Six representatives from water technology hubs from China, Korea, Singapore, USA, Israel and the Netherlands, participated in the first edition of the European Water Tech Week in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

On the opening day of the water week, the representatives joined in a panel discussion sharing their experiences on clustering the efforts in their countries to innovate water technology in a structural way.

The European Water Tech Week takes place from 24 to 27 September.

dws-ewtw-hubs-joining-hands-350px  Four of the six representatives, f.l.t.r.: Dean Amhaus (USA), Hein Molenkamp (NL), Yossi Yaacoby (Israel) and Fong Han Loong (Singapore).

Very different types of water hubs
The discussion showed how differently the water hubs are organised, each with their own accents. The Chinese water hub is part of a large cluster of some 1,800 companies specialised in environmental technology, of which some 40 in water technology. The cluster helps the companies to overcome the hurdles they face on the market.

The Israeli hub, WaTech, is part of the national water utility Mekorot and is based on dedicated partnerships for the development of new water technologies.

This is more or less the same for the Singapore Water Exchange Platform that is organised around the national water utility PUB.

Whereas WaterCampus Leeuwarden, Korean Water Cluster and Water Council Wisconsin have an additional focus on fundamental research.

dws-ewtw-hubs-zhang-350pxAccording to Shaoxian Zhang of the Jiangsu cluster only 20 percent of the issues raised by its 2,000 members comes to the stage of real research. 

Most difficult issues
Shaoxian Zhang, managing director at the Chinese Jiangsu cluster explained that many of the issues raised by the members can easily be solved. ‘Some 20 percent remains’, Zhang said, ‘and those we take to the next stage. We try to find solutions for the issues with expert companies and our international partners'.

Zhang emphasised the importance of building real size demonstration plants. ‘This enables water technology suppliers to test their new technologies at an industrial scale’.

Yossi Yaacoby, director of Mekorot’s WaTech Centre mentioned the disappointment innovators have after a successful pilot. ‘They complain that no one is buying their product. But a successful pilot is not enough’, Yaacoby said. ‘New products need hard work on marketing, but at the same time patience to wait for the right moment’.

dws-ewtw-hubs-amhaus-350pxPresident Dean Amhaus of the US water tech hub mentioned the importance of getting talents on board.

Dynamic atmosphere
All six representatives mentioned the dynamic atmosphere they can create by working with students and small companies. Especially start-ups are very favoured by the hubs as they challenge the existing water technology market by introducing more agile solutions to water problems.

Host of the hubs, Hein Molenkamp, managing director of Water Alliance addressed the possibility for hubs to involve water in other sectors such as in the oil & gas, agriculture and energy sectors. ‘Half of the suppliers connected to the WaterCampus Leeuwarden sell their products outside the water sector. Cross sectoral issues are very important for us’.

Essentials of a hub
Closing the discussion, President and COE Dean Amhaus of the Water Council Wisconsin reffered to a report published by the Brooklyn Institute this summer on cluster initiatives. Amhaus mentioned the five essentials according to this report: create a good ecosystem for innovation, involve universities to attract talent, involve companies for the commercialization and involve investors outside the cluster that may benefit from cluster dynamics.

Read also on this website
Less than two weeks for world watertech hubs to meet in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 13 September 2018
Water Tech Fest: Let’s make disruptive water technology happen, 26 May 2016
Expertise: Water technology

More information
European water tech week 2018

WaterCampus Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden, the Netherlands
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