Cleantech Company, Water Refined, Spins Out Industrial Sanitation Product in Response to Pandemic

September 28, 2020

Founded in 2011, Water Refined provides water treatment systems using the process of electrolysis to remove bacteria and viruses. Their systems are used successfully in homes and offices across the country, but the company has also found a significant customer base on dairy farms. The cleaner, more mineral dense water provided through the system means healthier cattle that produce more milk.

In 2019, the company joined The Accelerator Program at the TD Sustainable Future Lab, looking to grow and scale their water filtration business in the agricultural sector. Shortly after joining the program, Water Refined was also selected by the Accelerator Centre to receive the AC JumpStart grant and began looking at ways to expand their success in the dairy industry to other agricultural markets.

“We’ve worked very closely with the AC mentors and they’ve been very helpful,” founder Bryan Box explains.  

Like many other small business, COVID-19 had an impact on Water Refined’s ability to sell and deliver products. At the onset of the pandemic, safety protocols prevented the team from entering homes and places of business; including farms. “We had some revenue coming in, but business slowed,” says Bryan.

Then, the team found an opportunity. “We had a few customers, including a dentist ask us if they could use our electrolysis system to make disinfectant using salt,” Bryan recalls. The combination leads to the creation of a hypochlorous acid; a powerful yet safe disinfectant. “We started experimenting with different ingredients and testing processes until we found something that works really well.”

The resulting product, called PowerPlay, is a rinse-free disinfectant that kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses within 10 minutes. The formula, which is intended for large scale application in nursing homes, schools, office building, transit and other public spaces, is more powerful than bleach but less harmful to the environment.

Large scale anti-viral sanitation is a critical need in the plan to re-open Ontario’s economy and have a safe return to school and work. Having the ability to quickly sanitize surfaces between customers means medical service providers like dentists and chiropractors can operate closer to their normal capacity and small business can have confidence that their facilities are safe for their customers. To make the product even more appealing, the Water Refined team also includes an application fogger with purchase of the sanitizer which further reduces the time it takes to ensure the space is safe for the next customer or guest.

“Business owners want to focus on their businesses and government officials want to focus on keeping people safe. We want to make that easy for them,” Bryan explains. “PowerPlay allows business owners to efficiently sanitize their spaces so they can operate in a greater capacity to provide more services to the community.” The product was a clear winner and there was an urgent need in the market place.

As they started to explore options for sales and distribution, they ran into a challenge. The startup discovered the product would require a DIN number (the numerical code assigned to each drug product marketed under the Food and Drugs Act Regulations) to be sold in Canada. The process for getting a DIN is complex, difficult to navigate, and can take 12-18 months under normal circumstances.

“We almost gave up,” says Bryan. “But the mentor team at the AC encouraged us to continue and we were able to find a consultant, Dell Tech, to help us through the DIN process. Both the AC mentors and the Dell Tech team were instrumental in getting this off the ground.” On July 31, 2020, Water Refined was granted a DIN number for Power Play and started to get the product distributed in Canada.

Today, the Water Refined team is largely focused on the PowerPlay product and is working with government and industry to get the product into the hands of as many businesses as possible. “We’re proud to have received the Made in Ontario designation and are ready to work with businesses and municipalities across Canada.

“We’re really grateful for the support we received from the AC. The mentors really encouraged us when we wanted to give up and were always one step ahead, making sure we were ready for the next challenge.”  

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