An eight-member delegation from Nevada took off for Singapore on Thursday on a mission to attract high-tech, water-related companies at Singapore International Water Week, a conference held every other year, this year from Sunday to July 14.
“Singapore International Water Week is in the water industry what CES is to the communication and electronics industry,” said Pat Mulroy, the former general manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority and now on the board of directors for WaterStart.
WaterStart, a public-private nonprofit founded in 2013 and formerly known as the Nevada Center of Excellence in Water, works with state agencies and organizations to create quality job growth and diversify the region’s economy through supporting innovation in water technology. Its partners include the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Desert Research Institute and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.
The group announced a partnership Thursday with UK-based company Ionex, which has set up shop in California, “to further develop the control and communications software technology that differentiates its ion exchange water treatment technology,” a news release said.
“We’re interested in all kinds of technology around water purification,” said Kenneth Ladd, a WaterStart founder who is serving on its board of directors. “We’re very interested in technologies in water supply, water usage, water sanitization, and water transportation. All of those things are important to us, but water purification is what I think will be our biggest focus at this particular conference.”
All of the water utilities in the area are looking for security technology and sensing devices that are critical for aging infrastructure, he said.
Kevin Fisher, the director of water quality and treatment for the SNWA, said he has his eye on companies that deal with big data for water systems, which includes sorting, reading and securing information from chemical analysis equipment and online instrumentation.
“In this very international setting, in many ways, we are presenting Nevada as a gateway to the US market,” Mulroy said. “We have one characteristic that none of the others (US states) have and that is an incredible three-legged stool between economic development, probably one of the most respected water science research institutes in the world in the Desert Research Institute, and the willingness and the ability of a large, well-respected water utility in the United States to actually test and validate it (a product).”
WaterStart made its maiden voyage to the conference in 2014.
“This was really to introduce the world, if you will, to WaterStart and Nevada’s cluster and its ability to foster new water technology,” Ladd said. One of the group’s main takeaways from 2014 was the need to identify and connect with companies even before going to Water Week.
For this year’s conference and to create a formal pathway for water-oriented businesses to innovate in Nevada, WaterStart put out a request for proposals “on how Nevada can advance water technology development in areas related to efficiencies of quality improvements in drinking water delivery and commercial building water infrastructure management.”
Executive Director of WaterStart Nathan Allen said they have several meetings scheduled, including with “a few” companies that have submitted proposals.
For the group’s second trip to Singapore, Ladd said he hopes to “double” the number leads from last time, which was 150, and to formalize a partnership with Singapore’s water authority equivalent, the Public Utilities Board.
Mulroy, Fisher, Ladd, Allen and a representative from the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development will attend the conference, with additional WaterStart staff.
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