Menu Close

Tao Bindslev

Impact entrepreneur

Water Crises rises to the #1 Global Risk in 2015

On it’s 10th anniversary of the World Economic Forums Global Risk report “Interstate conflict” ranks #1 in terms of likelihood followed by extreme weather events, however from an impact perspective “Water crises” rises top for the first time. Water was added to the list four years ranked #2, however with this years ranking I suggest the regrettable consequences of the water crises that brought us here, will create the the much needed political pull for entrepreneurial companies and investors to participate in solving the global water challenges with public utilities and cities.  Elsewhere in Davos, Pharrell Williams and Al Gore announce the single biggest event in history with plans to bring together 1 billion people on LIVE EARTH with one message to take action on climate now!

2015 Global Risk No 1 Water Crises

For further details go to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk Reports site which has excellent detail and visualizations.

/Tao BIndslev

The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

Data scientist may be the sexiest job of near future per a cool article by Harvard Business Review. The article claims data scientists today are akin to the Wall Street “quants” of the 1980s and 1990s.

On a similar subject, here is one of my all time favourite data driven visualisations from David Mccandless coined the Billion Dollar Gram, which analysis billions spend relative one another.



Smart cities secure water supplies while global risks loom

full article published by



Private companies have a role to play in helping cities overcome water challenges, says Tao Bindslev, Grundfos Group Vice President. Photograph: Grundfos

Around the world cities are creating dramatic water savings with water metres, pressure management, groundwater conservation and more. But is it enough?

From fixing leaks in Johannesburg, to topping up groundwater in Salisbury, to flushing toilets with seawater in Hong Kong, municipalities around the world are working to save water and make their distribution systems more efficient.

The need for action to secure future water supplies is clear enough.

“The issue of water is paramount, and the pressure on cities is increasing,” says Seth Schultz, director of research of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of cities taking action to reduce carbon emissions and climate risks.

Among other things, he cites a recent C40 survey of major cities around the world in which 65% of these municipalities are expecting “substantive risks” to their water supplies. These risks include water scarcity, declining water quality, flooding and an inadequate or ageing water infrastructure.

Copenhagen cuts water consumption in half

One city that has successfully met the challenge of diminishing water supplies is Copenhagen. The Danish capital managed to reduce its yearly water consumption from 100m m3 in the late 1970s to 55m today. Water metering is one of many strategies that helped the city to reach this achievement.

“Without individual water metres, a consumer has no incentive to save. But after we installed metres, we could see over a period of years that consumption was reduced by an average of 15%,” says planning manager Jens Andersen of the Greater Copenhagen Utility Company.

Reducing leak losses

Like many other water-wise cities, Copenhagen also worked to reduce leaks. Studies from the 2030 Water Resources Group show that 50% or more of the water that is pumped into a distribution grid can be lost before it ever reaches the consumer.

Water-saving campaigns, rising water prices and a growing awareness of the need for conservation have also helped reduce consumption.

“Our leakage losses are now down to just 7%,” says Jens Andersen. “Thanks to some highly advanced listening equipment, we’ve become better at finding the holes in our pipes. We’re also better at renewal planning, so we can prioritise the oldest and most heavily used areas of the grid.”

‘Smart’ technologies take off the pressure

In the 2030 Water Resources Group case studies, many cities – including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Jeddah – also found that if they simply reduce water pressure in the grid, they also reduce leakage and minimise wear and tear on ageing pipes.

To this end, smart technologies such as the Demand Driven Distribution pressure control system developed by Grundfos can save both water and money by delivering optimal water pressure at any given time, says group vice president Tao Bindslev, who heads up the company’s water utility business.

“This system can automatically monitor grid use patterns with remote sensors and adjust the water pressure accordingly,” he says. “This reduces both water and electricity consumption by up to 20%, and water pipes will last longer because they are less likely to crack.”

The return on investment, says Tao Bindslev, is “very short. In some cases down to a year.”

Private companies with specialised knowledge such as Grundfos have a role to play in helping cities overcome their water supply challenges, says Tao Bindslev.

“Grundfos is working with city designers and consultants at every point in the water cycle on creating sustainable urban designs for water management systems,” he says.

Still no ‘distant oasis’

But not all responses to water conservation projects have been positive. A study by the US environmental group Nature Conservancy is sceptical of expensive water projects. It contends that cities need to rethink the practice of establishing new water sources in faraway rivers and reservoirs. Ultimately, there is no “distant oasis” that can solve a city’s water problems.

Instead, the study points to conservation as the most sustainable and cost-effective way to address water shortages. One of the most effective ideas of all, the authors argue, involves local farms.

Massive amounts of water could be freed up for urban use if cities compensate farmers for establishing more efficient irrigation technologies such as lined canals and improved delivery systems. The farmers would also benefit from the subsidy, and experience increased productivity.

Cities are ready and able to change

Despite the challenges, Seth Schultz is convinced that cities are both willing and able to make the changes that are necessary for a sustainable, water-scarce future.

“The good news is that city mayors actually have very strong powers in the water sector, as such cities have the ability to make changes in this area,” he says. “So yes, I’m very optimistic. But I also know how much more needs to happen.”

SOURCE: Guardian

Speaking at the Global Green Growth Forum as panelist on water challenges

I spoke the Global Green Growth Forum on the subject of Smart City Water Supply – smart energy efficient water supply through use of data. My fellow panelists from IBM, C40 cities and Jakarta Water Utility put on a interesting debate moderated by Nille Juul-Sørensen from the Danish Design Center.


Here is my speak in bulletform:

Opening remarks

  • When we search the universie for life, we search for water, because it is only from liquid water all know forms of life exists. Earth is the only planet know to harbor life, the only planet know to flow with water” (source: Blue Gold: World Water Wars documentary (3,30min)
  • Water by the very fact that is shows up in so many different sectors of the economy, it’s actual importance is sometimes diluted out. (Upmanu Lall)
  • As a sector, water is very diverse and not very well understood in term of the actions people need to take. Biggest problem is the lack of transparency, lack of data and lack of analysis as to what the issues are. (Upmanu Lall).

1) Be relentlessly ambitious about driving change through INNOVATION in all dimensions

  • Driving innovation across all dimensions is key to accelerate value of  water supply products and services to those who need it the most:  Product design, Cost structures, Materials and resources selection, delivery experience and supply chain.
  • To gain the efficiencies you need seamless integration of components to provide holistic solutions that is designed with consideration of it’s surrounding environment.
  • CASE: Grundfos has integrated vertically in its product design starting with the pump, then integrating motors to securing higher overall efficiency and easier installation and lower maintenance cost. Another step forward in a holistic approach to secure optimized and effective operation was achieved when controls and monitoring was added. Today Grundfos is a strong believer in providing or partnering with advanced software and applications, to ensure connectivity and enable smart cities to optimise their water supply.
  • The good news: ”The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed” (William Ford Gibson).
  • Technology is mature, it’s time to begin scaling the successful pilots and accelerate technology adoption.

2) CASE for reducing non revenue water (NRW) with intelligent systems and optimized pressure management

  • Non revenue water and Water Losses equal 45 million cubic meters (of drinking water) are lost daily through water leakage in the distribution networks – enough to serve nearly 200 million people (World Bank 2006). Leakage losses up to 50 percent in emerging markets.
  • The number risk to municipal water supply in the C40 cities is water stress and scarcity (Source: C40 summary report 2013
  • Energy Consumption “Out of all energy produced globally, estimated 8% is used to lift groundwater and pump it through pipes, and to treat both groundwater and wastewater”. (Hoffman, 2011). A figure that rises to around 40 percent in developed countries” (WEF, 2011).
  • Constant pressure increases burst frequency up to 300% demand driven pressure control (Welsh Water)FINISH: The cost of action is lower than inaction
  • Several solutions exists today due to recent technology developments that can help address the water leakage challenges such as: Pipeline management (Change pipes, Reline pipes, repair practices), Active leakage control (acoustic, ultra sonic, mobile systems) and Pressure management.
  • Payback times are generally short on most of these solutions, with the exception of changing and repairing pipes.
  • Grundfos has invested into solutions with short payback times within pressure management, we call this Demand Driven Distribution, which consists of the following components: 1) Intelligent pump system at the source 2) Sensors transmitting data on pressure from “critical points” in the water distribution pipes and 3) Software algorithms optimising and adapting to the pressure needed depending on time of day.
  • It is critical that NRW levels are monitored at least annually so that the city has a historical baseline to compare against when new technologies are implemented. You can’t manage, what you can’t measure.

3) Call for ACTION

In the battle against water stress using technologies and methods of water leakage, I recommend the following steps:

Policy makers:

  • Set maximum targets for water leakage specified down to city levels.
  • Orchestrate mandatory benchmarking with third party measurements practices on annual basis (common standards already developed by European Commission and deployed nationally by local authorities ie DANVA in Denmark)

Water utilities

  • Conduct NRW assessments to evaluate potential savings on water and energy.
  • Create awareness of methods to manage city water resources in a sustainable via smart metering.


  • Bundle the different parts of the solution to accelerate ease of deployment (ie pumps, sensors, contracting, service and financing with optional performance contracting).
  • Create focused coalitions on specific and shared challenges across value chain to create transparency.

Research (ie IGRAC)

  • Continue to improve quality of data and intelligence on water. Data needs to be actionable which requires a high level og granularity, research collaboration and open access.


  • Push for sustainable water practices from public sector.

Concluding remarks

  • I am excited to participate in this gathering of thought leaders with actionable influence.
  • This group of likeminded individuals with a common purpose coming together, creates a strong sense of urgency and coordinated action across the value chain.
  • The common understanding of key challenges within water leakage has been demonstrated by yesterdays commitment and signature of the water leakage learning network by selected water utilities, financial entities, governmental representatives and private sector representatives such as Grundfos.
  • Enough talk, let’s go do it!

Paul Polman: One-third of all the food we produce go to waste while 870 million people go hungry every day

I just returned from annual Global Green Growth Summit 2013 in Copenhagen. Paul Polman, the CEO from Unilever, was a panelist at several of the sessions I sat in on. His contributions specifically on food and agriculture raised the quality of the discussions to a heightened level of alertness from the crowd. I have rarely seen anyone so elegantly describe complex issues with a perfect blend of staggering disturbing statistics, big picture thinking and common sense business fundamentals. I researched Paul a bit upon my arrival home and find his recent blog post “Sustainable Business: Where Our Moral Compass Meets the Bottom Line” – a very interesting read with very sharp and cool statements regarding the role of business today.

Source: UN Food and Agricultural Organization report

Top 10 downfalls on business plan presentations

This is an all time favourite 10 slider on the typical and still very frequent mistakes on investor and business plan pitches. I personally used this as one of my reference slides when I worked in Venture Capital. Although it was designed with startups in mind, it carries much learning for corporate as well.

Source: Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs.

Older Posts