Lommel – Mol, August 28, 2017: A consortium of local Belgium Investors consisting of QBIC II, LRM, and the Innovation Fund have joined The Dow Chemical Company to invest in Blue Foot Membranes NV (BFM). BFM was spun out of VITO following decades of research into innovative membrane technology, which will be used for the production of Membrane Bioreactors (MBRs) for the treatment of Industrial and Municipal waste water.

Three Flemish investors, QBIC II, LRM and the Innovation Fund, together with Dow Water & Process Solutions, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company and a global player in the water treatment industry, have joined forces in a significant initial investment of € 2.5 Million to launch Blue Foot Membranes NV (BFM). BFM will manufacture and supply membranes for more efficient treatment of Industrial and Municipal waste water based on the novel and patented Integrated Permeate Channel™ (IPC™) technology.

The IPC™ technology, comprises an integrated permeate channel consisting of an open 3D spacer fabric with an upper and lower fabric surface. The membrane layers are coated directly on the upper and lower fabric surfaces to form a membrane envelop whereby the membrane layers are well anchored in the fabric surface, allowing for efficient cleaning and rigourous backwashing of the membrane. The 3D spacer serves as mechanical anchoring for the membrane and avoids delamination during backwashing and it serves as a permeate extraction channel.

These unique membranes are the world’s first fully back-washable flat sheet membrane, and they can be installed in existing as well and new membrane bioreactors. IPC™ membranes increase the output capacity per square meter by 100% and lower the aeration cost by at least 50% compared to MBRs equipped with conventional filtration membranes. 

Patrick Vanschoubroek, Managing Director Blue Foot Membranes®: “The team of Blue Foot Membranes® is ready to demonstrate the benefits of these unique IPC™ membranes. We are convinced that IPC™ membranes are a game changer for industrial as well as domestic wastewater treatment plants.”

“VITO is pleased that after years of research, the technology can be fully commercially applied, together with expert partners in the commercial application of technologies of industrial relevance. In water treatment, the market extends from Flanders out into the whole world. The fact that water treatment is a theme which gets full support by the Sustainable Development Goals makes us even more proud,” says Walter Eevers, Research Director VITO.

Sofie Baeten, Managing Partner Qbic II: “We are proud to have succeeded in constructing a solid financial and strategical investors consortium to provide this innovative VITO start-up with the necessary financial scope and to realise the potential of unique membrane technology for more efficient water treatment.”

“LRM believes in the potential of VITO’s innovative membrane technology for more efficient water treatment. In addition, this project is in line with the vision of LRM to deploy new, technological applications for a sustainable society”, says Stijn Bijnens, CEO LRM.

François Cornelis, Chairman Innovation Fund: “It is obvious for Innovation Fund to invest in BlueFootMembrane. It is a real innovation, in our scope of chemicals, and Dow, one of the major players, is co-investing. In addition, we have a great confidence in the management team. Companies like BFM can be considered as the seeds of a new technological era in applied chemical industry. This technological spin off excels in both technological leadership and market intelligence setting the trend in the new generation of waste water treatment.”

 “Blue Foot Membranes and its innovative IPC™ membrane offers an opportunity to lower the cost of MBR system operation through reduced footprint and energy consumption,” said Tim Lacey, Global Business Director for Dow Water & Process Solutions. “Dow is excited about this opportunity for customers to reduce the cost of wastewater treatment in a sustainable way.”

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About Blue Foot Membranes®

Blue Foot Membranes® is a start-up company, producing and commercializing the unique and worldwide-patented Integrated Permeate Channel (IPC™) technology used in Membrane Bioreactors for the treatment of Industrial and Municipal waste water.


About Qbic II

Qbic is a seed and early-stage and sector agnostic inter-university fund investing in spin-offs and young innovating companies that have a technology link with Qbic’s partner universities and research institutions. Qbic is managed by an independent team of seasoned investment and business professionals. With over € 81 million under management, Qbic is one of the largest inter-university spin-off funds in Europe. Qbic I was incorporated in 2012, invested in 18 companies and is currently in divestment phase. Qbic II started in December 2016.


About LRM

LRM is an investment company that develops and stimulates economic growth in Limburg. We provide a solid foundation, allowing companies and projects, which create jobs in Limburg, to grow. Our financial means and economic expertise, together with Limburg’s key assets, create a unique breeding ground.


About Dow Water & Process Solutions

A global leader in sustainable separation and purification technology, Dow Water & Process Solutions is making a clear impact in the world. We’re helping to make water safer and more accessible, food taste better, pharmaceuticals more effective and industries more efficient, and spearheading the development of sustainable technologies that integrate water and energy requirements. Dow Water & Process Solutions offers a broad portfolio of ion exchange resins, reverse osmosis membranes, ultrafiltration membranes, fine particle filters and electrodeionization products, with strong positions in a number of major application areas, including industrial and municipal water, industrial processes, pharmaceuticals, power, residential water and waste and water reuse. More information about Dow Water & Process Solutions can be found at:


About Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund has been created in February 2015 with an initial capital of 13 million EUR. After the last capital increase in June 2016, its capital reaches 20 million EUR. The fund has been created thanks to major industrial companies, like TOTAL, SOLVAY, BASF, CARMEUSE, RECTICEL, SIOEN, SOUDAL, DOMO, RAVAGO, OFFICIUM, ARKEMA France… Their implication, that makes the Innovation Fund unique, brings added value to the supported projects. The remaining 30 % of the capital comes from national and reginal investment funds, KU Leuven and ING. To date, Innovation Fund has already invested in 12 companies.


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