Imagine H2O, a leading accelerator for water technology based in San Francisco, has announced OxyMem, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, as winner of the 2015 Imagine H2O Infrastructure Challenge (Growth Stage) Award. Imagine H2O is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2007 by a team of leaders in the water, energy, and non-profit sectors at Harvard Business School whose vision is to turn water problems into opportunities.

Its proven path-to-market opportunity advances emerging and growth business with scalable solutions to growing water and wastewater infrastructure challenges.

Each year Imagine H2O hosts an annual business plan competition addressing specific water opportunities. This year's competition, entitled the Infrastructure Challenge, attracted entries from over 100 companies in 20 countries.

OxyMem was the only Irish company among 12 shortlisted finalists, 6 in each of two categories (early-stage and growth stage), with the other finalists coming from the USA, Israel and Greece.

OxyMem, based in Athlone, won the Growth Stage Award for its breakthrough technology for the wastewater aeration market tackling the industry's biggest challenge, energy costs.

Conventional wastewater treatment consumes 2-3% of a nation's electricity production. This is due a 100 years of reliance on bubble diffusion for conventional treatment plants, which suffer high energy losses because of the oxygen transfer limitations in the process.

OxyMem, co-founded in 2013 by Professor Eoin Casey and Dr Eoin Syron as spin-out from UCD's School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, does not have these limitations. It uses hollow fibre, gas permeable membranes, to support a fixed film ecosystem for the biology allowing for direct delivery of oxygen to the micro-organisms which break down the pollutants. OxyMem achieves superior energy performance, with lower sludge production, with less operator hours.

Scott Bryan, Chief Operating Officer, Imagine H2O said, "This year's programme saw the largest and strongest pool of applicants in Imagine H2O's history. We proudly welcome OxyMem to our growing portfolio of top water entrepreneurs."

On receiving the Award, Wayne Byrne, Managing Director, OxyMem said, "We have had this major platform opportunity in our sights for some time now. ImageH2O's not for profit approach to tackling some of the most significant challenges facing the world today means they have a laser focused ability to identify the most likely to succeed in addressing these challenges."

He added, "This accolade gives us incredible traction in the US, and global markets, with end users, partners and venture capital because of its strong track record. We are honoured to have been selected as the overall winner from such a strong cohort of finalists."

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, "I would like to congratulate OxyMem, a UCD spin-out company, on winning the prestigious 2015 Imagine H2O Infrastructure Challenge – Growth Stage Award. By winning this international award, and by being the only Irish company among the 12 finalists, OxyMem is demonstrating the quality and impact potential of companies established to commercialise UCD's world-class research outputs. It also reflects the quality of the supports provided to our spin-out companies through the technology transfer and enterprise development teams at NovaUCD."

She added, "I wish OxyMem continuing success in addressing the global need for a more energy efficient aeration solution for wastewater treatment."

Imagine H2O is supported by a judging panel, which includes leading industry experts, venture capital firms and water utilities.

The 2015 Imagine H2O Infrastructure Challenge (Growth Stage) Award was presented to OxyMem at an event held in the Palace Hotel, San Francisco sponsored by Levi Strauss & Co, Wells Fargo, Grundfos, Tetra Tech and the California Water Foundation.

At the same event Valor Water was presented with the 2015 Imagine H2O Infrastructure Challenge (Early Stage) Award. The company, based in San Francisco, delivers business intelligence tools for water utilities.

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