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Taking a Big Bite

TV’s Dragon’s Den has inspired a version for the water industry called Shark Tank. You can see the sharks in action next week.

More from: Every Last Drop

The water industry is taking inspiration from ever more unusual and imaginative sources in its search for innovative technologies. And to prove this consultant Mouchel is going to be hosting a Dragons’ Den-style event next week to bring together budding engineering entrepreneurs and investment opportunities.

The Shark Tank event was inspired by the popular BBC television programme, in which business hopefuls present their ideas to a panel of top business executives. Like the Dragon’s Den show, Shark Tank aims to unlock the entrepreneurialism and hidden talent in the water industry by providing a platform for people to show off their ideas and the latest technologies. It will be held at SustainabilityLive! at the NEC Birmingham on 20 May and boasts a former Dragon on the panel alongside big names from the water industry.

Exciting business ideas

Celebrity business mogul Richard Farleigh, who was a Dragon for two series of the hit show, will sit on the panel alongside water industry experts Severn Trent Water waste water strategy R&D manager Mark Jones, and Mouchel’s managing director for regulated industries Piers Clark. A number of exciting business ideas have been whittled down to a select shortlist of promising candidates who will present their ideas for funding to the panel live at the event.

Shortlisted ideas include:

  • HydroCyc a domestic grey water recycling system that promises to alleviate stress on water resources and infrastructure caused by concentrated population growth and house building while saving money and benefiting the environment
  • Time Released Activated Mechanism which will automate the sewage sampling required to meet Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive regulations. These state that if more than 10% of samples are missed over a 24-hour period, the sample has to be reprogrammed at a cost of £200, an expensive outcome that could now be in the past.

Clark explains: “Shark Tank has been born out of the desire to support growth and innovation in the water industry. There is a wealth of talent in our sector which holds the key to the technologies of the future, but funding for development often presents a real problem. We recognise our responsibility to support emerging talent and cutting-edge technologies and Shark Tank marks another positive step in linking up ideas with investment. It promises to be an event with real bite.”

Shark Tank is a spin off from Mouchel’s Technology Approval Group (TAG), set up to promote innovation and help emerging technologies make it to market. The water industry has a strong track record of investing in research, but many companies are reluctant to invest further. Investors have also traditionally been wary of clean-tech sectors due to the higher risks and lower returns. This creates a significant funding challenge for technology companies which find that they have an exciting product that has been proven on a small scale, but for which they are unable to secure funding for further development.

“We use our position to act as a bridge to investment and water company end-users.”

Piers Clark, Mouchel

“This is where TAG comes in,” says Clark. “We already work very closely with technology companies and we use our position to act as a bridge to investment and water company end-users.”

Mouchel’s specialists review technologies and make recommendations to investors by looking at proposals which have passed from pure research, but are not yet generating a revenue stream. TAG ensures that only technologies that have a clear market demand are presented to investors. The model has proven so successful in the water sector to date that Mouchel is now replicating it in other sectors, including rail and property.

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