Startups, Funding and Disruption In The Wastewater Sector
Today, we’ll conclude our series on data science in the wastewater sector with a look at the market size and some of the startups that are disrupting the sector.
The global market for wastewater treatment was $48 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to $65 billion by 2023, an annualized growth rate of about 6%.This includes both municipal wastewater and wastewater from industrial plants such as oil and gas, paper, chemical manufacturing, food and mining. The market consists of engineering design and construction, operations, maintenance and process control of wastewater infrastructure, including sewer pipes and treatment plants.While wastewater treatment is necessary in all countries, the size of the market by country is typically dependent on the regulations and environmental requirements. Europe and North America have the largest municipal wastewater treatment markets, but demand is rapidly growing in China, India and other developing countries. Some of the largest companies in this sector are Veolia (France), SUEZ (France), Xylem (US), Ecolab (India), Evoqua Water Technologies (US), Thermax (India), W.O.G. Group (US), Golder Associates (Canada),Envirosystems Inc. (Canada), and SWA Water Holdings (Australia).
So, how is data science disrupting the wastewater sector?
Now, wastewater is a relatively conservative sector, with innovations being adopted relatively slowly, compared to the tech sector for example. Some of this is because of the nature of the sector - having a wastewater treatment system go down would cause enormous disruptions in people’s lives. As a result, operators and companies tend to be cautious about deploying innovative systems and there’s usually a process by which innovations are tested - lab scale tests, pilot trials on a small system and larger scale trials.
Let’s take a look at some of the startups disrupting this sector.
Earlier this month, we discussed the emerging discipline of wastewater epidemiologyand it’s uses in monitoring outbreaks like the one we’re currently facing with Covid-19. One of the startups that has come out of this pandemic isBiobot- a company that is partnering with cities around the world in using wastewater to track and model the spread of SARS-COV2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The company was started by two researchers from MIT, and has raised funding of ~$6 million to date.
Another area where startups are having an impact is in using AI/machine learning and modeling to track the performance and status of sewer pipe infrastructure. Monitoring the status of underground sewer pipes is a tricky, time-consuming affair and in some parts of the world, an extremely risky, manual operation. Being able to monitor and map these systems remotely is something that companies and utilities are extremely interested in - they are willing partners and strategic investors in many cases.
Startups in this area usually use robots or autonomous vehicles in combination with computer vision, machine learning and wastewater modeling to identify issues and track the performance of the sewer pipe infrastructure. Some of the companies working in this area areSewer AIin San Francisco,Sewer Robotics, andRedZone Robotics. Sewer Robotics uses their robots to perform repairs in addition to monitoring the state of the pipes. In India, an early stage startupGenRoboticshas been working with a number of states on using their robots to replace manual labor in the sewer system.
Much like the early days in agriculture and energy, we’re now seeing innovations in data science, ML and robotics start disrupting the water and wastewater sectors. And we’ll definitely see more in the coming years!
The last couple of months have been interesting from a climate viewpoint - we’ve seen a record number of climate related disasters around the globe - drought, floods, fires, heat waves…..and it looks like this is probably going to be what our planet will look like in the near future. Add to that the COP26 conference that is scheduled for October 31st - and climate, sustainability and technology are front page news! So, let’s talk about one of the technologies in the news - artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on climate, water, agriculture, energy, forestry, ecosystems and other sectors in clean technology . AI and its subset of tools - machine learning (ML), data science and statistics - are being touted as one of the key technologies in solving the problems facing the planet today. And while these technologies are certainly powerful - applying them effectively to solve problems in clean tech is another issue altogether. AI has been used by scientists in different clean tech se
We're in the processes of building a couple of fantastic new offerings that many folks in our community have asked for - so blog posts will be limited for a few months. Our jobs portal will still be updated regularly to make sure that all our members can keep up with what's happening in the sector. We can't wait to share what's happening at our end!
Every Earth Day we hear from companies around the world about their sustainability efforts - the gallons of water they have saved, the reductions in energy use, the systems they have converted from fossil-fuel to renewable energy, the ecosystems they have restored and, more recently the amount of carbon they have offset. On the face of it, these are amazing and hopeful numbers - the very fact that corporations are paying so much attention to sustainability and the environment is testament to the fact that consumer and citizen pressure is yielding results. In fact, with every successive year, it seems that companies and organizations are able to sequester more carbon, minimize greenhouse gas emissions and thus mitigate climate change. What allows companies to make these claims - especially with respect to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions? The way that most companies claim these credits is through carbon markets or “cap and trade” programs. In these programs, a community or a no