Success Stories

08 Oct 2020

ECOSOFTT: Sustainable Water Source for a Covid-19 Isolation Facility

The ECOSOFTT wastewater treatment system makes recycling every drop of water at a specific site a reality. Source: ECOSOFTT

Innovation might just be the silver lining of 2020. But not just the conventional way of innovating.

Instead, open innovation is taking the lead in the fight against Covid-19. Globally, scientists, pharmaceutical companies and governments are coming together to work on vaccines, exchange data and accelerate research on the pandemic.

Henry Chesbrough, author of Open Innovation, observes that what these developments have in common is openness. “Good ideas can come from anywhere,” he writes, “making openness an imperative in these times of crisis.”

In Singapore, solutions from open innovation have also helped to address needs arising from the pandemic.

An example is local SME ECOSOFTT’s wastewater treatment technology, a solution that was developed alongside government agencies and the private sector.

The wastewater treatment plant was recently deployed at Changi Exhibition Centre, which has been turned into a Covid-19 community isolation facility. Part of MINDEF’s top priorities while planning for the site included creating a water source at the facility to avoid adding pressure to existing ones in the vicinity.

ECOSOFTT’s solution became the right fit: it recycles sewage on-site to expand water capacity, making the reuse of every drop of water at the facility a reality.


Why Tap Open Innovation for Growth?

A Real Need, A Right Match

In fact, ECOSOFTT’s solution was developed through an earlier open innovation process: JTC, PUB and Enterprise SG had made a joint grant call for a decentralised wastewater treatment solution to reduce the load on centralised systems.

This kick-started ECOSOFTT’s development of its on-site wastewater treatment system – which comes coupled with smart remote monitoring and controls – to treat domestic wastewater to non-potable water standards. The joint grant call revealed an important market need in land-scarce Singapore: treated water remains highly in demand and is most desirable when obtained with lower energy, space and cost requirements.

ECOSOFTT’s high-quality wastewater treatment plant also taps into the deep tech innovations by other players, including the Industrial Internet of Things and global corporation Mitsubishi Electric’s automation and control software.

The success of the project can be attributed to the collaborators’ openness to innovate with each other – along the way, their ethos has helped to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.

Indeed, when local firms partner with international companies and public sector agencies, they can play a significant role in addressing massive urban development challenges in the region.


Opportunity to Go to New Markets

The ECOSOFTT wastewater treatment system at JTC Cleantech One. Source:  ECOSOFTT

ECOSOFTT’s sustainable water system was originally deployed at JTC CleanTech One, known as Singapore’s first water-smart blue building. It has made its solution affordable by reducing costs through the localisation of procurement, fabrication and project execution.

When the pandemic occurred, ECOSOFTT could rapidly set up a similar system at the Changi isolation facility after its experience from the JTC CleanTech One implementation.

The problem of clean water extends to many other cities, and ECOSOFTT has been able to address new markets in India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

For example, ECOSOFTT’s solution is successfully meeting the water needs of urban India, where many communities receive limited piped water supply and face severe wastewater pollution challenges. In a town in Madhya Pradesh, ECOSOFTT’s solution treats 2.5 million litres of water per day; and for a residential development in the Delhi National Capital Region, ECOSOFTT recycles 500,000 litres of wastewater daily towards landscaping, toilet flushing and other non-potable purposes.


Are You Ready for Open Innovation?

How open is your company when it comes to innovation?

Does your company work with external parties to ideate and exchange knowledge – even intellectual property – with one another?

Does your company believe that external parties have important and relevant contributions to your internal innovation process?

A “Yes” to the above means your company engages in open innovation – and the National Innovation Challenges (NIC) initiative is looking for firms like yours!

Launched in July, NIC will propel open innovation in Singapore towards solutions for a post-pandemic world. Through the initiative, local firms will receive support to collaborate across industry and co-develop solutions that help businesses nationwide adapt to the New Normal.

Government agencies, trade associations and chambers as well as large corporations can also work with NIC to present their challenges to firms.

Rise to the National Innovation Challenges, which have released the second wave of challenges calling for open innovations across the eCommerce, environmental services, healthcare, digital and ICT sectors.

Find more about the National Innovation Challenges.