TRADE SHOWS are a great place to meet customers, suppliers, business partners and keep oneself abreast of the latest industry developments and trends. Last but not least, it is also a place to size up the competition.
I visited the Singapore International Water Week, and spoke with two SGX-listed market leaders for water treatment using membrane technology: Memstar and United Envirotech.
“Trade shows are good for branding building,” said Ms Pan Shuhong, the executive chairwoman of Memstar, a leading manufacturer of membrane products used in water treatment plants.
Memstar is also a founding sponsor of Singapore International Water Week, which showcases more than 650 companies and organizations from around the world.
The focus of the Water Week was the emerging global industrial water sector. United Envirotech happens to be a market leader in designing and building plants for wastewater treatment using membrane technology.
It designed and built Singapore's largest industrial wastewater treatment plant for SembCorp.
The industrial water and wastewater equipment market is expected to grow at 7.5% a year over the next five years to reach a total value of S$22 billion in 2016. Demand for equipment is expected to grow fastest in the oil and gas sector, at an annual rate of over 24% (Global Water Intelligence forecast).
Organized by Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in our nation’s bid to be a global water hub, Singapore International Water Week was into its 5th year and was held from 1 to 5 July at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands.
Over 13,000 delegates from about 100 countries viewed the gamut of cutting edge technology that showcased practical and sustainable water solutions.
Venture capitalists, angel investors, private equity fund managers and institutional investors with industry representatives also got to check out start-ups and technology inventors for possible technology commercialization opportunities at its TechXchange Workshop.
A place for engaging business partners
"Customers appreciate the trade show because it maximizes their valuable time by providing a one-stop platform. Here, they can engage potential business partners and view the latest solutions that technology has to offer for the management of water scarcity,” explained Ms Pan.
Some customers, especially those in the civil service, are not as technically savvy as suppliers in the commercial sector, and Memstar has done its part in raising the understanding of membrane applications among governments and corporations in China, the Middle East and Singapore.
Memstar's long time customer, Dr Lin Yucheng, CEO of SGX-listed United Envirotech, was at the trade show. His deputy CEO, Mr Lee Li, was also present.
"Industrial wastewater is much more difficult to treat compared to municipal waste because of the complexity of its highly toxic chemical content. For example, pesticides are designed to destroy life," explained Mr Lee.
Endorsement from top membrane player
"We have used Japanese products, but found them overly costly. We have used Chinese products, but found the quality unreliable. Few manufacturers can produce quality membrane products at a reasonable price. Many water treatment players are using Memstar as an OEM supplier because they provide very good value for money," said Dr Lin.
"We hope all membrane technology players can work together to develop the industry," said Memstar CEO, Dr Ge Hailin.
If every player does well, the industry market pie will grow bigger for everyone.
Dr Ge had a suggestion for the trade show organisers: China's increasing importance in the global economy makes it an important market for any water hub and he looks forward to seeing more Chinese state-owned consultancy firms at the trade show.
Currently, there is a lack of presence from the Chinese consultancy firms that design the technical specifications used by industrial and municipal players in China's water industry.
These firms are highly influential because the nation has yet to license international water players and it would certainly be exciting to have a platform for presenting one’s innovations to the folks who decide which standards would be used across China's huge market, he said.
Related story: MEMSTAR: Another Target For Private Equity Investors?
More photos of the trade show by Sim Kih.