What's NEW?
  • Water
  • Invest

What's NEW?

How do we translate scientific research into concrete solutions to address impending shortages of clean water? And how do we successfully bring those innovations to the market? The NEW plan offers answers by investing 8 million euros in the coming years in promising knowledge start-ups within water technology. Great, but ... what's NEW?

NEW stands for Netherlands Enabling Watertechnology. From the NEW consortium, Wetsus, Deltares and the University of Groningen together with NOM stimulate promising initiatives in the field of water technology. Main themes are: water treatment, reuse of water and raw materials, production and storage of energy from water and also the smarter management of water systems.

Why water technology?

Without clean and safe water, we cannot live on earth. Due to pollution, waste, rapidly increasing use, climate change and depletion of finite resources, we are increasingly seeing acute water shortages worldwide. While water is essential. From agriculture and horticulture to the chemical sector, we depend on water in almost everything. To stop depleting and polluting clean water resources, it is necessary to produce in a circular and climate-neutral way. This requires water technology innovations that can be deployed on a large scale and at acceptable cost. And that offers opportunities in entrepreneurship!

Wetsus director Cees Buisman: 'Creating world you want to live in'

Cees Buisman NEW-fondsAs initiator of the NEW plan, Wetsus Director Cees Buisman is proud that together with Deltares, RUG and NOM it has succeeded in winning millions as the 'Calimero' among the consortia in a large tender of the TTT scheme (Thematic Technology Transfer) of the national government. 'This is an opportunity for the entire water technology sector in the Netherlands and the fact that we can offer an impetus in this with no fewer than three North Netherlands parties - and Deltares - is a great calling card.'

Larger strokes

'With the NEW plan we are putting the Netherlands even more firmly on the map as a water technology country,' says Cees. 'Thanks to this pooling of knowledge and the fund, we can achieve greater success. NEW gives us the opportunity to help knowledge starters systematically and professionally on their way. They form the bridge between science and society. To create a world you would like to live in, we need creative research and that costs money. That is why that combination with entrepreneurship is so important; commercial companies are needed to complete the circle.'

Making choices

By creative research, Cees refers specifically to coherent innovations: innovation that truly improves the world rather than further disrupting it. 'Careful handling of water is essential to this. We cannot do without it, which is why water technology is so badly needed. With NEW we stimulate this development, although the recruitment of new talent and the availability of materials are points of concern. In this, the Northern Netherlands can also make supporting choices, for example by offering space for production and ensuring that the technical (educational) domain regains its luster. Meanwhile, with NEW, we are aiming for about two to three new companies a year.'

Manager of entrepreneurship Ronald Wielinga: 'Start early, scout smart and mentor well'

Ronald Wielinga NEW-fondsAt WaterCampus Leeuwarden - the hub of the Dutch water technology sector - Ronald Wielinga and his team are already fully engaged in fostering entrepreneurship. They do so with a focus on talent development, market connection, financial resources, knowledge transfer and facilities. 'By joining forces with Deltares, RUG and NOM, the NEW plan will allow us to offer our knowledge start-ups even better customization and thus increase their chances of success.'

Enlarge pond

'What is powerful about the NEW plan is the combination of knowledge transfer and a fund,' says the entrepreneurship manager. 'That knowledge transfer was already there and is now being further strengthened, but what was often lacking was early-stage funding at high risk. With the NEW fund we are expanding the pond for startups, while the consortium ensures that there is also sufficient substantive nourishment for development and growth. We form a strong team and I feel confident that we grant each other something, from the interest of knowledge startups. We all benefit from that in the end.

Encouraging entrepreneurship

Even though not every knowledge starter is eligible for the fund, Ronald anticipates that the NEW plan will boost entrepreneurship in water technology. 'Because we start stimulating early on. Really not every PhD (researcher/student) has to become an entrepreneur, but my challenge is to at least get them to think about it. The next step is smart talent scouting: selecting the people with potential and making connections within our networks. Finally, it comes down to good coaching, without patronizing. We want to be there when needed.

PMH investor Durk van der Meer: 'From knowledge to a company with a future'

Durk Van Der Meer NEW-fondsBesides NOM - as manager of the NEW fund - five external financiers are also involved in the NEW plan, including PMH Investments in Heerenveen. Why are they joining this water technology fund as a private investor? Director Durk van der Meer: "We want to delve in time into companies needed for a sustainable future.

Be ready

'Usually we step in at a later stage, when startups continue to grow and scale up,' says the Frisian investor. 'But we see the great importance of innovations in water technology and thus the need for the NEW fund. Our involvement is twofold: contributing socially to sustainable developments and being involved in what is going on, in order to be ready in the future for the new companies that will arise. The NEW fund is there to finance the first phase, we are there - if desired - as an investor for the next step.

Evidence model

Durk sees similarities between PMH and NOM: "We both focus on long-term value creation. Of course financial results are important, but the companies are central. We sometimes work with entrepreneurs for twenty years. What I find special about the NEWplan is that it is a nice evidence model to show how you move from knowledge to a company with a future. Scientific research is great, but what do we see in the world around us? I'm very curious about that.

NOM fund managers: 'Knowledge partners essential to NEW fund success'

Rob Drees NEW Fund

Rob Drees

Fund manager Rob Drees of the NOM is curious to see how many high-quality candidates will knock on the NEW fund's door in the coming years. 'I trust that our knowledge partners in the NEW consortium will also come up with promising leads'. Colleague Allard van der Horst - who as investment manager is in charge of the fund's implementation - is pleased with Deltares, RUG and Wetsus as substantive 'filters' in the selection.

Ripe for breakthrough

'The objective of the NEW plan is to get promising knowledge starters off to a good start,' Allard states. 'We obviously look at entrepreneurship, but it starts with content. When scouting and selecting suitable NEW candidates, knowledge of water technology is essential. That is why the interplay within the consortium is so valuable. Wetsus, RUG and Deltares can assess which innovations are ripe for a breakthrough, or which need to put the brakes on for a while. They are also honest about when knowledge start-ups need to go back to the drawing board first.'

Support where needed

'The candidates who seriously qualify pitch to an independent committee,' Rob says. 'If that turns out well, a formal assessment by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) follows. This whole process is about connecting, trusting and ensuring that promising knowledge start-ups get support where it is needed. We know from experience that not every business idea is the golden egg. But when we see serious potential, we do everything we can to guide this start-up through that infamous valley of death. With the NEW plan, we have all the resources for that.'

To the market

'We are on top of letting entrepreneurs do what they are good at,' adds Allard. 'In the technical corner, we often see that good pairings are important, because by no means every techie has commercial antennae. This is where the importance of networking comes in. Making connections and providing coaching or partners with complementary competencies. The basis lies in scientific research, but entrepreneurship brings promising water technology into the world. That is in essence what we are doing with NEW.'

Do you want to enter the market with water technology?

Allard Van Der Horst - NEW Fund

The NEW fund is intended for knowledge start-ups that have not yet developed commercial activities - including any shareholders - but are already in the proof of concept phase and are ready to develop into a marketable product. Would you like to know more about the possibilities, conditions and procedures? Please contact investment manager Allard van der Horst: (06) 126 422 89 or vanderhorst@nom.nl.

Whitepaper Impact of Investors
The impact of investors on your business

In this white paper you will learn:

  • What you have to deal with when you start working with investors
  • Differences and similarities between bank funding, subordinated loan and equity capital
  • In what ways NOM as an investor can help you

    Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.