ImagineH20 held its inaugural Water Innovators Showcase two weeks ago, a swanky, well-attended event that introduced and celebrated the winners of its Water Prize Competition for Water Efficiency. Imagine H20 is a nonprofit based in San Francisco whose mission is to, “inspire and empower people to solve water problems.” Its vision is to “turn water problems into opportunities by running prize competitions for water entrepreneurs, and an incubator program to help entrepreneurs develop businesses that address critical water needs.”
The Water Prize offered a generous $70,000 in total prizes, and helped generate more than 50 proposals from competing teams around the world, which were reviewed and judged during hundreds of hours of analysis by an elite panel of water experts. The original 50+ proposals were whittled down to a select group of 10, and then honed to a final three.
“And the winner of Imagine H20’s inaugural water Prize Competition for Water Efficiency goes to… Fruition Sciences!”
Fruition Sciences developed an innovative way to give the vineyard farmer real-time status of key variables for growing wine grapes. Already used successfully by nine grape growers in California, Fruition’s web application has generated significant water savings while decreasing or eliminating yield loss and improving quality.
“And the runner ups of Imagine H20’s inaugural water Prize Competition for Water Efficiency goes to… Rainwater Hog and WaterSmart!”
Rainwater Hog offers innovative rainwater storage solutions that are both easy to install and fit in tight spaces. Rainwater HOG has won a prestigious Spark Award for Design, the Eco Product Award from California H+D, and was named in Greenspec’s Top 10 Green Building Products for 2008. WaterSmart, a SaaS (software as service) start-up, offers a web-based platform and hopes to partner with water utilities to optimize their water conservation programs, more quickly and cost-effectively meet their water efficiency objectives and help their customers save water, save money and get rewarded for their actions.
After the prize presentations, I had a chance to speak with two of the winners and hear more about their innovations and how they benefited from being finalists. Sebastien Payen, a winemaker and co-founder of Fruition Sciences, explained that his system has revealed that many wine grapes are over-watered, resulting in declines of wine grape production quality and quantity, as well as unnecessary and costly water waste. He smiled as he told me that as a result of winning this prize, traffic to his company web site has increased seven fold! Rob Stiener, co-founder of Rainwater HOG, was awed by the quality and the caliber of advice and mentoring available to the contestants during the competition. He and Rainwater HOG had the good fortune of being mentored by the founder of Match.com.
After this impressive inaugural H20 prize, I’m looking forward to Imagine H20’s plans to offer future prizes that focus on Innovation, Youth Innovation, Policy, and Developing World. Who can say what new game-changing ideas and innovations will be seeded, watered, and incubated by these new prize offerings?
See you (and maybe your winning idea) at the next showcase.