Sponsh, the award-winning start-up that wants to take water out of the air to grow trees, returns to the place where it all started: the TU Eindhoven. There the start-up wants to take the final steps in the development of the new nano-coating. To this end, the company is moving its activities from the Water Campus in Leeuwarden to the TU/e site.
With a new financial impulse from BOM Brabant Ventures and the Brabant Startup Fund (BSF), Sponsh hopes to do the first practical trials in 2021.
The idea for Sponsh arose when Lourens Boot discovered during a camper trip in a cork-dried Portugal that all his stuff, despite the drought, was soaking wet in the morning. He realized that some plants and animals survive in dry areas by extracting water from the air and wondered: why don’t we do that ourselves as well? He Googled and found publications by associate professor Catarina Esteves, who was doing research on nano-coating at the TU/e in Eindhoven. This smart coating absorbs water from the air at night when the temperature is low. During the day, when the sun rises and the temperature gets higher, the coating automatically releases this water. This way, you can produce water from the air without doing anything. For example, for irrigation. Together with Kurt Hamming, they founded Sponsh, which was soon named Water Innovator of the Year, and won the Accenture Innovation and the Golden KIEM award for the best chemical start-up.
On the roll
Lourens Boot is not blind to all the praise Sponsh received early on in his development for the application of nanotechnology. “The road from successful laboratory testing with a single square centimeter of Sponsh to a marketable product that can be sold ‘on the roll’ is a long one. The upscaling turned out to be more complex than we initially thought. That’s why we went back to the origins for further development: the TU/e Campus, with all the essential knowledge in chemistry. We expect to be able to start validating in real-life conditions in Southern Europe at the beginning of next year”.
According to business developer Pieter Meuwissen of the BOM, Sponsh has the potential to play a major role in reforestation programs in dry areas. “This would enable the company to have a significant positive impact on climate change. The coming months will be exciting. We are happy to be able to help them. There is a team in place in which we have great confidence.”