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Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-05-31

Nowadays, chewing gum removal has become a worldwide cleaning concern and a huge problem for local authorities, transport companies, commercial property owners and property management companies who are responsible for the cleanliness and upkeep of buildings, streets or commercial transport. According to the INCPEN (the Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment) survey, chewing gum constitutes 26% of all litter.
Most chewing gum never biodegrades and once it is trodden into the pavement this requires specialised equipment to remove. This sticky mess presents a vast market opportunity for cleaning professionals companies to buy our professional chewing gum removal equipment.
The SME Instrument Phase 1-EcoGum project led us to the confirmation of a very promising business opportunity for our Chewing gum removal prototype equipment based on steam on demand technology (Eco Gum) and its socio-economic impact. The goal of the project was to add value to the cleaning process/industry and to develop and commercialize a resource-efficient, innovative, green and easy to use solution that will improve the cleaning businesses competencies offering the best value machine in the world that integrates all existing functionalities and adds key functionalities specially to protect the environment.
Most importantly though, in the last five months working for project realisation, allowed providing deepened analyses, based on which refinement and evolution of product functionality, as well as business assumptions, was possible. Preparing the Feasibility Study along with the Business Plan allowed to create a precise plan for further actions and help the decision makers with a number of necessary pieces of information (market data, analyses, risks, prognoses) for their correct completion of the objectives of the overall innovation project.
In addition, we have identified our key stakeholders and the technical and commercial tasks that need to be developed in order to get Eco Gum successfully into the market. The Feasibility Study has pointed out the unique business opportunity provided by our equipment and its technical, commercial and economic feasibility. Therefore, we have made up our mind to continue with the project. As the natural path after the Phase 1 project from the SME Instrument, our company considers the Phase 2 funding opportunity as the best option.
"The feasibility report visualised the overview of performed works and the results of actions defined in the grant agreement, regarding the technological, technical and economic feasibility of the project.
During this project, all the technical issues related to the existing prototype Eco Gum machine have been solved and TRL #7 has been reached, the chewing gum machine is near scale of the operational system, with most functions available for demonstration and test.
Two `prototype’s evolutions have been realised and tested with excellent results.
The small-scale production of the first 7 items to be validated in the operational environment is started.
Communication and dissemination activities have been undertaken, mainly through the presentation in several national fairs and conferences in collaboration with the University, where many researchers have experienced the equipment with great enthusiasm for its performances (imaging quality and speed).
In the last 5 months, we have worked hard to analyse the technical and financial feasibility of EcoGum equipment which has highlighted the novelty character of our chewing gum removal machine and the great advantages that it is able to bring to cleaning professionals companies.
We have organised the work done in 5 tasks:
The first action of the technical feasibility was an evaluation of the State of the Art on steam on demand technologies. We compared it with the actual solution on the market, and we have spotted the uniqueness and the advantages of our solutions. Reliability and performance testing was undertaken on the 2nd generation prototype and an analysis of the impact of different designs completed. Therefore, CAD design and simulations over different plastic components been realised to find the optimal dimension for the first prototype. In order to be ready for Phase 2 execution, a detailed technical plan to increase the TRL up to 9 has been carried out, as well as a deep analysis of risks related to the action to be done and a mitigation and contingency plan in case of occurrence.
The main objective for Task 2 is to create a commercial interest on Eco Gum outcomes and ensuring their commercial usability. In this context, the team defined a shared a dissemination and exploitation plan, in order to broadcast step-by-step results and to make the commercial panorama aware of project developments. At this stage, the dissemination actions aimed at realising a visible, meaningful and recognisable graphic concept for the Eco Gum project, while raising interest about the project within potential stakeholders.
The overall objective for Task 3, as indicated in the report, is the Financial Feasibility with the evaluation of total capital requirements; assessment of available sources of financing preparation of 5 years financial projections; evaluation of total capital requirements and the return of investment.
A specific Task dedicated to the evaluation of the environment has been added to the EcoGum Project during the negotiation and one deliverable has been produced by the team during the first semester.
In addition, during Phase 1 execution we have prepared all the boundary conditions in order to be immediately ready for Phase 2 execution: we have found and contacted all the stakeholder’s necessary to efficaciously carry out the project and to launch Eco Gum on market. We have contacted and made preliminary agreements with 2 types of stakeholders: technical (suppliers of components and subcontractors for some of the planned tasks) and commercial (we have made a market analysis developing a commercial plan to successfully introduce our steam on demand technology.)
As a result, we generated a Business Plan comprising of the outcomes of the feasibility assessments within the Phase 2 approach, supported together with a technological work plan for Phase 2.
Beneficiary provides dissemination activities especially information on website that this project has received funding from European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme SME Instrument under grant agreement 741920 — ECOGUM — H2020-SMEInst-2016-2017"
One of the most important benefits is that this machine helps organizations/cleaning companies to lower the costs (no water supply needed, no “out of hours” costs, no electrical leads, no gas) with better performances comparing with the machines currently on the market, this will enable a wider diffusion of such an important cleaning equipment.
The final cost is not the only benefit deriving from the investment for the end user.
The factors that may be beneficial in terms of cost effectiveness, if compared with the state of the art technology, can be summarised as follow:
TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENT: represent a benefit in terms of competitiveness for the end user. The technology at the state of the art, EcoGum with all features improved dramatically the performance of existing solutions on market:
- has an ergonomic handle contains the “steam on demand” technology that destroys the Chewing gum in seconds, with no secondary clean up required.
- this technology, together with our unique sugar beet based detergent mixed with water it destroys chewing gum in seconds. The additive is made from a 100% renewable source and is safe to use on all surfaces including carpets.
- another key technical characteristic ‘is represented by design: the whole handle is cool to the touch and lightweight to use. (ideal for quickly removing gum from seats on trains and in cinemas). The whole unit is light enough to be comfortably carried and transported at 12kgs. and with the extension poles, the steam-e makes light work of removing gum from all hard surfaces, Tarmac and carpets.
SAFETY - One of the key benefits of this innovation are not only the best battery powered steam producing machine in the world but also the safest! We are not using power cables or explosive and flammable gas (compared to existing technology).
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY - we have created an ecological chewing gum removal machine (biodegradable & pH neutral cleaning solution, detergent from natural renewable resources, no residues, no noise-a silent system)
RELIABILITY is easy to use and highly mobile, and also improves the quality of service (non-corrosive & non-hazardous, no disruption to traffic or pedestrians, no disturbing of block paving joints, no damage to tarmac surfaces).
All of these elements will potentially determine a positive socio-economic impact in Cleaning Industry.