cleantech insights

No Summit? No problem!


Cleantech Group’s Water Innovation Summit, which was held last month at the Claremont Resort in Berkeley, CA, was an intimate, invite-only event.  While this unfortunately means that not everyone could make it, it also means we were able to conduct extremely focused and productive conversations around some of today’s hottest topics in water.  As an avid supporter of the Water industry, I thought it would be valuable to collect my thoughts and takeaways from the event in a whitepaper – “Water Innovation Summit: A Confluence of Minds.”  For those of you who missed the Summit, you can find the Executive Summary and a link to download the *free* whitepaper below.  In addition to providing an overview of the key Summit themes and events, I have attempted to include some personal and firm insight on the key issues in Water.

Executive Summary

  • Innovation at a water utility is driven by (at least) 3 C’s: Cost, Crisis, and Cool.
    • While all three C’s are of significant importance to a utility, Crisis culled the most attention as growing populations force water providers to seek new sources of water.
    • Within these broad parameters lie a world of other innovation opportunities – emerging markets (China), tightening regulations (Compliance), benchmarking and data management (Comparisons), and establishing industry standards (Communication).
  •  “Water as a Service” is a new and innovative business model that can help entrepreneurs sell to conservative, financially-strapped water utilities.
    • Water is a moving target, but we are dealing with a stable market – utilities.  We must be realistic about how the utility world operates, and adapt sales tactics appropriately.
    • New business models also include performance contracting and customer co-funding – models which remove the need for capital finance.
  • We are shifting from an ‘era of water development’ to an ‘era of water allocation’ (water rights).
    • Water allocation is unfairly and inefficiently influenced by public institutions (e.g., laws and government agencies).
    • The introduction of tradable water rights has led to more economics-based decision-making on how water is used.
  • The water-energy nexus is now more appropriately the water-energy-food nexus.
    • A drought’s effect on the economy runs deeper than the obvious burden on farmers’ crops – multiple power plants around the US were forced to scale back operations or shut down completely due to warmer and/or diminished cooling water sources.
    • We are no longer dealing with economies of scale, but economies of scope; policies and partnerships must be coordinated to effectively address the total supply chain.
Download “Water Innovation Summit: A Confluence of Minds” here.

Arti Patel is a guest blogger for Cleantech Group.  You can email her at:

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