3 start-ups founded by AquaHacking Alumni featured in WWF-Canada Water Tech Innovators webinar

By Mélissa Dick
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On June 25, 2020, a webinar took place to feature the four winners of the WWF-Canada Generation Water Tech Challenge, three of which are from the Aquahacking Alumni community. A total of $75,000 was granted to the award recipients, and they also received a space in CSI Climate Venture’s Earth Tech 6-month Accelerator program. Winners were announced in January 2020, and they will stay involved in the program until fall 2020. Here is an overview of the webinar discussion:

Clean Nature (AquaHacking ’19): In Canada about 5 million tons of salt are spread in the roads per year and they are entering our freshwater ecosystems. Patricia Gomez, Claudie Ratté Fortin and Anne Carabin, 2nd place winner in the 2019 AquaHacking Challenge were driven to address this issue so they established their start-up, Clean Nature, through which they developed a tech solution named Guia. Guia is a smart decision tool that optimizes road salt application. Using AI, Guia analyses data creating real-time map data in order to provide optimal salt or sand quantity according to needs. Since winning the WWF-Canada Generation Water Tech Challenge, they have partnered with de-icing companies, worked on their market validation and revenue model, and have been accepted into another start-up program to continue developing their technology. Clean Nature is now preparing their pilot project for next winter and are looking for funding and more partnerships to develop the final version of Guia.

CANN Forecast (AquaHacking ’16): Nicolas Fortin St- Gelais and the co-founders of CANN Forecast identified an issue in the way we proceed with recreational water quality management. CANN Forecast offers a more proactive approach called InteliSwim, by collecting different data variables, such as rain, temperature and flow, to predict water quality. They do so through an AI model that tests water quality which gives a 90-95% accuracy forecast for better decision making. Those variables help determine the quality of the water, in other word it allows decision-makers to more reliably know whether it is safe to swim or not. CANN Forecast uses similar technology to identify the condition of pipes by gathering data on the pipe itself, the material, age and also information around the pipe like the type of soil to predict where infrastructure damage may occur. CANN Forecast tools are now co-developed in collaboration with many cities and universities in eastern Canada.

Water Rangers (AquaHacking ’15): Kat Kavanagh, inspired by her dad, came up with an initiative for citizen scientists to collect and share water quality data in their communities. She founded Water Rangers which offers simple water quality testing kits for community members to use to collect and submit data to an open data platform, allowing anyone to access the information. So far, Water Rangers has trained many people in person to become water quality testing citizen scientists and have users all across Canada. In the webinar, Kat said, “Having everyone come together to share this data allows us to have a better long-term understating of our water. In the end, all agree that we have to come together, share knowledge and get involved. It is important to introduce those groups because the technologies exist to solve water issues.”

Sentry: Patrick Kiely created Sentry, a digital platform taking real time information from bacteria biofilm and displaying it on a dashboard for operators in order to understand water quality. In other words, they developed “a heart rate monitor for bacterial biofilms”, which solves the problem of high maintenance and fragile existing sensors.

It is great to see members of the AquaHacking Alumni community continue on after the Challenge to benefit from programs such as the WWF-Canada Generation Water Tech program and Climate Ventures, and to continue making a real impact in improving water quality across Canada. We can’t wait to see what’s next for these brilliant water tech innovators.