Water Challenge Day Gathers Industry Leaders, Identifies Innovative Solutions to How We Live with Water

2013 Water Challenge Cohorts.

2013 Water Challenge Cohorts.

The Water Challenge is a collaboration between The Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) stemmed from a conversation Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson and Director of the GNOF Dr. Marco Cocito-Monoc a few years ago. Their initiative aims to identify and support entrepreneurial solutions that apply innovative approaches to how we live with water.

This year marks the third year of the nationally award-winning, day-long Water Challenge Day with a lineup of speakers and panels of those in the water industry, “sharing their vision for a safer, healthier, and more prosperous Louisiana.” The theme of the day is inspiration, innovation, and leadership.

More than 35 regional water leaders were invited to participate, including:

  • Robin Barnes, COO, Executive Vice President, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Michael Blum, Ph.D., Tulane Riverfront Campus
  • Henri Boulet, Executive Director of Louisiana 1 Coalition
  • Walter Brooks, Executive Direction, Regional Planning Commission
  • Dana Nunez Brown, Louisiana Urban Stormwater Coalition
  • Marco Cocito-Monac, Ph.D., Director of Regional Initiatives, Greater New Orleans Foundation
  • Pat Forbes, Executive Director, LA Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit
  • Charles “Chip” Groat, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Water Institute of the Gulf
  • Jeffrey Hebert, Director, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority
  • Aaron Miscenich, President, New Orleans BioInnovation Center
  • Cynthia Sarthou, Director, Gulf Restoration Network
  • Marcia St. Martin, Director, Sewage & Water Board of New Orleans
  • V.J. St Pierre, President, St. Charles Parish
  • Jeffrey Thomas, Thomas Strategies, LLC
  • David Waggonner, FAIA, Principal, Waggonner & Ball Architects
  • Tim Williamson, Co-founder and CEO, The Idea Village

“The award-winning Water Challenge is a national model for encouraging entrepreneurial innovation in integrated water management,” said Marco Cocito-Monoc, Ph.D., Director of Regional Initiatives for the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “The Water Challenge Day during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week offers a powerful platform for the larger community to engage in this vital water movement.”

Four companies will be pitching later this afternoon at the Water Challenge for $50,000 in seed capital:

  • ABS Technologies, – Alexandra Skaggs and Brady Skaggs – uses cloud-based services and smartphone technology to deliver geo-tracking of oyster harvests, which provides data relevant to the environmental conditions at harvest and delivers a safe, regulatory compliant oyster.
  • EMS Green, Bari Blanks – manufactures and sells engineers erosion control products and sediment retention systems that support vegetative growth. EMS is currently developing its own intellectual property.
  • Louisiana Water Works, Miriam Belblidia and Jennifer Roberts – creates more resilient communities by taking a comprehensive look at how cities interact with water, providing tools to engage citizens in solving water issues, building transparencies, and helping governments meet regulatory requirements.
  • Pierce Industries, Webster Pierce – produced and tested a patented coastal protection and restoration system, The Wave Robber, that has the potential to stop and reverse the impact of devastating coastal loss.

Dr. Sarah K. Mack of Tierra Resources won in 2012 and David Culpepper of NanoFex was the inaugural Water Challenge winner.

Follow @SELAwater on Twitter and sign the Water Challenge Pledge today.

Bonus: SBN created a poll so we can find out whom YOU think will win the Water Challenge this year. Cast your vote here!


We’d like to thank our sponsors for SBN’s involvement in New Orleans Entrepreneur Week: Federated Sample and Search Influence. Want to be a sponsor? Email Julia@SiliconBayouNews.com!

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