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Clean Water Wave

This climate positive start-up invented the CAFE (Clean Aqua for Everyone) filter. It offers a sustainable, long-term solution to contaminated drinking water in communities around the world. Here, founder Stephanie Terreni Brown talks to us about her business, and how ECCI’s Climate-KIC Accelerator helped her get started.

In a nutshell, what is your product all about?

CAFE is a decentralised water treatment system that generates clean, safe drinking water. It’s very simple to install, manage and operate and it can support around 1,000 people per day. It offers a sustainable solution for those who might otherwise have to drink contaminated water, or buy expensive and unsustainable bottled water.

“CAFE is designed to improve people’s daily lives, no matter where the water is coming from or what power is available.” Clean Water Wave founder, Stephanie Terreni Brown

How did you come up with your idea?

CAFE was borne out of my frustration at seeing so many water technologies not working in low- and middle-income countries.

How would you sum up Clean Water Wave’s business opportunity?

It’s significant. The World Economic Forum consistently places water at the top of its ‘crisis list’. It reports that the nexus of water, food, energy and climate change will shape the world by 2030.

What’s your background, and the backgrounds of your co-founders?

Between the three of us, we have a PhD in toilets (yes, really), a PhD in marine science and an MBA. We also have decades of experience working in the water sector, plus years spent working in international development.

Could you tell us about how your product works?

The CAFE filter doesn’t need costly chemicals with large carbon footprints, and it’s very low energy. We can run the system with a small solar-powered pump, or even just by gravity. Unlike some other systems, our filter doesn’t use sand, which can cause significant environmental damage. Instead we use recycled glass. It lasts for 20+ years, which is not only more more sustainable, but also much more reliable.

What plans do you have for expansion?

This year, we’re on target to pilot our systems in Scotland, Bangladesh and Zambia. We also want to create training and entrepreneurship opportunities in developing countries.

“Our ultimate goal? To help provide clean, safe drinking water for 10 million people within the next 10 years.” Clean Water Wave founder, Stephanie Terreni Brown

What challenges have you faced along the way?

Same as any start-up, but it’s the challenges that drive us! They make us more determined to keep going and succeed.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting positive feedback from potential clients about our system. Knowing that there’s a huge demand and support for what we’re doing is brilliant.

What are your views the Scottish sustainability scene?

It’s thriving, and I believe it can have a huge impact internationally.

How has ECCI’s EIT Climate-KIC programme helped?

Winning competitive funding shows a degree of confidence in you and your business, which helps generate more interest and support. ECCI has invaluable networks too. I met a lot of great people and learned lots from the other companies on the programme.

“The Climate-KIC Accelerator programme has really helped Clean Water Wave go from being an idea to a dream realised. In the short time of the programme, we’ve incorporated as a company, developed our business model and attracted funding so we can pilot our project.” Clean Water Wave founder, Stephanie Terreni Brown

What difference do organisations like ECCI make to low carbon entrepreneurs like you?

In addition to the above, having access to a world-class work space, full of enthusiastic, knowledgeable people, is hugely helpful.

What inspires you?

Knowing that we can make a big difference to people’s health, livelihoods and to their environments.

Inspired by Stephanie's story?

You could be our next low carbon entrepreneur. Find out more about the EIT Climate-KIC programme at ECCI.