*Updated December 2022
Our newest publication demonstrates how corporations can align with SDG 6 in a way that lowers costs, generates additional revenues, and opens the doors to new markets.
This month’s report focuses on SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation, and shows how startups and innovative technology can help corporations use water more sustainably. Supported with data from our AI platform, the report also shows how Valuer can help corporations find their best-matching startups.
In addition to the digital report, this article includes a broad list of NGOs, governments, and corporations working with the sixth sustainable development goal. In this report, you will find market opportunities, current technology trends, and gain an in-depth overview of three startups and their technology.
Finding the right startups with the Valuer platform
Valuer is a matchmaking platform that helps corporations discover startups that will boost their innovation. You can write to us or see the magazine to learn how the Valuer platform uses AI to find the best-matching startups.
Organisations engaging with SDG 6
While our report includes six case studies: three carefully selected startups and three corporations, this article shares more inspirational organizations. Below, we’ve listed a number of NGOs, governments, corporations, and startups working toward SDG 6.
Sustainable clean water and sanitization startups
Blue Drop was established to bring solutions to customers water purification challenges. The startup offers two kinds of systems: a UV Water Purifier, which disinfects water with UV radiation and Whole House Filters that filter water in order to remove contamination.
With the goal to transform waste into worth, EcoWorth partnered up with a Singaporean startup which developed Carbon Fibre Aerogel, an organic and recyclable material that filters wastewater by absorbing organic materials. CFA is a non-toxic and sustainable solution to reducing wastewater.
Delft, The Netherlands
Sealau offers their wastewater management technologies to companies who contaminate surface water, seawater and its biodiversity. By removing salt through no water-waste streams, the startup created a technology that enables companies to filter water to ensure it is reusable.
ZwitterCo develops zwitterionic copolymer membranes, a sustainable and low cost product to manage wastewater. With their innovation, ZwitterCo serves its customers the ability to Dewater their wastewater. This minimizes the amount of heavy-organics, performs Pretreatment to avoid damage on equipment and Selective Separate by size, without losing valuable nanoscale components in the treated water.
Swirltex offers buoyancy based membrane filtration to its customers. This filtration systems is a sustainable wastewater treatment, suitable to many applications e.g. dairy processing and mining wastewater. The composition of the membrane filters stream water which maximizes the water recycling rate by detecting a wider range of water contamination.
Revotree is able to improve agriculture by decreasing water usage. The startup delivers an optimized irrigation system to its customers through only three devices and an app to automate watering. Benefits of Revotree’s Platform are amongst others, the ability to save on resources and time and the lower maintenance of watering compared to traditional methods.
INTAG systems offer a variety of agricultural systems to fit different sectors' needs. The startup uses all natural products to sustainably improve produce growth rate by adding to its nutrient value and enable customers to provide fresher and less processed products, whether in restaurants, plant nurseries, commercial greenhouses or other sectors.
Cropx Technologies has developed a management system used in farming for optimization, which results in the reductions in the amount of water, nutrients, energy and labour used. By implementing this technology, Corpx Technologies has proved to save over 30% of water and made sustainable farming available to its customers.
San Jose, USA
By offering automated irrigation, Waterbit creates agricultural, financial and environmental benefits to its customers and society. The startup is able to deliver these benefits by developing a system that improves water efficiency with precise watering and working though solar-powered devices. Additionally Waterbits App makes it easy to check up on the progress and constantly control the data.
Blubrim offers a system to benefit aquaculture using artificial intelligence. The startup does so with a device they developed which is able to test water quality with eight different parameters. With its AI-driven app AquaConnect, customers are able to monitor and control their aquaculture.
To reduce water consumption in residential homes, DrizzleX developed a smart water metering solution. The system works by installing FlowDx, a device that monitors water usage and collects data that is being analyzed using AI to recognize over-consumption and leaks. Through its dashboard or application, customers are able to monitor water misuse which rises awareness over water consumption and with that enables a decrease in costs.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
MetroPolder is implementing smart water management solutions in cities to decrease water waste. The startup's solution is to reuse rainwater for cooling, watering of plants, groundwater supplementation and as a substitute for drinking water used for applications. To do so, MetroPolder is developing PolderRoof, a smart, controlled, water storage roof that can be installed on flat roofs and would offer a sustainable solution to water waste in cities.
In order to challenge water losses due to leaks, and to control the water distribution, Aqua Robur monitors pipelines by digitizing the network. If the sensors placed on the network must be supplied with electricity, there is no need for a battery as this system relies on off-grid connections by transforming the flow of water going through the pipes turning it into energy via a turbine. The data is finally shared via Internet of Things (IoT) technology for better water management.
Nottingham, United Kingdom
This startup is behind an Award Winning Smart Water Metering Solution: a device that monitors and controls water in real time. It monitors by analysing data and sharing it with the user via notifications or dashboard, and controls by shutting down water supply remotely in case of leakage, for instance. By giving easy access to water management, it is made possible to save money on further water bills.
San Luis Obispo, USA
In an increasingly connected world, Flume makes it possible to monitor water consumption in real time. How does it work? A Water Sensor is placed around the house's water meter. In case of leaks, the consumer receives a notification on the Flume App, which also monitors water consumptions to avoid excess use and manage water bills. With a connect-home device, Flume is bringing intelligence to residential water.
FREDsense helps detect chemicals in the water, such as arsenic, iron or magnesium. Water monitoring is also important to check water acidity as part of mine drainage management, and it is easy since it works with a sample placed in the device. The results appear in 5 to 50 minutes. Sanitation management can now be anyone’s business.
Kokhav Ya'ir–Tzur Yig'al, Israel
Kando offers the solution of Clear Upstream supplying real-time network intelligence related to wastewater networks. Considering the data collected, the customer can identify and locate any problem. With the compiled data, the system is able to provide predictions as they detect upstream events, letting the customer deliver the most optimized response. By bringing intelligence into the wastewater network, Kando empowers water utilities to protect their clean water.
Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Biotrack uses a technology that detects bacteria. It can be used in the healthcare field, the agri-food industry or in water itself. To challenge water contamination in various industries and applications, Biotrack provides its customers with microbiological data to better manage their water resources and water distribution systems.
NanoAffix has developed a technology to detect contaminants and ensure the purity of drinking water via smart sensors and the use of a graphene material, responding to the sanitation purpose of SDG6. In 2016, NanoAffix was among the winners of the Wisconsin Innovation Award.
UNISERS has developed a universal liquid analyser that can detect "all non-volatile impurities" via a single test. The identification and quantification of the number of impurities in water helps to meet SDG6, referring to access to clean water and sanitation.
Zero Mass Water
Zero Mass Water has developed a technology to create drinking water from the air and the sunlight. The SOURCE tool uses "advanced water capture technology". Even though the production volume depends on climatic conditions, the system is optimized for quite a few situations and has proven its effectiveness in more than 35 countries.
Randburg, South Africa
I-Drop is a company that develops solutions to sell clean water at an affordable price. The I-Drop device supplies purified water using nanomesh filtration technology that removes contaminants. Shoppers can then retrieve the water in their containers and pay a fair price while reducing their plastic waste.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Hilico offers a solution to off-grid communities: a rain-harvesting device. It is composed of a 1m² collection surface that can be placed on a “vertical anchor” such as a tree, where a system of filtration is linked to a storage unit through a flexible pipe, giving easy access to drinking water for everyone and everywhere.
Enschede, The Netherlands
Susteq seeks to meet one of the primary needs: drinking safe water. By combining the three concepts of sustainable development — environment, economy and social development — the overarching goal is to facilitate sustainable access to water for people around the world, thanks to prepaid water ATMs.
Blue Water offers an alternative to tap water and single-use plastic bottles, both of which can contain traces of contaminants. Through three designs of water purifiers (Pro, Spirit, Cleone), Blue Water suggests the possibility of drinking clear water while drastically cutting the water wastage common to traditional reverse osmosis technology.
Sustainable clean water and sanitization companies
Grundfos develops water solutions for the world, through water pumps and technology. In December 2019, the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan recognized Grundfos with the 2019 Global Emerging Market Innovation Award for providing sustainable water supply.
The firm is a leading figure of the sixth UN Sustainable Development Goal related to “Ensur[ing] availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
Sustainable values are a core part of the Grundfos roadmap. The company focuses not only on SDG6 but also on SDG8 (advocacy for decent work and economic growth), SDG13 (climate action) and SDG16 (paving the way to peace, justice and strong institutions.)
This “SDG 6 company”, to quote Mads Nipper, Group President and CEO of Grundfos, will sponsor the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition 2020, taking place between the 18th and 23rd of October in Copenhagen.
During this event, they will discuss “Water for smart livable cities”. The results of the innovative collaboration (also involving Novozymes and NX Filtration, through the platform HelloScience) will be presented for clean water. Henrik Juul Nielsen, Director of Innovation Management at Grundfos, is both part of the team and a mentor of this initiative launched in October 2019 “to positively impact SDG6”.
Wrangler is an American company established in 1947, focusing on the manufacturing of jeans. The company took it upon itself to find a solution to their water waste in the production process by implementing sustainability changes, focusing on SDG 6.
Wrangler invested in a water recycling program that enables the company to have a recycling rate of 75% in their Mexican factory, which minimises the water waste in the production of its products.
The company also increased its water efficiency by merging steps in the washing process using more efficient enzyme technologies which has led to Wrangler saving 3 billion liters of water from 2007 until 2016.
Wrangler’s goal is to further “reduce water usage at its facilities by 20% by the year 2020” and with that goal, make a big impact on the industry and SDG 6.
Danone is a French agri-food multinational focusing on four core businesses: fresh dairy and vegetable-based products, bottled water, medical nutrition and baby nutrition. The firm vision “Danone, One Planet. One Health” reflects a strong interest in sustainable values.
SDG6 is a strategic focus for the company, where it is particularly committed to protecting water resources and their natural ecosystems, as well as developing and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.
Danone is leading various sustainable initiatives such as the Rejoso Kita project via which the company is working alongside local communities and farmers based in an Indonesian impluvium zone, for a better water management.
Becoming one of the first multinationals to be certified B Corp, verifying social and environmental performance especially, is the company’s ambition. With 50% of reduction in the intensity of water consumption in industrial processes compared to 2000, the firm is likely to reach its goal.
In 2018, Danone Manifesti Ventures had already invested in German startup Mitte, behind the conception of a device purifying and mineralizing water, to learn more innovative techniques and strengthen SDG6.
Sustainable clean water and sanitization government initiatives
From the creation of the French Friends of the Earth to that of the Ministry of the Environment, French political life has been going green since the 1970s. In spite of rather slow progress, French citizens are sending clear messages of awareness regarding the stakes of sustainable development in a world of transitions.
The French government is committed to the implementation of SDG6, at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, in order to guarantee access to water and sanitation for all and to ensure sustainable management of water resources.
The government is carrying out numerous international projects in collaboration with the French Development Agency (FDA). The FDA's latest project was launched in September 2019 and aims to provide access to water, health and transform education in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
The French State is currently revising the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change which contains concrete and specific measures in the water sector, supporting SDG6.
The government of Manitoba places a great importance on implementing a sustainable approach in their actions to provide water as a safe resource to all citizens of the province.
To make sure their water resources remain protected and standards are being met, the Manitoban government has strong legislations and guidelines.
Part of the program of this province are drinking water systems that ensure and protect drinking water for all Manitobans. The government also supplies “guidance, technical expertise, up-to-date information and educational materials”, to further spread awareness on safe drinking water.
By involving a sustainable approach to the resource water and putting a high value on it, the Government of Manitoba is taking steps to improve the responsible use of water, improving its quality and therefore reaching SDG 6.
The British government is also engaged in the application of SDGs, while its representatives were at the forefront of their negotiations in 2015. Their implementation is the subject of several action plans, SDG6 being specific to the theme of water and sanitation.
To ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs strives to “maintain the high level of environmental protection achieved to date, through preventative action to avoid deterioration of the water environment and reversing deterioration when it occurs”, contributing to SDG 6.
The United Kingdom is also committed to ensure this access as part of the Department for International Development's global roadmap.
Between April 2015 and March 2018, the measures of the British government and its related departments have enabled 40.3 million people to have sustainable access to clean water and/or sanitation, particularly in Africa.
Sustainable clean water and sanitization NGOs
Wateraid, a non-profit-organization founded in 1981, promotes access to “clean water, decent toilets and good sanitation” with SDG 6 as their target.
Working with local authorities in 28 different countries all over the world, they were able to help over 27 million people in need by providing clean water and decent access to toilets.
Their goal is to make long lasting changes in the communities by training them on how to keep water clean, and set up a management and monitoring system.
After setting up the support, Wateraid keeps assistance on site to help communities adapt to the changes and aid to keep the new systems running. Their goal is to take further steps towards providing clean water and sanitation accessible to everyone and spreading the importance of hygiene to governments and service providers to prevent illness.
Kansas City, USA
As a global nonprofit organization founded by Gary White and Matt Damon, Water.org is committed to bringing water and sanitation to the world through affordable financing.
By getting rid of the financial barriers that separate people living in poverty to the fundamental right to have safe access to water and sanitation, Water.org is an effective stakeholder of SDG6.
The NGO implements numerous schemes to carry out SDG6. Many partners, such as Ikea, Bank of America or Cartier Philanthropy play a major role by expanding access to affordable financing to change millions of lives.
In 2018, Water.org succeeded in mobilizing $1 billion in capital to help over 17 million people gain access to water and sanitation mostly in India. To date, more than 27 million lives in 16 countries have access to safe water and sanitation.
Project WET (Water Education Today) develops water education resources and advocates for the major impact of water education for a sustainable future. By teaching the world, it is the ambition of Project WET to boost attention around water issues, as part of SDG6.
If “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” as advanced by Nelson Mandela, Project WET’s first aim is to raise awareness at all ages, all around the world.
In 2018, Project WET partnered with the Rural Education and Economic Development Society (REEDS) to work on water education in Pakistan, where over 64% of the population do not have access to uncontaminated water, according to the Pakistan@100 Shaping the Future’s World Bank report of 2019.
In the context of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the educational action of Project WET is more than ever necessary to fight against its propagation through preventive gestures such as hand washing.
Last month’s issue: SDG 12, responsible consumption and production
Last month’s issue focuses on SDG 12 and demonstrates how corporations can become more sustainable in their production by embracing novel technology.
The Company of the Future Is Sustainable. As the Harvard Business Review once put it: There’s no alternative to sustainable development.
The increasingly evident climate change and its resulting stricter regulations, coupled with the modern needs of the informed customer, mean that business-as-usual won’t cut it anymore.
Luckily, this new reality doesn’t only bring threats, but numerous new business opportunities to those that embrace it on time. Making business driven sustainability a lucrative endeavour for companies and the climate alike.