The Next Big Thing
Canadian Water Treatment Magazine
What does it take to bring a new technology to market? Kerry Freek and David Henderson spoke with successful and emerging Canadian water entrepreneurs to find out.
In 1976, Hank Vander Laan bought a small, London, Ontario-based metal works company that happened to hold a patent on an ultraviolet (UV) treatment unit for homeowners to purify their drinking water. Immediately after the acquisition of Trojan Metal Works and some initial research, Vander Laan devoted the majority of the company’s limited resources to large municipal applications of UV technology. Based on his vision of transforming the metal fabricator into a dynamic global company capable of solving complex water problems, Trojan Technologies Ltd., one of Canada’s biggest success stories in water technology, was born.
How did that happen? According to Vander Laan, having a supported, shared vision is what’s most important. “The vision needs to be bigger than you. It has to be a shared vision that is healthy, profitable and sustainable.”
For Philip Abrary, president and CEO of Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies Inc., the vision came when he and COO Ted Jones heard from the University of British Columbia’s industry liaison office. Over a period of five years, UBC had developed a nutrient recycling process that reduces the amount of pollutants released into the environment, helps sewage treatment plants reduce operating costs and meet environmental regulations, and provides municipalities with revenue from the sale of recycled fertilizer.
“We liked the technology’s potential,” says Abrary. “We thought it was intriguing, both in terms of the technology, but also the potential business model that could be applied to something that is both a wastewater treatment solution and a valuable product.”
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