Clewat cleans open waters with catamaran

Rotterdam is investing in maritime innovation and is a partner of PortXL, one of the region’s innovation accelerators. Start-ups and scale-ups are guided during the development of their product and the growth of their company via an intensive programme.

One of the participants this year is the company Clewat. Their aim is to globally remove plastic waste, excess biomass and oil discharges from waters.

About Clewat

Clewat is a rapidly growing technology company from Finland, which wants to scale up and gain an international foothold. Executive Chairman Janne Saarikko thinks there are too many materials floating around in the water which do not belong there. ‘We are focussed on removing plastic waste, excess biomass and oil spills from our oceans, seas, rivers and lakes.’ Clewat is going to do this with a cleaning device they have developed themselves. Saarikko: ‘We can remove particles up to half a millimetre in size from the water and our equipment can collect a maximum of 200 cubic metres of biomass per hour.’

“We are focussed on removing plastic waste, excess biomass and oil spills from our oceans, seas, rivers and lakes”
Janne Saarikko

Saarikko has previously acquired experience with setting up companies, but the maritime sector is new to Clewat. The ultimate goal is for thousands of ships to sail around global waters with this cleaning device on board. So far Clewat has a fleet of seven ships. Saarikko: ‘We can currently produce about one new device every six weeks. This can quickly be tripled when the need arises.’

Multifunctional ship

The unique thing about Clewat, according to Saarikko, is the strength in the fact that the ship is multifunctional. ‘There are always limited resources available to combat any environmental damage. A multifunctional ship can resolve several problems simultaneously and is therefore cost efficient.’ The ship won’t just be removing micro and macro plastic from the water, it’s also capable of taking plants and oil out of the water which can damage the environment. ‘This is going to have a positive impact on the conservation of biodiversity and therefore on climate change.’

PortXL as a springboard

The PortXL programme was very important to Clewat, according to Saarikko. ‘We have proven that the technologically works. Now’s the time to bring our innovation to the attention of potential customers. The programme has given us a place in Rotterdam’s maritime community. It’s a huge step for us to now be able to work together with several start-ups and scale-ups from the same field. We are expecting the programme to give us the ability to scale up globally.’

Start-up hub Rotterdam

Saarikko firmly believes Rotterdam is at the very heart of the maritime industry. Saarikko: ‘Collaborations can very quickly be forged here, simply because this is home to so many maritime companies. That would otherwise be very difficult for a company of Finnish origin. PortXL has taught us how the market works here and allows us to quickly and easily come into contact with experienced people who have been working in the industry for many years.’ Saarikko compares establishing his company in the maritime heart of Rotterdam with a software company in Silicon Valley. Last week he ran into a connection in Rotterdam with whom he wanted to talk about a business issue. Saarikko: ‘We enjoyed some excellent discussions during a dinner, which will undoubtedly lead to a future collaboration. That simply wouldn't have happened in the streets of Helsinki.’

“Rotterdam has an incredibly positive culture and is very helpful towards innovative companies”
Janne Saarikko

He feels there is still some room for development how larger companies deal with start-ups in Finland. Saarikko: ‘Rotterdam has an incredibly positive culture and is very helpful towards innovative companies. It’s also important that there are institutions like Deltares, an institute which specialises in applied research in the field of water and soil.’ Saarikko is of the opinion that the Dutch maritime industry is ahead of Finland and the rest of the European countries. ‘An attractive and, above all, practical business climate to work in. We feel very much at home in Rotterdam. And the PortXL programme is helping us to change from the technology nerds we are into multidisciplinary, balanced managers.