Cincinnati Innovates Announces $10,000 Water Sensor Challenge Winners

Posted by jartese on Jan 16, 2014 4:41:21 PM

Cincinnati Innovates, the region’s annual online innovation competition, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the winners of the $10,000 Water Sensor Challenge which was developed to solicit ideas for a new generation of low-cost, low-maintenance, wireless water level sensors. The sensors allow for broad, system-wide deployment and real-time monitoring of overflows that help utilities meet sanitary and combined sewer overflow (SSO and CSO) requirements set by the Clean Water Act.

Krishna Priya (India) will receive a first prize award of $6,000 for a sensor solution that combined two different types of sensors to generate a more accurate detection of an overflow incident. A prototype of this solution exists and is ready to be tested.

Both Tamus Szalay (USA) and Andre Villemaire (Canada) will receive $2,000 for their innovative technologies that are capable of connecting low-cost sensors with well-established communications systems that can provide real time monitoring.

The local water districts in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have expressed interest in testing some of these technologies.

These prizes are the first of their kind in the Cincinnati Innovates competition, and they honor the EPA’s 100th anniversary of federal water research in Cincinnati. The Water Challenge was a collaboration between  the U.S. EPA, Cincinnati Innovates, InnoCentive, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) and Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky (SD1), Stantec, and Confluence. EPA chose winners based on the recommendations of three external judges from Stantec, MSD, and SD1. The judges considered these winners to be ideal representations of the three most promising and reliable types of sensor solutions for detecting sewer overflows: water level, sonic and capacitive sensor models.

“The winners are providing local utilities with ideas and prototypes to advance sewer monitoring,” said Sally Gutierrez, director of the Environmental Technology Innovation Cluster Development and Support Program in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “By focusing on innovative, low-cost technologies, this challenge is helping Cincinnati and communities around the world solve water problems and protect public health through improved water quality.”

Approximately 600 people around the world looked at the challenge and 56 solvers submitted their ideas. Submissions came from a variety of countries, including Afghanistan, Denmark, India, China, and Uganda.

Now in its fifth year, the Cincinnati Innovates competition has provided more than $350,000 in grant awards.

“The goal of Cincinnati Innovates is to highlight the incredible commitment to innovation and collaboration we have right here in Cincinnati. With the one of the largest water research labs in the country, this region is a driver of water innovation – and this award is just one example,” says Elizabeth Edwards, venture capital investor and founder of Cincinnati Innovates.


More info: Elizabeth Edwards, 513-502-9756,

*Pro-bono legal services applied toward patent applications and prosecution; subject to Ohio legal ethics rules and other terms and conditions. See official contest rules.

Topics: Solvers, Challenges

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