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RBC congratulates winners of Imagine H20 Prize

SAN FRANCISCO, March 21, 2012- RBC is proud to congratulate the four winners of the annual Imagine H2O competition, designed to support entrepreneurs in their efforts to turn water challenges into business opportunities. The winners are:

  • Bilexys, from Brisbane, Australia (Pre-Revenue track winner)
  • Nexus eWater from Canberra, Australia and Tusaar, Inc. from Lafayette, Colorado (Pre-Revenue track runners up)
  • New Sky Energy from Boulder, Colorado (Early Revenue track winner).

The winners were chosen by Imagine H2O’s judging panel, a group of leading experts and investors in the water sector. Highlighting that business plan innovation is critical to the long-term success of water startups, the winners were selected based on their commercial viability and promise, and came from a pool of applications from serial entrepreneurs, experienced executives and campus engineering programs.

The focus of this year’s competition was wastewater. An estimated 90 percent of wastewater (water contaminated by residential sewage, agricultural runoff, or industrial pollutants) goes untreated worldwide. The wastewater market is valued at $200 billion per year worldwide, and so the competition attracted ideas for wastewater management, reuse, treatment, resource recovery, and energy production. These early-stage companies view wastewater not as waste but as a resource to be mined for value such as upgraded water, energy, or products.

“It’s exciting to see Imagine H2O’s ability to identify a global field of promising water startups,” explained John Taft, CEO, RBC Wealth Management U.S. “As Imagine H2O’s Founding Sponsor, we’re proud to be associated with this market-driven initiative and support entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to the global water challenge.”

The winners were announced at a showcase gala on March 20 in San Francisco.

About the Winners

Bilexys (Brisbane, Australia) is developing an alternative manufacturing platform for the production of chemicals and plastics. The Company’s process technologies involve bioelectrochemistry and the use of wastewater as the source of its raw materials. Traditionally, wastewater treatment has been viewed as an operating expense of an industrial complex. Bilexys approaches wastewater treatment as an opportunity to biologically convert the organics within wastewater into high-value chemical products (including sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide). The chemicals produced by the Bilexys method reduce the need for our clients to purchase and bring in chemicals, providing significant environmental and economic benefit to its customers, with potential payback within two years. Bilexys, a spin off from the Advanced Water Management Centre at The University of Queensland, was formed and incubated by UniQuest - one of Australia’s leading technology commercialization companies. Bilexys has significant operational experience on industrial sites, culminating in the recent operation of a pilot plant at a pulp and paper company, producing food grade sodium hydroxide from their wastewater. Bilexys CEO, Eric Donsky, is a seasoned technology entrepreneur who is the former CEO of BioAmber and TearLab (NASDAQ: TEAR).

Tusaar, Inc. (Lafayette, Colorado) is commercializing a unique media based technology to remove contaminating heavy-metals from multi-chemical process and waste water. Using base technology licensed from the University of Colorado-Boulder, the team at Tusaar has developed a media that sequesters over 40 different metals from industrial waters and provides a solution to coal combustion fly ash pond management and related groundwater contamination, a serious problem for coal-fired power plants. Tusaar media also enables customers to separate toxic waste metals from other hazardous chemicals thereby simplifying disposal and management. Waste volume and related cost reduction of over 95% has been achieved at customer sites leading to payback in less than one year. The Tusaar team of five has over 75 years of relevant technology and industry experience. CEO & founder, Gautam Khanna, has business development experience at Dell, Whirlpool & Pentair, has served as CEO of Pentair Water India and been involved in the global water industry for over twelve years.

Nexus eWater (Canberra, Australia) harnesses the power of a home’s wastewater stream by converting gray water into near-potable water, while recycling the water’s energy for hot water heating. This decentralized solution allows homeowners to reduce water use and reduce their carbon footprint by internalizing water heating costs. The executive team includes the former CEO co-founder of ADS Water and the former VP of Perpetual Water.

New Sky Energy (Boulder, Colorado) employs a chemical process that combines CO2 and industrial wastewater to make usable CO2-negative solids. This process allows customers to profitably reduce CO2 emissions while manufacturing onsite the chemicals they use everyday. New Sky’s CEO, Deane Little, is a PhD molecular biophysicist.

About Imagine H2O

Imagine H2O inspires and empowers people to solve water challenges and turn them into opportunities. We offer annual prize competitions for water innovation, including the 2009 Water Efficiency Prize, 2010 Water-Energy Nexus Prize and 2011 Wastewater Prize. In addition to cash prizes for the best ideas, Imagine H2O fosters an accelerator program to help competing entrepreneurs turn their plans into game-changing, real-world solutions. To learn more about Imagine H2O's global ecosystem for water innovation and connect with water innovators from around the world, please visit www.imagineh2o.org. Also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.