cleantech insights

Digitizing the Shower Experience: An Interview with SmarTap CEO Asaf Shaltiel

Eric Vermeiren

Israeli company SmarTap has developed a smart shower system that stands to revolutionize personal and commercial water use by monitoring and controlling the temperature and flow of water in a household, hotel, or commercial building. We spoke with Asaf Shaltiel, CEO and founder of SmarTap, about the future of electronic smart shower systems.

What initially gave you the idea to pursue smart shower systems? (Did the idea come to you while you were in the shower?)

My initial idea for SmarTap came to me when I saw my sister with her two small twins at bath time. I saw how she struggled in the bathroom, adjusting the faucet for the right temperature and flow of water, and I thought to myself – we’re in the 21st century, how come we don’t have a system that allows us to fill the bath at exactly the right temperature, amount, and time that we want?

Do you see smart water systems like SmarTap’s as part of the broader trend of automating home devices?

What we’re trying to achieve at SmarTap is to lead a revolution in the rather archaic world of indoor water usage. Currently, faucet companies are surprisingly low-tech, employing roughly the …


Replenishing California’s Investments in Water Technology

Rosanna Ren

Here in Cleantech Group’s San Francisco office, we are acutely aware of California’s climate problem—that is, the worst drought on record in the state’s history. What’s alarming is that, despite the two drought emergency issuances by Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce water use by 20%, statewide water consumption has in fact increased by at least 1%, up to 8% in some areas.

One might predict greater investments in Water and Wastewater to expedite solutions that address this current and real problem.  The 1Q2014 Water Innovation Monitor reported that water technology investments have stalled, but is it about to be back on the upswing?

water newsletter imagev2

According to Cleantech Group’s i3 platform, looking at California-based companies, eight equity deals have been closed in the water sector since January 17, the first drought emergency declaration. This sums up to a total of $88M invested, or 55% of the total global investments in water ($161M) since then.  Underground Solutions and Liquid Environmental Solutions top that list, receiving a combined $71.6M in growth equity.  This, at least, is optimistic and impressive news.

Examples of some companies doing innovative water technology work in California include WaterHealth, Observant, and WaterSmart Software. These start-ups are …

How Behavioral Water Efficiency Can Change Our Relationship with H2O: an Interview w/ WaterSmart CEO Peter Yolles

M Paschich

PYcWaterSmart Software recently raised nearly $5 million in Series A round of funding: we chat with Peter Yolles, Co-Founder and CEO, about the company, its growing team, the value of data-driven water management, and the future of the water system.    

Hi Peter… Can you walk us back to the beginning of WaterSmart Software?

Yes, I’d be glad to tell that story. I’ve been in the water sector for over 20 years, and so when I moved to my first home in 2001 it was very important to me that the home use water efficiently. So, I installed hardware like efficient toilets and other appliances, and at the same time I was very interested in knowing what impact these investments would have and how much money I was saving on my water use. Tracking these savings meant gathering data, which—I thought—meant going online to my local water utility’s website. Surprisingly, I found a page called “Water Consumption History”. Frustratingly, the page said “Under Construction / Check Back Soon”. And so I waited and waited and waited and, after 8 years, nothing changed. Looking back, it makes some sense because, when you think about it, water utilities just don’t have a core …

Organica Water, Innovation in Wastewater Treatment, and Good Neighbors

Felix Talvard

Matthew Kuzma, Vice President – Technical Solutions & Global Business Development of Organica Water, talks about change in wastewater treatment and being a good neighbour.

Organica WaterOne of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled the 10 Year Track – How we (can have) Impact.  The theme is about how European companies are tackling environmental and resource challenges in some of the most populous and impoverished regions of the world. One of the speakers in this session is Matthew Kuzma of Organica Water, a company revolutionizing urban wastewater treatment and 2013 Global Cleantech “Company of the Year” in Europe and Israel.  Founded in 1998 in Budapest, Hungary, Organica Water now holds a major office in Princeton, USA as well as offices in cities such as Delhi, Shanghai and Jakarta.  We asked Matthew about his outlook on the future of cleantech and the future of his company.

Given the theme of our Forum (the “10 Year Track”: ideas on where innovation around energy and resources might take us in the years ahead) what is in store for Organica Water in the next 5 to 10 years? And for the water sector in

When Big Data and Cleanweb Collide: An Interview With WatrHub

Gannon McHenry

The rapid adoption of sensors into our electric and water distribution systems has created a wealth of new data. Start-ups in the Cleanweb sector attempt to digest these vast quantities of data and identify areas for improving efficiency. The recent IPO of Opower and increasing attention paid to companies like Bidgely and C3 Energy has served to further demonstrate that this sector is here to stay. WatrHub is a Cleanweb startup focused on the aggregation of water-industry data. Last week Cleantech Group had the pleasure of interviewing Sunit Mohindroo, WatrHub Inc’s Chief Product Officer to learn more about the company’s platform and challenges they are focused on solving.

sunit mohindroo

Q: Could you explain the problem which you set out to solve and what initially got you interested in the water space?

The essence of WatrHub is we are a data and analytics company focused on providing equipment manufacturers within the water industry with timely and actionable sales leads through our data. Myself and my co-founder, Ahmed Badruddin, having previously worked at Apple and Microsoft, wanted to do something with more of a social and environmental impact. We looked at opportunities in the water space and we …

Interview with Jonathan Rhone, President & CEO of Axine Water Technologies

M Paschich

What is Axine’s Genesis story?rhone axine

Axine was founded by Colleen Legzdins, a Ph.D. materials engineer with a deep history in the electrochemical industry who was most recently with Ballard Material Products and Ballard Power Systems (our leading fuel cell company up here in Vancouver). Colleen left that company several years ago, wanting to apply her knowledge in electrochemistry to another area of cleantech. She looked at various parts of the cleantech ecosystem and finally settled on wastewater because she could see that there was an incredible amount of pain points in industrial water treatment related to this area that she thought electrochemistry could improve upon. And she basically settled on the thesis that non-biodegradable and toxic organics in industrial waste water are really persistent pain points in many different industries, like oil & gas, chemicals, semiconductors, textiles, and mining.  She looked at the incumbent solution for treating those types of persistent chemicals, things like volatile organic compounds, ammonia, nitrogen species, benzenes, dissolved hydrocarbons, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, dyes from textiles…

Sounds lovely!


Things that are super difficult to treat because they’re persistent and recalcitrant and not biodegradable and cannot be broken down with conventional biological waste water treatment. The incumbent way …

Harvesting Innovation: The Changing Face of African Agriculture

Brett Richardson

Africa is in the midst of an agricultural revolution, with innovation driving new avenues for increased crop yields, better resource and capital operating efficiencies, and general farm management knowledge. Africa is home to almost 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, or about 60% of  the world’s total. This contrasts the fact that 1/3rd of sub-Saharan Africans are undernourished, with population expected to grow to 1.2 billion people by 2050. The cleantech world is driving the changing scope of African agriculture with an influx of new companies offering innovative solutions which will alleviate stresses to the current system and support farmers.

global uncultivated caption

Both local and international startups are addressing some of the most basic challenges of agricultural production in Africa. 20%, or 4 billion dollars of grain harvest, is lost every year and 35-50% of fruit and vegetables spoil from crop and storage pests. UK based companies Plant Health Care and Exosect are targeting this inefficiency with pilot projects in Africa using their proprietary crop protection technologies. Plant Health Care provides natural pesticides which leaves no residual impact on the environment and helps to activate certain defensive and growth responses. Exosect also makes bio-control pesticides that can be applied to …

No Scarcity of Companies Tackling the Water Shortage

Amanda Faulkner

California Governor Jerry Brown recently declared a drought emergency in California and asked residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20 percent. While residential water usage is an extremely important part of the equation, agriculture is the largest user of water, using around 80 percent of the water from ground and surface sources. Given this challenge, what companies are helping farmers reduce their water use, both in California and around the world? Here are a few taking on this task:

  • AquaSpy is a California-based developer of agricultural technology to improve crop yield through monitoring soil moisture and improving root health. Through sensors and data, the company is allowing farmers to only water plants when they need it.
  • Driptech is a California and India-based developer of micro-irrigation sytstems for small plot farmers in developing countries. Although the company does not target farms in California, it does provide low-cost irrigation systems to farmers in other drought-prone areas around the world.
  • mOasis is a California-based developer of soil amendment product designed to increase crop yields and reduce the need for fertilizer and water. The company’s hydrogel forms a tight bond with water and nutrients, allowing them to be used by plants

This Deal Matters: Glori Energy to Go Public through Reverse Merger


Glori Energy

On Wednesday, news hit the wires that Glori Energy, a company commercializing microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) technology for water-flooded and otherwise abandoned oil wells, would be taken public through a reverse merger with a company called Infinity Cross Border Acquisition Corp. (hereafter to be refered to as ICBA) in a deal valued at $185 million.

If that name, “Infinity”, inspired the same initial hope in you, dear reader, as it did in me – that ICBA might have the backing of respected private equity firm Infinity Group – well then I bring good news. From the press release announcing the transaction, we learned that ICBA was established, or “sponsored”, by Infinity Group and Hicks Private Equity, the private equity investment vehicle of the family of Thomas O. Hicks.

In the company’s SEC registration statement, ICBA describes itself as, “a blank check company incorporated as a British Virgin Islands business company with limited liability (meaning that [its] public shareholders have no additional liability, as members of [the] company, for the liabilities of [the] company over and above the amount paid for their shares) and formed for the purpose of acquiring, engaging in a share exchange, share reconstruction and amalgamation, …

A decentralized manifesto

Sheeraz Haji

Cleantech startups are disrupting global industries. Not in ten years. Not in five years. Today. We are observing fundamental shifts in many key segments of the economy. New technologies and business models are turning things upside down. Right now. These significant system changes have inspired the theme for Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014: Accelerating system change; towards a decentralized future. Let me elaborate.

The economy is experiencing a fundamental shift from centralized to distributed systems. Consumers are gaining power and are decentralizing decisions and processes. This is causing a massive change in customer experiences, and placing incumbent business models at risk. This change is remarkable, and the pace of this change is accelerating.

Examples are all around us.

Let’s start with energy. Consumers all over the world are increasingly opting to buy energy from Solar City or Solairedirect instead of their local utility. Big companies like Walmart are getting off the grid in order to improve business reliability, increase flexibility, and hedge energy prices: the retail giant is partnering with Solar City and Tesla for a combined solar panel + energy storage deployment. Data centers have joined the trend. Microsoft (who will be speaking at Cleantech Forum