Nineteen percent of California’s electricity and 30 percent of the state’s natural gas goes to treating and moving water, according to the California’s Energy Commission, and demand for clean water is growing around the globe. But the high barriers that exist for companies to turn water solutions into profitable businesses have kept many companies out of the market.
Imagine H2O is a nonprofit organization that was created to address that problem by helping startups more easily bring their water innovations into the mainstream. “We were founded in 2008 on the principal belief that there is a market failure in the sector,” said Scott Bryan, director of operations at Imagine H2O. “We want to inspire people to take water challenges and turn them into an opportunity.”
The organization hosts annual prize and accelerator competitions where companies enter their business plans and pitch their water ideas to investors and industry leaders. In return, they get feedback and coaching, exposure to industry leaders and access to investors and stakeholders. Winners also receive $200,000 in prize money along with an array of in-kind business services.
While this type of model is nothing new in cleantech competitions, Bryan said what sets ImagineH2O apart is their singularity. “We are the only ones focused specifically on water,” he said. “What we try to do with this program is make it unique to water and unique to water challenges.”