The team behind WaterWebTools have been participating in and leading state-of-the-art research projects for more than a decade. Their research has focused particularly on building and applying advanced computer models and tools, which can help understand the physical, chemical and biological processes occurring in freshwater systems, and how human activities, climate change and extremes are affecting these processes. Key challenges that the team address include eutrophication (pollution) of surface waters, flooding and drought.
Research projects, such as the EU JPI Water project PROGNOS (2016-2019), and the EU JPI Climate project WATExR (2017-2020), with stakeholders from different societal sectors, have made it increasingly clear, that computer models are essential for addressing a wide range of pressing societal challenges within the water management and supply sector, the agricultural sector and the fisheries sector, and also for dissemination of research findings. State-of-the-art models developed and applied for research purposes are, however, often very difficult for non-scientists to operate in a meaningful way. It has therefore become a mission for the WaterWebTools team to enable an easy and widespread use of otherwise complex, state-of-the-art, science-based models, which can ultimately help ensure a more sustainable use of the worlds’ limited and precious water resources.
In 2019, The Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science initiated the InnoExplorer program. The program seeks to strengthen entrepreneurship, and contribute to maturing knowledge and research results from public research institutions that have a commercial potential, so they can get closer to the market. Dennis Trolle, Anders Nielsen and Anders Lehmann from Aarhus University, the original core team of WaterWebTools, saw this as a unique opportunity for making the models they work with much more useful for the greater society. After applying for the highly competitive InnoExplorer funding through Innovation Fund Denmark, the team was awarded with an InnoExplorer Grant. A Scientific Officer from Innovation Fund Denmark stated that:
“The projects that got through the eye of the needle and were selected for funding showed a high innovation excellence and were particularly clear on how their product is different from anything else on the market, and also on which competences they need to achieve the goals of the InnoExplorer project."
The initial aim of WaterWebTools and the InnoExplorer project (2019-2020) was to produce a scalable eco-hydrological forecast system, which could readily be applied to any location in the world. The InnoExplorer funding allowed the team to visit potential end-users initially from the Danish, Chinese and American markets, and subsequently to mature the forecast system, tailored to the specific needs of the end-users. Following the InnoExplorer project, WaterWebTools was formed as an SME, and several tools have since been made available. The tools are all easily operated through a web-interface, and help address challenges relating to eutrophication, flooding and drought. The WaterWebTools team strive to provide the markets’ best tools for addressing water related challenges, and continuously improve the quality of their products based on advances within state-of-the-art science.
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