Clean water is crucial for us and our environment but removing heavy metals from contaminated water is an energy-intensive and unsustainable process. Most polluting industries are legally required to clean their wastewater before disposing it, facing multiple challenges in terms of sustainability and costs. To tackle these pain points, Aquack develops biological wastewater treatment systems that allow companies to collect chemical waste and channel it into duckweed-covered constructed wetlands to remove heavy metals while also producing biomass. What a vision – meet the four bright minds behind this promising idea: Adrien, Marlo, Rohan and Nirjhar.
1. Why did you join ‘The Mission’ and how did you come together as a team?
Adrien: I have always had a fascination for entrepreneurship and Futury came at the right time! The team came together around the initial idea, which got everyone excited, and we stuck togethersince!
Marlo: You hear a lot about sustainability and the energy transition, but I want to have an impact on this transition and Futury is the perfect starting point. We found together with the initial plant idea and the affection for green space still unites us.
Rohan: I have completed my masters in energy engineering,and I always dedicated my passion and career towards sustainable innovation. I believe that if you want to change something in society, then you should start with yourself first. That is why Futury is the starting and crucial driver in this sustainable journey of my life. Our team is well diverse and blended with distinct cultures and backgrounds. So, diversity is key to togetherness for us.
Nirjhar: Diversity always plays a significant role in innovation. Being able to work with a multiculturally diverse team is wonderful. It will bring out the best of you. ‘The Mission’ allows us to come together as a team. We can work together on a practical problem that can play a significant role in energy transition.
2. What sustainability challenge (within the energy sector) is the most pressing in your opinion?
Adrien: Building the necessary infrastructure and technology to allow renewables to be a satisfactory, stand alone energy source.This means that energy storage, for instance, must be developed to allow our economy to work day-and-night on renewable energy.
Marlo: Building a stable grid with fluctuating renewable energy sources.
Rohan: In my perspective, Green House Gases (GHG’s) are the main and important challenge for the human kind to tackle in a few decades to save the planet and make it sustainable for future generations. Everyone should think and act on how an individual can reduce their emissions.
Nirjhar: The energy sector needs to diversify energy generation to go towards carbon neutrality.
3. How will your solution change the sector?
Adrien: We tackle two problems at once: water pollution and energy storage/generation. Making the cleaning process of water clean is key to ensure that our industries reduce their environmental impact. Generating energy at the same time means that we have an electricity supply that correlates with the emitting company’s needs.
Marlo: Coupling the waste water treatment with the energy sector is beneficial for both: reducing energy demand for the cleaning process plus harvesting more of the potential energy contained in waste water.
Rohan: Wastewater treatment is a crucial topic to focus on because everyone is using water in their daily life and for industrial treatments. After contamination, this water must be treated well before putting it into natural resources. So, our aim is to improve the heavy metal removal from the water, potentially harvest clean energy in waste water and reduce the energy consumption for the treatment.
Nirjhar: Our solution will help to reduce pollution in water bodies and convert the waste into biogas and biomass. It will, eventually,improve our environment and health condition.
4. Which corporate partners are you working with, and how has this collaboration helped you so far?
Adrien: We have been talking with Uniper and Schaeffler in particular. They have been super useful as sparring partners, and they are open to sharing their own network and experts. They have helped uswith our user research, technical matters, and many other things!
Marlo: Uniper and Schaeffler helped us figuring out the questions tba, and Uniper has multiple experts within the field.
Rohan: We are working intensively with Uniper and had feedback from Schaeffler regarding the idea. Uniper is providing technical research and expertise in this field.
Nirjhar: Our idea is close to the heart of Uniper’s sustainable target. On the other hand, other corporate partner will also benefit from the implementation of our idea.
5. What role does Futury play during ‘The Mission’?
Adrien: So many, but to make it short, I would say that they provide a frame and knowledge: a frame because they organize partnerships and events while providing us with super comfortable offices; knowledge because they organized a series of training workshops that were extra useful to get started.
Marlo: Setting the framework for our journey, helping us with Do’s and Don’ts. In the first weeks they act like ‘teachers’ guiding us through the week but then, Futury becomes more like a ‘supporter’ helping us with whatever issue we face.
Rohan: Futury is the perfect incubator because it provides everything needed for startups. It also involves corporates to understand the market and the Bainies are good at validating the idea to build a successful business model. So, Futury is the solid bridge between the corporates and start-ups.
Nirjhar: Futury is a wonderful platform for entrepreneurship with a significant role during ‘The Mission’: it facilitates and accelerates the teams to get the right connections and support.
6. And lastly: what do you recommend future talents for their time at ‘The Mission’?
Adrien: Apply what you learn during the onboarding week and subsequent workshops. Do not wait to do it, just start. Also, go for it! 😊
Marlo: The most sustainable way to learn, for me, is applying directly what you heard. So, make the best out of the resources youget!
Rohan: These three months are the most important for the start-up to build a business idea from scratch. So, use the time and resources wisely to get the most out of it to solve the challenge you have.
Nirjhar: I will say, just make the best use of your time during ‘The Mission’. Profit from the connection that Futury has and enjoy the time with your teammates. You can learn a lot during the three months and do something significant.
Aquack has identified an important sustainability challenge for industrial and water treatment companies and transformed it into an innovation opportunity. By tackling two problems at once, Adrien, Marlo,Rohan and Nirjhar create an important positive impact on our environment while raising awareness for innovative technologies. We really admire their passion and enthusiasm and wish the team all the best for the Final Pitch. You rock.
As always, stay tuned and stay healthy,