The Water Council helps connect people deploying new innovations in water technology through corporate-sponsored open innovation tech challenges.
If you have a water tech idea or prototype with high potential for implementation or commercialization, we’re the link to get you to the next stage of development with corporate sponsors ready to help you make your idea a reality. As an applicant, your application will be reviewed by the corporate R&D team sponsors and if you are chosen, you’ll get the opportunity to present your innovation in-person to A.O. Smith, Badger Meter and Zurn and compete for:
Funding with maximum total prize money of $25,000
Opportunity for high potential for joint commercialization with market leaders
Access to sponsoring companies’ R&D team expertise
Accepting applications March 2 to May 3
SPRING 2020 CHALLENGE TOPICS:
Sensors & Enabling Technologies for Leak Detection
Our Corporate partners are seeking innovative solutions for detecting small water leaks in a pipe to identify opportunities for early intervention to repair or replace the pipe. Enabling technologies for detecting water quality parameters inline at a pipe without the need for grab samples, and operational aspects of using artificial intelligence/machine learning and IoT will also be considered. The solutions may be complete systems, algorithms or concepts by talented individuals with the focus on optimization of operation, condition assessment, conservation, leak detection and water quality controls.
The applications may be of various scales including:
Plumbing systems in residential, commercial or industrial facilities
Cooling water systems
Drinking water distribution
Water reuse distribution
Key success criteria:
Low energy usage
Rapid response or real time
Non-toxic reagents or no reagents required
Limit of detection commensurate with the regulatory limit or concentration of interest for the substance being detected
Our Corporate partners are seeking innovative solutions for recovering energy from water networks, both small scale (in home or building) and large scale (water distribution and collection systems). Supporting technologies that store energy are also of interest. Potential uses for the energy recovered include:
Extend battery life/Recharge batteries needed for data transmission in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
The Neutrino Donut is a consultancy with a focus on technology commercialization. Our focus is on managing the commercialization process for SBIR programs as well as global market entry strategies. We have an extensive understanding of the ecosystems for universities, startups, grant programs, and global projects.
Over the last few years, we completed multiple programs and implemented processes for evaluation of technologies and demonstrated commercialization paths for execution. We have conducted technology assessment projects for multiple players in the marketplace on behalf of NIH, NSF, DoD, DoE, and other government agencies. We have been a member of grant review panels for NIH and DoD and provided services in the evaluation of technologies and budget processes.
In this process, we have completed over 300 technology assessments and over 250 business development projects in innovative technologies over the last ten years for domestic and international clients. A full list of recent projects is contained on The Neutrino Donut site. These research projects varied from 80 pages to 10 pages, based on client requirements, market definitions, and agency reporting requirements.
We were the founding members of two startups in technology commercialization and in negotiation for a third company. One company was a University of Pennsylvania startup in biotech field with a technology related to tRNA florescence. We provided marketing services for a diabetes medical technology developed privately in Santa Barbara. In these roles, we developed business strategy, grant application processes, review of IP challenges, and developed next stages for technologies and was a shareholder in each company.
Our international projects included being a senior member of teams responsible for commercialization of entrepreneurial efforts in Hungary, India, Korea, Mexico, Portugal, Chile, Ukraine, Russia, Qatar and other countries. Responsible for closing deals for clients in each area across multiple technology areas. We delivered commercialization services and training programs in several of these countries.
We conducted assessment and development projects on behalf of the University of California, Irvine, The University of Texas at Austin, and projects for multiple universities in the area of technology assessments and business development.
We are interested in working with your organization to expand the resources available to you for commercialization of technologies.
In the “Lab to Launch” commercialization ecosystem, many researchers have been forced out of the lab and are on “lockdown”. During this time away from your projects, turn the situation into an opportunity to tackle the work that is needed to launch your ideas and innovations into the marketplace. There are many opportunities to make this time productive. While many of you work with consulting firms for commercialization, you would do yourself a huge favor by diving into the market and opportunity yourself and connect with the market players and gather key insights that will improve your lab time once you can return.
You’ll find that more than ever, people are available and willing to talk with you over a common interest. Your market has time, so take advantage of their time to move your innovation forward on the path to commercialization.
Here are some ways to spend your time wisely:
Discover SBIR – If you have never commercialized your research but are curious, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant programs. The first place to start is SBIR.gov. There you will find helpful tutorials and ultimately the “topics” that are of interest to the granting agencies. SBIR is an excellent way to see what the market is seeking. The topics are essentially “challenges” that they are seeking someone to solve.
Explore Secondary Market Research – If you are a university researcher, log into your library’s online database. Search for the business databases. Many will have access to highly valuable and normally very costly research. These databases can help you determine the market potential for your innovation. You will need this information when you apply for grant funding or if you plan to pitch for private capital. You will also learn about possible competitors, licensing targets, customer landscape, and what the market most wants from providers over the coming years. When you find targets, then it is time to make calls or do “primary research”.
Do Primary Research – Call and email market experts and end-users for your technology. I do this all day for clients and this Monday alone, I saw a 5X improvement on responses. Two joked about the “lockdown” from work, with one saying he was left with “nothing better to do”. instant rapport was made and valuable insights gathered that will help my clients move their innovation forward. You can learn a significant amount from connecting to the market regularly and will not only find guidance on your technology development but possibly commercial partners that will help you with more than just insights. Starting with peers and then associations that serve your market are the easy ones as they are almost always willing to help and interested in new developments. Calling into possible licensing partners or customers is tougher but this is where success is made…
Call Possible Customers – Using LinkedIn, find people who are involved in the target market for your innovation. This may be uncomfortable for many innovators but your customers want to hear from you and the authenticity you bring to the discussion will be welcome. Do not think of it as a “sales call”, simply helping them with their job by finding out what would they like to see in the market and in return, they gain value by learning about cutting edge innovations in their space.
Build a Competitive Matrix – From your research you will find out what companies are already out there serving the market. Ask potential customers who they use, what they pay, what they are frustrated with and use that data to formulate a market approach strategy. Even if you plan to hire this out, the high level overview of the competitive landscape will be invaluable to your grant application or pitch deck.
Pitch Your Spouse, Children, Roommates – If you’re lucky enough to be locked in with loved ones, tell them you have a new game to play – “Pitch my Innovation”. The key to a good pitch is simplicity and clarity. This is probably the biggest problem innovators have in the commercialization process. You know your idea but your audience likely does not understand, or if they do, they are looking for other information. They want to know at the highest of levels, what it does, how it impacts them, and by how much. Make the exercise fun and see how simple you can pitch the idea and opportunity. Make a 45 second “elevator pitch” and a 10-minute pitch deck and try them out on someone who does not know much about your work or the market. If you can do this, then you are well on your way to being ready to pitch an investor or partner.
Dive into Patents – Searching the patent databases can be another helpful secondary research step. You can find insights into how patentable your idea is, who are the companies involved in your niche, and where new research is headed.
When you are able to return to the lab, any commercialization work you have done will benefit your work. New insights will help guide the innovation and you will be pointed in the direction the market is going. Use your time wisely while on a break from the lab and you will find exponential payback for your efforts.
The Neutrino Donut is working with multiple companies in the development of their commercialization plan. We are identifying contact points, clients, technology evaluation group, and industry players for these startups for validation of the technology as well as partnership / licensing opportunities. The technologies are in multiple areas, including nuclear technologies, green technologies, water management systems, batteries, and other areas.
The Neutrino Donut is providing consulting services for four startups seeking to manage their commercialization process in an SBIR Phase II Program. The consulting includes the development of a slide deck for investors, developing the underlying data on product definition, budget, and market entry strategy, and mapping an 18 month income / process plan.