3AWater is, in a nutshell, a start-up company offering a solution for fast and easy analytics of metal contents of waters. The product can be used as a risk management and environmental monitoring tool for industries handling large amounts of metal containing waters, such as mining.
3AWater was founded by a team of researchers of Department of Applied Physics in University of Eastern Finland (UEF) in January 2019. 3AWater also won the Tahko SLP during that spring. But seeds of 3AWater were planted already five years earlier, when future CTO Joakim Riikonen developed with his colleagues in UEF a nanomaterial that can be used to collect metals from waters. During that time mining and its environmental impact was a hot topic in Finnish media and metals in surrounding waters are one main adverse impact.
We were looking for opportunities to commercialize part of our research and found out that monitoring of the metals from waters was actually quite complicated task. The pieces fall into right order, when we realized this nanomaterial can help in bringing the laboratory measurements to the field and enable almost real-time monitoring of environmental impacts of mining, comments Tuomo Nissinen, CEO of 3AWater about the birth of the idea.
3AWater team build a prototype measurement system and tested it successfully with industrial collaborators building proof of concept for the technology and validating the market interest Business Finland research to business funding.
The most important decision on early stage was going straight to the customers even with very limited prototype. After this I took the risk, resigned from my research position and started pursuing full time the success for 3AWater. Motivation for me was the passion of creating concrete products and benefits to our customers from the research done in the university, says Nissnen.
Winning Tahko SLP pitching competition in 2019 certainly had a positive impact on 3AWater. The publicity helped the company to secure their first pre-seed funding in late 2019 and the prize money was used to build laboratory in KPY Novapolis premises in Kuopio.
During 2020 and 2021 company has worked on turning the prototype to a product and tested with collaborators and customers. In the beginning of 2022 3AWaters Multimetal Water Analysis System was launched to the markets, and first units were delivered to the customers.
Building a start-up is always challenging and working with such a high level and complex technology with relatively low resources has been extra challenging. There is still lot more to do, but we are now ready revolutionize the way how waters are analysed and help industries to operate more environmentally friendly.
The article is written by SLP Growth Community Strategic Partner – University of Eastern Finland