What is the 10-questions interview? Regularly, we interview a promising startup or scale-up in the climate & energy tech ecosystem and ask them our 10 questions to showcase their technology, inspire the sector with their ambition and better understand their needs. With our platform (ZERO), we want to put these bold innovators on a pedestal and introduce them to our audience. Do you want to connect with this startup/scale-up, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Finsulate offers a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional antifouling paints which are highly toxic and very harmful to marine ecosystems. Without antifouling, any surface in water, like ship hulls and offshore constructions, will foul with algae, mussels and barnacles.
In this Ten Questions interview, you can read the inspiring answers of founder Rik Breur.
My name is Rik Breur, I am the inventor of Finsulate, a sustainable way to prevent the settlement of organisms on ship hulls. I am a nature-lover and I have a background in materials research. This combination creates the perfect soil on which the love for the antifouling topic grows.
On one hand, you need to develop high-tech materials and on the other hand you need to understand marine biology processes to make an effective development. Antifouling is really where many different fields of expertise come together.
My mission is “to get rid of toxic antifouling”. I believe the use of toxic and microplastics spreading antifouling is bizarre. Imagine walking to the shore and pouring a jar of paint into the sea, you would commit an environmental crime. But if you first put the paint on the hull of a ship and let it dissolve slowly, all is fine? 99% of the products used in the industry are toxic, that has to change and Finsulate is there to accomplish that!
We have developed a self-adhesive film that prevents the growth of marine organisms on the hulls of ships, ranging from small sloops to larger cargo vessels. The self-adhesive film prevents the growth of organisms on hulls physically which makes our product unique.
All competing paint products have some form of chemical/biocidal action where organisms are killed. We have 10 years’ experience but we are just getting started. For example we are now even developing antifouling for offshore wind applications!
Special about the team is that it is actually much broader than the Finsulate team. As the development of special adhesives and long lifespan products is a challenge, we are cooperating closely with the laboratories of our suppliers. Their laboratory facilities are much larger and they helped us to get to the stage where we are now. Due to these cooperations, we have much more impact than we could have as a stand-alone company.
I am afraid we are too late to prevent the climate from changing. However that does not mean that we should not try. Generally, I have always believed that we should try to work environment-neutral as much and broadly as possible. The options are there in so many fields and there is a moral obligation to choose the sustainable option where possible.
It may not be what the sector wants to hear, but I believe that if we would charge the true price in the shipping sector. I.e., for the pollution it creates, the cost of transport would increase to such an extent, that it would marginalise the effect of cheap labour in Asia and it would make more sense to produce regionally. Which would prevent a lot of other issues around the world.
From a company perspective, the recent highlight are the accomplishment of 10 years of customer satisfaction as well as long term repeat orders. These factors undeniably show that we have a good product that can beat the state-of-art antifouling. Not just based on sustainability but also on lifespan. From my personal perspective, although a bit longer ago, the election to European Inventor of the Year 2019 still makes me proud. Winning “the oscar for inventors” is an accomplishment that you can dwell on for years!
The biggest challenge is brand awareness. Still after 10 years in the field, many people are astonished when they hear about Finsulate. “Never heard of it” is still a common comment. In 2024 we hope to get the budget to change this by increasing our marketing campaigns.
We will start a funding round soon, so getting connected to the right investors is always important. Yet most importantly, I would like to reach out to the vessel owners within your community to contact us and to discuss how we can move forward to prevent biocide and microplastics emissions to seawaters together, while showing how they can save cost as well as carbon dioxide emissions in time. Carbon dioxide is important, but preventing part of the emission of 100 million liter of toxic antifouling paint into the oceans should not be neglected, nor forgotten!
For Finsulate, we are looking at in-water hull cleaning systems. Start-ups and scale-ups producing good equipment to accomplish this are vital. Hullbot and Cleansubsea are nice examples of emerging companies in this field. GBMS is another intriguing startup. Their system can prevent container losses by application of relatively simple sensory equipment. For me it would be a no-brainer to oblige container operators to use such technology and to fine companies extra for container losses if they still decide not to implement it.
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