Watergy and Verdygo Share European Innovation Prize

BRUSSELS, Belgium

Two European water innovators ultimately shared first place in last month’s EIP Water’s Got Talent contest.

Candidate organizations pitched their innovations to the 500 attendees at November’s inaugural European Innovation Partnership on Water Conference in Brussels, and a panel of expert judges quizzed them in a television talent show format before delivering the verdict.

The winning innovators, who could not be separated by the experts, were Daniel Fernández Hevia (Project leader at the Photo-catalysis Group of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias and founder and CEO of Watergy s.l. of Spain) for Watergy, and E.M. (Guus) Pelzer (MMO, director of Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg of the Netherlands), for the Verdygo system.

The expert panel comprised Cees Buisman (member of the Executive Board of Wetsus), Bernard Guirkinger (senior advisor to the CEO, Suez Environnement) and Harald Schölzel (senior engineer and deputy technical adviser at the European Investment Bank) and was moderated by Fiona Griffith (Isle Utilities).

Speaking to OOSKAnews after the event, Fernández expressed his thanks to EIP Water and the judges, describing the award as “an honor for Watergy.”

Wategy’s aim is to deploy integrated photocatalytic wastewater treatment systems on a larger scale than has been seen before (most current, comparable systems are on a domestic or similar scale). Watergy’s unique model ands technologies were developed in a university environment before Watergy was launched for commercialization eight months ago.

The company has identified three initial applications – arsenic treatment (Fernándezobserves that the World Health Organization describes arsenic poisoning as the “worst case of poisoning in human history” with particular problems in Bangladesh, India and Southeast Asia); selenium contamination, which is associated with mining, particularly for coal and gold; and pesticide run-off, an area of increasing regulation, particularly in the European Union.

Pelzer also thanked EIP Water and the panel of judges for “a wonderful recognition of the Verdygo team.”

Verdygo’s model is production of first generation modular sustainable wastewater treatment plants. It was developed by Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg (WBL) in Roermond, the Netherlands. WBL is a public organization that is responsible for the treatment of wastewater in Limburg province.

The EIP Water judges panel were impressed that Verdygo differs from traditional wastewater in that the plants are built at surface level; all components can be transported by road; elements can be replaced by a plug and play design (patented by WBL); the modular construction allows enlarging or downsizing; energy reduction of 20 to 30 percent is possible with deployment of wind and solar elements; construction time is limited to six to 12 months; and net costs (investment and exploitation) are 20-25 percent lower than in traditional construction.

Pelzer explained to OOSKAnews that he envisaged public-private partnerships as the route to export opportunities for Verdygo, and that the company has identified a number of geographies including Brazil, India, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.

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