For a start-up to succeed, it needs a well defined map of the world. That map needs to be as distorted as the famous “New Yorker’s View of the World from 9th Avenue.” This cartoon portrays a map of the world beyond the Hudson River that is a barren landscape marked only by Utah and Las Vegas before a tiny Los Angeles lies at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. China, Japan and Russia appear as sand dunes that mark the far edges of the world. Similarly, water tech companies have to see the world not only in terms of where water is scarce, but also where customers will pay a premium for advanced technologies. They need to define their view of the world based on where new technology can gain momentum.
China figures large in the water tech start-up map of the world, as does Australia. Going forward, we see island nations like Hawaii implementing a diverse set of distributed water solutions. The Middle East, and specifically the Gulf Countries, are also an important part of the water tech map of the world.
Historically, the Gulf Countries have accounted for a majority of the world market for desalination.
Advanced water tech solutions have to look beyond that general picture. On Tuesday, February 10, I moderated a panel at the US Commercial Service Sustainable Solutions Conference with Elizabeth Webley of Trevi Systems, Laura Demmons from Sylvan Source and George Mesiha from the US Embassy in the UAE. Trevi’s work at MASDAR offers an exciting example of what one company can achieve with a customer that sees the need for big changes and has the resource to invest.
“MASDAR is doing more than just piloting our system,” says Trevi CEO John Webley, “it has opened up the Middle East market. Since starting the pilot project last fall, Trevi has been approached by potential customers in Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq.” Trevi is speaking with Middle East prospects about desalination, but also about treating oil & gas produced water, oil refinery process water and inland brackish water.