California’s water innovation problem
At a recent gathering of young professionals in the Bay Area, Scott Bryan, the chief operating officer of Imagine H2O, asked the 60-strong crowd how many were considering going into the water business.
Just one hand went up. About a third were interested in energy and the rest of the crowd planned to enter tech and social media.
California is in the depths of a historic, disastrous drought that has cost the state $7.5 billion and sucked some communities dry. But there’s a startling lack of progress in water technology, be that new desalination systems, intelligent meters or water recycling.
Just take a look at this chart, from the Hamilton Project, which shows the number of water patents versus energy patents filed in the U.S. as a whole.
The amount of money invested in the water sector is also pitifully low. According to Cleantech Group, 2014 has been the best year for private venture investments into water technology with $110 million invested so far.
“There’s not a lot of talent and innovation happening in water,” said Dominique Gomez, director of market development at WaterSmart, a software company that intelligently analyzes noisy water data to give consumers better insight into their habits. “But it is so important if we’re going to live in the places that we live.”