Business Plan


Mission Statement:

To help the environment and revolutionise the wastewater treatment industry through bioengineering

Executive Summary:

Engineered Bioreactors is a newly formed company which in the process of developing a new, innovative and pioneering way of treating wastewater through bioengineering. Our products will consist of an Escherichia coli bacterium used to remove phosphate from wastewater and a bioreactor in which the E. coli will be stored and through which the wastewater will pass for treatment. These products will work together to replace the current inefficient and unsustainable chemical phosphate removal methods found within the wastewater industry. These products will reduce the operation costs for treating wastewater and its subsequent environmental impact for the whole marketplace. The wastewater industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and is estimated to be worth £61.4 billion by 2019, with 8.8 billion litres of wastewater currently being chemically treated and released into the environment every day. Our market research has outlined the following key points:

  1. Chemical wastewater treatment is becoming increasingly unfavourable to use and wastewater companies such as Yorkshire Water and Thames Water are actively seeking to find a replacement.
  2. The public are comfortable with the use of biological methods in treating wastewater.
  3. A significant profit can be generated from recycling the collected phosphate. From Yorkshire Water alone, the collected phosphate has an estimated worth of £365,000 anually.

Therefore, Engineered Bioreactors will thrive due to our three core values:

  1. Reducing the impact of waste water treatment on the environment.
  2. Reducing the costs of wastewater treatment in the marketplace.
  3. Identifying and penetrating new markets that will benefit from bioengineering.

Engineered Bioreactors is the only company which has developed an engineered bacterium, E. coli that can be used in the removal and excretion of phosphate. The product will be patented to eliminate the competition for other companies developing similar products. This report will outline the business plan for the way in which we will develop our product and take it to market.

Current Wastewater Treatment Method:

Phosphate is an inorganic molecule that is found throughout the environment. It is an important compound as it is vital in the biochemistry of many organisms.

High concentrations of phosphate in the environment can be dangerous and lead to eutrophication, this is a process whereby an algal bloom, in the water system where the treated wastewater is disposed of, occurs causing the deoxygenation of water. This can have a huge impact on water based ecosystems. For example, organisms that live in rivers may die because of insufficient oxygen levels. Eutrophication occurs due to the current method of phosphate removal in wastewater treatment plants being insufficient. Currently waste water arrives from large domestic areas, industrial phosphate factories and agricultural areas which all contain high levels of phosphate. This means that when the water is pumped back into the environment, after it has been treated in the current manor it may still contain high levels of phosphate.

The United Kingdom’s Environmental Agency has set out regulations regarding phosphate concentration in treated wastewater before it can be released back into the environment. It currently stands at 3mg/L of phosphate being in the treated water. It is important that wastewater companies comply with these regulations and if not they encounter a fine. However, it has become increasingly difficult to meet these requirements and has led to steady increase in operation costs of these companies due to the ongoing demand to conform to these regulations. In the case of Yorkshire Water, over the past three years there has been a £20.8m increase in operating costs. Moreover, the Environmental Agency plans to lower the limit of phosphate to 0.1mg/L in the hope that this will reduce levels in water systems further. This will mean that wastewater treatment companies will see operation costs continue to rise.

Currently, most water treatment companies use ferric sulphate or ferrous chloride to remove phosphate from the wastewater. Yorkshire Water is one company which uses ferric sulphate and importantly it only narrowly passes the regulatory phosphate level in its treated wastewater. In addition, using the ferric sulphate method Yorkshire Water fails to meet the Environmental Agency regulatory levels of iron. This is because the ferric sulphate method releases iron into the treated wastewater. Consequently, Yorkshire Water have to pay a fine which is proportionate to the amount they exceed the regulatory level of iron in treated wastewater.

When the Environmental Agency reduces the regulatory levels of phosphate allowed in treated wastewater, many companies, including Yorkshire Water will fail to reach this new regulatory level using current chemical methods. If they tried to meet the new regulatory levels of phosphate by using more ferric sulphate, they would further exceed the iron regulatory levels. Thus increasing the fine they receive.

An additional consideration is that the ferric sulphate and ferrous chloride methods are becoming more expensive and very hard to sustain. This is because pH levels of the waste water need to be re-establishing as well as removing the excess iron which is another product when using ferric sulphate or ferrous chloride. This adds to the already increasing operation costs of wastewater treatment plants.

With these points in mind, there is need for an alternative method to remove phosphate from wastewater.

Our Product:

Engineered Bioreactors aims to use a novel bioremediation method to remove the phosphate from wastewater instead of the current chemical methods mentioned above. (remediation is the removal of a pollutant from a specific environment). The process involves an engineered E. coli that will remove and recycle phosphate from wastewater. This new method is highly beneficial for both the environment, as it reduces eutrophication, and financially beneficial for the wastewater companies which will implement it.

Engineered Bioreactors chose to genetically modify E. coli because it is easy to use, well studied and non-pathogenic. E. coli is classed as the ‘work horse’ of genetic engineering and therefore Engineered Bioreactors believe it will be effective at taking up phosphate.

The engineered E. coli can be placed inside a bioreactor through which the wastewater will flow. As the wastewater passes through the bioreactor, the engineered E. coli will take up any phosphate in the solution. This is possible because the E. coli can store large amounts of phosphate as it converts it into polyphosphate.

The next part is collecting the phosphate from the bacteria in the bioreactor. Engineered Bioreactors have genetically modified the E. coli so that under a specific inducer it will form internal gas vesicles. This causes the E. coli to float to the surface of the wastewater making it easy to extract by a skimming method.

The extracted E. coli under specific conditions will excrete the phosphate which it has accumulated. The phosphate that is excreted can then be recycled and sold to fertilizer companies generating a profit for Engineered Bioreactors. In addition the bacteria can be placed back into the bioreactor after it has been decontaminated ensuring low operation costs.

Engineered Bioreactors will be designed the bioreactor which contains the engineered E. coli so that it can process 250,000L of wastewater daily. To each bioreactor the correct number of engineered E. coli will be added to remove the required amount of phosphate from 250,000L of wastewater daily.

If large wastewater treatment companies implemented our process, it would help them meet both the phosphate and iron regulatory levels. This is because using the engineered E. coli will be more efficient than using ferric sulphate to remove phosphate. As ferric sulphate is no longer being used the wastewater should also comply with the iron regulations in treated wastewater. Furthermore, by being able to reuse the bacteria, it provides a more sustainable approach to the removal of phosphate and would also reduce operation costs. The phosphate extracted could be recycled and sold on to fertilizer companies. The profit made by selling the recycled phosphate is only set to rise over time as phosphate is a finite source.

Current Position:

Engineered Bioreactors is in the stage of developing and testing the engineered E. coli.

The E. coli has successfully been engineered so that it has a high phosphate uptake and can store the phosphate internally as polyphosphate. By storing it phosphate as polyphosphate in the cell it will take up less space so more phosphate can be accumulated and stored. Also by storing it as polyphosphate it will have a smaller effect on the cell than if it was stored as normal free floating phosphate.

The next step in the development process is to create and insert the genes and promoters required for gas vesicle formation and phosphate excretion. After these bacteria have been transformed Engineered Bioreactors aims to rigorously test the E. coli to ensure it is fully functional and efficient.

In terms of the bioreactor, Engineered Bioreactors is current the stage of designing its first prototype and ensuring it has all the features to maximise phosphate uptake whilst also ensuring all engineered E. coli are contained within the bioreactor.

Competitive Advantage:

Currently Engineered Bioreactors is the only company which has developed an engineered bacterium that can be used in the removal of phosphate and to excrete phosphate to be recycled. Therefore, competition with other bioremediation companies is limited. Engineered Bioreactors will patent their engineered E. coli as well as their bioreactor through the European Intellectual Property Office. This should reduce the competition from other companies that are developing bioreactors. But it will also allow Engineered Bioreactors to be at the forefront of finding an alternative method to the chemical ones such as using ferric sulphate.

Growth Plan:

Over the next 6 months, Engineered Bioreactors aims to have finished engineering and testing the E. coli.

The 6 months after that period, Engineered Bioreactors will start the planning process for building a prototype bioreactor. Once this is built, the engineered E. coli will be used in the bioreactor which will be inserted into a wastewater treatment plant to treat wastewater.

By the end of the following year, Engineered Bioreactors aims to have a bioreactor in 1 of the 600 Yorkshire Water wastewater sites. Once the bioreactor is installed its performance will be monitored. After the bioreactor has been trialled for 6 months, Yorkshire Water and Engineered Bioreactors will be able to analyse the different sites and compare their results to the ferric sulphate method using statistical analysis.

The results should favour the use of the bioreactor using the E. coli. This is because from our initial lab test show that the engineered the E. coli does take up more phosphate than normal wild type E. coli and can remove phosphate from solution. Therefore within five years of starting the business Engineered Bioreactors aims to have its bioreactors installed in all 5 of the 600 Yorkshire Water treatment plants. Furthermore, Engineered Bioreactors would look into getting Thames Water and other wastewater companies to trial the bioreactor and potentially use the new method.

An addition plan is that over the 5 years Engineered Bioreactors will be able to engineer other E. coli which will remove other substances such as heavy metals including zinc, copper and mercury. Once these are engineered they would be trialled in the bioreactor already installed in water treatment plants around the country to remove the heavy metals from wastewater.

Engineered Bioreactors will work closely with all companies involved to identify and ensure key performance indicators are met and reliable results are obtained. This will increase the markets confidence in Engineered Bioreactors E. coli and bioreactor.

Our ultimate goal is for each of the major wastewater companies based in the UK to be have installed at least 100 bioreactors at 100 of their wastewater treatment plants which are fully operational.

Business Strategy

Core Values:

  1. Reducing the impact of waste water treatment on the environment.
    • Ensuring wastewater companies meet the regulatory levels of phosphate in water, the chance of environmental eutrophication which can severally damage marine life is reduced.
    • Bioengineering will ensure the water treatment company will comply with the iron regulations, instead of exceeding them as with the current ferric sulphate method.
  2. Reducing the costs of wastewater treatment in the marketplace.
    • Developing a method of removing phosphate from wastewater which is safer, more sustainable, cheaper and more efficient than the chemical methods.
    • Reducing and eliminating the fine imposed for exceeding regulatory iron levels in water.
  3. Identifying and penetrating new markets that will benefit from bioengineering.
    • Protecting the environment underpins Engineered Bioreactors core values. Therefore, the company aims to recycle phosphate in a safe way to ensure the environment is not damaged further from mining.
    • Bioengineering an E. coli so that it can take up metals from solution. This E. coli can be used by the wastewater industry to remove heavy metals from wastewater. However it would give entrance into the phosphate mining market as it could be used to collect any lost phosphate from the phosphate ore processing technique.

    Critical Success Factors:

    1. To provide a cheaper and more sustainable method for removing phosphate.
    2. To patent the bioreactor and engineered E. coli.
    3. To ensure the engineered E. coli and bioreactor is fully functional and works at the highest efficiency.
    4. To ensure that the use of the bioreactor will be safe and pose no threat to the water companies employees or customers.
    5. To maintain low operation cost.
    6. To continue to research, so that the engineered E. coli can continue to be improved and upgraded.
    7. To branch out into other markets and industries such as heavy metal removal from wastewater.
    8. To establishing links with transportation and fertilizer companies.

    Strategic Issues:

    1. Financial: Firstly, the initial cost of buying or renting a laboratory may be problematic. On top of this to engineer and grow the E. coli would require significant amounts of money . However, this can be minimalised by using the University of York’s Laboratory to begin with and looking for funding towards the chemicals. However, there is also the option of hiring a biotech laboratory but can be quite expensive. Finally, a large amount of capital would need to be raised for a factory to be established in which the engineered E. coli can be grown on an industrial scale in an industrial sized fermenter.
    2. Competition: Engineered Bioreactors will mainly compete with companies which that use the ferric sulphate method to remove phosphate from wastewater. However, this can be seen as an advantage to increasing the company’s profits as there are very few other bioremediation companies. Furthermore Engineered Bioreactors will out compete the companies which sell ferric sulphate as Engineered Bioreactors offers a superior product. Within the next 5 years, Engineered Bioreactors would expect to have some competition from other companies developing bioremediation process. By patenting Engineered Bioreactors modified E. coli as well as their design for the bioreactor, the competition will be minimal if not eradicated.
    3. Supply Chain: Any issues regarding transportation will be dealt with in a safe and efficient manner, whereby Engineered Bioreactors will look for the best environmental solution. This will mean that Engineered Bioreactors will have the minimal impact on the environment regarding contamination and pollution. Advancing this further, Engineered Bioreactors will develop links with fertilizer companies to which they can sell the recycled phosphate too.


    1. Engineered Bioreactors will attempt to establish partnerships with large UK based wastewater treatment companies such as Anglian Water, Scottish Water and Thames Water.
      • Seek new contacts and work alongside wastewater company’s research and development teams to trial the bioreactor and engineered E. coli, increasing the company’s confidence in bioremediation.
    2. Engineered Bioreactor will establish links with UK based fertilizer companies which could be potential customers for the recycled phosphate.
    3. Forge links with a specialist metal fabricator to enable cost effective construction of a prototype bioreactor. And subsequent mass production of bioreactors for the waste water companies.
    4. Agreements and partnerships will be forged with specialist haulage firms for the transportation of the phosphate, bioreactor materials and engineered E. coli to desired locations.
    5. Engineered Bioreactors will increase its number of employees to bolster and develop our product offering.
      • Such individuals will include those with experience in the wastewater treatment industry, researchers to continue improving and engineering the bacteria and people with expertise in marketing and advertising.


    1. Build and develop a large industry wide contact base and become known to the industry (see Marketing plan)
    2. Locate a laboratory to finish engineering the E. coli. It is a possibility that the University of York could provide a suitable laboratory.
    3. Design and engineer a bioreactor to facilitate the treatment process.
    4. Test and monitor the performance of the prototype bioreactor which contains the engineered E. coli
    5. Produce commercial report with the date collected from the prototype bio reactor results
    6. Contact the Innovation Development Manager of large UK based wastewater companies, such as Jon Briggs at Yorkshire Water, via email to see if they would be interested in trailing the bioreactor
    7. Investigate the feasibility of buying a small factory to start making bioreactors which will be trailed.
    8. Identify sites which the bioreactors could be trialled, seek partnerships from wastewater treatment companies.
    9. Gain an agreement for our first bioreactor to be installed on a commercial waste water treatment sites.
    10. Analyse the first 6 months data from the bioreactor and compare to wastewater treatment plants still using the ferric sulphate method by statistical analysis.
    11. Advertise the findings widely on websites and at conferences to educate the market place on how the engineered E. coli and bioreactor and more effective than other methods. Encourage the companies trailing the bioreactor to purchase more.

    Credibility and Risk Reduction:

    Engineered Bioreactors will focus on maintaining an appropriate amount of transparency to ensure and maintain good public opinion of the products the company offers. To increase the credibility of Engineered Bioreactors E. coli we will send to multiple independent labs where it can be further tested and peer reviewed. This will ensure that the engineered E. coli is accepted by the scientific community. The results from these test will be published and made assessable to the public. This will ensure complete transparency of the product and how efficient it is at removing phosphate from wastewater. Engineered Bioreactors plan to employ an internal control consultant, who will help minimise business risk by reviewing processes and identifying weaknesses. Furthermore, Engineered Bioreactors aim to develop a risk management plan which would help prevent any potential risks to the business and its processes.



    To become the market leader and industry specialist in bioremediation techniques using engineered E. coli.


    1. Educate the wastewater market on the benefits of bioengineering on water treatment
    2. Increase product awareness in the market for the engineered E. coli and bioreactor built by Engineered Bioreactors.
    3. Built an industry and sector wide network of contacts and become a trusted name within the marketplace.
    4. Lead the industry in providing a bioremediation method for treating wastewater.
    5. Have at least three UK based wastewater treatment companies, including Yorkshire water, trialling the engineered E. coli and the bioreactor built by Engineered Bioreactors.
    6. Rise capital from wastewater companies to develop the engineered E. coli and bioreactor further.

    Competitor Analysis:

    Yorkshire Water

    • Yorkshire Water are currently seeking new alternative methods for removing phosphate from wastewater. At present, Yorkshire Water use ferrous sulphate to remove phosphate from the wastewater they process.
    • A spokesman from Yorkshire Water stated that ‘Using ferrous sulphate is expensive and becoming increasingly unavailable/unsustainable’.
    • Yorkshire Water recovers 1.1 billion litres of water a day, which they process in their 631 wastewater treatment plants.
    • They are complying with current regulation at approximately 3 mg/L of phosphate in treated wastewater but soon the limit will be lowered to 0.1 mg/L of phosphate in treated wastewater.
    • Currently, in untreated wastewater, which Yorkshire Water collects from domestic areas and businesses, there is approximately 10mg/L of phosphate.
    • Therefore, they have to process 11000kg of phosphate per day. To comply with the 3mg/L limit, they have to remove 7700kg of phosphate per day. However to comply with the soon to be implemented regulations, they will have to remove 10010kg of phosphate per day.
    • Yorkshire Water is failing to meet the iron level limit using ferric sulphate in treated wastewater. This problem is set to increase due to the phosphate level limit decreasing; therefore they would have to use more ferric sulphate to comply with the new phosphate level. Engineered Bioreactors E. coli and bioreactor do not add any iron to the wastewater therefore if Yorkshire Water replaced the ferric sulphate method with Engineered Bioreactors method they would be able to comply with the iron regulations in treated wastewater.
    • Over the past 2 years the operation cost of Yorkshire Water has risen by £20.8m. Complying with the phosphate regulations of treated wastewater has contributed to this increase in operations due to the problems of using ferric sulphate as previously explained.
    • If Yorkshire Water implemented EBR’s bioreactor and engineered E. coli into all of its wastewater treatment sites, it is estimated 10010kg of phosphate would be collected daily to comply with the new 0.1mg/L limit of phosphate in treated wastewater. Therefore the total of phosphate collected annually would be worth £365,365.

    Anglian Water

    • Anglian Water operates 1,128 water recycling centers (WRCs), collecting and treating used water from 2.5 million households and 125,323 businesses.
    • For the entire Anglian Water region, they collect approximately 927 million litres of used water every day.
    • Total phosphate in untreated sewage can vary between 7 – 12 mg/l. Typically 8 mg/l if we are considering domestic sewage only. This level can be higher if there are trade effluent discharges containing phosphate in the catchment area.
    • In their treated water (Final Effluent or FE) the phosphate is around 1.0 mg/l. However, this does vary slightly and depends on which WRCs are used to process the water.
    • A small number of Anglian Water wastewater treatments do not have any phosphate removal processes. This is because the Environmental Agency has not implemented phosphate regulations on these sites. However the large majority of Anglian Waters wastewater treatment sites has to comply with the regulations put in place by the environmental agency of 2mg/L of phosphate in treated. Some other wastewater treatment plants have ‘Habitats Consent’, this is because the treated wastewater will be discharged into an environment protected area, so have to meet 1 mg/l total phosphate in treated wastewater.
    • Currently, Anglian Water mainly removes phosphate by chemical precipitation using ferric sulphate or ferrous chloride. Some phosphate is removed biologically by ‘Luxury Uptake’ in activated sludge. However, as it is mainly removed chemically, there is an increase in precipitation and subsequent increases in sludge production, treatment and disposal, which increases operation costs. Therefore, Anglian Water is seeking new methods of phosphate removal to lower these rising operation costs.
    • Anglian water is currently trialing an Enhanced Biological Phosphate Removal technique developed by University of Capetown in one of the WRC sites in Norfolk. Therefore, they are open to trialing new and more efficient processes, so they would be interested in trailing EBR’s bioreactor and engineered E. coli.
    • If Anglian Water implemented EBR’s bioreactor and engineered E. coli into all of its WRC sites it is estimated 3383550kg of phosphate would be collected annually in accordance with 10mg of phosphate being removed per litre of wastewater. This collected phosphate would be worth a minimum of £338,355 according to current markets, and can be sold on to fertilizer companies to be recycled.

    Scottish Water

    • Scottish water has 754 wastewater treatment works and 1,304 public septic tanks.
    • They process 840 million litres of wastewater daily.
    • Scottish water only sample for phosphate in raw sewage at a very small number of plants (about 4%) this figure is not representative. However they stated that the average in influent of phosphate is 3mg/l but can peak as high as 30mg/L in 2015. The actual raw sewage phosphate concentration can vary wildly due to influences such as seasonal tourist loading and trade loading. However they also stated that an external investigation in 2007 found that the average concentration of total phosphate (TP) in raw wastewater was 19.1 mg/l’.
    • Currently all phosphate removal at Scottish Water sites is precipitated out with Ferric Sulphate.
    • They have 30 wastewater treatment works with 2mg/L annual average Total Phosphorus consents. In 2015 the cost of ferric sulphate for these sites was £407,498 and through the use of ferric sulphate it cost Scottish Water another £15,575 to correct the pH at the sites where ferric sulphate is used.
    • Scottish Water like other wastewater companies is currently searching for an alternative method to remove phosphate and is currently trialling a biological method.
    • If Scottish Water implemented EBR’s bioreactor and engineered E. coli into all of its wastewater treatment sites, it is estimated 12600kg of phosphate would be collected daily from the wastewater they process. The phosphate collected annually would be worth £459,900.

    Other Water companies

    Wastewater company Change in operation costs from 2014-2015 (£m) Litres of waste water processed per day Number of wastewater treatment plants Estimate for the total phosphate collected daily (kg) Value of collected phosphate annually(£)
    Thames Water Increase of £48.8 4,400,000,000 348 44000 1,606,000
    Wessex Water Increase of £5.3 460,000,000 407 4600 167,900
    Northern Ireland Water N/a 320,000,000 656 3200 116,800

    (For calculating the estimated total phosphate collected annually, it was assumed that the phosphate content in the collected wastewater was 10 mg/l)

    Sources: Jon Briggs, Yorkshire Water, Innovation Development Manager. Richard Duncan, Scottish Water, FOI Analyst. Ruth Barden, Wessex Water, Head of Environment & Catchment Strategy. Tom Smith, Anglian Water, Catchment Quality Scientist. Northern Ireland Water, 2014. Annual report and accounts 2013-2014. Northern Ireland. Thames Water, 2015. Annual report and financial statements 2014-2015. London: Thames Water

    SWOT Analysis:

    • When operational our process will provide a cheaper and more sustainable method,for removing phosphate
      -Our process is also more environmentally friendly
    • We provide a more
      sustainable product and have specialised knowledge of bioremediation
    • A weakness in our technique is the use of bacteria, which the public may not feel fully comfortable about.
    • Large established companies may be set in their ways.
    • Engineered Bioreactors business market may be wary of the new products offered.
    • We have no specialised knowledge in the fabrication of the bioreactor.
    • It has been identified that the use of ferric sulphate becoming more problematic and that Yorkshire Water does not currently use any bioremediation processes to treat its wastewater.
    • The phosphate which is collected by the engineered E. coli can be sold onto fertilizer companies.
    • Engineered Bioreactors is bringing a new product to the market place.
    • In the long term new markets can be targeted as the engineered E. coli are developed further.
    • One of the threats to our business is other companies trying to find a new chemical, or develop a new technique which can be used to remove phosphate.
    • There is the threat of a change in legislation which restricts biological methods being used to treat wastewater.
    • The final threat is if the test results of the bioreactor and engineered E. coli compared to ferric sulfate do not favour the bioremediation method.

    Market Survey Results:

    In an international survey 1000 people were surveyed to gather information on the general opinion of using engineered E. coli to treat wastewater. The graph below shows the results from the question ‘How do you feel about biological methods being used over chemical methods for remediation (Remediation is the removal of pollutants from a specific environment)’.

    Overall there was a positive response to using biological methods of remediation with approximately 70% of the people who were saying said they were comfortable or very comfortable with biological methods used in remediation processes. Therefore Engineered Bioreactors method of removing phosphate from wastewater should be generally accepted by the public and the press. This is very positive as it should encourage wastewater companies too switch from to using Engineered Bioreactors product because their own customer base, the general public, are comfortable with the biological method being used. Furthermore the wastewater treatment companies using Engineered Bioreactors method can expect a positive press response.

    Target Market Segment Analysis:

    Primary Target Market: UK Wastewater Treatment Industry

    The UK wastewater treatment industry is one of the fastest growing in the UK and is constantly developing. Engineered Bioreactors product exploits a niche in this market as most wastewater companies do not use biological methods of remediation and instead use chemical methods which are becoming increasingly unstainable. Also wastewater companies are actively seeking to change their method of removing phosphate from wastewater as it is unsustainable and inefficient. From the market research it is clear that in the wastewater treatment industry would provide the largest amount of phosphate which Engineered Bioreactors could collect and sell to generate the largest profit. Therefore this target market holds the greatest potential.

    Additional Target Market: Phosphate Mining Companies

    The bioreactor developed by Engineered Bioreactors can be set up so that the water which runs off of the phosphate extraction plant which the ore containing phosphate is brought too, passes through the bioreactor before being released into the environment. This will help prevent environmental pollution and extract any phosphate which the plant has not been able to extract. Furthermore, with the possibility of Engineered Bioreactors developing an E. coli to extract heavy metal ions from water, it will allow their bioreactors to be used in heavy metal mining plants such as copper mining. We aim to enter this target market within the next 3 years after showing that our method of phosphate extraction is effective and has worked in the wastewater industry.

    Additional Target Market: Chemical Synthesis Companies

    This target market may not hold as much potential as the wastewater or mining markets; however it still has significant potential. The bioreactor can be connected to the waste outlet of factories which synthesise compounds which contain phosphorus such as phosphoric acid, phosphorous pentachloride and phosphorus trichloride. Therefore, any unreacted phosphate could be collected by the engineered E. coli and recycled. This will also help lower the amount of phosphate being released into the environment. We aim to explore this target market within the next 5 years after successfully entering the UK wastewater treatment industry and phosphate mining target market.

    Marketing Mix:


    The E. coli developed by Engineered Bioreactors will need to be more efficient at removing phosphate from wastewater compared to using ferric sulphate. The bioreactor will be designed so that it can process 250,000 litres of wastewater daily and will contain the correct number of engineered E. coli to ensure that enough phosphate is removed to comply with the soon to be implemented 0.1mg/L of phosphate in treated wastewater. Our product is new to the market place. No feedstock for the E. coli would need to be purchase once the bioreactor is operational as there will be enough nutrients and organic matter in the wastewater which hasn’t been removed yet which the E. coli can use as a source of energy. Every 4 month Engineered Bioreactor will go to each of the bioreactors to service and too ensure that the E. coli are still at the optimal level.


    Engineered Bioreactors will sell the bioreactor and engineered E. coli as a one off package. Then a yearly service will be provided once the bioreactor is in operation to replace any E. coli which die to ensure phosphate uptake is optimal and too service the bioreactor. It has been estimated that a wastewater treatment plant that process 1 million litres of wastewater a day would on average annually spend about £13,600 on ferric sulphate to remove the phosphate from wastewater. The other process to counter act the negative effects of using ferric sulphate such as pH adjustment and iron removal would at least cost another £1000. These figures have been calculated using information from Scottish Water. Therefore annually a wastewater treatment plant of the minimum cost to remove phosphate annually is estimated to be £14,600. However the operation cost of removing phosphate is set rise dramatically when the limit of phosphate in treated wastewater decreases.

    Knowing this Engineered Bioreactors aim to sell the engineered E. coli and Bioreactor for £6,000. This would consist of an £2000 deposit and then the remaining £4000 would be payable over the course of 2 years. The cash price would for the bioreactor and engineered E. coli would be £5,700. These costs do not include the time and cost of installing the bioreactors. The total cost of the yearly service would be £2000 which would be payed monthly in £166.67. Therefore a wastewater treatment plant which process 250,000L of wastewater daily would have to purchase 4 bioreactors containing E. coli. This would have a total cost of £24,000. This would save at least £6,600 each year after the first year of initial instalment compare to using ferric sulfate. After 10 years of the bioreactors being installed the wastewater plant will saved an estimated £42,000 in total with respect to removing phosphate.


    The production of the bioreactors and engineered E. coli will be based in the Yorkshire in the UK. This is because Yorkshire has a central location in the UK and has a strong transportation infrastructure, making transportation of bioreactor and E. coli to wastewater plants easier. Engineered Bioreactors plans to set up a website through which customers can buy the bioreactor and engineered E. coli. In addition, information explaining how the product works will be found on the website and the steps which have been taken to ensure the safety of the product, this will help educate the market place on the new product. By providing this transparency, it should help maintain a positive public opinion of the company, as well as encourage more potential customers to buy the product. Furthermore due to Engineered Bioreactors links with University of York, the latest equipment and technology will be used to test the engineered E. coli at the highest standard, ensuring its reliability. Also Engineered Bioreactors aims to sell its product to target customers attending wastewater treatment conferences. What engineered Bioreactors aims to achieve at these conferences is explained in the promotion section.


    Promotion of the bioreactor and engineered E. coli will take place at conferences, which are hosted around the UK, exhibiting the new technology and advances in wastewater treatment. One such conference is the WWEM conference which is hosted annually in the UK. At the conferences Engineered Bioreactors will exhibit its product as well as show the performance of the bioreactors which are being trialled. This will help raise awareness of Engineered Bioreactors and the products it offers. Furthermore, as the business grows and our product is refined to a higher standard it could be promoted at larger conferences such as European or global wastewater treatment conferences.

    Engineered Bioreactors main advertising message is to explain the benefits, financially and environmentally, of switching to using the engineered bacteria instead of using the chemical methods to remove phosphate that are currently in use.

    Engineered Bioreactors plan to reach its specific target customer base, wastewater treatment companies, by advertising through magazines such as ‘Water & Wastewater Treatment’ a UK based magazine. Engineered Bioreactors also aim to directly contact as many wastewater treatment companies as possible to inform them about the bioreactor and engineered E. coli.

    In addition, Engineered Bioreactors aims to reach its potential customers directly via email. Yorkshire Water, Thames Water, Scottish Water and Northern Ireland Water have already been contacted through email during development process. However, Engineered Bioreactors aims to develop partnerships with distributors such as Toro Equipment, which supply wastewater treatment companies with the equipment they require. This will provide a second method of reaching potential customers and should increase the number of sales. Over the next 3 years, Engineered Bioreactors aims to develop strong links with the majority of UK based wastewater companies. After 5 years, EBR aims to increase its market reach to the international level and start developing links with large wastewater companies based in Europe and America.

    As mentioned previously Engineered Bioreactors aims to maintain good public relations by having an appropriate level of transparency to ensure the public’s confidence in the safety of the bioreactor and engineered E. coli. In addition Engineered Bioreactors will set up social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to increase interaction with the public as well as advertise the business.

    Strategic Alliances:

    Engineered Bioreactors are currently receiving funding from Yorkshire Water. With this in mind it is likely that Engineered Bioreactors will trial their bioreactors and E. coli at a Yorkshire Water site. Engineered Bioreactors are in contact with Jon Briggs who is Yorkshire Water’s Innovation Development Manager and will continue to work alongside him in development process.

    Engineered Bioreactors aims to develop links with fertiliser companies such as Bunn fertiliser and Yara UK. These companies will provide access into the phosphate recycling market.

    Engineered Bioreactors research department plans to work in partnership with the University of York’s Biology Department, which will ensure research moves forward at a relatively fast pace.

    Financial summary:

    Current Costs:

    As Engineered Bioreactors was establish by University of York students, the University Biology Department will provide access to all the facilities and equipment required to continue developing the bioreactor and engineered E. coli. This will greatly reduce the costs of researching equipment and establishing a work space.

    BBSRC have provided a £1000 grant to go towards laboratory cost which will ensure all the supplies which are required for developing the E. coli and bioreactors which are not provided by the university can be bought. BBSRC has also provide £6,800 in stipends to pay the researchers. However Engineered Bioreactors will see if an extension of the grant and stipend is possible.

    We will also email the large UK based wastewater treatment companies to see if they would be interested in funding the research. Currently Engineered Bioreactors has received £750 off of Yorkshire water to go towards the research.

    With this raised funding Engineered Bioreactors aims to have the prototype bioreactor built and the engineered E. coli cultured ready to be trialled by the end of the year.

    Engineered Bioreactors will not charge the wastewater company trailing the bioreactor and engineered E. coli for the first 6 months of operation. However if after 6 months of trailing the engineered E. coli and bioreactor prove to be more effective at removing phosphate than ferric sulphate, Engineered Bioreactors will charge £6000 to the wastewater company. This will cover the remaining expenses it took to develop the bioreactor and engineered E. coli

    Once the bioreactor has been trialled, we can collect and analyse the results. This will prove to the market that the bioreactor and engineered E. coli work. Using these results Engineered Bioreactors aims to gain a significant amount of capital from several wastewater companies and look for other sources of investment.

    Product Pricing Breakdown:

    Engineered Bioreactors aims to sell its package of the engineered E. coli and bioreactor for £6,000. It is estimated that for the bioreactor to be fabricated it would cost £3,000. To get an accurate quote Engineered Bioreactors will contact a metal fabrication company. For the required amount of E. coli to be cultured would cost around £1,500. Therefore for each package which is sold Engineered Bioreactors will make a profit of £1500.

    In the service package Engineered Bioreactors would service the bioreactor every 3 months to ensure it is working at the highest efficiency. The service package will be sold at £2000. This will ensure all travel costs to get to the bioreactor are covered. Furthermore it will cover the costs of needing to culture more engineered E. coli to add to the bioreactor is the E. coli levels inside the bioreactor have dropped.

    The phosphate which is collected from the bioreactor can be extracted and recycled. For a bioreactor which process 250,000L of water a day it would remove estimated 639kg of phosphate annually. This phosphate collected annually from this one bioreactor would be worth £160 according to the current market.

    Construction Costs:

    The factory which Engineered Bioreactors plans to establish has an estimated cost of £5M. This factor will contain two 30m3 industrial fermenters, in which the engineered E. coli can be grown. Furthermore there will be a research laboratory with ten work stations. Engineered Bioreactors plan to establish a contract with a metal fabrication company so the production of the bioreactor will take place off site. The cost of buying and installing a 30,000L bioreactor for growing the engineered E. coli was quoted at £493,600 by LAVAL Lab. The factor aims to culture enough engineered E. coli for at least 50 bioreactors every month.

    Transportation Costs:

    Engineered Bioreactors plan to form a contract with a chemical transporter company such as Wincanton, who will transport the bioreactors and the engineered E. coli to the customers. This company will also transport the recycled phosphate to the fertilizer companies. This contract has an estimated worth of £1million.

    Staffing Costs

    Position Average salary (£) per annum Number Total cost (£)
    Factory Manager 60,000 1 60,000
    Chief Engineer 60,000 1 60,000
    Engineers 35,000 5 175,000
    Head Researcher 50,000 1 50,000
    Researchers 40,000 10 400,000
    Research Analyst 40,000 5 200,000
    Lab Technician 30,000 3 90,000
    Maintenance Manager 40,000 1 40,000
    Maintenance Technicians 30,000 10 300,000
    Shift Operator 35,000 6 210,000
    General labourer 25,000 15 375,000
    Total 1,960,000


    • Remediation – Removal of a pollutant from a specific area. In our case the removal of phosphate from wastewater.
    • Bioremediation – Removal of the pollutant using biological methods e.g getting E. coli to take up the phosphate so that it is removed from the wastewater.
    • Inorganic molecule - A molecule that does not contain carbon.
    • Algal bloom – A rapid increase in the population of algae in a water system.
    • Ferric Sulphate – Is an inorganic molecule which has the chemical formula Fe2(SO4)3 so consists of 2 Iron atoms, three sulphur atoms and 12 oxygen atoms. It is used to treat wastewater to remove phosphate.
    • Ferrous Chloride - Is an inorganic molecule which has the chemical formula FeCl2 so consists of one iron atom and two chlorine atoms. It is also used to treat wastewater to remove phosphate.
    • Finite source – A non-renewable source.