Revolutionary Water Treatment Solution for Cities awarded today

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Revolutionary Water Treatment Solution for Cities awarded today

City Solution of the Year Pharem Biotech to Receive $100,000

The 2021 QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge, hosted by Leading Cities in partnership with QBE North America, concluded today with the City Solution of the Year awarded to Pharem Biotech, an innovative cleantech company with a highly efficient and sustainable approach to water treatment.

Current trends indicate that pharmaceuticals leaking into waterways could increase by two-thirds before mid-century and The World Health Organization has identified this as one of the five top challenges facing the future of humanity.

By removing hazardous organic pollutants from water, Pharem Biotech can help by removing substances like pharmaceutical waste that enters rivers, lakes and drinking water which can have devastating effects on underwater wildlife as well as human health. 

The $100,000 award was presented following a four-day intensive boot camp and panel evaluation from representatives of the World Economic Forum, United Nations, Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, QBE Ventures, and QBE North America. The champion startup also will be the feature of the upcoming AcceliGOV program, where cities from around the world compete to win a pre-paid pilot program of this treatment solution.

“Thank you to QBE North America for continuing to support this challenge. Only about 1% of the water on Earth is clean drinking water available for our growing population to consume,” said Michael Lake, President and CEO of Leading Cities. “Recognizing the twin threat our water supplies are facing with climate change and pollution, the potential impact for preserving our water is one of the greatest opportunities we have to protect humanity.” More about Challenges and Opportunities in the Water Industry.

About Pharem’s treatment solution, Zymatic

Despite using advanced biotechnology and research to create Pharem’s treatment solution, Zymatic, the implementation is remarkably simple and leverages existing water treatment equipment.  Enzymes are selected and facilitated to target organic pollutants present in the water which produces cleaner, safer treated water. Using enzymes, Zymatic offers high customizability to select treatment mechanisms based on needs. This makes Zymatic suitable for both municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial processes on a global scale.

Pharem was one of ten finalists representing the world’s foremost urban technology startups among more than 500 companies that applied from 44 countries. The finalists presented their pitches to a five-person panel made up of Jeff Merritt of the World Economic Forum; Katja Schäfer of UN-Habitat; Truett Tate, Chairman of the QBE North America Board; Eleni Myrivili of the Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center; and Daniel Wypler of QBE Ventures.

After a 5-month vetting process, a 3-month curriculum and a virtual Boot Camp, QBE and Leading Cities announced the City Solution of the Year in a one-hour production featuring the pitches and highlights of the 2021 QBE AcceliCITY finalists.

Runners-up awards were also selected directly by QBE Insurance Group employees with Full Cycle Bioplastics winning both the North American employees’ vote and the votes from Australia Pacific and Asia employees for a total of $50,000 in funding. Full Cycle Bioplastics is a California-based company whose patented technology converts mixed organic waste into biodegradable, non-toxic, and compostable bioplastic, combatting two major environmental challenges: plastic pollution and food waste.

The QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge has quickly become one of the largest programs of its kind in the world and has demonstrated tremendous impact. AcceliCITY alumni have already raised in excess of $200 million, with the program’s first champion securing a successful sale of the business and cities gaining access to innovative solutions from around the world.

At its core, QBE AcceliCITY lowers the cost of innovation for local governments as well as startups and corporations by streamlining the innovation and implementation cycles for smart and resilient city solutions. The QBE AcceliCITY program connects startup’s smart solutions directly with users and provides the proper channels and know-how to deploy in cities.

About the Finalists

• Eco Panplas: Contaminated plastic packaging recycling without using water and without producing waste.

FortyGuard: FortyGuard is an urban cooling system that utilizes city data to mitigate expanding heat emergencies at local levels.

Full Cycle Bioplastics: Full Cycle’s PHA is the lowest cost, lowest carbon alternative to oil-based plastics in the global materials market.

• Horizon State: Horizon State is a secure, anonymous and incorruptible digital ballot box that transforms voting and community engagement.

Infiltron: Infiltron is your 24/7/365, proactive, real time, IoT cybersecurity expert integrated.

• Lup Colombia: Harnessing the economic potential of glass waste while delivering social value and environmental benefits.

• Omniflow: Omniflow’s mission is to have a positive impact in the world, avoiding CO2 emissions and expanding digitalization.

• Optimus: Optimus upgrades large diesel engines to operate at near-zero carbon emissions using 100% biodiesel enabling low-cost net zero carbon today.

• Pharem: Pharem have successfully combined advanced enzyme development, material development and immobilization methods to create a highly flexible water treatment material.

• Trainfo: TRAINFO provides AI-powered hardware for smart cities to prevent traffic delays and accidents at rail crossings.

About Leading Cities

Leading Cities connects cities across the globe with innovations and insight to drive resiliency, equity, and sustainability. This is achieved by cultivating a global network of forward thinkers from the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors as well as delivering advanced research, emerging trends and vetting solutions that will address urban challenges. The AcceliCITY program aims to de-risk innovation for cities by sourcing and vetting solutions that will answer their most pressing challenges. Additional information can be found at or by following Leading Cities on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About QBE 

QBE North America is a global insurance leader focused on helping customers solve unique risks, so they can focus on what matters most. Part of QBE Insurance Group Limited, QBE North America reported Gross Written Premiums in 2020 of $4.775 billion. QBE Insurance Group’s 2020 results can be found at

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, QBE operates out of 27 countries around the globe, with a presence in every key insurance market. The North America division, headquartered in New York, conducts business through its property and casualty insurance subsidiaries. The actual terms and coverage for all lines of business are subject to the language of the policies as issued. QBE insurance companies are rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best and “A+” by Standard & Poor’s. Additional information can be found at or follow QBE North America on LinkedIn and Twitter.