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Posted: Tuesday, March 09 2010. 10:50

Tech Talk: Vineyard Irrigation Wins Start Up Prize

A Web application that alerting wine grape farmers when their vines are thirsty has won first place in a competition to spur entrepreneurs in the investment-starved water sector, organizers said on Monday with Fruition Sciences operating in California and France coming first among 50 teams in Imagine H2O's global competition aimed at building a Silicon Valley for water.

Water is a $500 billion business worldwide, but draws a mere 0.5 to 1.0 percent of venture capital and only a handful of investments per year despite growing demand for solutions to widespread water shortages, says a news report.

The prize rewards the business plans with the greatest promise of breakthroughs in the efficient use and supply of water, and Fruition was able to show significant water savings for nine California grape growers that used the monitor.

"In the water sector, most entrepreneurs want to be in every single market, but Fruition has started out with an intriguing niche market where they can polish their idea and then go broader into other agricultural markets," said Scott Bryan, director of operations for Imagine H2O, a non-profit backed by Royal Bank of Canada and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Fruition co-founder Sebastian Payen said he saw a real challenge in the wine industry because there were "absolutely no plant-based sensors to optimize water management. "He combined his expertise in sensor and information technology with co-founder Thibaut Scholasch's research on vine water status to create the Web application.

The tank already sells in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom and markets are opening in India and Japan.

Once it goes to market, the Water Smart application could reportedly save participating homeowners an average of bout 60,000 liters of water per year, and in some cases lead to a total water usage reduction of 20 percent.

       

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