Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation
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Envis, Italian water technology
Rome - (Ign) - Leonardo Palumbo is 30 years old. He is a young engineer, and for some years was a researcher in Bologna at the laboratories of Enea, the Italian research Centre for new technologies, energy and the environment. He has never been short of good ideas, or of the ability to translate them into applicable technology. The same can also be said of his two partners, Luigi Petta and Andrea Giordano, also researchers at Enea, and also young engineers. In 2001, still extremely young, they had the idea of transforming the results of research performed on water purification and recycling into a business concern. This led to the setting up of Envis srl, a small company which, while still young, is reaping growing successes, so much so that it was deservedly awarded the 2005 edition of the prize "OK Italia - Young entrepreneurs come of age". We asked Leonardo Palumbo (in the photo with one of his assistants) what inspired him and his two partners to move onto the difficult and complex market of environmental technology, dominated by a few large multinationals.
"There is no doubt," replied Palumbo "that we were helped by the possibility of starting as a spin-off of the Enea laboratories. Professionally, we all started out at Enea, and the company itself also started out within the major Bologna research Centre. Then we transferred to the University of Bologna New Business Centre, allowing us to take advantage of significant logistic and organisational support. Now it is time for the big leap forward, time to grow up and face the market on our own feet ".
What are your prospects ?
"We have already been operating on the market for some years, and have begun to reap rewards. We have implemented collaboration agreements, also on an international level, and our technology is increasingly sought after".
What are the innovative aspects of your products ?
"At present we don't offer products, but planning. We propose an innovative use of pre-existing technologies in the sector of water purification. These are new systems which make it possible to develop both biological and mechanical treatment processes within the same structure, a solution which makes it possible to optimise the process in function of the real needs. We have also designed a membrane filter system together with purification systems using active mud, which make it possible to eliminate the phases of secondary sedimentation, with great savings in plant size and consequently costs. Lastly, we have designed treatment systems which allow water to be reused also in a domestic environment. On one hand "grey" water (wash basins and showers) is filtered and recovered for reuse in lavatory flushing; on the other rainwater is collected, filtered, and then used in dishwashers and washing machines ".
Are you not afraid that your ideas may be copied ?
"There is this risk, but we are not particularly worried. We don't offer machinery that can be copied, but specific solutions for specific cases, tailor-made plants to deal with concrete realities, and this defends our ideas from the possibility of being cloned. Moreover, our technologies are continuously evolving, as we have become a market concern, but we have not changed the way we work as researchers. Innovation is vital".
And what about the future? Do you plan to continue on this path?
"Yes, of course, as well as setting up new production activities. In the space of a few years we aim to directly produce most of the machines we design, in order to reduce final costs and optimise process efficiency".
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