Winners of BlueTech innovation prizes announced

Technologies for surface water monitoring and mains assessment take awards.

BlueTech Research chief executive Paul O'Callaghan presents the award for Best Technology Innovation to Hein Molenkamp (l), managing director, Water Alliance, on behalf of LG Sonic.
BlueTech Research chief executive Paul O'Callaghan presents the award for Best Technology Innovation to Hein Molenkamp (l), managing director, Water Alliance, on behalf of LG Sonic.
BlueTech

LONDON, UK, JUNE 17, 2019 -- A floating buoy that can monitor algal blooms using satellites and a technology that employs machine learning to assess the condition of water distribution mains were winners of the Innovation Showcase at BlueTech Forum 2019. The event attracted nearly 200 delegates and took place in Kew Gardens, London, UK on 5-6 June.

LG Sonic, which is based in The Netherlands, won Best Technology Innovation for its MPC-Buoy, a floating, solar-powered system that combines real-time water quality monitoring, satellite data and ultrasound technology to control harmful algal blooms in large water surfaces. US start-up Fracta was winner of the Best Market Strategy Award for its cloud-based technology, also called Fracta, which bring artificial intelligence to assess, calculate and visualise the condition of water distribution mains.

Paul O'Callaghan, chief executive of event organiser BlueTech Research, said, "Congratulations to both winners of the BlueTech Forum innovation awards. BlueTech's expert analysts select the companies that are included in the Innovation Showcase and we have an excellent record of identifying technologies that go on to succeed in the global market.

"We had more technology companies than ever before at BlueTech Forum, so these technologies had to stand out to delegates from a very strong field. They also fit closely with the theme of this year's event - innovating towards resilient water systems."


Innovation challenges
The Forum also hosted more end-user innovation needs roundtables than any previous year, with 17 utilities and large corporations taking part. These included Carlsberg, Heineken, Unilever, Kimberly Clark, P&G, L'Oreal, Severn Trent, Metro Vancouver and Irish Water. Companies identified their key innovation challenges and invited dialogues around solutions including reliable biological and membrane processes for water recycling, retrofittable technologies, micropollutant removal, leakage reduction, efficient sludge treatment and zero liquid discharge.

Cate Lamb, global director of water security at CDP, the organisation running the global disclosure system for companies to manage their environmental impacts, zoned in on the interest in water coming from major global corporations. She said, "The financial community has woken up to water security - business as usual is no longer enough to deal with the risk, this creates a huge opportunity for the water community - the time is now."


Brave Blue World
 A movie premiere also took place at BlueTech Forum as delegates were treated to the first showing of the trailer for Brave Blue World in the stunning setting of Kew Gardens' Temperate House. Paul O'Callaghan told delegates that the documentary, which features actor Matt Damon, is an opportunity for the industry to communicate its capability to meet the water scarcity gap to a much wider audience.

Delegates also heard from architect Michael Pawlyn who calls himself a "biomimicry evangelist" and said the concept was of critical importance in developing resilient technology and infrastructure. "We need to rethink what it means to be human on planet earth," he said, "we need to look to nature as a source of wonder."

The examples he shared included a roof-top water collection system designed for an outdoor event arena that was inspired by the nostrils of a camel. He also explained how the design for a cooling system for a data centre installed inside a mountain was optimised taking inspiration from the branching system of a leaf.

Professor David Sedlak from University of California Berkeley, author of Water 4.0: The Past, Present and Future of the World's Most Vital Resource, gave delegates a vision of how the industry might look by 2050. He urged a change in thinking on agricultural run-off, "It's really agricultural wastewater," he said, "why not see it as a resource to reuse on farms, close the loop."

Sponsors for BlueTech Forum 2019 were Suez, Aquatech, Ecolab, Nijhuis Industries, Arup, Cerahelix and Xylem. BlueTech Forum returns to Vancouver, Canada in June 2020.

The trailer for Brave Blue World can viewed at https://www.braveblue.world/projects.

More in Utilities