Column: Guest writer Paul O’Callaghan, CEO of BlueTech Research

Published on
June 11, 2019

Why do we use energy to treat wastewater, when it contains energy, why do we take potable water to flush a toilet, why do we produce drinking water, that so many people do not drink? The paradoxical nature of water was something that fascinated Leonardo Da Vinci over 500 years ago. He described water as the vehicle of nature, vetturale di natura, believing that water was to the world what blood is to our bodies. Today we need minds like that of Leonardo Da Vinci, a scientist and engineer, who stood at the crossroads between science and the humanities, an artist and inventor and someone who was imaginative, at times heretical not afraid to think differently. What conventional wisdom would he have challenged if he looked at our current systems today?

In my current PhD research at ETE, I study the process of Water Innovation. This synergizes with my work as CEO of BlueTech Research. It adds a theoretical aspect that underpins our work to analyze the future of water technology markets. In water, we only make radical changes, when faced with a crisis. Today we are facing such a crisis: a changing climate, population increases and economic growth, which collectively create a perfect storm for water.

I am fortunate at the moment to be working on a water documentary project, Brave Blue World. When we interviewed actor Matt Damon and founder of, he ended his remarks by saying: ‘How exciting is it that we can be the generation that solved water. That in a hundred years, people will wish they were alive at a time when they could have solved a problem this big’. I think this is an inspiring message and perhaps even Leonardo Da Vinci might have had the same wish!