Tide of growth
By developing and sharing its innovative treatment technologies with water supply companies around the world, PWN Technologies is building the foundations for its long-term success.
Founded in 2009, Netherlands-headquartered PWN Technologies is a self-described innovation engine in water treatment technology, having introduced a number of new solutions in its field. The company is a subsidiary of PWN, the water supply company owned by the authorities of the North Holland province. Its position is unique among global treatment companies, being the offspring of a water supply company, with the aim to reinvest all its revenues into further research.
“Our goal has never been profit only, but to share our innovative treatment technologies with water supply companies around the world,” says Debbie Middendorp, director Marketing and Communications at PWN Technologies. “Four years ago the R&D department of PWN Technologies belonged to our parent company PWN, but the long term costs of funding innovation work were increasing so the decision was made to offer our innovative solutions on a commercial basis overseas.”
PWN’s main water source is the 1100 km² Ĳssel Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in the Netherlands and Western Europe. Ridding supplies of contaminants and achieving high quality standards in drinking water is a constant challenge due to the pollution that reaches it from major rivers, most notably, the Rhine.
In 2014, operations began at the newly constructed Andijk III plant, which uses PWN Technologies’ SIX® (Suspended Ion eXchange) and CeraMac® (ceramic membrane filtration process) technology. The 120,000 m3 a day facility will produce water of a better quality, with a lower environmental impact and decreased energy consumption, and at a lower cost.
PWN has been a world’s first in applying a number of different water treatment technologies, which it offers today as advanced tried-and-tested solutions.
“We consider ourselves to be three years ahead of the competition. That is our business proposition and we will grow the business in the coming years in order to stay ahead,” says Middendorp. “We call ourselves a technology supplier as research is at our core. The solutions we offer are not just about the installations but also about our expertise. We offer our clients the best suitable solution for their treatment challenges.”
Based near Amsterdam, the company recently put global expansion on the cards with the opening of its first overseas office in Singapore, where it has sealed a project deal and is exploring a growing interest from oil and gas and mining firms. Similarly, it is executing a project in the United Kingdom, where it has a mandate with South West Water to build a 90 millions of litres per day combined ion exchange and ceramic micro-filtration plant in Plymouth, UK.
With its small and specialised team of just 31 people, of which around half are in R&D, PWN Technologies has found it useful to support its innovation processes in collaboration with national and international academics, universities and institutions.
A core value of the company since its foundation has been sustainability, which has also become a growth driver for its business overseas. The rise in sustainability concerns worldwide has played to the company’s strengths, especially in countries looking for more energy efficient solutions and to the total lifecycle cost of treatment technologies. As part of these efforts PWN Technologies has in the past worked on developing sustainable solutions for drinking water production in emerging countries.
With PWN Technologies’ growth and expansion has come the need for it to develop its external offering in a market in which decision processes by large utilities and public sector water companies can take as long as six years to bear fruit. PWN is looking at new ways to meet its subsidiary’s short-term financing needs when building installations.
“PWN Technologies will take several years to develop a stable commercial portfolio and become a sustainable profitable organisation,” explains Irene Veerkamp, CFO of the parent company PWN. “It is important that until it does, that we do not take too many risks in terms of financing. We have clear limits from our shareholder, to whom we must also pay dividends, so we have restrictions in our financial options for PWN Technologies.”
“What we like about ING is that they are always thinking with us, to solve our challenges when it comes to financing,” says Veerkamp.
PWN’s relationship with ING spans 25 years, and comprises payments & cash management services, financial markets solutions and large lending assets. In support of PWN Technologies, ING also delivers foreign exchange products and is looking to provide support in structured export finance, which by means of a buyer’s credit for their clients, could help PWN Technologies with its growth ambitions. As part of these efforts, it has invited the company to meet with other clients that are active in these types of products in related sectors, such as construction companies in Africa, to see if there are ways they can collaborate in joint projects abroad.