Watr way to go: water monitoring start-up diversifies to soil monitoring
Last year, start-up Watr exceeded its crowdfunding fundraising target to fund a real-time data solution. One year on, the company has signed a partnership with Anglian Water, secured angel investment and is diversifying to soil monitoring. Andrew Godfrey looks what's new with Watr.
Water technology start-up Watr has had quite a year.
One of the biggest accomplishments for the start-up is its successful collaboration with water utility, Anglian Water.
During a 12-month trial with the east England water utility through one of its innovation programmes, Watr deployed its floating solar powered multi-parameter water quality monitors along a stretch of Anglian Water's upstream catchment of abstraction points.
This allowed Watr to build a monitoring network that provided Anglian with real-time data on water quality, in this catchment, that could be accessed on a dashboard via either a computer or smartphone.
The data not only allowed Anglian Water to observe trends in the water quality with a high degree of accuracy.
“Working closely with WATR we have seen the product evolve through collaboration.”
Watr provided Anglian Water with both one-off monitoring projects and long-term multi-device deployments, allowing the water utility to tinker the network to its needs.
Stuart Knott, innovation project manager at Anglian Water said: “Working closely with WATR we have seen the product evolve through collaboration, hard work and responsiveness to our needs."
As a result of the trial, Watr has progressed from innovation to business as usual (BAU) status with the water utility.
Glyn Cotton, CEO and co-founder of Watr speaking on the BAU said: "Over the last 18 months Anglian Water has been a great support and collaborative at every step of the way. I’m extremely proud the business has reached the point of BAU approval with Anglian Water.”
From crowding fund to growth capital
Back in 2021, Watr made the headlines after the company raised more than £320,000 from over 350 investors through the crowdfunding platform, Seedrs - exceeding its target of £250,000.
Since then Watr has attracted angel investment from Anglia Capital Group to the sum of £75,000.
“Businesses with a focus on sustainability are increasingly seeing success in gaining early-stage funding as more of our members seek to invest in companies which are having a positive impact on the environment.”
Hannah Smith, investment director at Anglia Capital Group said on the investment: "When WATR pitched to our members they were immediately impressed by the mission to improve water conditions around the world."
Glyn Cotton and fellow co-founder Dan Jones have long pitched their ambitions for Watr to become the early warning system for water quality globally and to have units in every country in the world by 2024.
And it would appear this ambition is currently trending with capital firm investors around the globe.
“Businesses with a focus on sustainability are increasingly seeing success in gaining early-stage funding as more of our members seek to invest in companies which are having a positive impact on the environment,” Smith added.
But ambition alone was not Anglia Capital Group's only reason to invest.
Diversifying to agriculture
Watr recently launched its new product, TERA, a device that enables farmers and others in the agriculture sector by providing real-time data on soil conditions.
“TERA will give farmers the ability to see the data to improve crop conditions.”
TERA will give farmers the ability to see the data to improve their crop conditions, reduce overall costs and create more efficient holistic farming and agricultural solutions.
“WATR has had an extremely exciting year," Cotton said. "We made new product enhancements to WATR, added new accessories and opened a new market with Soil Monitoring."
Shifting its technology to another sector will only increase Watr's appeal to investment but it would appear TERA is only the beginning.
"We are currently working on a number of projects with different water companies, a large environmental project in Devon, as well as working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and fisheries," Cotton went on to say.
Looking back, looking ahead
As successful years for a start-up go, Watr can certainly look back on 2021 with a smile.
In a year that saw progression from innovation to a BAU with a major UK water utility, tap in the investor zeitgeist with its environmental ambitions and expanding technologuy into new markets with new products.
“Four years ago, we presented the concept of WATR at Web Summit in front of a global audience. Out of 20,000 entrants were delighted to become one of three finalists," added Cotton.
One year on from proving crowdfunding has a place in the water sector, it will be interesting to see where Watr will be in 2023.
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