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IDB Lab and Isle Utilities partner to help water utilities in Brazil pilot water technology

  • IDB Lab and Isle Utilities partner to help water utilities in Brazil pilot water technology
  • New funding source for trials of new technologies that increase capacity of water utilities in Brazil.

About the entity

Isle Utilities
Innovation consultancy specialising in the development and commercialisation of emerging technologies in the water & environmental sectors.

Today Isle Utilities announced that the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, IDB Lab, is co-funding an innovative technology accelerator mechanism for water utilities in Brazil to find and deploy promising new technologies. The partnership is a new approach to funding and scaling breakthrough water technologies specifically in Brazil, called the “Brazil Trial Reservoir.” It provides water technology innovators access to capital for pilot projects, with an initial focus on technologies that increase the efficiency and reduce the carbon emissions of water treatment systems. Technology trials and pilots are generally required in advance of full-scale implementations.

The Brazil Trial Reservoir will make a pool of funding available to early-stage technology companies, giving them the capacity to undertake trial deployments with Brazilian water utilities. The ‘reservoir’ of funding will be replenished when the successful technology companies repay their loans at the end of the trial from the proceeds of commercial contracts, when the trials move to full deployments. The Trial Reservoir model has become a proven success during Isle’s implementation of a global Trial Reservoir over the past year, and IDB Labs is a foundation sponsor of a Brazilian initiative to promote innovation in the country.

“We are proud to share that IDB and Isle have joined forces to launch the Trial Reservoir financing mechanism in Brazil,” said Natalia Laguyás, IDB Lab Senior Specialist. “The inclusion of new technologies in water and sanitation can improve quality, reliability, and access to water and sanitation services. Trial Reservoir will speed up the adoption of innovation at scale to effectively address the needs of the sector in the country”.

The Brazil Trial Reservoir will make a pool of funding available to early-stage technology companies

Significant limitations persist in the quality, reliability, and continuity of access of Brazilians to water and sanitation services. Increasingly intense and frequent extreme climatic events add greater uncertainty about the availability of water supplies and their quality, impeding service delivery. The incorporation of new technologies in water and sanitation could solve many of these problems. However, even among leading utilities, the speed of adoption of innovation is not fast enough nor at the scale to effectively address the problems. This project will test the Trial Reservoir financing mechanism in Brazil.

The Trial Reservoir blends loan financing with technology accelerators and market penetration for innovations in water and renewable energy. The model was launched in November 2021.

In both the global Trial Reservoir and the Brazil Reservoir, we give loans to technology developers to undertake trials with the end-users (i.e. their potential clients), provided there is a contract in place committing the end-user to implement the technology IF the trial is a success. If the trial succeeds, the end-user and the technology developer have a commercial transaction that provides revenue to the innovator, who then repays the loan. If the trial fails, the user does not have to procure anything and Isle write off the technology developer’s loan.

 “IDB Lab’s sponsorship of the Brazil Trial Reservoir does much more than just create financial capacity for innovation in water utilities in Brazil,” said Dr Jo Burgess, Head of the Trial Reservoir global initiative. “The Brazil Trial Reservoir brings together all the players needed to bring new technologies to market – utilities, investors, start-ups, non-profits - in a challenging economy. By removing financial uncertainty, partnerships between utilities and innovators can focus on solving a community’s water challenges and getting new water technologies proven in the marketplace.”

The Brazil Trial Reservoir is open to technology vendors actively supporting trials in the water industry. The only requirement is that the technology being tested must be ready to implement at commercial scale with an end-user, be that a municipal utility or an industrial / commercial water user or wastewater manager. 

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