Imagine H2O Shines a Light on Innovation at Water Gala 2017

Twelve finalists were selected for Imagine H2O’s (San Francisco) 8th Annual Water Data Challenge and were honored at this year’s WaterGala. From the finalists Utilis (Rosh Haayin, Israel) was chosen as the winner. Photo courtesy of Imagine H2O (San Francisco).

Twelve finalists were selected for Imagine H2O’s (San Francisco) 8th Annual Water Data Challenge and were honored at this year’s WaterGala. From the finalists Utilis (Rosh Haayin, Israel) was chosen as the winner. Photo courtesy of Imagine H2O (San Francisco).

Bringing attention to pioneering startups and acting as a conduit to spur innovation in the water sector are the missions of Imagine H2O (San Francisco). The organization embraced that philosophy on March 15, at the Water Gala 2017 held in San Francisco, by showcasing the winners and finalists of the 8th annual Water Data Challenge.

More than 350 industry executives, investors, utility managers, government officials, and sustainability experts attended the event to celebrate these businesses, according to an Imagine H2O news release. The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) sponsored the gala this year along with GE Water & Process Technologies (Trevose, Pa.).

The gala was held in conjunction with Water Innovation 2017, an event organized by WEF, Imagine H2O, and the California Water Environment Association. For more information about Water Innovation 2017, read the WEF Highlights article, “Water Innovation 2017 Highlights Cutting-Edge Technology and Practices in the Water Sector.”

Gala winners recognized for water technology

Twelve finalists selected for the Water Data Challenge “represent the kind of business innovation, visionary talent, and technological know-how required to advance resource sustainability,” said Chris Morrison, Ecolab (Saint Paul, Minn.) assistant vice president of Global Technology Partnerships. Morrison served on the judging panel for the competition.

The 12 finalists were

  • Acoustic Sensing Technology (Manchester, England, United Kingdom);
  • AquaSeca (Sunnyvale, Calif.);
  • Arable Labs (Princeton, N.J.);
  • EMAGIN (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada);
  • Flo Technologies (Los Angeles);
  • FREDsense (Calgary, Alberta, Canada);
  • Hydromodel Host (Barcelona, Spain);
  • Lotic Labs (Chicago);
  • Pluto AI (Palo Alto, Calif.);
  • Sutro (San Francisco);
  • Triple Bottom Line Enterprises (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia); and
  • Utilis (Rosh Haayin, Israel).
Scott Bryan, president of Imagine H2O, speaks at the WaterGala 2017. WEF photo/Renee Kayal.

Scott Bryan, president of Imagine H2O, speaks at the WaterGala 2017. WEF photo/Renee Kayal.

During the gala, organizers announced that Utilis won the challenge with its cost-competitive satellite imagery solution to detect leaks in water distribution systems. Using spectral satellite imagery to monitor drinking water in the ground, the company’s proprietary algorithms help identify leaks and quantify the financial implications of water loss. Using this technology for a 12-month period, Utilis has surveyed more than 120,700 km (75,000 mi) of buried pipe infrastructure and has identified more than 8000 suspected leaks, the news release says.

“The resources, insights, and network of advisers that Imagine H2O offers will be instrumental in helping us develop and scale the impact of our business this year,” said Elly Perets, CEO of Utilis.

The runners-up were

  • Arable Labs, which developed a crop and weather sensor that measures real-time microclimate weather data and plant growth drivers to generate actionable insights on yield, harvest timing, and crop quality; and
  • Triple Bottom Line Enterprises, which developed smartphone-enabled tools for land surveying, pipeline design, and network management to develop affordable piped water infrastructure in rural communities, the news release says.

Additional opportunities on the horizon

Utilis, Arable Labs, Triple Bottom Line Enterprises, and the other finalists now advance to Imagine H2O’s 2017 Accelerator Program. These businesses will be eligible to receive cash awards, mentorship, and sector exposure as well as introductions to customers and investors, the news release says.

As Imagine H2O’s 2016 portfolio, these companies have been set on a path to raise more than $30 million in financing and secure customer deployments with Beta Partners, the organization’s network of more than 50 municipal, agricultural, and industrial end-users, the news release says.

—LaShell Stratton-Childers, WEF Highlights

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