Water treatment Analysis Americas

From drips to deluges: Is more money flowing into water?

Thursday, 28 April 2022

With Xylem pumping $20 million into water start-ups and Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio joining a $45 million injection into circular economy projects, we look at the money flowing into water.

A boost for early-stage, start-ups

As Aquatech Online recently wrote, the tide is changing with more investment making its way to the water sector.

In 2021 alone, around $470 million was raised by water start-ups across 90 countries. While compared to other, higher profile sectors including renewables, tech and electric vehicles, it’s promising signs of progress.

Since then, there’s been other notable activity suggesting that while historically private finance has been dripping into water, is now the beginning of what could be called a deluge?

Global water technology company Xylem recently invested $20 million in innovative water and industrial technologies. Venture capital funds Burnt Island Ventures and The Westly Group’s Funds III and IV will work with Xylem Innovation Labs, the company's external innovation programme.

“A key element of Xylem’s innovation ecosystem is investing in early-stage technology, whether developed in-house or by promising external entrepreneurs and innovators," said David Flinton, chief innovation, technology and products officer at Xylem.

"We know that collaborating with a broad network of partners, including venture capital firms and start-ups, is crucial to the future of optimizing water management.”

The $20 million investment will support start-ups by fast-tracking technology and utilising Xylem’s existing resources to accelerate innovations to market.

"We know that collaborating with a broad network of partners, including venture capital firms and start-ups, is crucial to the future of optimising water management,” added Flinton.

DiCaprio & Regeneration.VC

From the Wolf of Wall Street to the circular economy? Actor Leonardo DiCaprio recently joined as a strategic advisor to newcomer venture capital firm, Regeneration, VC.

Founded by Michael Smith and Dan Fishman, the fund secured a final close of $45 million focused on circular and regenerative practices.

“Consumers have power. We can vastly improve the planet through our buying decisions,” said Smith.

The firm was inspired to work in the circular economy and regenerative space by its advisor William McDonough, an American architect with a strong interest in circular solutions.

“Consumers have power.”

Based on the concept of a 'circular technosphere”, the firm is looking to invest in technology that allows materials to move and circulate throughout the supply chain.

Arguably one of the biggest phrases in the water sector today is 'circular economy' and the sector is certainly seeing a shift in its approaches to circular solutions.

Recently, in the port of Antwerp, Water-link, the Flemish investment company PMV and Ekopak announced a joint venture to develop a cooling water plant that will see circularity in action.

From water to sustainable packaging

Emerald Technology Ventures, along with Beiersdorf, Chevron, Henkel, and WM, launched an investment fund for start-ups focused on the sustainability of packaging at various stages of its lifecycle.

While no official figure has been given, the group has said its fund is focused on six categories: low footprint feedstocks; functional and smart materials; design for reuse and recycling; collection, sorting, cleaning and recycling technologies; digital and connected solutions; and new businesses models.

The group aims to invest in early-stage companies through the allocation of a select number of seed investments.

The fund will work alongside Emerald Technology Ventures' existing funds targeting energy, water, and industrial innovation.

A positive move for the Colorado River Basin

Only weeks earlier and Pepsi Co. announced pep+ or Pepsi Co. Positive to reveal a new wave of innovations, investments and partnerships to progress its ambition to be net water positive by 2030.

"PepsiCo has just nine years to reach our ambitious 2030 Net Water Positive goals, so there is no time to waste."

This included investing into the Colorado River Basin, developing a new technology to recover more than 50 per cent of the water used in its crisps and signing a new partnership to scale a drip irrigation technology across 25,000 acres by 2025.

"PepsiCo has just nine years to reach our ambitious 2030 Net Water Positive goals, so there is no time to waste," said Jim Andrew, chief sustainability officer at PepsiCo.

"We're taking a look at our full value chain, from top to bottom, and asking, how can we leverage the innovation and creativity that exists within our company to ensure that the water resources PepsiCo uses are better off a decade from now than they are today," he went on to say.

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