BIOTECH  FOR  THE  ENVIRONMENT
 

MANILA, APRIL 16, 2008 (STAR) By the GO NEGOSYO team - All the talk about global warming has made people more aware of the environment and issues related to its conservation. While efforts focus mainly on climate change, the issue of clean water is an important factor that is too often sidelined.

“If we don’t invest in clean water, it may just be the next commodity to become scarce and critical,” said Robert So, water and wastewater engineering specialist for almost 20 years. He is the President-CEO of Eco-System Technologies Inc., a company that pioneered the use of biotechnology in developing an advanced biological wastewater treatment process.

“Having clean water is vital and recycling it and protecting its source is equally, if not more, important,” he added.

His business started in 1988 as a water treatment company and was then called Systenomics Philippines. “It began when I suffered from amoebiasis,” he shared how the business started. “From then on, I wanted to make sure that people would have safe drinking water.” He added that he was fortunate to have been trained by scientists at Ocean Park in Hong Kong.

His continued research on water treatment technologies abroad, which eventually led him to a bigger and more complicated challenge: treating waste water. He ventured into waste water treatment in 1995. Soon, his company, renamed Eco-System Technologies Inc., developed a compact wastewater treatment plant which used sequencing batch reactors (SBR).

Eco-System’s SBR plants do not use harmful chemicals or enzymes to “grow” the good microorganisms that break down waste. In addition to being compact, they do not emit obnoxious odors or produce any hazardous gases.

Initially, SBR was dismissed by waste water and sanitary engineers. In fact, even today a majority of companies and urban cities still use bulky sewage treatment plants (STP) which spill out brown sludge. However, when the fourth edition of Metcalf and Eddy’s “Wastewater Engineering,” (an industry bible) disclosed its efficiency and superior performance over the conventional system in 2002, local engineers began appreciating the genius of SBR technology.

“All of a sudden, they talked about SBR and everybody said they knew how to do it,” he said. But because of his pioneering efforts to invest in and promote SBR technology, his company became the industry benchmark.

In 1995, the first SBR plant he set up was able to save a popular fast-food chain’s commissary in Pasig City from being closed down by the Laguna Lake Development Authority. Today, EcoSystems is the most sought-after wastewater treatment company and his client list includes big corporations like Ayala Land, San Miguel and SM Prime Holdings Inc.

Now, So is looking into an emerging combined bio-reactor and membrane technology, a wastewater treatment process used in many developed countries. This technology further treats domestic wastewater effluent to make it potable, and has surpassed the International Standard for Safe Drinking Water. He says this is the next project for Eco-System.

“Waste water treatment is my passion,” he said. “Because I have the knowledge, I feel it’s my moral obligation to do my part in making sure that people will have clean water.”

Robert So will be recognized today as one of Go Negosyo’s Most Inspiring Biotechnology Entrepreneurs in the 4th Annual Philippine Biotechnology Venture Summit. This undertaking symbolizes Go Negosyo’s vision to create an entrepreneurial culture in the country by recognizing inspiring entrepreneurs and presenting them as role models.

He will receive his award from Joey Concepcion, founding trustee of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, and Maoi Arroyo of Hybridigm Consulting at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health Auditorium in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig.

The Summit, which runs until Friday, is organized by Hybridigm Consulting, the pioneer technology commercialization firm. The public is invited to attend the Biotechnology Venture Summit to discover and learn innovative business ideas and new opportunities in the biotech field. For more information on the Biotech Summit, call 8108639 or log on to http://summit.philbiotech.net.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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