Q&A with Henrik: From HelloScience LiveLab in 2019 to Lake clean-up in 2021

In the words of its Founder Poul Due Jensen; “the world is full of problems that can be solved in a better way.” Grundfos is a global water technology company committed to pioneering solutions to the world’s water and climate challenges and improving the quality of life for people. It has a strong focus on Purpose, Sustainability and Innovation.

As part of its relationship with HelloScience, Henrik Juul Nielsen, Director at Grundfos outlines the actions that Grundfos has taken in the last year to support lake clean-up and restoration in India – and why this is relevant to the organization as a whole.

18 December, 2020

Q: Henrik, can you tell us about your journey this year with the ‘Restoring Lakes in India‘ project?

A: Inspired by the HelloScience LiveLab around Jakkur Lake that we participated in back in early 2019, my colleague Marianne Knudsen and I developed a concept centered around cleaning up lakes in India. Later that year back in Grundfos’ Headquarters in Denmark, we pitched this and it was selected as one of two lighthouse initiatives for the company – from 200 proposed projects.

From the start we knew that we could only achieve real-world outcomes through collaboration with others. Thanks to our great team in India we entered into dialogue with Cognizant, one of the world’s leading professional service companies, and put together a collaborative coalition of stakeholders. This now includes the Indian chapter of The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest conservation organizations, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, and Chennai-based Care Earth Trust, a non-governmental organization that works in the area of biodiversity conservation. Read more here

What everybody has in common is the desire, drive and passion to make a difference, especially with something as fundamentally important as clean water and supporting ecosystems. During 2021, we expect to have completed the construction of an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system, walkways and green buffer zones along the lake.

And if you ask me what excites me the most about this project? Simply – the fact that we are just doing it! There is a long list of potential projects in this space – including in India. Some get funded by the public, but they usually don’t make it that far. In this project Cognizant and Grundfos made sure that there is sufficient funding to deliver on the promise.

It is very important for me to mention that we are not saving the world, we are just helping to enable and supporting people who are already engaged, and making our own, specific contributions. But If we hadn’t have stepped up, we wouldn’t be seeing this happening.

Q: How did the HelloScience LiveLab in Bangalore back in 2019 spark this idea?

A: It was exciting for me to see with my own eyes how the local community and different stakeholders have managed to restore Jakkur Lake and create recreational areas around it, where the natural biodiversity can flourish.

I really liked the holistic way of thinking and the symbiotic relationship between municipality, small businesses and citizens. But it wasn’t just about cleaning the lake, it was about how the community and the environment benefits as a result.

„For me there’s no doubt that the value of those perspectives was a catalyst for future action and our lake clean-up work. If we had only been there in 2019 with Grundfos we wouldn’t have done it.“

The HelloScience LiveLab in 2019 at Jakkur Lake

Q: What are the next steps and how can HelloScience support your innovation journey?

A: Lake clean ups are needed in so many places globally. A lot are polluted in many different ways. Sometimes – sadly – there are cases where lakes are used as dumps for industrial waste.

We would love to use our current lake restoration project an inspiration and exploration activity for future sustainable business opportunities for our company.

To create a sustainable business around this starts with – most importantly – seeing these activities not as a donation, but as a business offering to do something significant by applying its know-how and solutions to meet the needs of local environments, economies and communities. It’s complex, because the benefits go out to so many different parties, but I’m ready to take on the challenge.

The most important question for me is how to create snowball effect on this. HelloScience can help support in accelerating the collaboration with startups and universities and potentially other corporate partners – and helping them visualize not just what’s possible in your mind – but also what can be achieved on the ground.

Revisit the HelloScience LiveLab at Jakkur Lake where it all started . . .