Scott Bryan, President of Imagine H2O visited the CWEA Board in October to discuss Imagine H20. Imagine H20 is a San Francisco-based water technology non-profit “accelerator” that offers advice and resources to help small businesses grow by providing mentorship, access to capital, etc. for the water technology sector.
Bryan spoke of the challenges for innovation in the water sector, and discussed looking at water challenges as opportunities, suggesting ways CWEA could collaborate in this innovation ecosystem.
He referenced the The Utility of the Future annual report which is an update on the water sector’s efforts to transform wastewater treatment into full resource recovery, which includes sustainable, cost-effective management options that capture valuable and reusable products. Since Water Resources Utility of the Future efforts began in 2013, several utilities successfully have implemented new and creative programs to address local watershed challenges. The report features several case studies from across the country.
This 2015 Annual Report of the Utility of the Future updates UOTF accomplishments since 2013 and explores the newest horizons for innovation. But it also makes a key point – clean water utilities do not make these sorts of transitions alone. Innovation across the clean water value chain has occurred within an “innovation ecosystem” comprised of technology developers, consulting engineers and scientists, government, the finance community and a wide range of professional organizations that represent the clean water sector. In addition to the systems effects where clean water utilities innovate with the help of both partners and enablers within this ecosystem (see graphic at right), network effects also help utilities innovate based on the ideas and experiences of their peers. These systems and network benefits are materially responsible for creating a virtuous cycle in which innovation leads to success, and success spreads across the sector leading to more adoption and enhanced demand for innovation. Increased demand stimulates technology development and engineering advances, which result in a growing portfolio of UOTF success. In a sense, this innovation ecosystem behaves like a market for innovation ‐‐ and like any market, it is fueled by demand. The cycle will continue as long as UOTFs continue to lead, to take risks, to collaborate, and to create demand. Sustained demand will have the effect of spreading innovation across large, medium, and small utilities from coast to coast and the cycle will continue.
Read more about the “Innovation Ecosystem” in the Utility of the Future report produced by WEF, WERF, NACWA, WateReuse. Download the Utility of the Future Report Annual Report here: http://cweawaternews.org/uotf/.