Ecofoot is the only Portuguese among 64 SMEs now funded under the European Ecological Pact
Ecofoot, born in the School of Engineering of the University of Minho (EEUM), is the first Portuguese company funded by the European Innovation Council under the European Ecological Pact (Green Deal). Its dyeing technology, “H2Color-Aux”, can revolutionize the world textile industry: it reduces water consumption by 70%, energy consumption by 60% and time spent on washing by 50%, with clear benefits for the environment, costs and the production of dyes. Ecofoot is thus among the first 64 SMEs in 17 EU countries elected to receive a total of 307 million euros to contribute to the Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe.
The spin-off based in Guimarães will now produce 24 tons of its innovative compound for internal validation and validation of its effectiveness with two dyeing plants in Portugal and one in Italy. It will also bring that technology closer to its commercial launch, combining intellectual property and communication strategies. H2Color-Aux” more easily removes excess dye applied, thanks to a polymeric layer that forms between the dye and the fibre and then decomposes, keeping the colour intense, uniform and solid to washing or friction, even with a lower number of washes and at a lower temperature.
The advantages of the project should be felt in the medium term. The application then puts an end to the use of detergents that are normally used to remove excess dye, which are polluting and difficult to remove and harmful to flora and fauna. In certain parts of the world, governments are closing dyeing industries due to a lack of clean water supply and due to pollution of rivers and surrounding soils, which prevents agriculture.
Ecofoot was founded by Jaime Rocha Gomes, professor at the Textile Engineering Department of EEUM and researcher at the Textile Science and Technology Center (2C2T), with the objective of reducing excessive expenditures on water and energy in the subsequent washing of cellulosic fibers dyed with reactive dyes. This concept won the BES Innovation Grand Prize in 2011. Jaime Rocha Gomes has a path of technology transfer from university to industry via spin-offs, having also founded Micropolis, with innovative microcapsules for textile applications, which would be acquired by the Belgian group Devan Chemicals, and Ecoticket, a spin-off of antimicrobial and insect repellent finishes, meanwhile renamed Repeltec.
The European Innovation Council supports visionary entrepreneurs who create transformative solutions to pressing societal and environmental challenges. Start-ups and now distinguished SMEs will expand, create jobs and give Europe global leadership in green technologies and solutions, said Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. Other winning proposals range from the automotive, aerospace and maritime sectors to advanced materials or the internet of things.