Since 2016, the EU Gateway | Business Avenues Programme has organised 9 EU-funded business missions to Asia dedicated to the Environment & Water Technologies sector, and one more is scheduled to take place online at the AsiaWater 2020 virtual tradeshow.
Here’s a rundown of the main achievements from the first 9 missions:
- The Programme received 1575 expressions of interest from EU companies. Of these, a selection of 359 of the most innovative and advanced participating companies joined one or more business missions to Asia. 25 EU member states were represented by at least one company in one of the missions.
- The business exhibitions that took place in all the target markets brought together more than 6420 local visitors & stakeholders from the biggest industry companies and organisations in the field. Among a sample of the Japanese, Korean and South East Asian visitors who filled our survey, 23% reported they were looking for a master distribution agreement, 11% for joint R&D opportunities, 9% for clients, and the rest was looking for other forms of business collaborations (i.e. local agents, joint production, etc.).
- Almost 4000 business meetings were set up by organisers before the start of each business mission week, matching the wish lists compiled by European companies during the coaching period. In total, over 5250 useful business meetings took place during the mission weeks.
- 83% of the participating companies which answered our survey either established business collaborations within 1 year from the EU-funded mission or expect to do so in the future, and 82% shared the missions helped them better understand the target markets.
- The business missions helped increase the talent pool hired in the sector. To keep up with the growing business demands in Asia, 745 new jobs were created in Europe.
- Finally, over 1200 attendees to the networking events hosted by the EU Delegations in Asia boosted the participants’ exposure to giants in the local landscape and furthered their opportunities to make their mark on the targeted partners and clients.
The first mission  in 2016 led participants to Singapore & Vietnam and was linked to the Singapore International Water Week, a bi-annual event that brings together the most important figures in the region to discuss the latest innovations and strike business deals. The trade agreements entered into force in the following years, the EU-Singapore FTA  (21/11/2019) and the EU-Vietnam FTA  (1/8/2020) , opened up opportunities on these promising markets. Vietnam then required investments of an estimated €300 million a year for urban water supply alone, while Singapore is a known promoter of partnerships between local and foreign companies, especially those that push forward its initiatives for a Zero Waste nation and Circular Economy.
The second mission  targeted the Republic of Korea, in 2017. Korea’s environment & water sector was then dominated by sub-sectors like waste management, recycling, wastewater treatment, water supply chain solutions, and air pollution management and prevention. Between 2006 and 2014, the entire sector had grown by 15% annually, until it reached a whopping €92 billion  market size.
In 2018, Japan became a prospective option  with the third market scoping mission  organised by the Programme for this sector. Participants had the opportunity to showcase their solutions in front of a local crowd at the EU Pavilion in the N-EXPO 2018, in Tokyo, and tap into a market that grew to €294 billion  by 2020.
The same year, China welcomed another EU-funded business mission  in Beijing. The selected companies presented their cutting edge solutions to an audience of high-level local prospects during the exhibition days at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center and even had the chance to visit the 16th China International Environmental Protection Exhibition & Conference (CIEPEC) in Beijing. The mission fit in well with China’s efforts to transition to more sustainable, “green” initiatives . In 2018, China implemented the “Environmental Protection Tax Law” and updated the “Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law”, allowing foreign companies to cooperate with Chinese companies.
China’s efforts to boost this sector were also marked by investments in water treatment, waste management and air pollution solutions, forecasted to reach €2.15 trillion  in the next five years.
The next mission  targeted South East Asia once again. Singapore & Malaysia were in focus this time around, thanks to favourable legislative measures meant to attract valuable international players to the markets. The mission week comprised of exhibitions at Singapore International Water Week 2018, as well as business-to-business meetings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 44 companies from 14 EU member states  participated in this mission, which allowed them to establish a solid presence  and long-term business collaborations in the two markets.
In 2018, the Republic of Korea was targeted for another mission . The nation’s “Resource Circulation Economy and Society” initiative  sought to promote the use of high tech, energy-efficient environmental technologies produced both locally and outside its borders. The programme helped bring such innovative European products and services on the Korean market, some of which have been sold locally ever since.
2019 saw another round of successful business missions in the chosen markets.
In March 2019 , Singapore & the Philippines held an eventful week of business meetings between the chosen European participating companies and the South East Asian prospects. In Manila, the companies exhibited their solutions at the Trade Exhibition Venue, at Water Expo Philippines 2019. More than 8,500 trade visitors were present at the event, giving EU-made products exposure in a crowded local landscape. The spotlight was turned to solutions  for wastewater treatment, freshwater supply, air pollution control, waste management, recycling, noise protection, biogas and biomass. The EU products were very well received in part because of the South East Asian markets’ efforts to stimulate public-private partnership projects  with foreign companies, especially around the construction of water sources, water treatment plants, sludge treatment and interconnected facilities to water districts.
Another market scoping mission  targeting Japan was organised in 2019, including product showcases at N-EXPO 2019, the biggest trade fair in Asia dedicated to environmental and sustainability projects. Besides the exhibition, the participating companies were invited to learn more about the business landscape in Japan , thus alleviating the challenges associated with market entry. This way, the EU companies were well equipped to tackle entering a Japanese environmental market that reached €493+ billion  in 2020.
The 2019 business mission  to Korea took place from 23 to 27 September, in Seoul. At this time, Korea’s Ministry of Environment forecasted a growth exceeding €107.7 billion by 2020, encouraging collaboration with foreign companies, especially from the EU. As ever, solutions  that pertain to the waste, water, recycling, and air pollution sub-sectors were met with great interest by the local crowd. More specialised segments  of the market, like desalinisation technologies, water purifiers, solutions for air decontamination, noise reduction, vibration control, soil remediation & restoration, and Waste to Energy (WtE) were particularly sought after in this business mission as well.
In an unpredictable climate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, EU Gateway | Business Avenues adapted by postponing the 2020 business mission  in Singapore & Malaysia to the end of the year. The mission will be virtually co-located with AsiaWater 2020 in Kuala Lumpur for business-to-business meetings . In Singapore, the mission is supported by the Public Utility Board and the National Environment Agency. Despite these changes, clever EU solutions are once more going to make their way to the South East Asian markets, especially advanced solutions  focused on new water and desalinisation, including membrane technology for desalinated water, biological processes, chemical redox, sensors and instrumentation, sludge and brine management, watershed management, decentralised water treatment technologies, industrial water technologies and household water management.
The Environment & Water sector abounds of success stories from previous participants.
Here’s what HyGear CEO had to say  about the Singapore and Vietnam mission in 2016:
Your company is embedded in something bigger and sponsored by the EU, which attracts local companies and potential partners.
Finnish company Pegasor participated in the 2016 EU Gateway | Business Avenues mission for Environment & Water Technologies to Singapore & Vietnam where it acquired new partners :
Our credibility would be quite low if we had come here alone. But as part of EU Gateway | Business Avenues our credibility is much higher. For us the difference is huge. – Mr Markku Rajala, VP Sales, Marketing and IPR, Pegasor OY (Finland).
Another success story  from South East Asia comes from Irish company OxyMem:
Being part of a bigger group on the business mission and winning the award most certainly had a multiplying effect for our visibility (…) More than that, going as a group with EU Gateway | Business Avenues, you can even identify opportunities for collaboration with other European companies on the business mission. With the same target market in mind, we will start exploring potential opportunities to integrate our solution into other European Companies’ products or vice versa and develop an enhanced solution that we can bring to the market. – Mr Eoin Syron, Technical Director and Co-Founder, OxyMem (Ireland).
The Italian custom sludge dryer manufacturer Solwa met numerous potential clients and partners :
SEA countries will be a huge market for our products, especially due to increasing environmental awareness and growth of the operational costs of water treatment plants and waste disposal. – Paolo Franceschetti, Managing Director, Solwa (Italy).
French company Ecoceane  signed a broker’s agreement in Singapore and a distribution contract in Vietnam, following the 2016 business mission to South East Asia:
The main feature of the programme is the onsite matchmaking team that works hard to invite various partners and customers to the mission’s exhibition and meetings. – Ivan Janeau, Engineer in Naval Architecture, Ecoceane (France).
Another success  in South East Asia is Partech:
EU Gateway | Business Avenues allows small companies to have a presence at large events and pre-arranges one to one business meetings with key decision-makers. – David Wilson, Sales Manager, Partech (UK).
Well Pumps from Belgium accessed a wide network of clients and partners  through the business mission it attended:
We met a partner thanks to EU Gateway | Business Avenues that we visited again after the EU-funded business mission to Vietnam, and which has visited us in Belgium. (…) We have good hope that the sales will increase through the years and end-up in a long-term relationship. – Simon Laurent, International Sales Manager, Well Pumps (Belgium).
HAURATON, a German company that attended the 2017 Environment & Water Technologies business mission in Korea, signed a momentous distribution agreement :
In 2017 the main purpose of our participation was to learn more about the Korean market and to find a distributor having the same spirit and vision as HAURATON. – Adrian Bach, Technical Director Asia, HAURATON.
A Dutch manufacturer providing innovative solutions for the water industry, LG Sonic, was a hit  in South East Asia:
Harmful algal blooms are a major environmental problem in South East Asia, having a severe impact on human health, and aquatic ecosystems. Our latest innovation, the MPC-Buoy is a unique system that can adapt the algae treatment to the real-time water quality. The system makes use of specific ultrasonic sound waves to target the algae in large lakes and water reservoirs. Companies in South East Asia are interested in this solution since it is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative for chemicals. – Mr Yousef Yousef, CEO, LG Sonic (The Netherlands).
These testimonials aren’t singular proof of the amazing results achieved by the companies. For more success stories from the Environment & Water Technologies sector, check out the following video playlist: