A proven water solution needs more than technological ingenuity to succeed in export markets. The path from idea to international market leadership very often requires a combination of different business skill sets and perspectives.
For international reach to really grow, companies such as Ontario’s inCTRL Solutions Inc. look for global partners to help gain entry into foreign markets. A trusted partner can provide an extensive pool of resources, including its local network, insights about competition, and expertise of the many social, political, and economic indicators affecting whether the solution on offer is the right fit.
inCTRL’s competitive solution
Dr. Leiv Rieger, Founder and CEO, Oliver Schraa, CTO, and Ivan Miletic, Data Analytics Leader, have all been working in the water industry for more than 20 years. Based in Oakville, their expert firm specializes in two areas: 1) modeling and simulation of wastewater treatment; and 2) water quality monitoring and control. For the former, inCTRL uses the state-of-the-art modelling and simulation environment software called SIMBA#; for the latter, the company has developed its industry-leading Monitoring & Control Platform software.
For Dr. Rieger, this coverage from data analytics to plant control strategies is what gives inCTRL a competitive edge in the water marketplace.
“We are often bridging communication gaps between experts from different fields,” he says. “Not only do we develop smart digital tools and solutions, we can work with the client to make those data analytics meaningful in order to optimize treatment plant operation and design for greater efficiency.”
“Modelling can help a company better understand both the potential and limitations of its technology,” Dr. Rieger says. “We then design powerful digital solutions to empower the company to make decisions that have an impact on performance and profit.”
Furthermore, inCTRL’s digital solutions have quite a broad application. While the company is focused primarily on wastewater, its technology also extends to drinking water treatment, as well as water collection and distribution systems, which contributes to a diverse application base.
Direct Assistance and finding partnerships
While inCTRL creates digital solutions for treatment plant operation, in the past few years the company has also developed smart model-based design tools for global partners. According to Dr. Rieger, these early forays into foreign markets allowed inCTRL to develop its roster of tools and knowledge.
Dr. Rieger met WaterTAP two years ago, and kept in touch until he was ready to make use of the services. When inCTRL enrolled in WaterTAP’s Direct Assistance program, it was ready to dedicate its efforts fully to gaining traction in the global water marketplace.
“WaterTAP helped us out quite a bit, to say the least,” Dr. Rieger says. “At our current stage, inCTRL is in need of establishing high-level connections with global companies that can see the value of our solution.”
“While our team has no shortage of solutions-oriented, veteran technical specialists, we lack personnel who can match that background in terms of sales experience, business development, and networking skills,” he says. “We are excellent at discussing our solution with engineers and scientists, but unfortunately, these people are not typically the ones with sales power,” he says.
Through Direct Assistance, WaterTAP helped inCTRL connect with knoWater, an experienced cleantech and water consultancy. “Direct Assistance came at exactly the right time,” Dr. Rieger says. “Since we do not have the business or marketing skills to sell our tools and services, knoWater’s experience as a strategic consultant has been invaluable in accelerating market uptake and establishing channels for export.”
The process has been very rewarding for inCTRL. “knoWater is doing an excellent job and has already helped us secure good revenue-generating projects with global partners,” he says. “Now, we are taking it to the next level from technical to business engagements with our global partners.”
Dr. Rieger says the company is making headway in expanding partnerships, and is currently in discussion with a number of potential global partners. Since the company’s technology has many applications, the outreach includes foreign contacts involved in different fields, whether it is wastewater, potable water, or process water. inCTRL’s digital solutions for process monitoring, as well as operational support and process design tools even has applications beyond the water sector such as the biogas industry.
“Negotiations remain ongoing, but even at this early stage, we have accelerated quite rapidly,” Dr. Rieger says. “Working with knoWater and WaterTAP has been exciting and the future looks bright for our continued global expansion.”
Josh Chong is a communications strategist at WaterTAP.