Chemport Innovation Center officially opened: scaling up start-ups can begin

Chemport Innovation Center officially opened: scaling up start-ups can begin

On Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 23, Deputy IJzebrand Rijzebol of the Province of Groningen performed the festive opening of the Chemport Innovation Center (CIC). At the same time, the first tenant, ExxFire, was welcomed. The Chemport Innovation Center offers ample space for upscaling, innovation, demonstration and further growth of industrial activity. This makes it an important link in the cycle of industrial start-ups.

The old factory on the Groningen Seaports industrial estate in Delfzijl, where the CIC is located, is undergoing a total metamorphosis. The outer walls of the office have remained standing; the rest has been or is being renewed. Insulation and air conditioning are up-to-date, meeting rooms, company floors, office spaces, canteen, parking lot: everything has been tackled. The Chemport Innovation Center is ready to help start-ups that contribute to the greening of the industry grow.

The first tenant, ExxFire, signed the lease today. ExxFire is developing a revolutionary method of using pressurelessly stored gas to fireproof valuable spaces. "Think of critical IT racks in data centers, archives, electrical installations, museums, libraries, depots. Everywhere where extinguishing water might do more damage than the fire itself, we offer the solution," says CEO Harm Botter.

ExxFire developed the technology on a lab scale at the Zernike Campus over the past few years and is now poised to scale up and jump to market. For this purpose, the company now has a hall and an office at its disposal in the CIC. "There are exactly the facilities there that we now need to further innovate and eventually start production," says commercial director Edwin Verver.

Provincial grant

Such a place where that next phase in the process of industrial start-ups takes shape was still lacking in the Northern Netherlands. In the CIC, start-ups that are further developing and scaling up their technology can make joint use of the facilities, which saves substantially on costs. More start-ups are already showing interest.

Companies establishing themselves in the CIC are eligible for a subsidy from the Province of Groningen. ExxFire will receive a contribution of 50,000 euros for furnishing costs, Deputy Rijzebol announced. "The Chemport Innovation Center faces a bright future. After ExxFire, more companies will soon follow who will use this test site as a springboard for new products to the market."

Green and sustainable

ExxFire fits exactly into the framework Chemport Europe sets for tenants of the CIC: innovative, ready for demonstration and scaling up, and sustainable. "The starting point is that the companies here contribute to the greening of the industry," says Cas König, CEO of Groningen Seaports. "That is also in our interest. We have to go green and we desperately need innovative initiatives to do that."

In the case of ExxFire, that greening is evident. Where the world currently uses high-pressure greenhouse gases to put out fires - where water is a bad idea - ExxFire's technology works with green nitrogen, which is very innovatively stored pressure-free in a solid in a so-called Cool Gas Generator. Botter: "This is different from nitrogen oxides, about which there is a lot of discussion now. An additional advantage of our system, whose technology comes from the space industry, is that it is maintenance-free and therefore, in addition to complete safety and a green extinguishing gas, a real gamechanger in the world of fire safety."

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