UH Startup Makes WAVVES for the Future of Clean Water Technology


Natalie Thayer

WAVVE Stream, a University of Houston startup company committed to increasing global access to clean water, recently racked up another award for their novel nano-sized water filtration system.

Debora Rodrigues, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, developed the technology for the water filtration system, which uses hydrogel beads to remove contaminants from water. She was connected to WAVVE co-founders Eric Beydoun and Ivette Rubio, both UH Bauer College of Business alumni, through the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. Together, they developed a business plan to bring the filtration system to the commercial market.

Earlier this year, WAVVE was awarded a Stage I grant from VentureWell through its three-stage E-Team Program. VentureWell is a non-profit organization that strives to help an emerging generation of young scientists launch ventures that improve life for people and the planet. Their E-Team Program aims to provide early-stage support to student entrepreneurs whose inventions have the potential for social, global and environmental impact.

"[With these grants,] we are continuing our legacy as a leader in supporting science- and technology-based entrepreneurship in higher education," said Phil Weilerstein, president of VentureWell.

As Stage I grant recipients, WAVVE received $5,000, an invitation to a conference on innovation articulation and the opportunity to apply for the second stage of the program. This month, VentureWell awarded WAVVE a Stage II E-Team Grant, which included an additional prize of $20,000 and the opportunity to apply for the third and final stage of the program.

Beydoun, who has spent much of the past year honing his ability to pitch the company to investors, said the team was grateful to VentureWell and excited about the opportunities available to WAVVE as a Stage II recipient.

“This grant will enable us to further test WAVVE technology with potential customers," he said.

Currently, WAVVE’s technology enhances industrial water systems by implementing a cost effective and sustainable gel to remove harmful contaminants in water. But Rodrigues said this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that the technology has even greater commercial potential.

“This prestigious award will help bring WAVVE Stream even further into the spotlight as a promising water treatment startup company,” she said. “The funds will allow exploration of the WAVVE technology with new contaminants.”

Rodrigues was recently recognized for her work in clean energy by the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to her involvement in WAVVE Stream, Rodrigues is working to develop other bio- and nanotechnologies to reduce energy costs in water and wastewater treatment.

Learn more about VentureWell’s E-Team Program and other student grants at


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