A new addition to the innovation awards in 2020 was an award that recognises the social aspect of the finalists’ innovations. This was made in response to the growing need for social innovations to tackle critical issues, such as homelessness, healthcare and the environment.
The inaugural winner of the Social Innovation Award is VorTech Water Solutions which also took the top prize in the sustainability category for its solution to energy wastage in the water treatment industry.
Water treatment plants operate around the clock and account for up to 3 per cent of the national electricity bill in developed countries. However, a significant amount of the energy being used by these plants is wasted due to the inefficient technologies and processes persisting within the industry.
What was needed was a step change innovation that would deliver an alternative hi-tech, low-energy means of treating wastewater and reducing carbon emissions. Following four years of research, this is exactly what the NUI Galway spinout company has developed.
Its Vortex Powered Aerator (VPA) greatly increases the efficiency of the aeration process (the standard method of wastewater treatment). Adding to the attraction of the system for existing wastewater plant operators around the world, the VPA can be easily retrofitted with no disruption or downtime.
All of its parts are assembled off site so contractors spend the minimum amount of time at the plant during installation. The VPA also offers longevity, low cost of total ownership and components that can be easily replaced.
The Innovation Awards 2020 are supported by The Irish Times in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, SkillnetIreland and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
The prize for the overall winner is a high-profile communications package worth in excess of €150,000 comprising advertising and promotion across the Business, Technology + Innovation pages and the Business online section.
In addition, the UCD Smurfit School will provide the winner with an executive education scholarship.
Category winners are awarded a €10,000 communications package in Thursday’s Business, Technology + Innovation pages and a one-year digital subscription to The Irish Times.