Wednesday, August 29, 2012
In an effort to solve some of the world’s biggest water problems, the ImagineH20 competition rewards tech start-ups with commercially viable ways to save, clean and use water more efficiently every year. The competition revealed its 2012 winners this week in San Francisco.
The 2012 ImagineH2O prize for a pre-revenue start-up, which includes $10,500 cash and consulting services and software from PwC and Autodesk, went to Bilexys, a University of Queensland (Australia) spinout founded by serial clean-tech entrepreneur Eric Donsky, the former CEO of Applied CarboChemicals (later renamed BioAmber) and TearLab.
Bilexys works with the manufacturers of everything from paper products to beverages and dairies. Specifically, Bilexys’ technology uses bacteria to take unwanted organic matter that’s in wastewater and turn it into valuable chemicals, like food-grade cleaning agents that can be used immediately, on-site, to maintain factory equipment.
One pilot customer that Bilexys is working with is the maker of a well known Australian beer, Donsky says, but he was not authorized to release the brand’s name yet.
The company is developing a pipeline of other chemicals, and even plastics, that it can make from this process.
The serial entrepreneur reports that while his latest venture is not yet generating revenue, it attained $5 million in Australian dollars in grant financing from the government of Australia to test and install its systems at pulp and paper factories and breweries there.
Steve Kloos, a partner at True North Venture Partners who judged the ImagineH2O competition this year, noted that “harnessing wastewater as a source of valuables,” is a popular approach among water tech start-ups in the space. So is handling wastewater more cost-effectively. Bilexys systems and its business plan did both of these things, which helped put it in the winners’ circle.
Last year, five of the companies that made it to the finals in ImagineH2O signed term sheets for seed or Series A rounds."