27.02.2013 - Press release
The Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative enables a Swiss start-up company to develop its technology in supplying drinking water
The Swiss Bluetec Bridge initiative, which was set up by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), supports start-up projects and Swiss small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offering innovative water purification technologies. The first company to be selected is Swiss Fresh Water SA (SFW) whose project is to install some 20 low-cost water purification systems in Senegal. The project will be supported financially in the form of an interest-free loan covering up to 50 % of the costs (max. CHF 250,000).
This new initiative of the SDC, Swiss Bluetec Bridge, aims to accelerate access to good-quality drinking water for poor people living in rural areas or in small towns in developing or emerging countries. Through financial and technical support, the objective is to help innovative Swiss start-ups and SMEs that already have both a tested prototype in key areas of water purification and a business model that targets the lowest social strata to acquire the necessary expertise to develop their activity and in the long term finance themselves through private means. Swiss Bluetec Bridge contributes to closing the gap between public financial support for research and development (up to prototype stage) and private financing for market launch.
Management of Swiss Bluetec Bridge has been delegated to Strategos SA, an SME active in company consulting and specialised in strategy. At the conclusion of a call for bids, the two best projects were examined by a panel of independent experts on the basis of a range of criteria including the certified description of the performance of the technology, an innovative approach to supplying drinking water without discrimination in rural areas, and a viable business plan with the certified interest of a commercial financing agency.
The selection committee was impressed by the maturity of the bid submitted by Swiss Fresh Water, the quality of its technology and its business model. The purification systems it has developed cost little and are driven by solar energy. This technology, which produces up to about 4000 litres of drinking water per day, will supply many villages with good-quality drinking water and at the same time improve the health of the villagers.
For Renaud de Watteville, CEO of the winning bidder, the support of Swiss Bluetec Bridge comes just at the right moment: “Thanks to the credit line from Swiss Bluetec Bridge, we can now put our business model to the test, demonstrate its viability and in this way persuade banks and investment funds to finance our growth.” SFW will also receive coaching in demonstrating the economic viability of its project. The company, based in Belmont-sur-Lausanne, currently has seven full-time employees, two of which are in Senegal.
By April 2014, Swiss Bluetec Bridge plans to support five other Swiss start-up companies/SMEs in the development of their activities. The next call for bids will take place at the beginning of March 2013. The target to be reached by the end of the initiative is to extend sustainable access to good-quality drinking water to a further 20,000 people living in rural regions or small towns in developing and emerging countries.
The first winning bidder was announced on the first anniversary of the Swiss Water Partnership, an association of experts from academia, civil society, and public and private organisations active in this field whose aim is to exploit synergies between the activities of its members.