The Water Council
has announced the first-round winners of its Tech Challenge, which aims to find new freshwater technology ideas that could be commercialized. Each has received $10,000 from the program’s corporate sponsors.
This is the first edition of the rapid innovation competition, each of which will have a theme chosen by corporate sponsors that have problems seeking solutions. The contest was open to anyone worldwide, with applications accepted from November to January for ideas around water sensors, filtration and disinfection.
The winners are: Illinois-based ANDalyze, which makes real-time water contaminant measurement tools for the Heavy Metal Sensors Challenge; and Arizona-based Burge Environmental Inc., which makes a real-time direct microbial sensor technology, for the Biological/DBP Sensor Challenge.
The corporate sponsors were Milwaukee-based water heater manufacturer A.O. Smith Corp.; Brown Deer-based water meter maker Badger Meter Inc.; and Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp.’s plumbing products division, Zurn Industries LLC.
Karen Frost, vice president of economic development at The Water Council, said it’s proprietary whether the companies and product developers have partnered on the inventions, but it’s not necessarily the case.
“They had the opportunity to evaluate all of the applicants,” Frost said. “We’ve described the competition as like American Idol. There were two winners, but those two winners may or may not have a project or application with the companies.”
“The number and quality of projects from the Tech Challenge has exceeded my expectations for the first year of the event,” said Fred Begale, vice president of engineering at Badger Meter, in a statement. “We have found a number of interesting projects that we are investigating further as potential augmentation projects to our R&D portfolio.”
“The development of water technology is ever-expanding and quickly evolving to meet growing global needs,” said Dr. Robert Heideman, senior vice president and chief technology officer at A. O. Smith Corp., in a statement. “With The Water Council’s Tech Challenge, A. O. Smith is excited to connect and partner with innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers, researchers and startups to help bring their proposed ideas and solutions to life in day-to-day products.”
“It was exciting to see the diversity of the Tech Challenge responses that identify new innovations related to detecting microbiological organisms or heavy metals,” said Glen Trickle, director of engineering at Zurn, in a statement. “These innovations will help us protect human health and the environment.”