Read the interview from the ÅForsk prize ceremony. It is in English.
Lisa Heiberg found a market niche while working on filter materials to stop fertilizers.
“The material was patented but since all inventors are researchers, no one had the time or experience to take it to the market.”
DiaPure is one of the 10 winners of the 2018 ÅForsk Entrepreneurial Scholarship – hence deeptech of the week!
ENTREPRENEUR: LISA HEIBERG
INCUBATOR: IDEON INNOVATION
Developing a a revolutionary phosphorus filter for private sewage systems.
– It is a huge boost in self-esteem. We really think that DiaPure can revolutionize the market, says Lisa Heiberg after just having received the 2018 ÅForsk Entrepreneurial Scholarship.
– Now, we really need to focus on getting out there and show the market what we have. This is a huge leap in the right direction.
Lisa Heiberg is the founder of DiaPure. Driven by helping governments around the world with cleaning sewage water, and with ten years of environmental research focusing on eutrophication, she has found a niche where she can make a change.
– I am a outdoor person and I always cared much about nature protection and climatic changes.
LARGE COMPANIES WEREN’T INTERESTED…
Three years ago, Heiberg worked on finding filter materials that could stop fertilizers, in this case phosphorus from agriculture coming out in the environment.
– I was engaged in a project together with the best researcher in Denmark. We screened a lot of materials but they all had some disadvantages. So, we came up with the idea to mix two materials into one super material. One that had ideal filtering properties and one that had excellent phosphorus absorbing properties.
In that way, they could have a highly reactive surface and good storage capacity of phosphorus inside the pores, she continues explaining.
– The material was patented but since all inventors are researchers, no one had the time or experience to take it to the market. We asked some large companies if they were interested, but they couldn’t see a market for DiaPure.
However, Heiberg have been working in the sewage treatment market in which she saw a possible market opportunity.
– So, I decided to try it out myself, and show what this material could do. We adjusted the material design to work on sewage water, and today we cooperate with one of these companies.
DiaPure collaborates with a global company for production and distribution, as well as with Copenhagen University for material development.
To find solutions for eutrophication, the company has teamed up with more European Universities such as University of Ghent, Leuven and Aarhus, as well as woth growers like Sachsen Municipality in Germany, the Belgian Greenhouse Growers and water providers in Holland.
– I also cooperate with small companies in Sweden to develop my production line, like mechanical Jomo, or the engineering company Join.
ABOUT BEING CHALLENGED, ALWAYS
Being a reseacher is not the same as being an entrepreneur, according to Heiberg.
– You have to have another mindset and another focus. That was surprisingly difficult adjusting to. I would have come nowhere without Ideon Innovation. Accessing that environment gives incredible possibilities. All my networks, support and input comes from Ideon.
Lisa Heiberg emphasize the importance of having people around you that can celebrate your success and help you to get back in the saddle when times are rough.
– You get challenged always, and you need that because some steps are really scary and someone need to push you over the edge. Then it is good to have a safe environment to support you in that step forward.