"We are the means by which all of these interacting parts—the research, legal, the piloting of technology in the field—interact," said Alan Vicory, Confluence's board chairman. "We help facilitate the efficiency of the ecosystem—in this case, toward the development and deployment of new technologies—and in doing that, you create economic development by growing indigenous businesses and attracting new ones from the outside."
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How cutting-edge is Confluence? Well, it helped one company, Pilus Energy, in its hometown of Cincinnati develop tiny bacterial robots to turn sewage into electricity and have the promise to change the wastewater industry. After learning about the company through Confluence, the EPA is allowing the $1.7 million project to take place at the EPA's test and evaluation facility, which it runs in partnership with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati.
Another start-up that Confluence has helped is CitiLogics, which makes analytical software to help municipal water companies more efficiently analyze and monitor water supply and infrastructure. And given that there are more than 880,000 miles of piping and other subsurface infrastructure in the U.S., that's no drop in the bucket. Thanks to Confluence's connections, CitiLogics has been able to fast-track product development and beta-test its software at Northern Kentucky Water District and Greater Cincinnati Waterworks.
"That was really helpful for us, because as a start-up—especially in the water industry, which is not generally a rapid adopter of new technologies—we really need to have full-scale beta tests successfully done in order to potentially change the industry," said co-founder Jim Uber, who's also a member of Confluence's executive committee. "Confluence connected the dots for us."