04/04/2006 - 22:00

Inventor still pumped

04/04/2006 - 22:00


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Swiss-born inventor Bruno Wittwer is back in business, doing what he loves most – inventing and developing solar-powered pumps.

Inventor still pumped

Swiss-born inventor Bruno Wittwer is back in business, doing what he loves most – inventing and developing solar-powered pumps.

Mr Wittwer’s return comes after a long break following a disappointing encounter with corporate life in the form of Solar Energy Systems Ltd, the company which bought his earlier technological developments before listing on the stock market.

Now trading as Solco Ltd, Mr Wittwer left before Solar Energy Systems went public in 2000.

His original invention was the Sun Mill solar pump.

Mr Wittwer says he has now almost finished the development of the Sun Drive, a small, simple water pump that can be easily modified for manual or solar operation, depending on the weather.

Among the projects he is working on from home, Mr Wittwer has designed a prototype of an electronic motor that could overcome some of the problems faced by solar panels.

With special parts difficult to source, he has set about designing his own electronics system and hopes to be manufacturing within six months.

Mr Wittwer said he was driven to invention after reading a World Bank report stating that, by 2010, 10 million pumps would be needed in the developing world to address the problem of unreliable and polluted water sources.

Having lived in Africa with his family for many years Mr Wittwer saw the dire need for renewable energy sources first hand and moved to Australia in 1989 to set up his research and design company, B/W Solar.

For Mr Wittwer, business is not only a way to make a living, it’s also the pursuit of a dream. He is happy to be busy now after recovering from what he calls, “my big adventure”.

“I’m not a business man; I came from the technical side but I still wanted a decent company behind me with more resources to make my products more successful,” Mr Wittwer said.

In 1999, Mr Wittwer signed a contract with SES which he says included an annual salary arrangement and eventual royalties after five years if the company became successful.

Mr Wittwer said he had not foreseen “loopholes” in the original contract and if he were to make a deal again he would take an up-front, lump-sum payment.

In the end, he and the company parted ways.

“I’ve been talking to several people about taking my new products to market but it’s still very difficult to do because of my past experience and because not many people are prepared to invest up front,” he said.

Mr Wittwer is now working full-time as the sole importer of a German product called the Lorents Pump and has 50 agents working throughout Australia, including Solco.


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