+Venture North

Disruptive Technologies in Water: +Venture North


A session at the inaugural +Venture North conference hosted by NVNG in October addressed trends in the water-tech space, how startups are leveraging research to solve global problems, and how Milwaukee is working towards becoming an “NSF Resiliency Innovation Engine.”

Social Impact Capital’s Sarah Cone discussed the power of impact investing followed by a fireside chat with Jon Czas, founder of startup Trident Desalination and Jim Stern, EVP at A. O. Smith and Chair at The Water Council.

We asked Ayrton Bryan, sustainability project manager at Rockwell Automation what some of his key takeaways from the session were.

Ayrton Bryan, Sustainability Project Manager at Rockwell Automation

Water, the essence of life, sustains our planet and its inhabitants. Yet, our relationship with this precious resource has been complex, marked by challenges stemming from scarcity, contamination, and access disparities.

The Current Water Landscape

Across the globe, communities face diverse water-related issues. Some regions grapple with scarcity due to climate change and population growth, while others confront pollution from industrial activities or aging infrastructure. These challenges necessitate a proactive and innovative approach to safeguard our water resources for future generations.

The Rise of Water Innovation

Thankfully, innovation has become a driving force in addressing these challenges. Technology and nature both play a critical role in this process, and VCs play a critical role in enabling both.

Innovative technologies play a pivotal role in revolutionizing water management. Solutions such as advanced filtration systems, nanotechnology-based purification methods, and as we learned in the session, chemical-based desalinization are critical to combating this task.

Nature based solutions based in biomimicry (drawing inspiration from natural ecosystems) has led to the development of innovative systems like green infrastructure and biomimetic desalination methods, mimicking natural processes to purify water sustainably.

Who is going to make these big bets? Companies often have quarterly earnings tying them down, while grant funding can often require a few too many requirements for early-stage startups. This is where VCs play a critical, early role in building momentum. The connections, research and backgrounds of many VCs would add a piece of the puzzle that has been traditionally missing from Wisconsin for too long. There is no area in the US positioned better for water innovation—let’s get some new faces mixed in to build teams that can win this and make Wisconsin a beacon of hope for the water constrained, before it’s too late!