Expect ideas to flow when Singapore International Water Week returns next month

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong. -- ST FILE PHOTO
PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong. -- ST FILE PHOTOST FILE PHOTO

Focus will be on real-world solutions when Water Week starts next month

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Whether it is delivering clean water in poor countries or creating more efficient filtration systems, the next generation of water industry leaders and entrepreneurs here hope to take their technology to the next level when the Singapore International Water Week returns next month.

Seventeen teams, made up of Singaporeans and foreigners, have been going through a new nine-week programme to help them commercialise their ideas and form their own companies.

And some of them will get to pitch their ideas to an audience of global companies and financiers during the five-day Water Week's new Hydro Pitch Day.

Having access to enough clean water is one of the most pressing problems globally. In the face of increasing urbanisation, climate change and shrinking resources, new solutions to slake the world's thirst are critical.

The HydroPreneur Programme is part of this year's Water Week, and its partners are the National University of Singapore and the Founder Institute, which trains aspiring entrepreneurs in areas like recruitment, branding and legal work.

The inaugural programme aims to develop entrepreneurial talent and cutting-edge ventures in the water industry.

Its mentors include Mr Nigel Wylie, who has managed the construction of wastewater treatment systems across the United States and Asia, and Mr Mike Holt, managing partner of technology incubation firm Get2Volume, which has offices in Singapore and the Silicon Valley in the US.

Programme participant Melvin Tang, 28, said he hopes to make his mark with a low-cost filtration device that can provide clean drinking water for people in low-income, developing countries. "The experience in the programme has been amazing as we get to learn from people in the industry," he said.

Mr Wylie, founder and a director of the Singapore-based water technology firm Thrive Water, said he hoped to help the participants avoid his mistakes. The company is a wastewater and water treatment solutions provider.

"A lot of it has to do with marketing and sales," he said.

"Doing it from scratch and cold-calling, for example, is very difficult for a beginner. I would advise them to seek partnerships with larger companies who can package and sell their inventions more easily."

The Singapore International Water Week is part of the Government's strategic programme to grow the water industry and develop water technologies, and creates a global platform for sharing and developing innovative water solutions. Stakeholders from the global water industry gather at the event to share business opportunities and showcase the latest water technologies.

The Straits Times is the media partner for the Singapore International Water Week, the World Cities Summit and the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, all of which are taking place in the first week of next month.

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong yesterday said: "We have always placed great value in sustainable solutions... to enhance our water security, despite our physical constraints.

"That is one of the reasons for (Water Week) to focus on innovative and sustainable water solutions with real-world applications and benefits."