8 start-up tech firms bring their ideas to Hamilton

  • Mike Rutledge
  • Staff Writer
7:08 a.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 Hamilton
Paul Kling, chief operating officer of kWRiver Hydroelectric, which is one of eight companies chosen to be part of the first-ever Pipeline H2O class. kWRiver Hydroelectric has new technology for creating electricity from low-level dams like the one on the Great Miami River south of Hamilton’s downtown. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The work of start-up companies chosen to participate in a water-technology commercialization program could have an immediate impact locally.

Eight businesses — three from Hamilton or Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, two from elsewhere in Kentucky, and others from New York, Illinois and New Mexico —will comprise the first class of Pipeline H2O, a four-month program aimed at being a launch-pad for the businesses.

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The companies “are touching on different aspects of the challenges that are out there — you’ve got water-treatment startups, startups that are addressing emergency-response issues around water, a hydroelectric power producer,” said Antony Seppi, operations director for the city’s The Hamilton Mill business incubator and Pipeline H2O’s director. “For the first run at this program, we’re extremely excited about the response that we got, and ultimately the eight startups that we landed on.”

The eight firms’ work could also have an immediate impact locally.

“They’ll be introduced to potential mentors, potential customers throughout the area,” he said. “That’s kind-of the big piece of this program, is providing these start-ups an opportunity to test their products out with local municipalities, or local businesses that have water-treatment issues, or issues that relate to water.”

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For instance, Hamilton company kWRiver Hydroelectric already is planning to build a 5 kiloWatt hydroelectric generator on the Great Miami River inside the city’s low-level dam south of downtown.

While that electricity likely would be sold to the nation’s electric grid, it could be used during power outages to keep the lights and machines running at key nearby Hamilton institutions like the Vora technology park, Miami University Hamilton, and the police station during major power outages such as the one experienced earlier this week.

Another business, WEL Enterprise, already is working with Municipal Brew Works to eliminate all its beer-making biproducts.

Hamilton Mill is operating the program in cooperation with Confluence, an Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana water technology organization that seeks to harness regional expertise to encourage economic development, and environmental and protection of human health.

“They’re going to go through four months of programming that we put together for them that’ll help introduce them to different organizations, partner organizations throughout the region, mentors throughout the region, potential customers, funding sources throughout the area,” Seppi said. “That’s all going to be built into the program.”

Two companies that win an internal competition each will receive a $25,000 award, he said.

“Typically when startups go through these programs it’s usually venture-capital associates that will judge their pitches or judge the startups,” Seppi said. But in this program, “the startups will be judging their own performance throughout the program. And at the end of the program, the startups select the two winners.”

Hamilton company kWRiver Hydroelectric, one of the eight companies chosen, hopes to install its power-generator at the Hamilton dam late this year.

“I think it’s pretty fantastic,” said kWRiver Hydroelectric co-founder Paul Kling of Colerain Twp., who hopes the experience will help his company in several ways.

One benefit should be “recognition for what we’re doing, and not just the fact we’re doing, but the scale of what we’re proposing to do, and what it could mean, in terms of an impact on not only the water industry, but also the electric industry as well.”

“We’re looking to definitely get more publicity, and also we’re looking for political interest as well,” Kling said.

Paul Short, CEO of seven-employee Slipstream Ecotech Inc. of Albuquerque, NM, which provides low-cost waste-water crystallization systems for small industrial producers, eliminating all waste-water discharge, said his company is a little over three years old, although they’ve been working on the technology about five years.

“We’ve deployed some pilot systems out in California, where our initial target market is,” said Short. “We’ve had systems working for about a year now out in the field, and we’ve made our first sales.”

“One of the biggest things, to be blunt is that we believe that Ohio is a great market for us (because of its large industrial base), and we don’t have great contacts in Ohio,” Short said. “One is that it helps get some access to a market we’re not that familiar with…. Also, these kinds of things are good experience — working with other water companies and seeing different applications, and getting the opportunity to potentially work with some other water companies, water-technologies. Working with other smart people.”

Also selected was Hamilton Mill-based WEL Enterprise, which already is working with the Municipal Brew Works micro-brewery to handle all treatment and reclamation of waste water, saving significant costs and volumes in water consumption, sewage production and sewage-treatment fees.

Rahul Bawa, chairman of Pipeline H2O and The Hamilton Mill, said organizers were “thrilled with the quality and quantity of the applicants for the initial Pipeline H2O class,” adding, “The high quality of the applications made it very difficult to select the initial members.”

“The Greater Cincinnati region has some of the best water resources and municipal water in the nation and we are looking forward to making a substantial impact for each of these companies to find customers and generate revenue,“ Bawa said.

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PIPELINE H2O’S INAUGURAL CLASS

Here are the eight companies chosen for Pipeline H2O’s inaugural 2017 class:

ANDalyze (Champaign, Ill.) — offers products for testing water contamination using catalytic DNA for fast, inexpensive and reliable detection of trace metals and other chemicals.

AquaClara (Ithaca, NY) — designs non-electric municipal-scale surface-water technologies for under-served communities.

kWRiver Hydroelectric (Hamilton) — commercializing the Williams Cross-Flow turbine that captures the power of rivers flowing over low-head dams, like Hamilton’s low-level dam on the Great Miami River.

PowerTech Water (Lexington, Ky.) — offering water-treatment technology based on their INCION technology platform that removes salts, minerals and toxic metals for water softening, desalination, wastewater treatment and other applications.

Searen (Cincinnati) — providing water-treatment solutions using its exclusive and patented Vacuum Airlift, a state-of-the-art treatment device that can replace existing hardware at facilities.

Slipstream Ecotech Inc. (formerly Slipstream ZLD) (Albuquerque, NM) — deploying the first-ever, low-cost waste-water crystallization system for low-volume industrial producers, allowing small manufacturers and metals-finishing shops to participate in Zero Liquid Discharge, where waste water is completely eliminated.

WaterStep (Louisville, Ky.) — offering a rapid-deployment option to provide safe water for disaster-relief organizations, utilities or others within two hours.

WEL Enterprise (Hamilton and Covington, Ky.) — providing the first-ever system to handle all treatment and reclamation of industrial and beer-making biproducts through one platform, saving significant costs and volumes in water consumption, sewer production and sewage-treatment fees.

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