TelLab secures €1m in EU funding for its water-quality sensor

14 Aug 2019

From left: TelLab CEO Mark Bowket, IP patent attorney Nikos Minas and Enterprise Ireland's Joe Doyle. Image: TelLab

TelLab plans to expand its Tullow team after receiving a €1m European grant.

Today (14 August), Carlow-based T E Laboratories (TelLab) announced that it has been awarded European grant funding in excess of €1m.

TelLab received the grant for its water-quality sensor, which enables real-time monitoring of problematic nutrient pollutants in lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal zones. The funding will be used to speed up the product’s commercialisation process and create up to 25 jobs in Tullow, Co Carlow.

In a statement, TelLab said that this is the second major EU grant it has received in the past year. In addition, Enterprise Ireland has supported the laboratory with its IP Strategy grant, in order to protect the SME’s intellectual property.

This latest funding was secured through an EU Horizon 2020 measure known as the SME instrument, which helps small- and medium-sized companies to commercialise innovations capable of disrupting or creating new markets worldwide.

TelLab, which was founded in 1991, has developed deep-domain analytical chemistry expertise with experience in environmental, oil and microbial analysis and chemicals manufacture. There are currently 50 people working in the company.

The sensor

TelLab’s water-quality sensor, the Aquamonitrix, was developed at the company’s in-house R&D lab in Tullow.

The company described it as “the first accurate and affordable means for regulators and emitters to remotely monitor water quality in real-time”, adding that it provides “an instantaneous alert to pollution breaches” and enables decision-makers to take immediate interventional action.

According to TelLab, the water-quality sensor is the first “high-accuracy and low-cost” device of its type, which can be used in fresh, brackish and salt water environments.

The device responds to growing regulatory demands from the Water Framework Directive for higher frequency monitoring of nitrate, phosphate and ammonia nutrients emerging from wastewater treatment plants, industry, agriculture, fish farms and domestic septic tanks.

A spokesperson for TelLab said: “At present, continuous, real-time water-quality sensors are prohibitively expensive and highly inflexible.

“Therefore, the majority of monitoring is by ‘grab ‘n’ lab’ methods, which involve physically filling sample bottles and returning them to the laboratory for testing.

“This means that results often only become available after several days. Moreover, they merely provide a snapshot of conditions at the moment when the sample was taken, potentially missing episodic pollution events.”

The sensor’s functionality has been demonstrated in real-life environments in Finland, Ireland, Spain and New Zealand. It is also being trialled by the US Environmental Protection Agency.


CEO of TelLab, Mark Bowkett, said: “The funding will allow recent outputs from in-company R&D activities to be exploited fully in global markets with the aim of achieving first-to-market advantage.

“This exciting project will deliver significant growth in export sales, as well as producing up to 25 new jobs in the next three years, and it will underpin the company’s strategic growth plans.”

Recruitment for roles on the company’s new product development team at Tullow has already commenced, and TelLabs will be updating details of positions on its website as they become available.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic