Department Environmental Social Sciences

Business model thinking for converting new technologies into poverty alleviation outcomes


Eawag develops innovative water and sanitation technologies and attempts to leverage them to  alleviate poverty. For the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, Eawag & eoos developed the Blue Diversion Toilet as an option for the provision of safe, aspirational, and affordable  sanitation for urban slums. As part of the  VUNA project, scientists and engineers at Eawag invented a nitrification and distillation process which enables nutrients to be recovered from urine. The business model  development was conducted together with Ethekwini Water & Sanitation in Durban, South Africa. In addition to nutrient recovery from urine, we also apply business model thinking to other waste streams and treatment options such as LADEPA and Black Soldier Flies. For drinking water, Eawag has developed  a gravity-driven membrane, which can be integrated into household water filters or community water systems. Eawag takes also part in the RRR Project in Lima, where buisness model innovation helps to recover nutrients, energy, and water from urban waste streams.

We apply Business Model Thinking to create promising business models around these technologies, which can  contribute to their commercialization.

A typical illustration is the business model for the Blue Diversion Toilet.