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Rising to the region's water challenges: Meet the Imagine H2O Asia 2020 accelerator companies

Eleven global water tech startups will join the Singapore-based, regional accelerator to jumpstart their solutions in the wider region

Across South and Southeast Asia, the pursuit for new water solutions is intensifying as utilities and businesses strive to protect and sustain increasingly scarce resources. The eleven companies selected for Imagine H2O Asia 2020 each provide a distinct water innovation opportunity to alleviate the mounting water pressures facing communities across Asia-Pacific.

At the same time, all the 2020 finalists share a common vision to challenge the water management status quo — treating and reusing more water with less; monitoring changing water resources in real-time to make smarter decisions, faster; and boosting progress towards universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In collaboration with programme partners Enterprise Singapore, SUEZ, ADB Ventures and PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, Imagine H2O Asia’s Evaluation Committee selected the eleven finalists from a global field of 115 applicants based on commercial viability, technological differentiation, impact and Southeast Asia market readiness. The cohort will benefit from an enhanced programme this year with new pilot funding awards, additional visibility opportunities and an expanded mentors and customer network.

“While the water and wastewater challenges facing the region are many, the scale of entrepreneurial activity across the sector gives me hope,” said David Hansen, Investment Director, SUEZ Ventures and Imagine H2O Asia Advisor. “The diversity of applicants to Imagine H2O Asia this year revealed an extraordinary range of technologies and businesses models under development, and I am particularly pleased to see this year a sharp increase in startups from the Asia-Pacific region addressing local issues.”

The 2020 applicant pool showcased a record number of water entrepreneurs worthy of the spotlight. Emerging water technology entrepreneurs are creating new opportunities to accelerate water security today when equitable access has become a non-negotiable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead towards a global recovery, these same entrepreneurs serve as a powerful change agents reimagining water resilience for communities facing pressures from population growth, urbanization and climate change.

“ADB Ventures’ mandate is to bring best-in-class water technologies to underserved markets in South and Southeast Asia,” said Dominic Mellor, Senior Investment Specialist, ADB Ventures and Imagine H2O Asia Advisor. “Through our partnership with Imagine H2O Asia, we look forward to engaging the 2020 cohort and leveraging the networks and operations of the Asian Development Bank to scale them to both utilities and the private sector.”

Introducing the Imagine H2O Asia 2020 accelerator companies:

AquAffirm (UK): Rapid and low-cost enzyme strip-testing technology and digital monitoring platform for real-time detection of arsenic and fluoride. Proprietary enzyme and biosensor completed initial testing in Bangladesh.

Arun (South Korea): High-efficiency and non-clogging microfiltration technology, requiring a smaller footprint and less maintenance relative to competitors, cutting operational costs by up to 85 per cent.

Fluid Robotics (India): In-pipe robotic mapping and assessment tools to detect leaks, monitor wastewater networks and prevent pollution runoff. Flagship pilot diverted 650+ MLD raw sewage from rivers.

Fluid Technology Solutions (USA): Advanced osmosis technology to treat wastewater for Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) and water reuse. Applications in mineral refining, landfill treatment and industrial ZLD.

Liquinex (Singapore): Compact suitcase-sized water treatment system using ceramic ultrafiltration and UV-LED disinfection for mobile deployment, primarily in disaster zones or remote communities.

Mempure (Singapore): Easy-to-manufacture, positively-charged hollow fibre nanofiltration membrane technology with high removal of hardness, heavy metals and bacteria for safe drinking water production.

Memsift (Singapore): Energy efficient, low OPEX brine treatment and ZLD solutions using a novel hollow fiber membrane. Initial pilots demonstrate significant cost savings for pharmaceutical and metal-finishing industries.

Noria Water Technologies (USA): Real-time, image-based reverse osmosis membrane monitoring tool with software analytics to diagnose abnormalities and inform maintenance. Current installations demonstrate 30 per cent OPEX savings due to reduced chemical usage and filtration downtime.

SENTRY (Canada): Bio-electrode sensor platform for real-time analysis of biological wastewater treatment processes and rapid detection of toxicity events in a robust, easy-to-deploy package. Plug-and-play solution installed in under 3 hours.

SatSure (India): Satellite imagery and analytics as a forecasting decision support tool for agricultural, irrigation and water balance applications. 50 million hectares monitored weekly through initial projects in India.

SmartTerra (India): Operational intelligence tool for cities to identify water losses due to metering faults, unauthorised usage and erroneous data recording. First pilot in India demonstrates a potential 3 per cent revenue increase for the city’s utility.

About Imagine H2O Asia

Led by Imagine H2O, the global water innovation accelerator, Imagine H2O Asia is a Singapore-based, virtual startup programme that empowers entrepreneurs to develop and deploy solutions to solve the region’s water resource challenges. Participating startups benefit from virtual and in-country accelerator activities, pilot funding resources, investor introductions as well as access to a dedicated customer network of Southeast Asia utilities and businesses for deployment opportunities. The programme is open to Singapore-based and international water technology entrepreneurs. Imagine H2O Asia is supported by Enterprise Singapore, SUEZ, ADB Ventures, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency and the Singapore Water Association.

Learn more at www.imagineh2o.org/asia

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