OxyMem Ltd, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, has won a EuropaBio 2016 Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award. The company won the industrial biotech award, and a €10,000 prize, for its breakthrough technology to reduce costs for wastewater treatment.
EuropaBio is the European Association for Bioindustries, and its annual awards, now in their seventh year, recognises innovative European SMEs who have developed novel ways of meeting societal, technical, and environmental problems through the application of biotechnology.
OxyMem, a fast growing Global Cleantech 100 company, is commercialising an innovative infrastructure solution, the Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor (MABR), to reduce costs for wastewater treatment. The company’s breakthrough technology tackles energy costs, the industry’s biggest challenge.
Conventional wastewater treatment consumes 2-3% of a nation’s electricity production. This is due a 100 years reliance on bubble aeration for conventional treatment plants, which suffer high energy losses because of the Oxygen transfer limitations in the process.
OxyMem does not have these limitations because it does not rely on a bubble to deliver the Oxygen to the micro-organisms which break down the pollutants. Instead OxyMem use a ‘drop in’ gas transfer media that can deliver the Oxygen directly to the bacteria.
This make the treatment process 75% more energy efficient than conventional treatment technology. This unique ‘drop in’ module can also be used to incrementally increase capacity of existing plants. This can be achieved in a matter of days and avoids costly civil works and the need for additional space.
Wayne Byrne, CEO, OxyMem said, “OxyMem is incredibly flattered to receive this Award and to be recognised for our achievements in the biotech space. OxyMem’s technology relies on many scientific disciplines in order to effect the incredible results we have demonstrated. These include; chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and microbiology to arrive at an operational MABR. Given the breath of markets we serve, food, beverage, agriculture, oil and gas, pharma and the general environmental space it seems logical for us to live under a biotech umbrella from time to time.”
He added, “We look forward to our journey with EuropaBio over the coming year and are excited about the engagements we have already established with some of their members.”
Tom Saylor, Chairman, EuropaBio SME Platform, said, “European biotech companies are at the leading edge of innovation worldwide as represented by the winners and runners-up of this competition. However, our biotech SMEs continue to face a challenging environment in terms of finance, regulatory policy and legislative rules. It is, therefore, important to offer a platform for public recognition to demonstrate their outstanding work and benefits to society, and to recognise the importance of sound European policy and business environment for such enterprises to thrive.”
OxyMem was co-founded by Professor Eoin Casey, Dr Eoin Syron and Wayne Byrne in 2013 as a spin-out from UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. OxyMem currently operates a 25,000 sq. ft. facility and offices in Athlone, Co. Westmeath, to manufacture the OxyMem Membrane Aerated Biofilm Reactor. The company, which also has an office at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, employs over 40 people.
Over 40 companies from 13 European countries applied for this year’s EuropaBio Awards and seven were shortlisted to compete across three Award categories; healthcare, industrial and agricultural biotechnology.
The seven finalists competed at a speed-pitching session held earlier this week at EuropaBio’s inaugural European Biotech SME Forum held in Brussels. The Awards were presented by Robert Madelin, Senior Advisor for Innovation to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Cellectis, a French biopharmaceutical company developing adoptive immunotherapies for cancer, won the Healthcare Award. Plant Response Biotech, a Spanish green biotech company focused on searching for novel natural products that confer resistance and enhance plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress, won the Agriculture Award.