Almost everything around us contains flame retardants. The chair, the curtains, the table, the children’s toys. An important element in these flame retardants is phosphate. Currently all phosphate comes from fossil, polluting and finite phosphate mines. While – certainly in the Netherlands – there is an awful lot of phosphate waste. An incredibly great opportunity.

SusPhos has developed and patented a unique technique to convert among other things struvite and sludge ash from waste water treatment plants into high-quality phosphate products, such as flame retardants.

Below, Marissa de Boer (ceo SusPhos) reflects on the added value that cooperation with the WaterCampus has brought her.

Interested to become successful too?
Please contact Ronald Wielinga our manager entrepreneurship via +31 6 121 38 876 or or read more below.

SusPhos started in Amsterdam. How did you come into contact with the WaterCampus?

The first moment I connected with the WaterCampus was during the WaterCampus Business Challenge in 2016. At that time I was still a PhD-student at the University of Amsterdam. During the WCBC I had the opportunity to focus on the possible business case for the process that I was developing. This program made me even more enthusiastic about setting up my own company.

But the Business Challenge is only a week. How did the bond between SusPhos and the WaterCampus develop after your participation in the Business Challenge? 

Just after finalizing my PhD I founded SusPhos in 2019together with my former colleagues Chris Slootweg and Bas de Jong. I realized that setting up a successful company involves more than having an unique breakthrough technology. I still had regular contact with different people at the WaterCampus and they informed me about the possibility to join the BeStart Accelerator. At BeStart, I learned the business aspects that I needed for my company. Think of legal aspects, about pitching and also how to conduct a market validation.

What where the major challenges SusPhos had to overcome in the last years? And in what way did WaterCampus support you?

The market validation we performed during the accelerator showed that our customers want to purchase our products when we can deliver them a scale of 100 kilos, while at that time we had a well-functioning reactor on a kilogram scale. That is quite an upscaling, which requires a lot of funding and knowledge. WaterCampus supported us on both challenges. We where able to get all the necessary finances thanks to several loans and subsidies among other things arranged via the support in the field of finances that WaterCampus gave us. The next step was realizing the demoplant. For that we reached out to the BioBizz hub. At the BioBizz hub, that is part of WaterCampus, we got support from process technologists with experience in scaling up a technology. The demoplant has now been realized and will produce phosphate at the WaterCampus demo site in Leeuwarden. This is an essential step for our technology and for the market penetration.

What is your expectation for the developments of SusPhos in the nearby future? And in what way do you expect support from WaterCampus?

The challenge for the coming period will be to get the production running and convince the first customers. Visibility of SusPhos is therefor crucial. And for that we gratefully use the enormous network of WaterCampus Leeuwarden. A good example is the WIS award. In 2020 we were nominated for this award. Furthermore we will use the possibility to be part of the joint pavilion that is being realized at several trade fairs.

See also this awesome video that was made of Marissa as part of the NEW-project.