Nanostart AG (OTCQX:NASRY), the nanotechnology venture capital company, has taken an investment position in Membrane Instruments and Technology (MINT) Pte Ltd, a cleantech company based in Singapore.
MINT, founded in 2009 as a spin-off from the country’s renowned Nanyang Technological University, is a producer of next-generation technology for monitoring and controlling water quality in filtration-based water treatment plants. The core of the new technology lies in the proprietary, nanotech-based sensors developed by the company. These highly sensitive sensors automatically monitor the efficiency and proper functioning of filter membranes by continuously measuring key output parameters. The system from MINT thus enables the ongoing performance monitoring of water treatment plants in real time so that, in case of filter degradation or failure, corrective measures can be immediately introduced.
The investment was made by way of the Nanostart Singapore Early Stage Venture Fund, which is managed by Nanostart Asia, a 100% subsidiary of Nanostart AG. The fund now holds an 18% share in MINT.
Operators of water treatment plans are subject to stringent regulations which aim to ensure water quality standards. Modern water treatment systems are constructed of thousands of micro- and ultrafiltration membranes. If even just a few of these are not functioning properly, the quality of drinking water output can deteriorate quickly and significantly.
The fully automated sensor system from MINT enables the function of each individual filter membrane to be directly and continuously monitored in real time, marking an enormous step forward from conventional monitoring methods which involve manual sampling and laboratory tests. The new technology from MINT provides not only major savings in the cost and time associated with water treatment monitoring but also enables immediate reaction in case of malfunction. Until now, identifying and exchanging defective filter membranes has been an expensive and complicated process involving lengthy service disruptions. In contrast, the sensors from MINT enable these membranes to be identified and exchanged with unprecedented speed and ease. There are no other systems on the market today which enable real-time monitoring and control while offering such efficiency and cost effectiveness in water treatment as the new systems from MINT. Its proprietary nanotech-based sensor technology puts the company in a uniquely strong competitive position.
The global market for filtration membranes which MINT aims to serve is currently estimated at roughly USD 9 billion annually. The market specifically for water analysis and testing, currently estimated at some USD 500 million, is expected to grow at a rate of six to eight percent per year. This transaction marks the third investment position taken by the Nanostart Singapore Early Stage Venture Fund.
“The breakthrough technology from MINT has already proved itself in the first operating applications, and we see enormous market potential ahead,” said Andreas Kröll, managing director of Nanostart Asia. “We are delighted about this superb addition to our investment portfolio.”
“Nanostart is exactly the right partner for us,” added Prof. A.G. Fane, Chairman of the Board of MINT. “It brings extensive know-how in commercialization as well as a proven track record in cleantech. I am confident that this experience will be of significant benefit to MINT.”
MINT is the second Nanostart portfolio company to address the world’s increasingly problematic thirst for clean water. ItN Nanovation AG, the other of these two companies, in which Nanostart has held an investment position since 2005, has developed a patented technology for highly efficient and compact water filtration based on nanoceramics.
Over large areas of the planet, water is a scarce and valuable resource. Cities and entire nations face enormous challenges not only in efficiently using these limited resources but also in finding more affordable and reliable ways to produce clean drinking water. Developing countries, in particular, are investing enormous sums into water supply projects to create the infrastructure which their populations need. At the same time, standards for water quality are being raised in much of the world.