AquaInSilico to receive $250,000 through UN Development Programme to help protect one of world’s most diverse marine environments


Frontier IP portfolio company AquaInSilico (“AquaInSilico” or the “Company”) has been selected to receive $250,000 as an ‘Ocean Innovator’ through the United Nations Development Programme’s Ocean Innovation Challenge.  The two-year project will help protect and conserve the coastal marine environment around the Cape Verde archipelago, West Africa.

AquaInSilico’s role in the two-year project, called Phos-Value, will be to use its digital tools to design and implement improvements to wastewater treatment plants on the islands to reduce the amount of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, entering the sea, and to improve the quality of water provided to Cape Verde’s population.

If nutrient levels are too high in water, it causes excessive growth of algae, including the growth of nuisance species, in a process called marine eutrophication. This can result in less sunlight reaching the ocean floor and reduced oxygen levels, affecting fish, shellfish and plant species. Cape Verde is widely recognised as one of the most diverse marine environments in the world, including a globally-important coral reef.

AquaInSilico’s technology will be used to create wastewater treatment processes to recycle nutrients as biofertilisers, as well as improving water quality to the islanders. Partners in the project include a leading wastewater company with experience in running projects in Cape Verde and other relevant organisations.

The highly competitive selection of Phos-Value as a UNDP Ocean Innovator represents important validation of the technology being developed by AquaInSilico, a spin-off of NOVA University Lisbon, NOVA School of Science and Technology (“FCT NOVA”). The Company received an EIT RawMaterials grant from the European Union’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology last year to further develop its tools to optimise wastewater treatment.

The Company’s software uses a mathematically modelled biological approach to improve phosphorus removal, based on deep understanding and controlling the operating variables that result from biological and chemical processes. Because of this, its algorithms can detect problems, often before they can be diagnosed by humans.

As a result, the technology has broad applicability, with the potential to allow companies, such as oil groups, brewers, pulp, paper, steel makers, food processing and waste recovery businesses, as well as wastewater treatment plants, to tune and adapt their treatment systems more effectively. It is expected to save them up to 25 per cent of their operating costs.

Frontier IP holds a 29 per cent equity stake in AqualnSilico. The Company was established to develop and commercialise the research of Dr Jorge Santos, Dr Mariana Matos and Professor Maria Ascensão Reis of FCT NOVA.  This team had developed several research projects in environmental and industrial bioengineering in collaboration with several worldwide industry players.

The UNDP Ocean Innovation Challenge was established last year to identify, finance, advise and mentor innovative, entrepreneurial, and creative approaches to ocean and coastal restoration and protection.

Our team is very excited to be joining the United Nations Development Programme tackling ocean and coastal restoration and contributing to the sustainable development of the Cape Verde’s wastewater industry with our digital tools and expertise. The motto for Phos-Value project is: ‘Together we can recycle wastewater and nutrients to save oceans.

AquaInSilico co-founder Dr Jorge Santos

We are delighted AquaInSilico is involved in this important United Nations Development Programme to conserve the marine environment around Cape Verde. The grant award represents a strong validation of the Company’s technology and the progress it has made.

Frontier IP Chief Executive Officer Neil Crabb