Bottle cap that makes clean drinking water for all
Pitch us on your solution
Half of the world's population living in cities do not drink water straight from the tap, that is, even if they have access to a regular piped water supply. Be it due to bad taste, chemicals like chlorine, a turbid interrumpted supply or even due to the presence of pathogens. Faircap designs a set of water purification devices that are easy to use, can be portable and are affordable. From one with a shape of a cap that fits into a standard soda bottle to a family one that can be used with large water bottles even at urban low income households. We would like to reduce the yearly global burden of diarrheal disease of more than 4 billion cases caused by contaminated water and help reduce the consumption of more than 500 billion plastic bottles worldwide.
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What is the problem you are solving?
Health authorities recommend drinking a daily amount of more than 2 liters per day. However half of the world's population either lack access to improved water sources or can't drink water straight from the tap. Many times water comes contaminated with both chemicals that affect the taste or could have long term negative effects in the health of people or simply is contaminated with pathogens, due to lack of resources for the correct treatment at the water plant or due to the storage of water and the regrowth of pathogens. In terms of the environment bottled water consumption has skyrocketed worldwide, mainly due to health concerns about tap water. This creates a large environmental footprint of billions of plastic bottles thrown into landfills and into nature, as well as a high economic cost for such a basic necessity.
Who are you serving?
Most of the people who do not have access to a piped water supply live in the surrounding areas of large cities in developing countries as well as dispersed rural areas. However the clean water problem extends to also middle income urban households in developing countries as well as many cities in developed countries which don't have abundant water resources. The demand to consume clean drinking water extends to everyone in the population. We are initially targeting households in developing countries as well as young to mid age people in developed countries who are conscious about the health benefits of drinking from a cleaner source water and helping to reduce their ecological footprint. At the same time our innovations serve well those people living in poor rural areas and humanitarian settings.
What is your solution?
We design and develop instant purification devices that do not require additional energy or chemicals to make clean drinking water. They can be reused hundreds of times. They are affordable (less than US$0.01 per liter) and practical to use. We combine the latest technologies such a filtration membranes as well as nanomaterials and chemical adsorbing fibers, into very small form factors maintaining an optimal flow rate and removing pathogens like bacteria, protozoa, cysts and even viruses. We openly collaborate with designers and engineers, research universities and non profit organizations to improve and test our products. Founded as a social enterprise our mission is to provide the best and most affordable water technologies to empower people to clean water at the point of use, creating a positive impact in their health as we as the environment. Faircap has been supported by Elrha's Humanitarian Innovation Fund and UK Aid. The technologies we have developed to provide safe clean drinking water during emergencies is now being adapted to people living under more stable environment which are also facing similar challenges due to the increase in the population and the limiited resources that cities have to improve their water supply infrastructure.
Which dimensions of the challenge does your solution most closely address?
Where is your solution team headquartered?Barcelona, Spain
Our solution's stage of development:Pilot
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
We innovate by making practical designs that is easy to use, universal, accessible and affordable, taking inspiration from the philosophy of the open source movement to collaborate openly with different organizations to provide the best technologies and come up with the best solutions to a very large scale problem
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
polymeric membranes, nanomaterials (nanoalumina), activated carbon fibers impregnated with chemically specific adsorbants. These are combined into very small factors that balance the performance, life of the product as well as the costs. We use fast prototyping tools like 3d printing to reduce the innovation lifecycle. The project started as an open source hardware project and we have incorporated this philosophy and collaboration culture to innovate in a much faster and more efficient way.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
We have piloted Faircap in different settings and with different types of users, from very young and highly educated consumers in Europe and the US to very low income people in Peru andn Kenya and even refugees in humanitarian settings with different cultural, socioeconomic backgrounds in Lebanon, Syria and Uganda. In all these pilots the common variable to the adoption of the solution was the intuitive way of using the product, since it is similar as drinking water from a bottle or from a tap in the case of the family format. Having a technology in such a small, personal and easy to use format made it more easy for people to understand the workings of the technology and build more trust for a long term and continued use, which can end up impacting their health by reducing waterborne diseases.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
We have started piloting the final products and new designs and prototypes during 2019, we are installing 200-300 family water purification kits to conduct a larger user feedback study. We have received interest from Unicef to quote up to 20,000 units to support migrant refugees from Venezuela traveling along South America. We are aming at producing in larger volumes in a year to reach 50,000 users. We expect to be serving 5 to 10 million people in the next 5 years.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Our goal within the next year is to gather more real life evidence of the potential impact that our solutions can have to improve people's lifes. We are conducting more trials, developing tests and improving the designs as well as working on our communications to document and show the potential that our business model and our products are able to achieve. We are doing this collaboratively with research institutions like the University of Barcelonas Virus Contaminants labs or the Technical University of Berlin and health organizations working in water and sanitation such as MSF and Oxfam. Within the next five years we hope to be a reference solution in the humanitarian sector for providing household point of use solutions and move onto a consumer and residential market in developing countries like large urban and unattended populations. We aim to continue working in both the humanitarian and bottom of the pyramid population partnering with non profits and develop a strong brand and distribution network for the middle income residential developing country market. Our vision is to provide clean drinking water to all regardless of income disparities and help solve an issue that will become more urgent due to climate change and population growth.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
During the next year we are focused on improving the design of the family format to make it more long lasting and develop an initial distribution network based on the current contacts we have with non profit organizations, direct channels and distributors. In the next 5 years our challenge will be to scale up the team, product development, marketing and the logistics, while financing the operations both with sales, research grants and impact funding.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
We are using our previous experience into developing a final product from scratch to develop a better product for household settings. From design thinking, fast prototyping and lean manufacturing we plan to have a new set of products in a year ready to market. We have also more pilots planned and organized for this year which will help us develop contacts and start developing an initial distribution network. in the next 5 years we plan to grow the team to manage the growth, we are in the process of applying to new funding from foundations for research and development and we hope to have our US patent application granted to fundraise private capital from impact investment funds. Having growing sales will be critical so we will focus on marketing making use of online and social marketing as well as partnering with medium to large companies. We have for instance signed such a partnership with a German glass bottle social company to develop a custom version of our product to their ecological bottles, with sales of over 200,000 units per year.
Select an option below:Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
How many people work on your solution team?
2 Full time members and 2 part time members
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
High commitment to social impact, social entrepreneurship experience, design capabilities, proven track record to research and apply new technologies into the manufacturing of final products.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Oxfam, MSF, Elrha's Humanitarian Innovation Fund, UK Aid, Unicef WASH cluster members, Soulbottles Gmbh, The University of Barcelona's Virus Contaminants Lab, Phd researchers from the Technical University of Berlin and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
What is your business model?
We have a business model that has a traditional financing model thru sales of products at a higher margin to higher income consumers with a cross subsidizing of the costs of the products to lower income consumers or organizations. This Buy1/Give1 model provides a surplus that is used to help grow the project as well as help us accomplish our social mission. We collaborate with large and small NGOs to serve the humanitarian and low income markets as well as with research institutions to provide transparency to our solutions.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Increasing the sales, applying for grants for research and product development as well as raising funding from impact investors
Why are you applying to Solve?
The project was founded with a philosophy to foster and drive collaboration around the global challenge of contaminated drinking water. Presenting our work, networking with like minded indiviuals, social entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, funders and investors has been key to the project from the start. We would like to get challenged by judges and also receive constructive feedback from experts to continue improving our solutions.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
Unicef, other UN agencies, other NGOS, consumer companies related to health, MIT, impact investment funds, Gates Foundation, other research and social design faculties, students, institutions.
If you would like to apply for the Innovating Together for Healthy Cities Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
Faircap was founded with a vision to use open source design, collaboration and technologies to solve a very universal and growing global problem, water quality and water scarcity. We did not develop our first products and solutions in a lab, we did so by collaborating and working together with students, research faculty, non profits, aid organizations, private companies, individuals, manufacturers and regular citizens that supported the project in some way or anothe providing advice, experience, funding and many other resources solely due to the vision of the project, to provide a solution in a very open, transparent, simple to use and affordable way. Joining efforts has been key to overcoming different challenges that we faced to take an idea into a final working product. We are now using the same methodology and model to test it in real life and then to distribute it around the world. This open innovation model we believe can serve as an example of how different actors, be it regular citizens to large non governmental institutions and companies can join efforts to solve big challenges.
- Mauricio Cordova Founder, Faircap CIC