The inventors of an innovative building material for sea walls are finalists in the European Inventor Award 2022.
ECOncrete® founder and CEO, Ido Sella, has been nominated for the award, one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes, alongside late co-founder Shimrit Perkol-Finkel. Launched by the European Patent Office (‘EPO’) in 2006, it honours individuals and teams behind solutions tackling some of the biggest challenges of our times. Sella and Perkol-Finkel’s invention, ‘Concrete technology to encourage marine biodiversity,’ was judged by a panel of former award winners based on its contribution towards technical progress, social and sustainable development and economic prosperity.
To date, ECOncrete® has been installed in more than 40 locations across 10 countries, including shorelines and waterfronts in Spain, Monaco, the Netherlands, Italy, San Diego and New York.
The global underwater concrete market is valued at approximately EUR 320 billion (2021) and is expected to grow more than 10.8% each year to 2030. As the firm explained, the EPO’s recognition of ECOncrete®’s invention “not only reflects its revolutionary properties among a mission-critical net zero market; importantly, it also evidences growing global awareness about subsea innovations capable of protecting our oceanic ecosystems through nature inspired, biomimicry design”.
“Think about barnacles, oysters and corals that create their skeleton from taking calcium ions from the water and using dissolved CO2 to create calcium carbonate for their shells,” ECOncrete CEO Ido Sella said.
“When these sessile organisms settle on the concrete and encapsulate it with calcium carbonate they actually make it stronger. It was found that concrete covered by oysters can be 10 times stronger in terms of tensile strength than bare concrete.”
“Through research and innovation, Sella and Perkol-Finkel have transformed a standard construction material into a shelter for marine life,” EPO President António Campinos said.
“As marine construction is a growing sector, this invention has the potential to make a wide impact and improve the industry’s environmental footprint on a global scale.”
Regrettably, Perkol-Finkel passed away in March 2021. As the firm explained, she and Sella have dedicated their professional lives to building ECOncrete into an impactful technology company that can change the way future coastal waterfronts will look and function.
“We’d been studying together since we were students sitting at the same table from the lab at the university until the last day when she left the office,” Sella said.
“It’s like losing your sister, there’s no way around it. We more than doubled our [company’s] size since she passed away on March 7 last year. It’s a jump that we were planning and preparing towards. Shimrit tragically left us just before seeing this going into motion. She’s greatly missed.”
The EPO will announce the European Inventor Award 2022 winner during a ceremony on 21 June.
The firm said ECOncrete®’s bio-enhancing concrete technology was seamlessly integrated into the design and construction process for the vertical breakwater in the new IGY Málaga Marina, earlier in May.