Politicians love to use the word “innovation” in regard to job creation. On the evening of Thursday, August 6, I had the opportunity to watch both Presidential debates with 17 Republican candidates campaigning for the Presidency. Sadly, there was no discussion of American infrastructure or American water infrastructure repair (that conversation is for another day). What I did hear was the word “innovation” used multiple times.
Having spent the last 25 years in the technology industry, I have heard the word “innovation” thousands of times. Here is the definition of the word innovation:
- To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products.
- The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
- A new method, idea, product, etc.
“technological innovations designed to save energy”
- The action or process of innovating.
“no appliance manufacturer can survive without an ongoing commitment to innovation”
Many Americans equate the word innovation with advanced technology that they do not understand. Innovation has been slowed in the water industry by barriers to entry, fragmented market and lack of capital to manufacture products. Look at innovation in IT and consumer electronics during the last 35 years. I am writing this article on my Mini, submitting it via my smart phone, and our subscribers will receive it thanks to a blast from our database…enough said.
What has been the primary innovation in the water industry for the consumer? Bottled water. Today, U.S. consumers spend $7 billion per year on bottled water. This result has occurred due to perceived water contamination and obesity. Bottled water is poised to overtake soda as America’s foremost commercial drink within the next year. Americans drank 10.9 billion gallons of it in 2014, a 7.3% increase over 2013. The reality is that last year 25% of all bottles of bottled water sold in the U.S. were nothing more than tap water, and even worse, much of this was not even filtered and purified. So, if you are going to drink tap water, then you might as well filter your own.
An alternative to bottled water is Watercura®’s new portable water filter. The Water Innovations Alliance Foundation (WIAF) is proud to select Watercura as our 2015 Innovative Product of the Year. We have followed the evolution of this product from concept, to design of a prototype, to manufacturing.
Innovation in the water industry is the ability to invent a product which creates value and solves a consumer’s problem of having access to clean water. Kudos to the Watercura team for designing, manufacturing and selling a product to consumers that offers an alternative to bottled water. That’s innovation!
Mr. Caprio is the founder and executive director of the Water Innovations Alliance Foundation (WIAF). As the executive director of WIAF, Mr. Caprio writes a regular column for GE’s Our Water Counts blog. Mr. Caprio is the founder and event director of the Water 2.0 Conference series, with the next event being held on November 18, 2015, in Washington, DC. Mr. Caprio is one of the foremost advocates for government funding of emerging technologies at both the state and federal levels. Mr. Caprio has testified before Congress and the state legislatures of New York and Connecticut, and he has been an invited speaker at over 100 conferences.
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