At WIPO, Water Entrepreneurs Meet Investors 13/06/2017 by Elise De Geyter for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Entrepreneurs with innovative water technologies came to the World Intellectual Property Organization last week to find new partnerships and investors. The urgent need to work together and build partnerships in the water sector was the overall message of the event. “Nobody can do the work alone,” Nicholas Niggli, Republic & State of Geneva’s Director General, Economic Development, Research & Innovation, said, referring to the many existing water challenges. Innovate 4 Water: A matchmaking forum for sustainable development, which took place from 7-9 June, was jointly organised by WIPO Green, Waterpreneurs and WaterVent (IPW, WIPO, 5 June 2017). Open Forum The event focused on building partnerships between entrepreneurs and investors in the water and sanitation sector. Several speakers said that these partnerships are necessary to achieve Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on clean water and sanitation. Mathieu Lamolle, senior advisor at the International Trade Centre in Geneva, said that solutions for water problems and innovative technologies exist, but “partnerships are missing.” Several entrepreneurs said that finding funding for their company is a big challenge. José Luis Carrasco, a climate and energy sector expert, and co-founder and executive director of Aquasis Solution, told the audience that there is a need to convince more and more companies to invest in water. Niggli said that there will be “big human, political, social and economic risks” if we do not change the way we deal with water. Water is “the gold of the 21st century,” he added. A coaching session for entrepreneurs organised on the first day of the event was followed by a Matchmaking Forum for Sustainable Development on the second day. The forum focussed on matching entrepreneurs with innovative water technologies or business models with investors, according to Nicolas Lorne, director and co-founder of Waterpreneurs. Turnout was so great, the room at WIPO was too small to offer seats to all the investors and entrepreneurs. Anatole Krattiger, director of the Global Challenges Division at WIPO, said the UN agency “never expected so many people.” Around 40 entrepreneurs presented during the matchmaking a wide range of types of innovative solutions for different water challenges. Water Supply in Rural Africa “Seven hundred million people worldwide” do not have access to improved water and “more than 3 billion people” do not have water at home, Herbert Oberhänsli, former vice president, economics and international relations at Nestlé, said in his presentation. Thierry Barbotte, CEO of the Odial Solutions Group, presented Vergnet Hydro, which aims at providing a solution to the lack of access to water in rural parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The biggest part of the investment of the water supply systems are the boreholes and the platforms, Barbotte said. The pump takes merely 15 percent of the total investment of the infrastructure, according to Barbotte. When the pump breaks down the whole system stops working and people lose their access to water. It may take several months to get the pipes repaired, he said. This is “very dramatic” and forms “the seed of terrorism,” he added. Vergnet Hydro aims at extending the lifetime of the pump and selling water at an affordable price to the local population in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Reliable meters and prepaid systems have to be installed on the pumps. A lot of local jobs can be created, Barbotte said. Barbotte underlined that Odial Solutions aims at helping “a lot of people” who are among the “poorest of the poor” in Africa. Underwater Autonomous Vehicles Felix Schill, co-founder of Hydromea SA, presented “small autonomous underwater vehicles,” an innovative solution developed by Hydromea for underwater measurements. Hydromea aims at collecting between 10 and 100 times more data by using underwater robots and drones than by using ships. The vehicles could be dropped from an airplane or a helicopter and are able to communicate with each other underwater, Schill said. Smart Showering We “massively” overuse water, Oberhänsli said. Thomas Stiefmeier, co-founder, CEO and VR of Amphiro, presented a solution to reduce the use of water in the shower. The self-powered consumptions meter, developed by Amphiro, measures the volume, flow rate and temperature of the water used in the shower. The device aims at changing the behaviour of its users and reducing their use of water. The users get real-time feedback from the device and can manage the targets they set for themselves. Stiefmeier underlined that one minute showering requires “as much energy as one day of lighting or consumer electronics for an entire household.” Open Forum On the final day, an Open Forum entailed several presentations, panel discussions and opportunities to network. The Open Forum aimed at helping entrepreneurs finding investors by creating visibility. The encouragement of interaction and dialogue between various water stakeholders, the creation of network and the awareness raising about water issues were other objectives of the Open Forum. The event also aimed at promoting “the transfer of innovative water technologies and innovative business models in emerging markets and developing countries,” according to WIPO Green. The different panels discussed several topics such as smart water technologies, water-food-energy- health nexus, water and sanitation in the circular economy, hybrid business models, blended finance and sustainable ecosystem for water entrepreneurs. Awareness was raised during the event about the possible connection between water, sanitation, food and agriculture. Several speakers underlined the need of a holistic approach of the different water challenges and sustainability of the water solutions. Elise De Geyter is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch and a candidate for the LLM Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the National University of Singapore (class 2017). Image Credits: Elise De Geyter Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Elise De Geyter may be reached at email@example.com."At WIPO, Water Entrepreneurs Meet Investors" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.