‘Small and dynamic team facilitates innovation’
Jotem Water Treatment provides the technology and service to make water with a specific composition or of a desired quality. To do this, they develop customised solutions and continuously use new technology. ‘We have a technologically strong team and are involved in innovation processes of other companies. That is why our focus is always on innovation,’ director Rob Borgerink says.
What started out in 1965 with water softening has grown into an innovative water treatment company. ‘We not only offer standard solutions, but above all contribute ideas for new applications and develop them together with knowledge institutions and partners,’ director Rob Borgerink explains. ‘For example, for removing medicines from water. Or composing the ideal process water for the food industry.’ Solutions from Jotem can be found in hospitals, at dairy cooperatives and in test setups at universities, among other places.
Jotem stands for specialist knowledge and innovation. Rob gets inspiration for innovation from problems in the world. ‘These are often big problems, which we try to reduce. How can you tackle a problem cleverly and easily? We opt for practical solutions. That means good cooperation between the inventor and the person who has to put it together,’ Rob explains. ‘We often do that together with various companies and academics. And we do not always look commercially, but primarily look for good sparring partners. By constantly innovating, we remain a cutting-edge company and that dynamic motivates our team.’
How do we market our products?
‘We are strong in developing new and customer-specific solutions,’ Rob explains, ‘but we also have in-house innovative products that have already been fully developed.’ Together with sales and marketing employee Lisanne Schuttert, Rob stepped into Novel-T’s Innovate GO program. Lisanne explains: ‘We often look at things from a technology perspective, and not enough from the broader problem that this technology can solve. In doing so we miss out on market opportunities. During Innovate GO we carried out step-by-step market research over a number of weeks. That gave us a lot of insight in a short space of time.’
Market research provides valuable insights
‘During the first period, we investigated the opportunities for our off-grid drinking water solution for remote areas in developing countries. For this purpose, we held discussions with aid organisations, among others. It turned out that we had to talk to the United Nations, not to them. And for that, you first have to be able to pitch a business case,’ Lisanne says. ‘We also discovered that the quality of drinking water is currently less important than the availability of sufficient drinking water. Our solution comes too soon for these remote areas. That’s why we shifted our focus.’
Formulating a value proposition
Next, Jotem looked at other markets. ‘We tested our solution in the industrial world and the agricultural sector. For example, we rediscovered the opportunities in the Dutch floriculture industry. In-depth interviews gave us new insights into the needs of that market,’ Lisanne says. ‘That helps us to formulate the right value proposition. What unique qualities do we want to emphasise? Are we going to work with a launching customer? Very valuable insights.’
Method for market strategy
‘We have always been innovative in technology’, Rob states. ‘This innovation program has taught us a practical method for bringing more focus to our market strategy. And to make better use of the market potential of a product. We will certainly use this more often in the future.’
Marike Boertien, account manager
‘Jotem Water Treatment is a fine example of an innovative manufacturing company from Twente,’ says account manager Marike Boertien. ‘They make high-quality technology practically applicable.’ Marike saw them participate in the Innovate GO programme with enormous energy and an eagerness to learn. ‘We teach the entrepreneurs in the programme to explore the market in a different way. To first have an introductory meeting with customers instead of a sales pitch. To find out what the customer is up against. To test your assumptions. This will help you to formulate a value proposition that is in line with market demand.’ Marike sees the method as an opportunity for SME entrepreneurs to accelerate innovation and make better business cases.
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