Mario Alejandro Rosato of Sustainable Technologies tells us about the company’s focus on anaerobic digestion since it is the most sustainable technology.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Little has changed for us with the COVID lockdown because Sustainable Technologies has been employing IoT since its foundation in Barcelona in 2009. Our anaerobic digestion laboratory is equipped with fully automatic instruments: AMPTS (Automatic Methane Potential Test System), Gas Endeavour (the evolution of AMPTS for fermentative processes in general) and Bio-Reactor Simulator. The first two have built-in IoT functions, the third works in The Cloud. So we have always worked from home, going to the lab twice or three times per month.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Sustainable Technologies.
Mario Alejandro Rosato: I was born in 1961 and since the age of 16 I have been actively involved in renewable energies. I am an electrical, electronic, and environmental engineer, as well as speak Spanish and Italian (mother languages), English, French, German and Portuguese. Currently, I am serving as the CEO of Sustainable Technologies, a company with sales offices in Barcelona, Spain, and a research laboratory in Fossalta di Portogruaro (VE), Italy. I have won several international awards, the most prestigious being the Innocentive-The Economist Challenge on tackling global climate change. I founded the company in Barcelona in 2009 after 20 years of working as a manager in several companies. The company is mainly focused on anaerobic digestion since it is the most sustainable technology for dealing with organic waste and mitigating global climate change. This is the reason for the Company’s motto: Researching for mankind and Planet. In 2015 I moved the headquarters to Italy because the biogas market here is bigger than in Spain.
How does Sustainable Technologies innovate?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Sustainable Technologies distributes in Spain and Italy the laboratory instruments of Bioprocess Control AB (Sweden) and the bioreactors of Biotehniskai Centr AS (Latvia). At the same time, the company is the user of the same technologies in its own laboratory, and sometimes we have contributed to the development of new products. In other words, we first test on ourselves every technology before proposing it to our customers. We are probably the only company that allows a potential customer to test a laboratory instrument before purchasing it. Having run one of the biggest private laboratories in Italy fully specialized in anaerobic digestion, at an average pace of 10 tests per month during the last 10 years, we have a huge database of first-hand information, allowing us to provide consultancy services to biogas plant owners and biotechnological companies.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Since most of the customers are Italian and Spanish universities, so the lockdowns in both countries brought a reduction in their activity and consequently a reduction of the turnover in 2020. But compared to other sectors, like bars and restaurants, 2020 was not too bad for Sustainable Technologies, since the industry of waste treatment was not affected by the pandemics.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Since the company’s birth in 2009, we never had employees. The activity of the company is so focused on research, and the research subject is so specific, that we engage external researchers on a case-by-case approach. For instance, when we had to develop a work package on biohydrogen production from marine algae within a research project funded by the EU, we engaged for one month an Indian professor, who is one of the most reputed experts on the subject.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: This market is extremely specific, I use Academia.edu and ResearchGate.net to gain visibility in the academic community, and LinkedIn’s specialized discussion groups for the private industry. I also collaborate as a professor with several private professional training institutes.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Having cut some travel costs from one side, I took profit of the Italian Government’s warranty and asked for a loan. I invested part of it in purchasing new instruments, in order to boost the company’s activities.