Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

SEGU Report Summary

Project ID: 718785

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SEGU (SEwer inventory system to safeGUard waste water infrastructures)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Worldwide the wastewater infrastructure has grown over the last 200 years to a chaotic network of pipes, leads, wells and other elements. Although the wastewater infrastructures are expanding daily, the techniques to explore water networks have not changed significantly during the past 50 years, resulting in significant inaccuracies, out-dated information, data losses and an extreme slow progress. Consequently issues like collapses, floods and unknown erosion states can occur in the absence of a well-organised (waste) water infrastructure management.
Inspecting and inventorying the sewer network is of importance because malfunctioning, due to bad maintenance, accidental damage or sabotage, can have huge impacts. Together with the constant population growth, climate change, maintenance and regulatory issues (EU directives), cities and settlements in general are in need of understanding in detail the nature, extension and status of their current wastewater infrastructure to prevent or control failures.
H2020 SME phase 1 project SEGU, or Sewer inventory system to safeguard waste water infrastructures, aimed to strengthen and elaborate Voxdale’s business plan & market access strategy for inspecting and inventorying the sewer network using the SEGU technology. The overall objective of the SEGU project is market introduction of a Waste Water Infrastructure Data Service within EU28 – and beyond – to address the above issues and targeting a proper management of waste water infrastructure. The final outcome will be digital 3D data obtained up to 4 times faster, 10 times more accurate and 75% less expensive compared to state of the art systems while guarding the safety of the sewer workers (nowadays, a worker has to descend in the sewer).

SEGU specific objectives were formulated as: (i) study of the market mechanisms in different target (EU) countries and evaluate which EU-28 countries would be the most appropriate for an accelerated market introduction, (ii) validation of the right sales model of the data to launch the SEGU service, (iii) analysing restrictions/legislations with respect to the (local) interpretation of the European directive, (iv) refining and optimization of the financial plan ensuring profitability.

Main conclusion of the SEGU project:
• As Voxdale is mainly a service agency for design and engineering projects, and based specifically on Task 1 (market mechanisms), Task 2 (business model), and Task 4 (Business plan), it was decided to spin out the project in daughter company SpacePal bvba to fully allow the deployment and development of the SEGU project.
• Bram Plancke, a young entrepreneurial CEO, was appointed to guide the development to the next phases.
• SpacePal is currently participating in the ESA BIC (Business Incubation) program, as space assets like Earth Navigation and Human spaceflight (ToF technology, stepper motors, etc.) are used to accelerate the technological developments.
• To sponsor further development and market deployment, and to match co-financing for future grants, venture capital (through the founders, a family office, and private placement) has been made available.
• An H2020 Phase 2 Innovation project for further prototyping, piloting and up-scaling the SEGU service is in full preparation.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The main results of SEGU include:
- Market segment analysis, consisting of (i) Validation of proposed countries for market introduction (BE-NL-DE-ES), (ii), study of market mechanisms in target countries and (iii) extended specific user study.

- Validation of sales model, (i) Analysis and trade of sales models, (ii) insights in possible partnerships in target EU countries, (iii) drivers of target market, (iv) conclusion in relation to market introduction and growth.

- Legislation/Regulation, based on information of the previous two tasks with respect to the interpretation of the European directives. Including incompatibilities with the current product architecture surface and technical viability conclusions.

- Business plan 2.0, consisting of extended financial plan and validation of profitability.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

In Europe, the responsibility of the sewerage system lies mostly with municipalities, yet it is not unusual for them to outsource the sewer management to 3rd parties. As the biggest part of the market potential is linked to the sewer inventory sector, both the SEGU technology and the service are in the first place focused on these applications/users.
Other user groups however - like ‘as built inventory companies’, security contractors, constructors, and intermediates (e.g. fire brigades) – will have similar needs. Budget restrictions, scarce (human) resources, and the desire to demonstrate inhabitants that cities are safe and comply with the highest standards of safety and welfare, force municipalities and sewer operation companies (users) for inventory solutions that:
• are faster, less expensive and more reliable compared to the current manual inspection methods for inventory of waste water infrastructures;
• are able to offer up-to-date sewer data, including precise location, connections and status;
• have to ability to install (software/hardware) maintenance tools to detect structural failures, compute capacities in case of calamities and support future developments;
• allow installation of warning detection systems for sewer blockages and malicious actions. 

As a technology (3D scanning & parameterization), and as a service (automated database and form completion), SEGU will excel in ease-of-use. 

Next to all user advantages, the SEGU service would meet the EU demands (and avoid huge EU fines), and be 75% less expensive than current (manually) inventory services. The technology is 4 times faster, enables digital comparisons with previous data, fills in the sewer forms and databases automatically, is 10 times more accurate and results in subsequent resource and cost savings in waste water management. On top of that, this application will encourage high-tech by-products and (simulation) software tools to predict and define optimized waste water infrastructure management. In doing so, governments could economize large budgets: limited calamity impacts, lower effects of disaster or other emergencies (floods, collapses, incidents, ...), lower insurance costs, less costly human interventions for maintenance or repair. To conclude, as curative repair works rose to €25 billion for EU28 countries, and directives are compulsory, the willingness to pay for sewer information will be high, with an excellent value for money.

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