Jim Eldridge attended the 2019 WEFTEC Trade Show in Chicago on September 22nd through the 25th. He was joined Cody Holcomb and Guy Sewell at the show for the purposes of representing Ada’s interests in developing innovative water technologies. There are two main goals for Ada’s attendance at the show. First, is participation in the Cluster Leaders Meeting in order to interact with other US and Globally located water technology clusters. Second, is to gather valuable information about the water technology industry and meet with companies working in this space.
The Cluster Leaders Meeting was formerly hosted by the EPA and led by Sally Gutierrez. Following the closure of this program at the EPA, last year marked the first year that this group and meeting was hosted by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), who runs the WEFTEC show. As part of this transition, the cluster leaders group is now part of WEF’s Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT), and this program also manages programming and a a section of the tradeshow floor called the “Innovation Pavilion.”
This year, the format changed to include presentations of startup companies from the San Diego and Cleveland clusters. At the rest of the show, we also had opportunities to meet with the Catalan Water Alliance, based in Spain, the Korea Water Cluster, and the Water Alliance cluster, based in the Netherlands. Korea, in particular, was notable in their focus on building a facility that would combine spaces for both entrepreneurial business offices with spaces for technology testing and validation.
We also had an opportunity to gain more information about the industry and meet new companies on the tradeshow floor. Again, there seems to be an opportunity in this industry for technologies directed at distributed water systems, particularly those in rural areas, as this was not well addressed at the show’s exhibition space. Most of the companies on the exhibition floor are promoting services which develop specialized technologies through bespoke engineering services. These engineering service firms then work directly with utility managers and large, industrial users. We noted there appeared to be few new products or technologies promoted at the show that are “pre-engineered” to meet the needs of a rural community or water system manager. We feel there is opportunity for Ada to leverage local strengths in ground water research as it pertains to water systems in rural areas as a starting point to developing innovative new technologies and solutions to these “distributed areas”
Overall, we are encouraged about the progress being made in Ada over this past year in our preparation for developing an innovative ecosystem for water research, policy, and technology. We will plan to attend the WEFTEC show again in 2020 and follow up with contacts made with companies and water cluster representatives we have met at the show.