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Cincinnati is making waves in water tech

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Inside Cincinnati’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, one perhaps unlikely sector is making some waves: water tech.

Thanks to Pipeline H2O, a water tech accelerator launched in part by the Hamilton Mill, disruptive water technology companies from across the world are looking to Cincinnati. Pipeline launched its inaugural accelerator class earlier this year and received nearly 70 applications from companies across five continents, ultimately selecting six startups for its first class.

The goal, program director Antony Seppi said, is to find promising water tech startups, give them resources to help them succeed, and use the city of Cincinnati as a test bed for their technology before hopefully rolling their solutions out on a national — or global — scale. Two companies are awarded $25,000 grants each after finishing the program.

“We’re looking for startups that are going to impact the world,” Seppi said. “Cincinnati, a lot of people don’t realize this, but it has the most water related patents per capita in the country.”

Cincinnati is home to an EPA lab, which Pipeline startups have access to, Seppi said. But the city also has another feather in its cap when it comes to water innovation: Hamilton, Ohio has been consistently ranked as the best city in the world for tap water.

“Cincinnati is a real hub of innovation around water tech,” Seppi said.

Pipeline’s initial cohort wrapped up in May and awarded grants to Searen, a Cincinnati-based startup that provides water treatment solutions utilizing sustainable technologies, including its patented Vacuum Airlift; and PowerTech Water, a Lexington, Kentucky-based company that has developed water treatment technology that removes salts, minerals, and toxic metals.

Another 2017 Pipeline startup, WaterStep, has created a mini-water treatment plant that’s used for disaster relief organizations. The startup can provide safe water within two hours after being deployed, and recently went to hurricane-ravaged areas of Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico to provide aid, Seppi said.

Pipeline’s 2018 class is now accepting applications, and will begin in February 2018. The program was launched in part by D.C.-based Village Capital, which operates business development programs for startups in a range of industries, including agriculture, education, energy, finance, and health, along with the water program in Cincinnati.

Seppi said he hopes Pipeline can help boost economic development in the region, bringing companies from around the country, and the world, to Cincinnati.

“These are companies that could potentially set up headquarters or satellite offices here in the Cincinnati region based on their success in Cincinnati and southwest Ohio,” he said.

This story first appeared on Cincinnati Inno.

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