Having been through the rigours of developing a new product, innovators are often faced with the difficult and perhaps expensive task of getting it accepted by the market.
John Holden of BRE Global answers questions on how ETV schemes can help new technologies offering environmental benefits clear this hurdle.
What is an ETV scheme?
When an innovative product is developed, there is often no widely accepted industry standard or system of testing and verifying its performance. This presents the developers or owners of new products with a problem – how do they convince potential investors and customers that the products will actually do what they say they do?
Environmental Technologies Verification (ETV) schemes, such as that run by BRE Global, have been created to help solve that problem. BRE Global works with the product owner (or whoever wishes to use the ETV approach) to identify its key performance capabilities, and then consults with BRE experts and others throughout the industry to establish how this performance can be tested and proved.
If the ETV is successfully completed a statement of verification is issued. This explains what the products does and confirms that, through its own independent means, BRE Global has verified its performance.
How does this help innovators?
The ETV helps innovators to bridge the gap (or the “valley of death” as it is sometimes called!) between a market-ready product and the credibility it needs to be successful in that market.
The market knows full well that not all performance claims can be taken at face value. The ETV gives new product owners an independent and reputable voice to underpin their claims for the performance of their products. In essence, BRE Global – provided it is satisfied that claims are accurate – puts its industry recognised voice behind the performance of an innovative product. This not only helps achieve market acceptance, but can also be a valuable tool in promoting the product.
How does it work?
At BRE Global we work with the product owner and other experts – such as recognised test and analytical laboratories – to understand fully what the new product does and what needs to be tested to quantify and measure its capabilities. We then devise the appropriate tests, assess the test results and, if appropriate, issue a ‘Statement of Verification’ that confirms the product’s performance.
This process is based on a General Verification Protocol (GVP), which provides a common framework against which product testing and verification programmes can be developed. Either pre- or post-Brexit, following the procedures included in the GVP makes possible the mutual recognition of verification results in the European Union. BRE Global has been accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to operate the ETV scheme in accordance with this verification protocol.
It is a highly interactive process involving not only close working relationships with the product owner, but also contributions from outside experts. As part of an EU ETV pilot programme, we have access to a pool of experts from the UK and other EU member states, who can review the technology, how it should be tested and what performance claims should be made.
How can innovators get involved?
The first step is to get in touch with us for a chat about the product – we are a friendly group and want to help! In this initial conversation we will get an idea of whether ETV is going to be the right course of action for the product and the next steps that we can take.
Tell us about the ‘Quick Scan’ process and how this helps manufacturers/innovators
The Quick Scan process follows the initial conversation outlined above, and is the first step towards gaining an ETV. It involves completing a Quick Scan form, which collects basic information about the product, its owner, what it does and its environmental benefits, along with information on intellectual property, exiting test data and market-readiness. This simple process can, if necessary, be completed over the phone, and provides the information needed to confirm a product’s eligibility for ETV.
The form is then uploaded to the ETV European Secure Forum, where the pool of experts can view it, comment on ETV eligibility and make suggestions on testing and other issues. As this comes under the European ETV pilot programme, this stage of the ETV process is free of charge and without obligation. Given the investment required to bring a product to market, this free service is often particularly welcome to innovators who have many demands on their financial resources. In addition, this process helps the product owner to understand and be comfortable with the ETV process.
What types of organisations and technologies are eligible for ETV?
Whilst any type of organisation is entitled to go through ETV, it is primarily aimed at small – even micro – and medium sized enterprises, often with just a handful of employees. An extra bonus that BRE Global is currently able to offer is that qualifying SMEs can receive financial assistance to reduce their verification costs by up to 50% or 10,000 euros.
At BRE Global we focus on the verification of innovative environmental technologies in the areas of: Energy; materials; waste and resources, for all of which we have access to a broad range of expertise. So please get in touch with us if you have a product that you believe fits in one of these technology areas, and you could use the help of an industry respected organisation like BRE Global to get your product the market recognition it deserves.
John Holden is a Business Group Manager at BRE Global, with responsibility for its ETV scheme. Visit the website (www.bre.co.uk/etv), email [email protected] , or contact John directly at [email protected]