Aqua Intelligent Technology helps small cities, First Nations and remote communities improve the efficiency of drinking water utilities and detect potential water contamination in the water source. As a result, it makes safe drinking water for rural communities and First Nations.
Our mission is to provide drinking water for everyone everywhere.
Tell us about yourself?
I obtained my Ph.D. in water treatment from the Chemical Engineering department at UBC in 2017. I was a researcher and project manager in RES’EAU Water-Net and contributed to projects for the removal of Manganese and Arsenic, Biofiltration, and UV-disinfection projects in Canada. After 13 years of experience developing novel technologies for small water systems, I incorporated Aqua Intelligent Technology, which is developing and offering solutions to address long-standing drinking water challenges, including boil water advisories, in small and Ingenious communities in Canada. As a CEO, I have been facing and resolving many difficulties associated with developing novel technologies to support our fellow Canadians living in those communities. I was nominated for BC Cleantech Industry Impact Award in 2020 and won BC FAST PILOT award from the National Research Council of Canada and Innovate BC to install pilots at drinking water utilities in Lytton First Nation. Also, I was recognized as one of the top ten promising startups in the Angels for Climate Solution program organized by Vancouver Economic in 2022.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Nothing. It was the only way I passed to make this venture.
What problem does your business solve?
The drinking water sources in small communities and First nations are non-protected and exposed to harmful contaminations due to industrial and farming activities. Furthermore, the entire process of drinking water treatment is usually managed manually by operational staff, who use their judgment to set chemical dosages, turn pumps on/off, and resolve any issue in the whole system. Typically, such drinking water utilities do not have any reliable solution to make safe drinking water.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Facing the First Nations water problem during my studies at UBC inspired me to find a sustainable solution for this problem. Water problem in rural and small communities is not only technical. Long Financial management cycles, cultural restrictions, and regulations also affect technology development and the process of generating solutions.
I remember when I started my Ph.D. at UBC. I was a researcher in RES’EAU Water-Net, which works closely with community partners to understand the limitations and constraints they face. First Nation water problem complex inspires me to find a solution. I told myself somebody should step forward and make fingers dirty. Therefore, I ran Aqua Intelligent Technology (aquaintelligent.ca).
What is your magic sauce?
Despite mature solutions for water management, the existing solutions rarely address the water problem in rural and indigenous communities, which is completely tackled by Aqua’s product.
Aqua’s core product is a combination of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, web/mobile applications, and an artificial intelligent (AI)-based platform for sensors data analytics.
Aqua APP offers a shiny IoT platform that operates on cellphones. With the results from the analysis, authorities and water operators can make data-driven decisions. The most general purposes of the platform are remote monitoring of the system, sensors coverage, visualizing the results of data analyses (anomaly detection, system health check), and receiving notifications for alarms and warnings. The App was designed for water operational staff in small and rural communities who need to understand the source of the problem and the solution.
The Aqua IoT device, on the other hand, is able to collect data from a remote area, most likely, with limited or no Internet and cellular connectivity and electricity. The Aqua-IoT Technology (sensor nodes) uses a modified custom-design version of LoRa (short for Long Range), the new and emerging wireless standard, to develop custom-designed sensor nodes on top of the LoRaWAN (short for LoRa vast area network) communication protocol. The technology is useful for many rural and small communities located in remote areas.
The Aqua-AI is an integrated system to monitor and detect contamination events and provides timely alerts by detecting anomalous and gradual changes in the physical, chemical, and biological qualities of water by processing sensor data. The AI algorithm is equipped with a hydraulic model predictor to capture the water flow in rivers and streams to detect the location of contamination.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Our goal is to help 1,000,000 people in small and rural communities to access safe drinking water in 5 years.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Funding is crucial for improving technology, hiring the right people, and launching a comprehensive marketing strategy to get a foothold in the market. However, sourcing enough money to start Aqua Intelligent is difficult. As an entrepreneur, I faced several challenges while seeking the funds, in part because I had to convince others that my idea was a solid investment.
How can people get involved?
I had a chance to work on some projects in First Nation communities and learned about their culture and water problems. However, doing business with First Nation needs a partner to strengthen the connection, create an open dialogue, and accelerate the sales process. In this way, New nation Developments (NND) in Sasketchwean assist us. NND facilitates long-term, sustainable business opportunities for, and between, Indigenous Nations and private sector companies and is our sales partner.