Life & Culture

Israeli tech makes a splash in the UK


A waste water treatment system developed by an Israeli company is set to flush out across the UK.

Zeev Fisher and Hanoch Magen, who co-founded Haifa-based Mapal Green Energy in 2007, launched a unique system which infuses fine bubbles into the waste water. The system, which separates waste particles from water via internal aeration, can save up to 70 per cent of energy costs and 80 per cent of equipment maintenance costs in comparison to alternative water treatment processes.

“Our innovation is the floating fine bubbles system,” explains CEO Mr Fisher. “It’s versatile and because it saves energy — the cost for sewage treatment plants is lower. Our technology saves companies millions of pounds.”

This year Mapal, which has installed 31 systems from Israel to South Africa, Brazil and Congo, received a £1.5 million injection from London-based private equity firm Charles Street Securities (CSS). The financial backing, alongside the initial £1.7 million CSS investment in 2010, was “used to expand our global projects and for marketing,” says Mr Fisher.

The company, which has an annual turnover of £1 million, is in talks with top British water utility companies.

This year, Mapal installed its system at the Anglian Water plant in Stanbridgeford, north London. The deal with Anglian, which has more than six million consumers across the east England, has added momentum to Mapal’s UK drive.

Mr Fisher says: “We are now about to close a deal with Thames Water. After two years of negotiating, we’re close to the signing the contract.”

The Mapal UK office opened in London last May to increase the company’s UK presence.

Mr Fisher says: “The UK is the ideal target market for us.

“Of course, our water treatment services would be ideal for India, China and rural communities where waste water is not treated, but we are not a big company and our resources are so limited. We have to carefully choose where we put our efforts.”

He adds: “The UK water market was privatised 15 years ago and people are now realising that old systems cost their company more than necessary.

“They are looking for new technology to save costs on energy use.

“There are 10,000 plants in the UK that could benefit from our technology. Around 20 to 25 per cent of utility companies in the UK use old systems that waste energy and cost a lot to maintain. Our system is four times more efficient than these processes.

“The potential for upgrade in the UK market is huge.”

Each Mapal system costs between £10 million and £200 million and can be installed while the standing sewage cleaning system is still running. “Like every good thing there are disadvantages,” adds Mr Fisher. “To implement it you have to put in a new reactor. But there is a return on investment.”

The company is backed by the Foreign Office’s TouchDown programme (which helps companies launch in the UK) and the British Embassy in Israel’s UK-Israel Tech Hub programme.

Yoni Dolgin, from the Hub, says: “British firms can gain a global competitive advantage by partnering with Israeli water companies who have deep technical expertise in areas such as waste water treatment. Mapal’s innovative solution is perfect for the British market.”

Mr Fisher, a qualified mechanical engineer, graduated from Be’er Sheva University in 1989. “I come from a background of construction and water treatment infrastructure,” he adds. “Water treatment brings about a better quality of life — that’s what we’re about.”

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