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ENVISAGE (Development of Environmentally-friendly Innovative Solutions for Affected Grounds and Ecosystems)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Envisage (ENVISAGE (Development of Environmentally-friendly Innovative Solutions for Affected Grounds and Ecosystems))

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

With more than 20 years of experience, INOQ is a leading developer of mycorrhiza products used as microbial biostimulants for recultivation, food production, horticulture and others.
With ENVISAGE we will provide mycorrhizal fungi to soil remediation companies as a complement and/or alternative to current remediation techniques for contaminated or affected grounds.
During the last decades, governments and private institutions have stressed their interest towards substitution of ecologically unfriendly and expensive techniques with new forms of bioremediation. Given its relevance to our life, governments and private actors from the EU member states have incurred in large amounts of soil remediation related expenses during the last years (more than €31 Billion from 2000 to 2010). To date there are many laboratory applications of mycorrhizal fungi on soil remediation, but no commercial applications in Europe. Therefore we identify our competitive advantage given our technical and commercial experience with similar applications. Based on our market analysis and based on advisory from industry experts, this market will represent for INOQ a business with an annual revenue value of at least €5 Million during the first 3 to 5 years. The envisaged profile has been considered to combine complementary skills and expertise. The Innovation Associate used his research and data analysis skills, as well as his bioscience and technical background to connect market and industry related knowledge to our biotechnology. The incumbent had and will have a strategic role in INOQ, occupying the position of Business Innovation Manager. He will also in future contribute to drive our company as to become a reliable biotechnological partner in the European soil remediation market.
The Innovation Associate (IA) searched and identified information about phytoremediation and created a network of strategic contacts to obtain relevant information for INOQ products.

In a first phase the IA gathered knowledge about the company and technology through different trainings (provided by EU, INOQ and external institution). Additionally he did literature research related to the use of mycorrhizal fungi in soil remediation and summarized our current capabilities and resources, how to explore the application of mycorrhizal fungi in this field. Additionally he assisted in the development of an internal Innovation Management system based on the knowledge acquired during the seminar provided by the EU.

An accurate market analysis to define target industries was carried out. The main aim was to obtain technical information about the soil remediation industry and about its market potential. The IA aimed to segment and define market opportunities for INOQ i. e. about the soil remediation industry in Europe (size of industry, regulations, participants, role of private and public sector) and market opportunity and possible market barriers. He identified main participants and the size of soil remediation industry per country in Europe as well as the structure of the industry in terms of type of companies i.e. Soil remediation companies, Environmental consultants, Natural resource-based companies (Mining, Oil and gas, Food processing, etc) and techniques used in soil remediation (i.e. in-situ, bioremediation, ex-situ). He carried out research about the size of the industry in terms of business volume (€), identified competitors, substitutes and barriers (regulations, certifications), identified leads (potential customers) and companies that can be used as referents.

The definition of the marketing strategy for the European soil remediation industry was a main task. Therefore the IA contacted companies, identified relevant expos and tradeshows, evaluated convenience of advertising on Web-based directories, Blogs and industry related websites, developed a social media and electronic campaign (i.e. LinkedIn and others), generated information for promotional material and developed digital and printed material (brochures) and helped to design information on company’s web page (with assistance of our IT team). Due to the work of the IA we could generate an internal report for market intelligence used to create the market strategy. Part of the results were included in a review published on an open source journal.

The main focus of the last phase was to contact leads and define the feasibility of the business opportunity. The IA took part to Expos and tradeshows, adjusted business approach based on recommendations. He concentrated information about general comments, recommendations and strategic information provided by leads, contacts, industry consultants and industry associations about the proposed product/service and its feasibility and improvement opportunities. The contact efforts ended successfully in the participation in a dune reforestation project in the Netherlands. TERRA-dunes is funded by the Government of the Netherlands and by private sector investment. The project focuses on restoration of soil properties in dune areas. INOQ participates as commercial partner and provider of Mycorrhiza inoculum (http://www.terra-dunes.nl/).
With more than 500 soil remediation firms (potential customers) in countries like Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and France that report the highest amount of soil remediation expenditure, this market would represent for INOQ a business with an annual revenue value of at least €5 Million during the first 3 to 5 years. This increase of annual turnover would lead to a correlated increase of production. To date the production has a capacity to produce up to 0,5 Mio Liter of mycorrhiza fungi, that can serve as biostimulants for up to 50 Mio plants or 20 Mio squared meters.

Based on our market analysis and the advisory from industry experts, the potential is extremely high. Reports from the EU indicate that more than 175.000 sites have been remediated during the period of 2000 to 2010. Moreover, the need for remediation continues growing thanks to the pressure from local governments and private actors. To date exist more than 490,000 contaminated sites and more than 4.5 million potentially contaminated in Europe with an estimated average remediation cost of €180.000 per site. In countries like Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Spain and UK by 2013 were reported more than 1000 companies dedicated to ex situ and in situ soil remediation activities, with a total turnover estimated in more than €1billion.

The company has the necessary a reliable production process and quality system to ensure performance and quality of the product. The current projects and trials developed with customers (DE and CH) and with the research team in Leiden (NL), INOQ will gain more experience about the use of the technology and the know-how about the use of mycorrhiza fungi on commercial applications and has developed marketability of such technology. Another synergy of Envisage is that with the database generated, INOQ was able to prepare a project proposal for SME Instrument Phase 1. The project acronym is MYRES (827344). The main focus is to continue with the actions generated during the project ENVISAGE. The objective is to develop business plan for INOQ to grow in different markets including agricultural and urban soil restoration and land reclamation. The status is Accepted, and the Start date is 01.09.2018.