The Water Council’s Pilot Accelerator Startups See Mixed Success
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part-time employees handling most of the work. “I am actively seeking a CEO,” he says. “I do plan to remain involved and retain a substantial stake in the company.”
—Vegetal i.D.: The U.S. branch of a French “green roof” company, Vegetal has developed a cloud-based system that could allow roofs to work in concert with storm sewer systems to prevent backups during heavy rainstorms. Earlier this year, Vegetal launched a two-year pilot project that is testing the new technology on the rooftop of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s (MMSD) headquarters, Vegetal storm water management specialist Brennon Garthwait says.
“It is still early, and we have only caught a couple of rain events, but so far the results look good,” Garthwait says in a recent e-mail message, before Milwaukee dropped to wintry temperatures.
The company is monitoring things like how well the rooftop vegetation retains water and the runoff flow rates during rainstorms, Garthwait says. In 2016, the company will release a report about the technology’s performance and “the potential impact of scaling up the project.” “We hope to help the city and MMSD better understand the value of the dollars spent on [green roof] incentives and building owners better estimate the return on green roof use.”
For the time being, Garthwait is Vegetal’s lone employee in Milwaukee. Vegetal product and development manager Gaelle Berges, a France native who was working at the Global Water Center during the accelerator program, has since moved to Colorado for personal reasons, Garthwait says.
—New Works: This startup, developed by engineer Shajan John, offers courses for engineers and water management professionals that provide hands-on training using lab equipment housed at the Global Water Center. New Works is a division of John’s consulting business, Mahattil International.
John hasn’t hired any staff for New Works yet. He says he is still fine-tuning the business model and exploring financing options.
But the startup has made progress by getting its courses certified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for professional continuing education, forming a research partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, signing up Milwaukee-based global manufacturer Rexnord as a customer, and holding training sessions for customers like Xela Innovations and MMSD.
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