Entering the European market with the world’s biggest research programme
The EU programme Horizon 2020 may be the route to a major European market for Biowater Technology.
Horizon 2020 is the world’s biggest research and innovation programme, with EUR 80 billion over seven years.
By Magnus Foss Nilsen, Vestviken 24
Published: 8 April 2016 on Vestviken 24
The programme and local companies’ experiences with it was presented at University College of Southeast Norway (HSN) on 15 April. Key to this programme are opportunities for the business community in respect of energy, climate and the environment – exciting fields for greater innovation and value creation around the Oslofjord.
The event is organised by the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and Viken EU-nettverk.
Picture: EU coordinator Thomas Slagsvold, together with Terje Andersen, Managing Director of Biowater Technology, and Gang Xin, Technical Manager. Photo: Magnus Foss Nilsen.
Project with biggest names in Spain
Biowater Technology in Tønsberg was able to join the programme thanks to funding from Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway. This funding has been entirely crucial to the company’s development of new, future-oriented technologies.
“It is important to gain the support of funding agencies at an early stage. Around 99 percent of the companies involved in Horizon 2020 have used the national funding agency first,” explains Thomas Slagsvold, Vestfold EU coordinator and an employee of HSN and Vestfold County Council.
Biowater Technology is now working in a Horizon 2020 funded project, REMEB (http://www.remeb-h2020.com/) led by Spanish company FACSA and a number of other institutes in Spain on the development of technology linked with the use of a ceramic membrane made of recycled in-organic materials for wastewater treatment and reuse from municipal and industrial sectors.
Essentially, a vacuum pump pumps water into the membrane, filtering it through tiny holes between 0.1 and 0.5 micrometres in size to clean it.
Facsa is one of the biggest operators of drinking water and wastewater facilities in Spain. The two companies encountered one another during a conference in Brussels which was organised by Horizon 2020.
Biowater Technology had the opportunity there to present what is known as an elevator pitch, a brief presentation of their CFIC® technology, on a par with what you would have time to present to someone during a (slightly long) ride in a lift.
“They realised the advantages of combing our CFIC® solution with the ceramic membrane being developed in the REMEB project,” explains Gang Xin, Technical Manager for the company.
“Being part of this network means that our niche technology can be implemented in other technological solutions.”
Terje Andersen, Managing Director of Biowater Technology
Received 70 percent funding
He mentions the fact that membrane technology itself is nothing new, but the investment costs are gradually falling, and the operational cost is still high.
“Both organic and ceramic membranes are used. The ceramic membrane offers a longer service life and will become more and more competitive. This technology is being used in many fields. Using this in industry will be a growing market in future, but it can also be used for applications such as removal of phosphorus from municipal wastewater in the Nordic region,” says Xin.
In REMEB project Biowater Technology is responsible for coordinating the business plan and further utilisation of the project’s results.
Thanks for this EU programme, Biowater Technology – which recently landed a major contract with Sichuan Science City Tianren Environmental Protection Co. Ltd as well – has received funding for 70 percent of its spending on the project.
The contacts made out in the European market are another advantage of taking part in this programme.
“We are getting in contact with a lot of different companies which for us represents interesting technologies, and being part of this network means that our niche technology can be implemented in other technological solutions,” explains Managing Director Terje Andersen.
“The important thing is to see the bigger picture and realise what your business concept can be part of.”
EU coordinator Thomas Slagsvold
“No need to be responsible for everything yourself”
A total of 11 different stakeholders from seven countries are taking part in the REMEB project. Being the leading company for a project of this kind demands major resources.
“The biggest challenge involves having the financial muscle and resources to apply different programs, and we do not have the possibility of doing this alone. This is why being a valuable partner is our route into a project like this,” says Andersen.
Slagsvold agrees with this perspective.
“There is no need to be responsible for everything yourself. The important thing is to see the bigger picture and realise what your business concept can be part of. To succeed, it is important to do decent preliminary work and turn up at conferences and other arenas where you can build a network.”
He points out that the event taking place on 15 April is one such arena.
“This is a good place to start. This day is an important way of forging relationships, and it is possible that small projects with international opportunities will emerge a lot later on,” says Slagsvold.
The Research Council of Norway is ministering Horizon 2020 in Norway, while Viken EU-nettverk, which is headed by HSN and Vestfold County Council, will facilitate network building and encourage stakeholders in Vestfold, Telemark, Akershus, Østfold and Buskerud to submit project proposals to the programme.
The target groups are companies, municipalities and R&D (Research and Development) environments, although the emphasis will be on companies’ opportunities within the programme during the event in Bakkenteigen.