2019 – What’s next?

We have been running since the very beginning and we are still running now, and we are sure that whatever will happen from here this moment on, it will always be a constant motion!

After a long and laborious phase of research and development, we are quite pleased to show you our first concrete results of what represents the core of our technology and which we will soon see working in the first two solar plants to be implemented in Rwanda. Stay tuned! 

The first “proof of concept” was conducted at the end of February 2019. Our team performed the trial on the banks of the Ticino river in Northern Italy obtaining a sample of contaminated water from the river and ran a complete sterilization cycle in less than 15 minutes by using the solar Energy available.

Our Zawa’s contacts (Zanzibar Water Authority) came around again, and this time they  sent us an official proposal to discuss the terms of a partnership with the local government for the instalment of one of our plants within the end of 2019. We will certainly rush back, as soon as possible!

2018 – GratzUp… scaling

In February 2018 we went back in Rwanda for our first official “on field test” of GratzUp’s latest prototype (10). We focused our activities in the Nyagatare district , north east province of the country.

We drove across the region visiting many wild ponds  where most  of the population  collect  surface contaminated water for their daily domestic needs and also drink it .

We went to schools, villages and medical structures, testing and showing our system gathering a lot of attention and interest from a lot of the people we met and the local authorities involved.

Watch out!

From our experience  we came back with two convictions: the first was that our system functioned and was easy to under stand. The second was that in order to really satisfy the real needs we encountered, that we had to develop ulterior features regarding dimensions, technology and shorter times for use.

The conclusion of our first field test marked the beginning of a new enthusiastic research phase.

Beginning in  spring of 2018, the GratzUp team of research and development started working and in a few months there was a true upscaling of the project.

From the first GratzUp’s baby bottle which can go through a complete cycle of sterilization independently using any form of heat, to the first independent plant which runs on solar energy able to treat up to 1500 lt. of  contaminated water a day…

In May 2018, we received an invitation from the local authorities of Zanzibar (Tanzania) to present our project and to perform a series of site inspections to determine the possibility of setting up a future installation of plants.

At the beginning of the autumn 2018, we returned to Rwanda to explain to our potential collaborators that “ in order to change nothing, we decided to change everything”.  It was a devolution which seemed to be quite appreciated and it concluded in an agreement with Rwanda government and the Byumba diocese to install the first two pilot plants in 2019 in a school and an hospital providing safe water to about 1000 people daily, and successively an ulterior agreement to improve our G plants all over the country. We are finally ready to make the big leap ahead!

We love soccer and already during our first trip to Rwanda between one site inspection and another we made friends with the guys from Nyagatare Sunrise FC, a great local team that we decided to sponsor with and supply with all the technical equipment they needed and soon free clean water for  everyone!

In November 2018 GratzUp met Giulio Iachetti, an important Italian designer. The meeting was a real stroke of luck and Giulio immediately decided to start collaborating with us for the production of our new products: The new G bottle and the G tank..

2017 – Rwanda first visit

LS Proto 2 is selected by Milan’s design museum  “La Triennale”  for the exposition “Giro Giro Tondo – Design for Children”.

In spring 2017 some friends introduce us to Father Patrice Nitrushwa , director of Exodus Centre in Nyagatare Rwanda, a catholic education centre for local children . A few words on our project and we immediatly recived an official invitation for visiting the country: “You guys have to come and touch the reality of the problems you’re trying to solve!”

And so we did:
A few months later we landed in Kigali. Despite being considered the cleanest city of Africa, even in its closest suburbs, we instantly focus our attention on rows of people with empty bins, looking for water from wells. “Ok, we’re in!”

We continued to Nyagatare District, in the eastern province.

Getting in touch with families and local people , and saw how they get drinking water from rivers, lakes, puddle and sometimes sewer… The lucky ones drink water obtained through pumps in the groundwater. Often they drink, shower, and play with the SAME water and so do the animals, exactly in the same spots. Unfortunately, often the privy are located in the same spot, so the dirty water drain into the water people drink.

We saw signs of dehydration and denutrition on their skin and on their eyes. Often the problem is « simple » a gastrointestinal infection which causes the loss of water and nutrients while preventing their normal absorbtion. Therefore the normal and healthy growing of babies and infants is delayed.

Because of the important burden caused by infections, the governement has created the « poste de santé », or « health care point », small structures distributed in rural areas with a nurse as reference for every kind of health problem who deals with first line drugs and support in case of disease. We’ve met the nurse of Karushuga health care point while visiting 5 children with diarrhea and abdominal pain. The reason for it: NO SAFE WATER on the site.

At the Health care center of Nyagatare the majority of consultations are children (about 60%) mainly due to diarrhea. Despite new autoclaves, incubators with digital monitors for the neonatology department and very good laboratory and medical doctors, we’ve been surprised and bewildered that patients have to buy bottled water (less than 25% are able to support the cost) because the one available at the hospital is NOT DRINKABLE. Children at school have to bring their own water from home or buy it. Almost no one can afford it.

Tanks to our precious guide Father Patrice we get in touch with all local authorities , Bishop of Byumba MGR. Servilien Nzakamvita, the Major of Nyagatare mr. George Mupenzi and the Medical Director of the Hospital of Nyagatare Dr. Bosco and his small team of medical doctors. From all of them the same request: “if your system works, just came back and make it work !”

As we came back from Africa, we started working hard to improve our system and get everything fixed for our first on field test, back in Rwanda asap.

GratzUp has the opportunity to have the collaboration of the prestigious “Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore” of Milan to conduct a study to certify the efficacy of the system before move back to Rwanda.

The laboratory tests was conducted by Professor Edoardo Puglisi which in the paper conclusions affirms:
All the tests carried out have shown that the GratzUp system has an effectiveness similar to that of an autoclave, allowing the complete sterilization of natural water samples from Italy and Kenya, of crops with high density of enteric bacteria, and finally, highly heat resistant spores. This last result can be considered as the successful overcoming of a worst-case scenario given by the presence of microorganisms highly resistant to sterilization treatments.

2016 – Prototyping & validation

We had a functioning prototype that confirm the validity of our system and its main skills :

  • Immediate
  • Reliable
  • Simple
  • Nice

Presenting the first animation video explaining the sterilization process on our “Proto2 “

Thanks to our investors’s trust , during all 2016 we work hard in the development of new prototype’s functions and shapes. Here the evolutions that occurred during this period that took almost one year.

Several internal test were conducted in order to test the efficiency of the system, some of whom were just to prove singles technical elements, but in the end we decide to show directly what our bootle is “practically” able to do and yes, she did it!

2015 – Friends & family

At the beginning we didn’t have much money, so we contacted some friends, some of whom where engineers, film-makers, photographers, and … mothers. We all put together our experience and our knowledge and we made it. The first GratzUp’s functioning auto-sterilizing baby bottle complete with its safe nipple, was tested for the first time …

Professor Luca Paltrinieri, biologist, carried out, in his patented laboratory a series of tests aimed at demonstrating the efficacy of  our sterilization process through the bottle operation verification  as described below.

Materials:

  • Petri dishes
  • TBX Agar Culture medium (to test for the presence of di E. coli)
  • Standard Agar Culture medium
  • 0.45 um microfilter filter
  • Extraction material with vacuum pump
  • Small sterile material
  • Water from the entrance channel of the “Bioggio” purifier
  • Bunsen burner
  • Baby bottle

Method:
The presence of bacteria in non-sterilized and in sterilized water was evaluated. Sterilized water means water that has spent 2 minutes within the baby bottle being used (in other words, having reached a temperature of 138.5 C and 3.5 atm).

Three types of tests were carried out, both for the dirty water as well as for the sterilized water:

  1. 1ml of water distributed over the already hardened culture medium;
  2. 1ml of water mixed with the culture medium before it hardened;
  3. 100ml of water that has passed through the microfilter by means of the vacuum pump.

Moreover, sterilization occurring on the teat was verified on both culture mediums. For each type of verification, 3 tests with 3 distinct petri dishes were carried out.

Results:
The water that passed through the baby bottle underwent complete sterilization. There was no bacterial growth in the culture mediums that contained water that was sterilized through The LS.

These are the professor’s concluding remarks:
Actively participating in the creation of the valuable project, and thereby helping these two young researchers, Mauro and Shairin, to realize their dream, was an enriching opportunity for me. It was with great excitement that we saw, together, the results of our experiments. These demonstrated the effectiveness of the baby bottle: the water and the teat contaminated with bacteria, including dangerous bacteria, treated through the system, were effectively sterilized. In fact, nothing grew on the Petri dish in the water coming from the baby bottle and from the teat after sterilization. The experiment was therefore successful. Thanks to this product, I am sure that many defenseless young lives will be saved. I will certainly also be supporting it in the future”.

Professor Luca Paltrinieri, Lugano, July 10th, 2015

2014 – Once upon a time…

A coffee bar, a table, two drinks and a napkin.
The little napkin they give you when they serve you some snacks. Usually during conversations, that napkin is transformed into some strange disgusting object: usually a little oily ball, sometimes a mountain of splinters, occasionally you scribble all over it. That evening there was no space left for oily balls, splinters or random lines…

That evening, in Lausanne, we started to draw on it… we drew the skeleton of a dream: a world where also little children born in less fortunate areas of the world could have the opportunity to live their lives, play and grow up, without being afraid of getting sick because of dirty water and the micro-organisms contaminating it.

That evening we began sketching our LS prototype nr. 1, and our project took its first little step.