Committee on the Future Economy report: Strategy 3: Strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate, scale up

Local start-up going places with its water treatment technology

The co-founders of NanoSun, Prof Sun (left) and Mr Wong, intend to expand the water treatment start-up further. The company has developed a way to produce self-cleaning, 3D-printed microfiltration membranes, and is now looking for expansion capital t
The co-founders of NanoSun, Prof Sun (left) and Mr Wong, intend to expand the water treatment start-up further. The company has developed a way to produce self-cleaning, 3D-printed microfiltration membranes, and is now looking for expansion capital to scale up operations in the region.PHOTO: NANOSUN

A local water treatment start-up spun off from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is making waves around the world.

The company recently secured $12 million in funding, and is now looking to raise a new round of funds to help it scale up.

NanoSun has developed a way to produce self-cleaning, 3D-printed microfiltration membranes.

These membranes last longer than conventional ones, and are also more efficient, allowing more water to be treated even with a smaller plant. The company's patented titanium dioxide nanotechnology also kills bacteria and breaks down material that clogs up conventional membranes.

NanoSun was founded in 2013 by Associate Professor Darren Sun of NTU's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mr Wong Ann Chai, an adjunct professor at Nanyang Business School and a former investment banker.

The Singapore-headquartered firm now has a presence in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India.

The company developed its water-filter technologies in close collaboration with national water agency PUB.

NanoSun has expanded rapidly over the years - it started off doing small-scale projects, but has since moved into the big league.

In 2015, the company inked a $4.3 million deal to deploy its advanced membrane technology to treat industrial wastewater in the Qingdao National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone, a 20 sq km industrial zone in Shandong, China.

 

Related Stories: 

The Singapore-headquartered firm now has a presence in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India.

Its revenue crossed the million-dollar mark last year, and is on track to reach $7.5 million to $8 million this year, said Mr Wong.

"We have grown from plankton to a garoupa, but we want to be a shark," he added.

After raising its latest sum of $12 million in funding, NanoSun is now looking for expansion capital.

It has a team of 12 in Singapore, and intends to ramp up its presence in China to 30 people.

"We hope to anchor our manufacturing and development in Singapore even though costs in China might be lower," said Mr Wong, adding that the company intends to use Singapore as a base for further growth abroad.

Chia Yan Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Local start-up going places with its water treatment technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe