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Breakthrough Technology Company of the Year

For the early-stage technology company which made the most impressive commercial breakthrough into the global water technology market in 2022.


What is it?

A US start-up company harnessing the properties of zwitterions – molecules with an equal number of positively- and negatively-charged groups – to create robust polymeric membranes for industrial applications. Its flagship spiral-wound superfiltration (SF) membrane is hydrophilic and immune to fouling, enabling it to treat the most challenging industrial wastewater streams.

What has it done?

2022 saw ZwitterCo reach new heights, with an injection of $33 million of funding in September billed as the largest ever Series A round for a water technology start-up. The company also rapidly scaled up its commercial activities, delivering 4 million gallons a day of treatment capacity and booking 16 projects with a range of industrial clients.

What makes it special?

ZwitterCo is taking membrane technology to new frontiers, enabling access to applications where treatment options were previously confined to dissolved air flotation or effluent hauling. The fouling-resistant SF membrane is more durable than conventional PES and PVDF options, offers a longer lifecycle at reduced operating costs and can be easily retrofitted into existing treatment systems.

Capitalising on a growing appetite for recovering value from waste, ZwitterCo is unlocking revenue from the wastewater streams of its high-profile industrial clients. Its addressable markets span from protein recovery from pet food processing to fat separation from the dairy industry, enabling synergies across treatment processes while also boosting water reuse rates. A partnership with Digested Organics, announced last October, opened up new growth markets in treating digestate to support the recovery of 50% of the stream for water reuse and the other half as a high-value fertiliser.


ZwitterCo rapidly exceeded growth expectations in 2022, and is set to continue building on an impressive pipeline of seven commercial projects and 13 pilots. Key commercial contracts driving the growth of the company included a five-year subscription deal with a major biotechnology firm.



What is it?

A Canadian start-up offering a cloud-based machine learning software platform which leverages artificial intelligence to optimise the operations of wastewater treatment and desalination plants. Offered under a software-as-a-service model, its proprietary algorithms are used to create digital twins of facilities.

What has it done?

Pani rapidly accelerated its activities over the past year, with 150 plants signing up to its Process Operations AI platform by the end of 2022, while its team doubled in size to 45 members. With a firm foothold established in providing energy, water and cost savings for treatment plants, its next target is to boost its emissions reduction efforts.

What makes it special?

Pani’s core value proposition lies in uncovering optimisations in existing treatment processes, claiming a raft of efficiencies including reducing operating costs and energy consumption by up to 15% and 20%, respectively. With a particular focus on enhancing the performance of reverse osmosis membranes, its digital twin can be used to hone process improvements to cleaning cycles and chemical consumption.

Process Operations AI is scaling to new heights and is now deployed across ten countries at a range of the largest and most innovative treatment plants. Pani’s solution is optimising operations at Orange County Water District’s pioneering large-scale Groundwater Replenishment System and Sojeco South Jeddah Corniche Desalination Plant in Saudi Arabia Meanwhile, partnerships with Coca-Cola and Aquatech were also cemented in 2022.


Pani is setting its sights on contributing to the decarbonisation of the water sector, committing to a lofty target of reducing global emissions by 510 million tons/year by 2032. To achieve this, the company is targeting facilities in emerging markets to integrate Process Operations AI alongside existing sensors and resources, to maximise return on investment in regions contributing to a large proportion of the water sector’s emissions.

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