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An EPFL startup pioneering in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

10.03.2009

The innovative products of Ecointesys transform the Life Cycles Assessment in a promising business very helpful in industry management.

 

EPFL has expertise in LCA, with among others the former Industrial Ecology & Life Cycle Systems Group founded in 1998. However, the Group vanished when its head Pr. Olivier Jolliet left EPFL to accept an academic position in the USA in 2005. EPFL still keeps its expertise in LCA with the Industrial Energy Systems Laboratory (LENI) and the Bioenergy and Energy Planning Research Group (BPE).

 

In 2005, Yves Loerincik was about to terminate his PhD thesis with Pr. Jolliet. To strengthen the LCA expertise within EPFL, he decided to create, with the former Industrial Ecology & Life Cycle Systems Group members, a startup Ecointesys-Life Cycle Systems and that happened the same day he presented his doctoral research in 2006. The mission of Ecointesys is to provide a comprehensive approach to environnemental analysis, through an Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to understand and quantify the environmental impacts of products, services and companies.

 

Their main product is Green-E, a system that collects in real time a selection of environmental impacts triggered by the various activities, products and services of companies. This system is not only related to the companies’ environmental performances and the costs; it is also a powerful tool to communicate the companies’ results and improve their overall management and risk management.

 

The startup has received several financial awards and more recognition. Indeed, it has gained important clients such as the following multinational companies: Eden Springs, Nestlé, Swissco, and Switcher. Furthermore it reached a turnover of around one million Swiss Francs in 2007. So the market gets expanding. For Ecointesys’ director Yves Loerincik: "We would like to become the leaders in LCA in three years." The challenge seems possible, as the company has plans to expand its market in the Middle East, further to the World Future Energy Summit that took recently place in Abu Dhabi, where important contacts with national and international companies were made. Loerincik adds: "We intend to send someone out there several times this year to create business opportunities and possibly establish an office."

 

Currently the company is working on an important project, financed by CTI (the Swiss government’s innovation promotion agency) and several industrial partners. With the IT support of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland regarding, Ecointesys is developing a Web platform integrating primary energies’ consumption and environmental impacts to company management.

 

The future looks even more promising with the water footprint approach. Water footprint is an indicator defined as the total value of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by individuals, communities and companies. This approach can be applied to products and services.

 

Yves Loerincik is optimistic about his company’s growth, but he remains realistic: "We intend to maintain the scientific quality of our research, but we will also position the company as an interface between the scientific environment and the private sector. We want to convert our research concerns into market-oriented products. Our company cannot be regarded as a success story yet, we have positive momentum, but we will see how the company evolves over the next three to five years."

 

The young entrepreneur has adopted the famous American author William Arthur Ward’s quotation: "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change and the realist adjusts the sails."

 

More information and contact: Ecointesys

The editor