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Meet Sivan Sidney Cohen of Noria Water Technologies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sivan Sidney Cohen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sivan. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
My name is Sivan Cohen, CEO of Noria Water Technologies. We’re an LA-based water technology company that is working to optimize membrane-based water treatment.

I’m originally from Los Angeles, born and raised. I then studied civil engineering at UC Berkeley and Stanford University, up in the Bay Area. My first job out of grad school was as a construction manager working on large commercial projects, like San Francisco Airport Terminal 2.

From there, I decided to pursue a lifelong dream of moving to Israel. After settling a bit into life in Jerusalem, I joined a wonderful team of engineers as one of the first employees of Ayyeka Technologies, an Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) technology startup that develops remote monitoring technology for smart cities and the critical infrastructure sector.

My initial position was as Director of Business Development and Marketing, but I was soon tasked with establishing the company’s US subsidiary as General Manager. Besides being a time of enormous professional growth (and racking up a lot of frequent flyer miles!), I forged great relationships in the Los Angeles area with customers as well as startup accelerators like the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and Imagine H20.

After several years with Ayyeka, I decided it was time for a new challenge and joined up with a team of brilliant engineers to found Noria Water Technologies, which has brought me full circle back here to Los Angeles.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While Noria is a brand-new challenge, it brings together and draws on all the experiences I’ve gathered as an engineer and professional in the water technology and industrial automation industries, which is awesome.

Working in the male-dominated industries of construction, engineering, and tech has also been a kind of personal challenge. As a result, I’m a very passionate advocate for increasing the participation of women in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and math). To that end, I’m actively involved in mentoring the next generation of female engineers and have seen first-hand the enormous talent that’s in the pipeline. But – the skills shortage remains, so it’s important that women in STEM careers provide mentorship for younger women beginning and navigating their career paths.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Noria Water Technologies – what should we know?
I’m a civil engineer by training and profession — building things — whether structures or business organizations — is my passion. The essence of engineering is taking very technical and often abstract concepts and using them to solve real-world problems.

The current problem we are tackling at Noria are the inefficiencies in operating membrane-based water treatment plants. To give a little background — membrane-based water treatment includes processes like reverse-osmosis (RO) or nanofiltration (NF), where a physical barrier is used to remove pathogens and contaminants from impure water sources such as wastewater, seawater, agricultural drainage, brackish groundwater, and industrial process water.

Operators of RO plants are faced with operating plants with very little information. When making decisions, most operators rely on industry standards, indirect monitoring methods, and trial-and-error. This kind of “flying blind” results in conservative practices like changing out expensive membranes before they’ve finished their useful service life, using higher system pressure, or adding more chemicals than might be necessary. It’s money down the drain, quite literally.

We at Noria have developed the only real-time membrane monitoring and decision-support system for RO plant operators, which can cut plant operating costs by up to 30% through a combination of cutting chemical use, increasing membrane lifetime, increasing recovery rates, reducing plant downtime, and decreasing energy use. Noria’s technology not only makes it possible for operators to know exactly what the state of the membrane is at any given moment but also tells operators what corrective action they should take.

Of note from a sustainability perspective, this kind of technology reduces concentrate volume from desalination (making it more environmentally friendly!) and opens the ability to treat water sources (like ag drainage, inland groundwater) that were previously thought too difficult to treat and use. So, we are excited about the potential impact of this technology from all sides.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistence in mentality and work ethic are what has been instrumental to my own successes. I use this phrase a lot that I learned in the field — “Plan the Work, Work the Plan.” Set out with big goals on mind, but it’s important to remember that it’s the little gains each day that get us there.

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