A lot has changed in four years. When featuring zNano in 2014, reporter Jose Fermoso in the Silicon Valley Business Journal aptly described little appetite by venture capitalists for startups that saved or reclaimed water.

Along comes Patagonia in 2015. A study funded by Patagonia explored the concept of synthetic fibers being shed by fleece jackets and polyester, spandex and man-made fabrics in yoga pants. And the damage it is causing in rivers, lakes and oceans.

In 2016 the documentary “A Plastic Ocean” airs. Journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean.  4Ocean, a global cleanup company begins selling bracelets to fund trash removal and has funded the removal of 1,162,085 pounds of trash in the ocean and coastlines.

In 2016, zNano gets the attention of a family-owned investment firm with some background in water treatment. Diamond Gold Investors became the lead investor in zNano, joining Chief Scientist Adrian Brozell’s initial group of investors.

Now, The Ocean Cleanup Foundation has developed technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans. (System 001 launched in September of 2105.) The Foundation has received more than $31.5 million in donations including from Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff. These investors realize that clean water is the essential element throughout the world and “potentially low returns” can no longer be the fallback answer to funding technology that will keep the planet in food and water.