Funding for drinking water startup SolarDew

Funding for drinking water startup SolarDew

In many western countries clean drinking water is a matter of course, but in many places in the world and certainly in remote areas this is often not the case. SolarDew is able to produce clean and safe drinking water from seawater, brackish water but also from water contaminated with, for example, arsenic or fluorine.

To do so, SolarDew uses a very simple technology that uses only solar heat and gravity. The Netherlands Enabling Watertechnology Fund is investing in SolarDew together with Oost NL and VOx Impuls. With the investment totaling over 1 million euros, the startup can take the final steps in the development of their innovative water purification technology, prior to market launch, with the goal of providing clean drinking water to more than 1 million people by 2030.

Two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and water scarcity will further complicate this situation in the coming years. The United Nations expects about half of the world's population to face water scarcity by 2030. The growing world population and climate change are major factors in the increasing water scarcity.

Learn more about SolarDew

Water from evaporation and condensation

SolarDew has a solution that focuses on households and communities, especially in remote areas with little or no infrastructure. To do so, the company uses an innovative membrane distillation technology that optimizes the natural processes of evaporation and condensation using a unique membrane.

SolarDew's product looks like a kind of solar panel, but instead of converting solar radiation to electricity, the panel directly uses the heat to produce drinking water. "For example, seawater is pumped into the system, the heat from the sun causes the water to evaporate. In the process, the water vapor passes a membrane through which salts, heavy metals but also viruses and bacteria cannot pass. The clean water is collected and the concentrated dirty water is discharged," explains Alexander van der Kleij, CEO and one of the founders of SolarDew. An additional advantage of SolarDew's solution is that it is a modular system that is easily scalable, making it suitable for both households and communities.

Investment accelerates development

The investment of over 1 million euros will allow SolarDew to take the final steps to further develop their product and make it ready for production. Important steps include validating the product in the field. "This investment will allow us to build our first Water Station this year in collaboration with Ballast Nedam, for use in one of their infrastructure projects in Africa. In addition, the investment allows us to claim an additional investment from the European Innovation Council," says Van der Kleij.

Erik Beekmans, Director Export & Project Finance, Ballast Nedam International Projects. "We are very excited to be the 'launching customer' of SolarDew. So beyond the CSR aspect of supporting SolarDew, this first project really serves as a test case for Ballast Nedam to deploy this technology on a larger scale. We look forward to the implementation phase with confidence."

Allard van der Horst, Investment Manager for the Netherlands Enabling Watertechnology Fund, managed by NOM "Solar Dew has developed an innovative solution for producing clean drinking water on site. They are in final Proof of Concept phase where the intention is to build a pilot setup in the second half of this year after which validation should take place in cooperation with launching customer Ballast Nedam. We have confidence in both the product development and the Solar Dew team. In terms of the type of company and the phase they are in, Solar Dew fits perfectly with the objectives of the NEW fund: providing funding to innovative start-ups in the water technology sector."

"With SolarDew's technology, people can produce their own drinking water even if the closest water source is seawater or contains high levels of minerals, metals or salts. Thereby SolarDew offers an affordable solution that is also scalable, which increases the chances of market acceptance," says Joka Bosch, investment manager Energy at Oost NL. Oost NL invests from ION+2, a fund for innovative entrepreneurs in the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel. The resources of the ION+2 fund come from the European REACT-EU program.

Maarten van Middelkoop, portfolio manager of VOx Impuls: "Solar Dew offers a promising alternative to admittedly reliable but relatively expensive reverse osmosis technology that is beyond the reach of millions of people in countries in Sub Saharan Africa, Asia and South America, among others. An investment in the validation of this technology in non-Western context fits well with our focus on sustainable solutions within the realm of SDG 6 (access to clean drinking water and sanitation)."

On behalf of SolarDew, the funding was guided by Generous Minds, a cooperative of impact-driven experts that supports social enterprises with both expertise and access to impact-driven capital. Ronald Beuk founder of Generous Minds: "SolarDew is a super innovative and scalable solution to a big world problem. It is a potential impact unicorn, which we support with heart and soul in further developing their impact and business."

Moving to Wageningen

Through Oost NL, SolarDew was able to find a suitable location in the Agro Business Park near Wageningen University. "For us, the proximity to WUR is an important reason for the move. We expect to be able to collaborate further with the university in the field of research and, in time, bind talent to us," Van der Kleij concludes.

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