Located at the World Trade Center in Rotterdam (the Netherlands), the Jury announced the Dutch finalists of the CleanLaunchpad Grand EU Final 2014. One of them is the Dutch start-up AQGRI+.
What is AQGRI+ about?
The focus of AQGRI+ is to create a beneficial connection between aquaculture and agriculture sectors by building a matchmaking platform for water demand/supply by the two sectors and making values out of wastes created by both sectors (rice straw + fish sludge) into organic fertilizers through co-composting.
Both Jelmer and I have been involved in water management in agriculture, where we realize that water is used awfully inefficient by the sector. Having known that agriculture is one of the largest water-consuming sectors, I did my research project on the feasibility of wastewater reuse as climate adaptation measure for agriculture sector in Mekong Delta of Vietnam, one of the world’s most prone regions to climate change. There I identified so much potential for using existing water resource (i.e. wastewater) for irrigation water. Yet one of the main barriers is that there is not yet financial incentive/attraction imposed in the system to encourage people to implement the scheme. Similarly, Jelmer did his research project on the water demand of irrigated areas in Myanmar, and found that scarcity and reliability issues around water supply for irrigation are pressing problems, which are likely to aggravate under the projected climatic change.
People think of water as something sacred and valuable that “should” be free. However in reality, water is a valuable resource that gets scarcer both in terms of quantity and quality and therefore economics have to play a role in it. Further intensified by climate change, it is no longer the time where people (including households, water managers, regulators) could treat water as if they are still in the age of abundance. This is mainly what drives us to develop a water-business with impact (AQGRI+) that addresses water scarcity along with sanitation via a market-driven approach.
“We have already set a 5-year-plan which is to create 15-20 AQGRI+ stations in our targeted country (market), which is currently Vietnam. By that time, AQGRI+ would like to be the forefront in the concept of putting value for treated wastewater to fill in the gap in the market (e.g. agriculture) that demands reliable water supply in terms of quantity and quality. If we win, we would like to go to the field to meet directly face-to-face with potential customers or partners in Vietnam to have a more solid relationship and securer steps in the development of the business. ”
– Jelmer van Veen and Priska Prasetya