Water Tech Mecca


Water Tech Mecca

Grundfos lends its industry expertise to BlueTechValley a state-of-the-art water and energy test facility whose purpose is to spur innovation in the management of finite resources.

Grundfos first got involved with BlueTechValley during the early stages of planning for the Water Technology Center. The center’s manager, Henrik Skov Laursen, began networking with the local community in Fresno, Calif., where the Water Technology Center is now located.

Regional Challenges and Opportunities

It turned out Grundfos wasn’t the only company that understood the unique potential of Fresno and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. The area’s water scarcity, fluctuating water prices and high water consumption for agriculture and food processing made it the ideal place to test new technology.

“If you can make it work right here, it can work pretty much anywhere,” said Laursen, who chairs the BlueTechValley committee.

In addition to Grundfos, other big players in the water industry – like Fresno State University and the Central Valley Business Incubator – have committed to the challenge of harnessing the San Joaquin Valley’s assets and resources. Industrial companies like Lakos Seperators, Puresense and Jain Irrigation are part of the committee, as well.

Kirk Nagamine, CEO of the Central Valley Business Incubator, said the San Joaquin Valley faced major issues with efficiently sourcing, moving, storing and cleansing water – not to mention the high energy demands and high unemployment that afflict the region.

“Problems also represent opportunities,” Nagamine said. “We know our problems are experienced by many around the world. If we can create and attract companies that can solve our issues, this can lead to change across the globe.”

Strength in Numbers

BlueTechValley works to drive the region to new economic strengths and global recognition.

“We can’t do this all by ourselves,” Laursen said, emphasizing the necessity of a network in leveraging these opportunities.

He said support for BlueTechValley was an important part of Grundfos’ ambition to move towards setting the trend in water technology, a journey which is only possible through strong innovation and strong partnerships – the BlueTechValley is one of those cornerstones.

“It’s important for us to be a trendsetter in water technology,” Laursen said. “We need to accelerate new things within the company in ways we have not seen before.”

As a stakeholder in BlueTechValley, Grundfos will benefit from publicity and recognition as a leader in innovation, as well as from early-stage access to new technologies.

Helle Petersen, General Manager of the Water, Energy and Technology Center of the Central Valley Business Incubator, said the involvement of Grundfos and other companies in the private sector was key to the BlueTechValley effort.

As the interest and need for innovative water technology gains momentum, the San Joaquin Valley has a great opportunity, said Petersen. The region’s economy is driven by farming and food processing, both of which require a lot of water. Dwindling resources mean the area has a big stake in water innovation.

“BlueTechValley is an opportunity to align and leverage the resources we have,” Petersen said. “By increasing the awareness of the unique ecosystem for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, we hope to be able to attract and grow companies.”

A Worldwide Water Hub

She said “brain drain” has been a problem for the area but hopes that BlueTechValley will be able to reverse the cycle by creating new and better paying jobs.

“We might not have the capital as they do in Silicon Valley, but we have the research institutions, the testing capabilities, the industry leaders and, most importantly, the end users,” Petersen said.

Nagamine said the best possibly outcome of the collaboration was for the region to become a Mecca for water, energy and ag technology innovators and inventors.

Laursen echoed Nagamine’s high hopes.

“My personal ambition is for BlueTechValley to be to water what Silicon Valley is to IT,” Laursen said.