Falmouth entrepreneurs win award for wave energy fresh water project
Two Falmouth entrepreneurs have won a £100,000 prize package which will help fast-track a wave-powered device they have pioneered to bring fresh water to communities in the developing world.
Chris Hassall and Russ Henman, who are behind RCH Marine Renewables, have won the Ignite 2012 business planning competition. Managed by Oxford Innovation as part of its Coaching for High Growth programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the competition was open to fledgling businesses in Cornwall.
RCH Marine Renewables is developing a floating desalination unit, which harnesses wave energy to pressurise seawater and pump fresh water to the shore.
Each device will be capable of generating around 2,000 litres of fresh drinking water a day.
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The pair have both witnessed water-related health problems of people across the world. When on a visit to Mozambique, Chris saw children with cataracts contracted by drinking unsafe water. The lack of access to drinking water inspired them to look for a solution. The device will initially be deployed in tests off the Cornish coastline and this will be followed by a full commercial pilot in the Pacific Ocean with UNICEF.
RCH was one of 10 finalists in this year's Ignite competition. Each was assigned an Oxford Innovation coach who worked with them to translate their idea into a business plan.
Mr Hassall said: "There have been some real challenges and many sleepless nights, but to see where we have got to now – winning Ignite – it's extremely gratifying."