World Water Day: Discover how EIC-funded companies are valuing water
It is expected that water will be a central natural resource in the coming years, being used as an energy generator and a source of general prosperity and well-being. However, at the same time, the global water systems are being threatened by various factors, such as great water demand for agriculture and industry, massive pollution, a growing population and the concerning climate change consequences. This year’s World Water Day, celebrated on the 22nd March, raises an important question: “What does water mean to you?”, framed within the theme of valuing water. To understand how the EIC-funded innovators are working to value water, we share, in this article, three pioneering projects that provide solutions to address the global water crisis.
AQUA4D: Promoting water savings in agriculture
AQUA4D Water Solutions is a Swiss-based company that has received funding from the EIC to create a technology for optimisation of the irrigation process in agricultural fields. Along with the big demand for water in agriculture came the realisation that if we don’t make the water usage process more sustainable, this precious element will become ever scarcer. With AQUA4D's innovative work, the company provides a water-smart treatment solution, which optimises irrigation processes by modifying the water structure for irrigation. This technology can be applied to all kinds of crops, significantly reducing water and fertilisers and making agriculture much more environmentally friendly.
In the view of Javier Meyer, Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) of AQUA4D: “We always say that how we treat water reflects how we treat the planet as a whole. It is in our hands to take better care of this resource, build awareness around the issue and use humanity’s innovative capacities to achieve a more sustainable world”.
“As the responsible use of water resources requires both vertical and horizontal governance, the role of institutions like the EIC is crucial. Companies like ours, who promote efficient and sustainable water use, are always happy for the support of the EIC, as it is a mission best achieved by working together at all levels”, states Javier Meyer about the support of EIC in the promotion of cooperation towards a more sustainable future.
Ecofoot: The value of water in the textile industry
Our clothes can undergo an exhaustive dyeing process before they get into our hands with the colour we will buy. This process aims to ensure that after many rounds in our laundry machine, our clothing item will maintain its original colour as intact as possible. The downside of the whole process is that it takes a huge amount of energy and water to achieve the final result, requiring a specific wastewater treatment, which generates high costs for manufacturers.
Ecofoot, a Portuguese SME that aims to make the textile industry more sustainable, has received funding from the EIC to develop a technology that can solve the problem mentioned above. The H2COLOR technology, from Ecofoot, has the objective of preventing the loss of dye when clothes are washed, contributing to enhancing Europe's textile manufacturers' sustainability and competitiveness while also saving our planet's water.
For Jaime Rocha Gomes, CEO of Ecofoot, “Water means life, obviously. But short of that, it also means subsistence for farmers and communities”, he proceeds. “Also, pollution means that drinking water can only be obtained by extreme means, such as ultrafiltration or osmosis. The only way is to prevent pollution and to save water in industry and in intensive farming, for example.”
GENAQ: Recreating rain to supply drinking water
For different reasons that can be related to environmental aspects and poor living conditions, many regions may not have potable water due to its lack of quality or because they suffer from water scarcity. According to a World Resources Institute (WRI) study, we have, currently, more than a billion people already living in water-scarce regions. It is estimated that as many as 3.5 billion people could experience water scarcity in 2025. In this context, it is of the utmost importance to promote technologies like the one created by GENAQ – an atmospheric water generator (AWG).
By condensing ambient humidity, GENAQ's technology can generate drinking water because the AWG can extract water from the air in its environment and filter this water to remove any foreign matters or bacteria. GENAQ, an EIC-funded Spanish SME, has been working for more than ten years to create AWGs that are progressively more advanced and suited to the markets' needs. Nowadays, the company is already implementing the 4th generation of its water generators in more than 35 countries worldwide, providing a product that produces zero waste while offering a renewable water source.
About the impact of the support received from the EIC, Clara Ramírez, Communication Specialist of GENAQ mentions: “We understand that the support of the institutions is of vital importance, especially in promoting activities related to the R&D. Institutions must support companies to promote the development of the entire society towards more sustainable ways of living and economical activities”. Clara Ramírez continues to reflect on the importance of water in our lives: “At GENAQ, water is not our job, it is our passion. We know that our future depends on preserving water because, by protecting it, we preserve the earth. For this reason, we research and develop our own technology to make water accessible for everyone in the world in a sustainable manner and without exploiting limited natural sources.”