A Saudi oil giant's investment arm has taken a stake in Athlone startup OxyMem

The Irish firm claims its flagship product is four times more efficient than conventional sewage systems.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

THE INVESTMENT ARM of trillion-dollar Saudi oil company Saudi Aramco has taken a stake in Athlone wastewater treatment startup OxyMem.

It was announced today that Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) – a subsidiary of Dhahran-based energy colossus Aramco – has invested in the four-year-old Irish company. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013, OxyMem is a UCD spin-out company that has designed a technology that treats wastewater. The Irish company claims that its system is up to four times more efficient than conventional wastewater treatment.

Traditionally, sewage has been broken down with bubbles that are pumped into the water to feed oxygen to waste-eating bacteria – an energy-sapping process.

OxyMem’s flagship product replaces standard treatment systems with a series of filters that are populated with bacteria and supplied directly with oxygen.

Commenting on today’s announcement, OxyMem co-founder and managing director Wayne Byrne said the investment from SAEV “will add momentum to our market development goals, particularly in some of the more water stressed regions”.

OxyMem Team Athlone June 2017 The OxyMem team
Source: OxyMem

Dow Chemical investment

Last year, New York Stock Exchange-listed giant Dow Chemical invested around €1 million in the startup as part of a wider funding round.

Other participants in the 2016 Series B investment included previous investor Kellysan Enterprises, a private equity firm set up by the Kelly family.

Today, Snehal Desai – the business director of Dow’s water treatment division – said the company “welcomes SAEV as a knowledgeable co-investor”.

Desai said the additional funding will help speed up the commercial development of OxyMem’s technology.

JOB 2945 OXYMEN UCD 24.07.2013 OxyMem co-founder Wayne Byrne (left)
Source: David O'Shea

OxyMem previously raised €2.5 million from backers such as Enterprise Ireland.

Its most recent set of accounts show that it booked a loss of just over €937,800 in the financial year ended 31 December 2015, pushing accumulated losses to over €1.8 million.

Last year, it was the only Irish company included in the Cleantech Group’s list of the 100 most innovative firms in the sector.

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