by physical pilot testing at scale with Current’s utility and industrial partners. Technologies that show promise can then reach the market more efficiently through the Current Connect program’s curated network of of end users, including companies, industry and investors. Frenkel went on to highlight Current’s focus on integration by partnering with key stakeholders and working to bring companies such as SmartCover Systems into such demonstrations and partnerships.
There are many experts and resources available to help us address our most challenging problem – water. But, success requires our coming together to share our knowledge and connections.
That’s why GlobalWaterWorks.org, AccelerateH2O, Current and Water Foundry introduced the INTEGRATE panel and roundtables at InvestH2O. “If we are to connect those in need with the experts or technologies who can address their problems, we must know the needs and interests of those who are seeking solutions,” said Eggert.
Dozens of financial and technical organizations and resources were shared at the InvestH2O conference, organized by Richard Seline and the team at AcclerateH2O. We give thanks to Richard and to Mike Hightower, Christopher J. Meyers and Dustin Brownlow, who helped facilitate the roundtable discussions. We invite you to continue the conversation in the GlobalWaterWorks LinkedIn Group #STAYINTEGRATED!
Here is a sampling of resources that may also help you INTEGRATE:
- Water Research Foundation and its Report on Fostering Innovation within Utilities – http://bit.ly/WRFInnovation
- U.S. Water Alliance – http://bit.ly/OneWaterBlueprint
- U.S. Water Partnership’s – www.H2Info.us
- SplashLink, www.splashlink.com – FREE to InvestH2O participants: RFP data and providers
- The Water Network, www.thewaternetwork.com – FREE and focused on meeting the unique needs of water and wastewater professionals
- The EPA Clusters (a channel through 18 regions of North America) – www.epa.gov/clusters-program/
- WERF Lift Program – http://www.werf.org/lift/ (with testbeds across 70 facilities)
- SWAN Forum – http://www.swan-forum.com
- EPA Water Technology Tools – http://bit.ly/EPATools
- Bluefield Research (see Video on Water Technology Landscape from InvestH2O) – http://bit.ly/Bluefield_InvestH2O
- Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Sustainable Water Rates (FREE) and Conservation Tracker – http://www.a4we.org
- GlobalWaterWorks Financial panel at the Smart Water Networks Forum – http://bit.ly/SWANFinance
- Milken Institute Business Case for Water – http://bit.ly/LIBizCase
- Water Research Foundation: New Sources of Capital – http://bit.ly/WRFFunding
- Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies – http://www.AMWA.net
- National Rural Water Association – http://www.NRWA.org
- Association for Water Efficiency – http://www.A4WE.org
Food & Beverage:
- Alliance for Water Stewardship – http://www.A4WS.org/
- Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable – http://www.bieroundtable.com/
- National Association for Environmental Management – http://www.NAEM.org/
Oil & Gas:
- Produced Water Society – http://www.producedwatersociety.com/
- Midwest Energy Research Consortium – http://www.m-werc.org
- Water Environment Foundation – http://www.wef.org
- FREE training and inbound marketing certification – https://academy.hubspot.com/
- Tips for using LinkedIn to position your company as a thought leader – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/using-linkedin-position-your-company-thought-leader-jim-lauria
- SEO tips for beginners – https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/free-seo-advice/