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)
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 works with entrepreneurial partners around the world. One friend and business partner is Timothy Raines.
Tim has extensive expertise in business development, commercialization, marketing, and complex technology sales. Experienced in domestic and international commercialization, with international work predominantly for foreign technologies seeking to commercialize within the US.
He is an SBIR/STTR grant writer, multiple Phase I, II and III recipient in DoD, DOE, NASA, NIH, DARPA, SOCOM and more. Technology scouting and curation.
Globally, he serves science and tech innovators, institutions, and policy makers in developing economies. Experience working with India, Mexico, Hungary, Columbia, Ukraine, Qatar, Korea, and more.
His Erdos-Bacon number is 10: Erdos of 7 for being Principal Investigator on “Laser Cladding Modeling and Operation Applied to Plasma-Facing Materials” and Bacon of 3 for role in “Cuckold Picasso”, an award winning short film.
The Neutrino Donut works with entrepreneurial partners around the world. One friend and business partner is Adam Bates.
Adam Bates is a Professor at Mahasarakham Business School in Thailand. Outside the classroom he manages licensing and commercialization projects for clients in Thailand, South Korea, and the United States. Before moving to Thailand, Mr. Bates served as the Director of the University of Texas Innovation Program in South Korea. He has over ten years’ experience in the business management and technology commercialization fields in the United States and Asia and earned a Masters of Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelors in History from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
The success of The Neutrino Donut is based upon our partners and the expertise we bring to projects.
Rose Saenz of RevealSol is a longtime friend and business partner whose expertise in seniors housing has been an asset on several projects. Most recently, we worked together on projects relating to technological projects benefiting the overall well being of elderly living with dementia.
The success of The Neutrino Donut is based upon our partners and the expertise we bring to projects.
Jon Würfl is a longtime friend and business partner whose expertise in defining customer requirements has been an asset on several projects. Most recently, we have worked together on several consumer product engagements. Previously, he has been an expert in business processes and his knowledge of retail programs is unsurpassed.
Points to you for getting the Norman Mailer or Jim Bouton reference. Part of this process in developing an organization is to note some of our projects. I am providing a summary of the overall projects. Information on individual projects can be found in this blog.
Thought leader with understanding of commercialization process in the evaluation of technologies and businesses.
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. Project clients including grant reviews for DoE, DoD, NIH, NSF, and other agencies as well as US and foreign universities. Applications included military and non-military opportunities. Research projects varied from 80 pages to 10 pages, based on client requirements, market definitions, and agency reporting requirements.
Member, two grant review panels with NIH and DoD. Evaluated grant proposals for commercialization, provided reports and participated on review panels as member of team.
Managing partner of consultancy in the commercialization of university technologies, industry startups, and science-based technologies. Project management efforts included managing multiple deadlines, varying engagements, reporting requirements to client and their clients, and developing ongoing relationships with all parties. Developed long term relationship with each client with reputation for delivering quality evaluations of technologies.
CEO of biotechnology company based on University of Pennsylvania technology. Marketing Manager for diabetes medical technology (Airware) developed privately in Santa Barbara. Responsible for development of business strategy, grant application processes, IP challenges, and developing next stages for technologies. Shareholder in each company.
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.
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.
Delivered multiple presentations on the grant funding process, including military research BAAs, SBIRs, STTRs, and other mechanisms. Executed on programs on behalf of clients.
Developed and executed global online conference on entrepreneurship with 55 speakers in 24-hour period.
Evaluated legal documents on behalf of clients, my organization, and the university.
Product management SME with experience in multiple verticals, including medical, pharmaceutical, information technology, environmental, manufacturing, process, energy, consumer goods, transportation, and biotechnology in global projects.
Responsible for cross functional programs with local management, global managers, industry partners, and entrepreneurs in closing agreements for domestic and international opportunities.
Member, screening committee of new medical technologies, SoCalBio.
IC2 Fellow, The IC2 Institute, The University of Texas at Austin.
The Neutrino Donut is working with multiple clients on the identification of grant opportunities within NIH. As part of this process, we have identified contact points for grants, developed an information strategy, and executed on the contact points to determine the most effective grant opportunities.
The challenge is presenting an effective proposal is the identification of the right grant vehicle for the technology. This involves additional work up front and the leveraging of current relationships.
This is where grant applicants have problems. They do not understand the process of taking their science into the marketplace. Issues such as product definition, pricing, scaling, customer identification, sales process, all are key topics for consideration. This is also where grant applications fail.