Calgary’s Livestock Water Recycling Takes Home $100,000 at The Challenge

Here’s one Canadian startup that has been rewarded for a rather smelly solution.

Calgary-based small business Livestock Water Recycling has won $100,000 for winning the TELUS and The Globe and Mail’s small business contest, “The Challenge”.

The company researches new manure treatment technologies in support of the less-than-glamorous but quite important work of cleaning livestock manure. If someone can create a better solution that will ultimately prevent me from contracting e-coli, I’m in.

“We’re immensely grateful for this grant that will allow us to innovate in Canada and enter international markets,” said president Ross Thurston. “This represents a huge vote of confidence in the future of our business.”

Entering its third annual call for submissions, The Challenge invited Canadian small businesses to present their biggest business obstacles for a chance to win the grant from TELUS. Entries were accepted between March 18 and May 27, 2013, and business owners were asked to outline their challenge and solution in 800 words or less. Four shortlisted semi-finalists were invited to present their business goals, challenges and proposed solutions to a panel of nine judges in June that included entrepreneurs, Globe and Mail business writers and TELUS business experts.

Livestock Water Recycling specializes in innovative manure treatment technologies for livestock operations, and uses a patented water recycling system to clean and extract fertilizer nutrients from manure for reuse. For a Canadian market, the solution seem brilliant: reducing manure volume by about 85 percent while segregating nutrients and discharging water that’s clean enough to drink. According to the Globe and Mail, “this makes it easier for farmers to transport and apply the treated manure as fertilizer, and to create a nutrient mix that’s suited to their crops.”

But the business has faced market growth challenges resulting from strict government regulations around the importation of livestock manure and the capacity of its research lab. The Globe mentioned that the 23-year-old company had to continually reject business from farmer’s because it lacked the commercial-grade lab needed to satisfy government rules for importing livestock manure.

Upgrading its research and development facility to a commercial-grade, government-approved lab will allow the company to innovate and grow in international markets (while continuing to serve its Canadian customers).

“By definition, Livestock Water Recycling may be a small business, but there’s nothing small about this company’s contribution to the sustainability of our very important agricultural sector,” said Telus’ Jim Senko. “Telus is proud to stand by businesses like Livestock Water Recycling and contribute to their growth and future innovation.”

The Challenge is an annual contest which invites Canadian small business owners to present their biggest business challenge for the opportunity to win a $100,000 grant from TELUS and a national profile in The Globe and Mail.

“There are many innovative small businesses in Canada that have the potential to flourish with the right support,” said the Globe and Mail’s Sean Stanleigh. “We’re pleased to partner with Telus for our third year of The Challenge to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to share their business learnings with the small business community and help them overcome their challenges.”

The Globe and Mail also ran a full profile on Livestock Water Recycling here. The title was clever too: “Manure Processor Comes Out Smelling Like a Rose”.

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