Licensing agreement offers utilities in the Southeast new tools for digitizing and financing water projects
The Water Tower, Gwinnett County’s new water innovation center, has joined forces with Silicon Valley start-up Aqaix to provide utilities with new technology for digitizing water operations and financing water infrastructure projects. The Water Tower has licensed two innovative products from Aqaix – a private-labeled version of its online finance marketplace, which allows utilities to showcase their water projects to potential funders and track environmental ROI, and a private-labeled version of its water data integration hub.
“Our utility partners face a host of urgent challenges,” said Melissa Meeker, CEO of The Water Tower. “They need to be able to employ advanced digital technologies such as AI and machine learning. But to obtain actual value from those approaches, they must be able to quickly and securely make data accessbile. The Water Tower Data Integration Hub powered by Aqaix makes this significantly easier by providing a central place for securely accessing data.”
“And Aqaix’s finance marketplace gives utilities new tools to address the chronic shortage of funding for urgently needed water projects,” Meeker continued. “Using the marketplace, they can document all the benefits of a portfolio of projects, and showcase them for collaborative financing by government, commercial, and donor funders. Water managers around the world are grappling with how to enable watershed level project funding, and Aqaix has unique technology to enable that.”
The Water Tower, which launched in September 2019, has partners comprised of startups, seasoned companies, and utilities. The Water Tower, currently in design and construction of a state of the art campus, offers a mix of research, technology demonstration, training and public outreach facilities. The Water Tower provides access to assets in Gwinnett County including labs, distribution and collection systems, pump stations, and treatment plants to solve regional and industry-wide problems by identifying, prioritizing, and participating in relevant applied research.
In one of its first initiatives following the new partnership with Aqaix, The Water Tower will employ the company’s finance marketplace to help assemble online portfolios of green projects for watershed water balance and health. Using Aqaix software, the economic, environmental, and social benefits of the portfolios can be quantified for funders seeking to maximize returns and reduce risk. The Aqaix software also facilitates co-investing across portfoliosby commercial investors, government funders, and philanthropic foundations committed to improving water quality and supply.
In addition, The Water Tower is giving member utilities new tools to advance use of their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which function like software “smart valves” that allow for control of secure data sharing. The APIs of member utilities are just beginning to be onboarded onto Aqaix’s data integration hub. The hub provides a single, central place where programmers and developers can use APIs to request secure, governed access to data.
“We're honored that The Water Tower chose our products as the basis for its important digitization and finance programs,” said Aqaix CEO Michael Gardner. “Small- and mid-size utilities around the world are tremendously challenged because of the increasing costs of managing water. Digital technology can save utilities money, but the ugly secret is that it can be really expensive and time consuming to make available the data that Digital technologies require. So we can help them get farther with that, a lot faster.”
“At the same time, the utilities are exploring new ways to finance their urgent infrastructure investments, and our software was designed to enable these new innovative models,” Gardner continued. “We look forward to helping The Water Tower build its innovation ecosystem and deliver solid results to its partners and members.”
About Water Tower
The Water Tower is a new breed of innovation center providing answers to a multitude of complex challenges facing the water industry through an integrated approach to applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and stakeholder engagement. With its mission of global education and information on new water technology and best practices, The Water Tower is especially invested in helping utilities devise strategies to benefit from digital advancements in water supply and quality. Ongoing construction at The Water Tower will feature wet and dry laboratory spaces, classrooms, and a demonstration bay fed by multiple streams to enable water treatment and monitoring experimentation. It also incorporates urban water distribution infrastructure and enables collaborating utilities to experiment and assess new monitoring equipment, such as in-flow sensors and meters, and devices such as pumps and valves. For more information, visit www.theh2otower.org.
Aqaix (“a-kye-ix”) offers cloud-based software products to transform the financing of water infrastructure and accelerate water industry adoption of digital technologies. The Aqaix water finance marketplace employs data and advanced technologies – such as AI, APIs, Big Data, cloud, and blockchain-based smart contracts – to help project developers, investors, and donors automate business processes around water finance, as well as estimate and report economic, environmental, and social ROI on water projects. The marketplace enables innovative new financing models such as Pay For Performance and performance-based green bonds, and it provides Asset-Level ESG and Impact ROI analytics on water investment portfolios. Aqaix also offers a water data integration hub as a central place for water data of all types, enabling utilities to more rapidly deploy monitoring, decision, and other systems based on disparate sources of data.