Denmark’s Danica Pension makes “triple digit million” investment in cleantech water purification company

Aquaporin’s membrane technology is based on Nobel-winning discovery

Danica Pension, the Danish pensions provider with assets of DKK350bn (€47bn), is making a “triple digit million” investment in innovative water purification company Aquaporin.

Aquaporin, backed by Danish real estate tycoon Mikael Goldschmidt, uses membrane technology based on Nobel Prize-winning research to separate water from other compounds. Company CEO Peter Holme Jensen won the European Patent Office’s European Inventor of the Year award in 2014 in the SME category.

The invention utilises the natural movement of water between individual cells in nature: aquaporins are water-channel proteins that move water molecules through the cell membrane, while blocking contaminants such as salts and minerals.

The technology not only produces pure drinking water, it also results in ultrapure water for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. The process could also be used in osmotic power plants, meaning the technology could deliver sustainable electricity, the invention award citation says, adding that the inventors are currently looking at pilot projects.

“Aquaporin’s huge growth potential is driven by growing global demand for clean water coupled with a thoroughly tested product that requires limited amounts of materials and is easily integrated in existing products,” said Danica’s Head of Risk Assets, Lars Thørs. “We’re making this investment because we are confident that it will add value to our customer’s savings.”“With Danica Pension’s investment, we are now backed by a strong investor, which represents a seal of approval and allows us to concentrate on what we do best,” said Peter Holme Jensen.

Copenhagen-based Aquaporin was founded in 2005, currently has 36 employees and has partnerships with two Chinese companies, Interchina and Poten. It is chaired by Søren Bjørn Hansen, chief operating officer at Goldschmidt’s M. Goldschmidt Capital investment arm.

The importance of clean water was highlighted last month when Microsoft founder Bill Gates drunk a glass of water made from human faeces, to demonstrate technology he said could provide clean water for developing countries. Gates was drinking from the Omni Processor built by US-based Janicki Bioenergy, which uses the biomass in sewage to power the purification process.

Danica, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Danske Bank Group, has a strong socially responsible investment stance and its parent is a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment.

Aquaporins were discovered by Peter Agre, for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003. Agre, currently Director of Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, is an ambassador for Aquaporin, the company. Aquaporins have been implicated in multiple clinical disorders and Agre, a past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is working on whether they can be used to treat or prevent malaria.