No matter how different the innovation projects and entrepreneurial needs are, what drives startups and scaleups in the chemical, energy and biobased economy sector, is the belief that their innovation will make the world smarter and more sustainable.
Get inspired by their stories below.
Invisibly extending the shelf life of fruit
How to introduce an innovation in the retail market
To extend the shelf life of fruit with a thicker rind, Liquidseal has developed an invisible biodegradable coating. This coating has already proven itself on flowers. It is difficult to enter a new and unfamiliar market. A targeted selection and rapid entry has greatly shortened the marketing time.
Bananas, mangoes, oranges. They look attractive as long as they have no brown or bruised spots. Then they become almost unsaleable. Supermarkets would have to throw away much less of these fruits if they would last longer. It would save a lot of money and curb unnecessary food waste.
For flowers and bulbs, such as roses and lily bulbs, Liquidseal has developed a thin, transparent coating of certified compostable material which keeps the products fresh for at least a week longer. The shelf life of fruit with a rind that is never eaten can also be extended by at least a week. In addition, this coating contains 80% less chemicals than the agents currently used and the coating can render packaging unnecessary.
The issue is how to find, interest and convince potential customers of the benefits of this protective layer and above all, that this coating does not threaten food protection. Supermarkets seem the main target market. Through the network and the intermediation of an InnovatieLink innovation manager
Liquidseal has found a fast entry at the right level and with the right people. This has gained them a serious entry with a number of retailers, saving a lot of marketing time.
The art of installing offshore cables
ECE Offshore has developed a cable monitoring system that makes the installation of cables for offshore wind farms cheaper, faster and more manageable. After several successful demonstrations it is important to properly manage the upscaling process. Critical mirror entrepreneurs have helped to focus on excellence in performance with the first customers.
Costly and time consuming
The current method is that cable layer ships monitor the installation of submarine cables for wind farms and oil and gas fields with underwater cameras and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). This is a costly, weather-dependent and rather imprecise method.
ECE Offshore has developed a cable monitoring system that makes this method unnecessary. Sensors under the ship map the sea and the seabed in great detail up to a depth of 100 meters. Moreover, during the laying of the cables the data is stored digitally. All this saves time, cuts the cost and avoids legal wrangling about potential damages.
It is tempting to want to grow quickly when you see the potential of the product and there is a lot of interest from the market. Yet many businesses get in trouble when scaling-up rapidly. By choosing a phased approach, a good insight was gained of how to use organizational and financial resources most efficiently.
The innovation managers have also encouraged the young entrepreneurs to have a critical look at their own talents and limitations and to apply the conclusions thereof to their organization and market approach. This gives the company more control over the upscaling process.
Drones for sustainable energy
Realistically measuring business models
Is a location suitable for the installation of solar panels or wind turbines? What is the return and what will it look like? A digital model of an area can give you quick answers on this, a model that can efficiently be made with a drone. Yet regulations and a missing case study impeded the entry into the renewable energy market. A realistic revenue model has opened doors for Skycap.
To achieve its climate targets, the Netherlands must invest heavily in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar parks. Suitable locations must be found and plans developed. Once the parks are in use, they are regularly inspected.
Because Skycap can gather useful data quickly by air and is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations, the company asked itself whether drones could make a valuable contribution.
Realistic revenue model
The business case for the deployment of drones proved to be a nice challenge. The innovation managers at InnovatieLink know the market and have the right contacts. From flight tests, data analysis and the exploratory talks a use with earning potential emerged. The added value lies especially in combining 3D scans of the environment, thermal images and beautiful shots for marketing. The critical and realistic measurements of a business model for this new use has aroused the interest of the market and led to an actual proposal.
Sustainable Durable Systems:
Climate control on the roof
Focus on one market
To make the climate in buildings with flat roofs more pleasant, Sustainable Durable Systems has developed a white roof tile, called Roofclix. This climate controlling tile renders costly air conditioning and additional heating unnecessary. By focusing on a single target market in the early stages, it is easier to find a launch customer that can serve as a business case for other markets and businesses.
The climate in many primary school classrooms is often unbearably hot in summer while an extra sweater is no luxury in the winter. This is caused by the flat roofs on the often outdated buildings, which are poorly insulated against heat and cold.
The Roofclix tile by Sustainable Durable Systems makes a stay in the classroom a lot more pleasant. And at a fraction of the cost of an air conditioning system or a full roof insulation.
Of course, this does not only apply to primary schools. You hear the same complaints wherever you have people working, living or learning directly under sunny flat roofs of outdated buildings. So, as an innovative entrepreneur, where do you start? The innovation manager of InnovatieLink advised to first focus on a single important target market. By entering into a coalition with a customer and end user that are willing to try your product, you create a market. With this case model you then convince others. And perhaps find additional funding to accelerate the launch of Roofclix 2.0.
Algae for energy, food and feed
Finding a suitable investor
More plant-based food. More and more people see the benefits. Duplaco responds to this with the controlled production of algae, the new ‘green gold’. Financing the upscaling phase is easier said than done. By coaching the entrepreneur with the selling proposal and with attracting an end user, an investor was found that suited the entrepreneur and proposal.
Meat production exhausts natural resources such as energy, land and water. We consume more animal products than our planet and our bodies can handle. Reasons enough to eat more plant-based foods.
Large-scale algae production
Due to their high content of protein, unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants microalgae fit in a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Duplaco therefore wants to upscale its innovative algae production so that algae can be widely used as an ingredient in seductive, sometimes literally green products such as burgers and drinks.
To realize the capital-intensive growth ambition an investor is indispensable. Together with the innovation manager, product-market combinations were mapped and revenue models quantified. An appropriate investor has been found that suits the entrepreneur. An investor that cares deeply about sustainability and that endorses the commercial potential. The first products with Duplaco algae are already on the market, the company expects to have the upscaled process in use by early 2017.
Brilliant Water Solutions:
Electrochemistry to purify wastewater
From oil & gas to wastewater treatment
The wastewater treatment technologies are diverse and are influenced by many external parameters. With innovative electrochemical techniques, borrowed from the oil & gas sector, Brilliant Water Solutions aims to contribute to the sustainable treatment of wastewater. To find an opening with customers in this unfamiliar market, the added value of this technique was investigated.
Specific and affordable
For the purification of sewage water, liquid waste streams from the food industry, waste- and manure management, there is a great need for techniques that work substance specifically at acceptable costs.
For reasons of security and the ban on importing chemicals on offshore platforms, Brilliant Water Solutions had developed a successful treatment technology for the oil and gas sector, purifying water by use of electrocoagulation. This technique is suitable for large volumes, has low energy consumption and can be used modularly. Brilliant Water Solutions wishes to bridge to other sectors, because the company is convinced that this technique can contribute to sustainable wastewater treatment.
The issue at hand is how to enter an unfamiliar market that already has invested heavily in new purification techniques in recent years. It is a challenge to get into contact with a customer in a new market. Using the technical subject matter knowledge and market knowledge of an InnovatieLink innovation manager, the added value has been examined and the proposal honed. Two applications have become the focus: water treatment and manure separation. The first four meetings with potential customers have already been held and the first tests are scheduled.
Producing biogas on a farm
How to achieve a reduction of the cost price?
By fermenting manure directly on the farm, an important step can be made in improving the sustainability of the dairy chain. The challenge for Biogas Plus is to develop a low-cost small-scale installation. Through collaboration with a large corporate and the connection of the technical process with the ambitions and commitments of the government, the solution is now closer.
The dairy sector feels the need to increase the sustainability of their production methods and is looking for collaborations. The dairy supply chain has set itself the ambition to complete its growth in a sustainable manner, specifically by reducing CO2 emissions. A business case that fully relies on CO2 reduction is not feasible in the current market. Therefore, this purpose has been linked to the reduction of excess manure.
Manure management on farm
Biogas Plus combined these two challenges by making large biogas plants suitable for fermentation and manure management directly on the farm. The main challenge for Biogas Plus lay in cost reduction. By constructing dozens of installations at the same time, a substantial cost reduction is possible. For this a collaboration is formed with parties in the dairy supply chain, in which the sector organizes the demand (the numbers) and the government has been asked to deliver customized regulation.
InnovatieLink managed to pragmatically help Biogas Plus find the missing pieces of a complex puzzle. It was not just about the technical innovation, but also about the implementation of a collaboration between an SME and a large corporate, and the correspondence of a technical process with the ambitions and commitments of the government.