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Using a patent to attract attention

 
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Danish start-up Cembrane pioneers the market of clean water technology. Their patented membrane technology made from Silicon Carbide ceramics cleans waste and sea waters at unprecedented speeds. Or flux rate as the term is. Their first patent, which was obtained in cooperation with Larsen & Birkeholm, was a crucial tool in attracting investors, tells co-founder Lasse Andreassen.


 

The term flux rate is used to describe how many liters of water that can pass through a water cleaning membrane per hour. Cembrane's succes lies in the fact that their flux rate is five times higher on average than that of competing technologies. Put shortly, a Cembrane installation takes up much less space than competing technology with the same capacity. The 'magic' of course happens at a level invisible to the eye - the complex and patented constitution of Silicon Carbide ceramics.

 
 
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A Story of Rapid Growth

At the beginning of this year, Cembrane was able to reveal a new order to provide clean drinking water for around 200.000 people living in the Charmahal Bakhtiari Province of Iran. When finished, this order will result in the largest Silicon Carbide installation to date, tells Lasse Andreassen, who co-founded Cembrane alongside with Sebastian Andreassen and Niklas Andreassen. The raw water for this project is sourced from the Koohrang River (picture below).

 
 
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"We were impressed with how fast L&B understood our technology.”

Lasse Andreasen, Cembrane co-founder

 
 
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Picture of Manilla from the sky. Here Cembrane technology will play a key role in upgrading the existing water treatment plants in the coming years.

 

Goal: To catch investors' attention

It was only in 2014 that Cembrane began the process of patenting their technology in cooperation with Larsen & Birkeholm. After obtaining the patent, Cembrane knew they had something valuable: An intellectual property right. The company was then able to document not only their competence within the field of water cleaning membranes, but the fact that something of value existed in the company. A clearly defined starting point for cooperation with investors.

Prior to patenting their hesitation had been the cost related to obtaining a patent, says Lasse Andreassen. However, they felt quite certain that the patent would pay off very quickly by making it easier to interest investors. And they were right. The patent became part of Cembrane’s due diligence material and not long after Cembrane was able to find the funding they needed. The fact that Larsen & Birkeholm ”were really quick to understand the technology” also made the decision to go forward with the patent easier, he says.

Recently Cembrane began the process of tripling production capacity to meet increasing demands. Shortly before the Iran-order another large order came from the Philipines. Here Cembrane technology will play a key role in upgrading the existing water treatment plants in the capital Manilla in the coming years. Lasse Andreassen believes the primary reason for the fast expansion is the existence of Cembrance's patent application. They would have probably found a way to funding without a patent. It would, however, he says, have been at a completely different speed.