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Breakthrough Technology Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the early-stage technology company which made the most impressive commercial breakthrough into the global water technology market in 2020.

Shortlisted Nominees



What is it?

A water quality testing and software company based in Zionsville, Indiana.

What has it done?

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought the spotlight onto water utilities’ role in public health, no start-up capitalised on the opportunity better than 120Water. As well as aggressively building its portfolio of testing solutions beyond its core lead reduction solution, 2020 saw the firm expand its customer base to 19 states, strike up numerous valuable partnerships and enjoy a meteoric rise in its sample kit volume, all resulting in year-on-year revenue growth of 250%.

What makes it special?

With partners, 120Water completed one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 wastewater monitoring studies in the US, producing a one-of-a-kind data stream to help public health officials make decisions for fighting the virus and rolling out vaccines. After setting up a network of surveillance hubs across Indiana in just 3 weeks, 120Water’s modern sample management platform was able to scale to deliver more frequent testing, meaning trends can be spotted earlier and without reporting lags, even in communities with asymptomatic residents.

As regulatory change puts strain on existing workflows, 120Water brings an unparalleled expertise in cloud-based software and digital test kits that allow water utilities to execute their regulatory programmes at scale, while saving operational resources. 2020 saw major utilities in Pittsburgh, Newark and Denver added to the firm’s rapidly expanding customer base, with plenty more customers on the horizon.


In 2020, 120Water expertly balanced building out its core lead reduction expertise – which helps municipalities efficiently inventory existing lead service lines to meet recently revised Lead & Copper Rule requirements – with expanding its testing capabilities for other key contaminants including Legionella and PFAS.


BlueGreen Water Technologies

What is it?

An Israeli company operating in four continents dedicated to promoting the human right for fresh water by eliminating toxic algal blooms.

What has it done?

During 2020 BlueGreen enjoyed an explosive international interest in its innovative solutions to the global epidemic of toxic cyanobacteria, undertaking major projects for cleaning extensive water bodies in China, South Africa and the USA, while adapting its sales force to accommodate this global expansion.

What makes it special?

BlueGreen responded in record time to Florida’s DEP Agency when it required an urgent solution for toxic algal blooms originating from the state’s largest lake, Lake Okeechobee, which were contaminating waterways state-wide. The company has further cemented its solution-driven status in the US in Lake Minneola, Florida, where its preventative approach has kept toxins in the lake below detection levels, while approvals for the use of its products have been obtained in multiple states, including California, New York, and Maine.

The company is also at the centre of China’s unprecedented drive towards cleaning up its polluted water bodies. In June 2020, Nanhu Lake in Hunan Province experienced clean waters for the first time in 12 years thanks to BlueGreen’s solution.


BlueGreen’s solution presents a huge leap forward from the traditional practice of using massive volumes of chemicals to manage cyanobacteria. Its floating, time-releasing products are naturally propelled by winds and currents, selectively eliminating toxic algae while rehabilitating the aquatic ecosystem, and the company further employs its satellite-based capabilities to detect and analyse bloom outbreaks in near real-time all over the world.


Clean TeQ Water

What is it?

The water treatment business of a listed Australian technology company with a wide-ranging portfolio of water treatment technologies.

What has it done?

Clean TeQ Water had a strong 2020, which saw the delivery of projects with its innovative RO-alternative Desalx continuous ion exchange technology in Australia and Oman. The year was topped off with an A$2m contract win for a municipal project treating bore water in Queensland and an A$35m capital raise for rapid growth as it prepares to spin off its water business.

What makes it special?

As miners face increasingly strict water discharge regulations, Clean TeQ Water’s solution offers an alternative to reverse osmosis, alleviating the industry’s growing challenge of managing brine. The firm’s continuous ion exchange plant at the Fosterville Gold Mine in Australia selectively removes contaminants without creating a saline brine, making it a key enabling component of the customer’s water management strategy.

The global war on nitrate pollution has driven the firm to expertly pair its ion exchange technology with its Bioclens encapsulated bacteria to provide a game-changing solution for municipal wastewater treatment. A successful 100m3/d pilot in Tianjin, China, saw nitrate concentration reduced from 15 mg/L down to 0 mg/L, perfectly positioning Clean TeQ to take advantage of the huge Chinese nitrate removal market, and interest in its application on drinking water from the US is already high.


By removing suspended solids and scale-forming ions the Desalx technology can turbocharge the performance of RO, reducing system cost, increasing the life of the membranes and crucially, boosting total system recovery, an increasingly key consideration for clients operating in water-stressed areas.


NX Filtration

What is it?

A Dutch provider of membrane solutions that has developed a hollow fibre nanofiltration membrane.

What has it done?

2020 saw NX Filtration’s ground-breaking one-step membrane process excel in a dizzying number of applications including dirty surface water treatment, wastewater reuse and the removal of micropollutants for both municipal and industrial customers. Major project wins in Indonesia and Sweden were complemented by a rapid global expansion of pilot trials, a huge ramp up in production capacity and the expansion of the sales force to bring a game-changing technology to the world.

What makes it special?

NX Filtration’s membrane provides a step change in water treatment, disrupting traditional treatment trains such as UF-RO in surface water treatment and wastewater reuse applications. The firm demonstrated this to remarkable effect in a project at the Forsmark power plant in Sweden, where its one-step membrane process replaced an existing system based on coagulant injection, dissolved air flotation and sand filtration to produce clean drinking water.

Heavily-polluted water sources are no obstacle to NX Filtration, where in Indonesia, its membranes were chosen to turn the heavily contaminated Masjid river into a valuable source of drinking water for the city of Dumai. Similar commercial projects have followed in the Philippines as the technology’s combination of robustness and little to no chemical requirement makes it a compelling solution for remote applications on a global scale.


By controlling membrane properties on a nanometre level via polyelectrolyte layers, NX Filtration is uniquely positioned to meet the growing challenge of treating micropollutants in different feedwaters. It is part of numerous R&D projects in Europe fine-tuning its membrane for a plethora of applications.


The Global Water Awards 2021 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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