Mexico looks to tech for drinking water solutions


Contxto – Access to clean, drinking water is still a major problem in many parts of the globe. And in the arid part of northern Mexico, a trio of entrepreneurs developed a product that can generate drinkable water from “thin air.”

And in other news, an acceleration program for startups that develop products or services to provide drinking water to vulnerable communities in Latin America is underway. The deadline to apply is March 3. 

Water Technologies Mexico

Technology creates an artificial cloud

Entrepreneurs Mauricio Bonilla and Gastón Islas developed a machine that can create drinking water through condensation. They then jointly launched Innovaqua in 2012.

After two years of operating, in 2014 Innovaqua received a loan for MXN$2 million (about US$106,000) from a Mexican bank. It also drew the entrepreneurs into a mentoring program.

Their core product, NUBE (or cloud) works by connecting the machine to a source of electricity. From there, through the process of condensing the surrounding air and using a filtering system, water is produced.

“The system for NUBE SS works kind of like when a person grabs a very cold soda,” said Bonilla. “The clash of temperature differences creates drops of water through a process known as condensation.”

There is a model for domestic use that can create up to 30 liters of water. Meanwhile, the industrial version up to 5,000.

Innovaqua’s artificial cloud has some cool technology behind it and no doubt it’s useful for accessing drinking water.

However, I wouldn’t consider it a perfect solution for vulnerable communities because of the cost. The basic, domestic model is sold for MXN$30,000 (almost US$1,600). That’s an exorbitant amount for low-income families to cover—even if they were allowed to make monthly installments for MXN$2,000 (about US$106).

But it’s a good start. 

Softys Water Challenge

On a related note, a competition has been launched to tap into startups that can tap out drinking water.

Chilean company Softys, alongside the Anacleto Angelini Innovation Center from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and the Amulén Foundation launched an acceleration project this month. 

Any Chilean or foreign startup with a business idea or product that can help provide drinking water to vulnerable communities in the Latam region is welcome to participate. 

Among the requirements, a startup must already have been legally launched within the last 12 months upon applying. 

The chosen ones will partake in an acceleration program (duh), partake in relevant networking events and introductions to key people will be made. And there’s money too. 

The sum of US$45,000 will be distributed among the winning teams. Anyone interested in participating has until March 3rd to submit their proposal. 

More info is available here.

The Mazatlan Post