By Catherine Gans, Marketing and Communications Manager at Propeller.
The 6th Annual Water Challenge took place this Monday, March 14th at Manning’s during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW), presented by IBERIABANK. Hosted by Propeller, the daylong water summit highlighted critical issues and opportunities in the growing water economy and culminated in a $15,000 business pitch, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
The morning session brought together entrepreneurs, industry experts, and city leaders around the maritime, coastal, urban water, and seafood industries. The afternoon session opened with a key note address by Dean Amhaus (CEO & President of The Water Council), followed by a pitch competition for nonprofit water solution that awarded $5,000 to winner Groundwork New Orleans through a text-in audience vote. Groundwork New Orleans’ initiative Green Grounds Krewe provides green collar workforce development training to underserved young adults in order to create skilled labor in green infrastructure design, installation and maintenance and storm water management.
For the Water Challenge headline event, 3 finalists took the stage to pitch for-profit entrepreneurial ideas to tackle water quality, land loss, and storm water management to a panel of judges including Steve Tullos (Entergy Corporation, Manager of Corporate Environmental Initiatives), Dean Amhaus (The Water Council, CEO & President), and Ella Delio (Greater New Orleans Foundation, director of Environmental and Regional Initiatives).
Winner Martin Ecosystems took home $15,000 for their innovative technologies to improve water quality and reduce shoreline erosion. The Audience Favorite Award of $500, selected by a text-in vote, went to Caminada Bay Premium Oysters, whose bottomless oyster growing technology increases resiliency through with changes in river diversions.
Water Challenge winner Martin Ecosystems manufactures and supplies environmental technologies including BioHaven® Floating Technology and EcoShield™, which use matrixes created from plastic drinking bottles to create the ideal environment to grow vegetated, natural solutions to coastal erosion and water quality.
The BioHaven® Floating Island helps lagoons perform better, providing the vegetative growth required to reduce pollutants and act as a natural wastewater system. The result is increase regulation compliance for municipalities, reduced capital, operating, and maintenance costs, and pollutant reduction year after year.
The BioHaven® Floating breakwater leverages the same BioHaven® technology to create modular, floating marshes that reduce and shears waves, protecting shores from erosion. Martin Ecosystems also restores coasts through their new product the Vegetated EcoShield™, which uses the same recycled matrix material to help vegetation anchor to and protect levees, berms and terraces at the water’s edge.
Looking ahead, Martin Ecosystems plans to expand their sales across Louisiana and into additional states along the Gulf Coast, further the research and development of existing products, and explore new products to improve water quality, protect shorelines and restore habitats.