Competition: Winning ways with water

A voucher competition run by Climate-KIC in the Netherlands and partner Deltares is directing much needed funds to bright ideas for water. 

Four SMEs have won vouchers worth €20,000-50,000 to spend within Climate-KIC in a 2012 competition sponsored by partner Deltares, the Dutch independent institute for applied research in the fields of water, subsurface and infrastructure.

Inviting innovative proposals on the theme of ‘water in the context of climate mitigation and adaptation’, the jury looked for market potential, customer focus, climatic impact and entrepreneurial flair.

Winners were Bluerise (ocean thermal energy), GeoCycli (satellitebased flood messaging), HKV (historical flood database), and MCC (cell phone water management), with the awards being made on the basis of corporate ambition and the related offer from the Climate-KIC partner.

Says Dr Ir Lucas Janssen, head of economics, scenarios and innovation at Deltares:

‘These start-ups might have little or no money to spend on vital work by research institutes, for example, so the vouchers make a real difference. The competition helped shift their thinking away from technology towards the market.’

Knowledge transfer

Voucher winners now have a knowledge transfer contract to develop their proposal with Deltares or with other Climate-KIC partners. The successful format lends itself to multiple themes, with Climate-KIC in the Netherlands already preparing business challenges for SMEs in the bio-economy and other fields.

For Lucas Janssen, the competition delivers on a key corporate objective. Like Climate-KIC, Deltares exists to make knowledge available in support of business competitiveness. ‘We’re very enthusiastic about our partnerships with these SMEs,’ Lucas says. ‘They have a different way of working, which can be inspiring.’

While Deltares offers Climate-KIC significant support in several of its defining challenge areas, Climate-KIC enables Deltares to extend its activities across Europe, principally in the shape of innovation projects, and often with interesting start-ups or spin-offs.

‘What we really like about Climate-KIC is the fact that its private sector links are so much stronger than we find in comparable programmes or communities,’ says Lucas Janssen. ‘In many ways it opens up a new set of challenges for us in terms of how we think. Our Climate-KIC connections remind us that the knowledge we develop, or the findings we reach, can help shape commercial products and services.’