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Water efficiency firm awarded $3m for irrigation management system

PowWow Energy, a California-based start-up providing Software as a Service (SaaS) for water efficiency, raised $3m in funding.

PowWow Energy, a California-based start-up company providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for increasing water use efficiency, raised $3 million in funding to bring energy efficiency to the agriculture and water sectors.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded $2.3 million to the company to fund two years of large-scale implementation for its second product, a full irrigation management solution that covers almond, alfalfa, pistachio and tomato farms, according to the press release. The remainder was injected through angel funding from family offices in California and Colorado.

Funding will be used to accelerate the growth of its first SaaS product, Pump Monitor, which smart leak detection, during the drought and to fund two years of implementation for its second product, Irrigation Advisor, on five Central Valley farms spanning more than 1,600 acres, according to a statement.

PowWow was awarded the top prize at the Cleantech Open in 2013, among 400 start-ups that applied to the national accelerator, which helped connect the company with its other peers in agriculture at the Water Efficiency Technology (WET) centre on California State University’s Fresno campus, Agri Investor learned.

“We invited PowWow Energy to join our cohort of start-ups in Fresno, and we have been very impressed with how they listened to local growers and forged new relationships in farming,” Helle Petersen, general manager of The WET centre, said in a statement. “There are opportunities in agriculture to improve water use efficiency and energy efficiency.”

Mike Chrisman, former California Secretary for Natural Resources, joined PowWow’s board recently as an adviser and said he has been impressed by how the company quickly grew the platform and brought a new approach to water and energy management.

Farming and food processing in the Central Valley, California, represents a $20 billion industry. Alfalfa, pistachio and tomato farms alone total 2.4 million acres in California. PowWow’s technology provides a full irrigation management solution by integrating pump monitoring data with aerial imagery from partners and local data from existing farming records and it does not require any hardware.

“We benefited from the support from several communities in Northern and Southern California who saw a need to act while the VC industry is still trying to understand the water conundrum,” PowWow chief executive Olivier Jerphagnon said in a statement. Jerphagnon was also the co-organiser of the first hackathon for agriculture supported by the USDA.

“We won’t solve the water crisis and create economic opportunities without taking the best of Central Valley and Silicon Valley together.”