water you waiting for

International botanical water company plans expansion into Houston

Amid a growing water shortage, this international company has developed an innovative way to harvest a new water source — and it's bringing it to Houston. Image via Getty Images

More than 2 million Americans don’t have access to clean drinking water, according to one study by the U.S. Water Alliance group.

To help close that water gap, international firm, Botanical Water Technologies, has plans to expand its presence in the United States with the Houston region being a strategic area to roll out the implementation of a patented water filtration technology. In addition, the group is launching a blockchain enabled trading platform with Fujitsu to help support the business.

“Water is finite,” says James Rees, chief impact officer at BWT. “Due to global growth and climate conditions, we are going to have between 20 to 30 percent less water available to us by 2025. Communities are facing issues with water infrastructure. Some communities don't have water. This is where BWT plans to come in to help.”

BWT’s 7-year-tested technology, created in Australia, works by extracting water out of fruit and vegetable processing. The units collect water that condensates from farming such as tomato or sugar cane processing and creates a potable, clean drinking water output.

The blockchain enabled platform allows a water processor the ability to go on to BWT’s water exchange and acquire the water that is being harvested now and for future seasons.

“If you’re a beverage company or an environmental impact organization, you’ll be able to go online and actually see what water is available in each region,” he says. “We’ve got the way to effectively match all that up.”

BWT is in the midst of raising $15 million in capital and is targeting strategic U.S. Investors with plans to close the cap raising by end of year. The company has also identified over 10,000 locations globally that could be harnessed with this technology which is equivalent to three trillion liters of new sustainable water that’s available, says Rees.

BWT plans to make this water available for three different uses: an alternative for a big beverage company to source its water, to replenish water basins that have been overdrawn, and to provide to communities that don’t have access to water.

“In Houston, you have a number of green tech incubators starting up here,” says Rees. “A lot of the oil and gas and traditional energy companies are thinking about sustainability, and they also have the people on the ground. So, whether it’s programmers, businesspeople, sustainability officers … it’s a big collective of people in Houston and Texas focused on green tech. Texas, and particularly Houston, is actually quite progressive around sustainability.”

Looking into the future, Rees explained that water scarcity will only continue to become a bigger issue for communities due to global population growth, climate change, industrial and real estate expansion, and the way we use and treat water.

BWT has plans to implement its US expansion beginning with areas in California and move into Texas over the next two years.

“In Texas, we’d like to identify fruit and vegetable concentrators within our water scarce areas who are producing and have the ability to use our technology,” he says. “Also, there’s a lot of talent being drawn toward Houston that was traditionally med tech but now we’re seeing climate tech. We’re happy to be here and develop a head office here to help grow our business within the US.”

James Rees is the Houston-based chief impact officer at BWT. Photo via LinkedIn

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Originally expected to raise $150 million, Mercury's latest fund is the largest raised to date. Photo via mercuryfund.com

A Houston venture capital firm has announce big news of its latest fund.

Mercury, founded in 2005 to invest in startups not based in major tech hubs on either coast, closed its latest fund, Mercury Fund V, at an oversubscribed amount of $160 million. Originally expected to raise $150 million, Fund V is the largest fund Mercury has raised to date.

“We are pleased by the substantial support we received for Fund V from both new and existing investors and thank them for placing their confidence in Mercury,” Blair Garrou, co-founder and managing director of Mercury Fund, says in a news release. “Their support is testament to the strength of our team, proven investment strategy, and the compelling opportunities for innovation that exist in cities across America.”

The fund's limited partners include new and existing investors, including endowments at universities, foundations, and family offices. Mercury reports that several of these LPs are based in the central region of the United States where Mercury invests. California law firm Gunderson Dettmer was the fund formation counsel for Mercury.

Fresh closed, Fund V has already made investments in several companies, including:

  • Houston-based RepeatMD, a patient engagement and fintech platform for medical professionals with non-insurance reimbursed services and products
  • Houston and Cheyenne Wyoming-based financial infrastructure tech platform Brassica, which raised its $8 million seed round in April
  • Polco, a Madison, Wisconsin-based polling platform for local governments, school districts, law enforcement, and state agencies
  • Chicago-based MSPbots, a AI-powered process automation platform for small and mid-sized managed service providers

Mercury's investment model is described as "operationally-focused," and the firm works to provide its portfolio companies with the resources needed to grow rapidly and sustainably. Since 2013, the fund has contributed to creating more than $9 billion of enterprise value across its portfolio of over 50 companies.

“Over the past few years there has been a tremendous migration of talent, wealth and know-how to non-coastal venture markets and this surge of economic activity has further accelerated the creation of extraordinary new companies and technology," says Garrou. "As the first venture capital firm to have recognized the attractiveness of these incredible regions a dozen years ago, we are excited to continue sourcing new opportunities to back founders and help these cities continue to grow and thrive.”

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