In South Africa, the GreenCape and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) Innovations for Water Resilience Competition, saw seven water technology innovators battle it out for first prize this week.
With R20,000 worth of business support to grow their business innovation as the prize, seven finalists pitched their innovations to a tough ‘shark tank-style’ panel of judges.
The judges included Lance Greyling (City of Cape Town), Gregg Brill (Western Cape Government), Cecelia Kok (FNF), Helmut Hertzog (Sarebi) and Claire Pengelly (GreenCape).
According to non-profit organisation GreenCape, the innovations presented highlighted one of the positive consequences of the water crisis; that it has catalysed incredible innovation within the water tech sector.
Presentations included: a wave energy reverse osmosis pump for potable water production; a closed-looped water-recycling and saving solution for new and retrofit shower installations using limited water; a low-cost water saving tap nozzle; and a water filtration product for decentralised water treatment and reuse in rural areas and pool-sites.
The event winner was LiquidGold Africa, a company that has developed a waterless sanitation and waste capturing system for conversion to bio-fertiliser use in agriculture.
Orion Herman, CEO and founder of LiquidGold Africa, said: “We’ve already won awards overseas for our concept but we were amazed by the level of competition we faced today.
"It is incredible to see the innovation that is taking place locally. This platform has allowed us to engage with challenges head on and create solutions that have an application on a global scale.”
“We have witnessed the crucial need to identify existing and new water-related products and technologies throughout our drought business support service at GreenCape. Our engagements have led us to discover numerous innovations with proven capabilities and functionalities and the potential to build resilience to water scarcity in South Africa and other drought-impacted areas of the world,” says Adila Cassim, water analyst at GreenCape.
"As a result, the Innovations for Water Resilience initiative was created in partnership between GreenCape and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation as part of our dual commitment to ensure water systems sustainability through water entrepreneurship,” Cassim added. Read more: How energy and water sectors tackle ‘resourcefulness’
Lance Greyling, Director of Trade and Investment at the City of Cape Town, highlighted: “This event showcased examples of the extreme innovation that have been driven by the drought. An undoubted positive from the water crisis is that Cape Town is now a more resilient and innovative city and the City of Cape Town is excited at the opportunities that are emerging within the water economy.”
The Western Cape drought has highlighted the necessity for South African businesses to adopt a water-conscious business model,” according to Adila.
"With the responsibility as employers and drivers of economic growth, businesses need to understand their water use, identify water-saving mechanisms, and invest in water-wise technologies that can ensure sustained operations during water-stressed times," Adila added.
"GreenCape has witnessed how such behavioural changes and technology investments have led to exceptional monetary and water savings for businesses."
“There is a real need for innovators in this space,” says Cecelia Kok, FNF’s head of research and advocacy projects in South Africa.
“Our partnership with GreenCape is about promoting the development of water entrepreneurs, to help ensure economic sustainability despite water scarcities and droughts in South Africa.”
Cecelia added: “Start-ups and innovators often struggle to find support to develop their products, to find markets and to grow their business. In this ’new normal’ of water scarcity, we need more initiatives like these to help innovators get their products to market quickly.”