Incubator: Chalmers Ventures


The idea of Atium came about when the two entrepreneurs Emma and Johan met with the researcher Björn and his innovation.

“By offering a more effective and sustainable technology to industries we can reduce the amount of heavy metals leaking into our environment.”

Atium is one of the 10 winners of the 2018 ÅForsk Entrepreneurial Scholarship – hence deeptech of the week!



Incubator: Chalmers Ventures

Business idea:

Developing a technology for removing toxic heavy metals from industry wastewater, as well as drinking water in polluted areas.

Searching for a case during the second year of their master program at Chalmers school of Entrepreneurship, Emma and Johan met with Björn: a chemical physician at Chalmers University.

– Both me and Johan wanted to work with something that could have a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment, Emma explains.

They saw the potential in Björn’s innovation, a new sustainable technology for removing toxic heavy metals from water. And that's the beginning of Atium.

Heavy metal reduction

Clean water is one of the largest future challenges that we stand before, and the problem with heavy metal pollution in water is widespread. Developing a more effective and sustainable technology to industries, Atium is reducing the amount of heavy metals leaking into the environment.

– Receiving the 2018 ÅForsk Entrepreneurial Scholarship gives me and my colleague, Johan, the possibility to continue working on our startup after we graduate. We see great potential for our technology and this scholarship can help us on our way to develop and commercialize it, and make a difference on the environment.

Emma is one of this year’s youngest ÅForsk winners but has already managed a lot. Prior to her master in Entrepreneurship and Business Design, she studied biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology.

– It is very important for me to work in an environment where I can be creative, develop as a person and have fun doing so. Working together with talented and inspiring people to create something from scratch is very motivational, she says and continues:

– I have always been a very active person, competed in various sports and eager to develop and work towards new goals and achievements. This is something I have taken with me in my entrepreneurial life. I like to challenge myself.

The Atium journey has just begun, Emma concludes.

Partners, pilots and prototypes 

Atium is currently a part of Chalmers Ventures incubation program, getting support through network, legal, accounting, and counseling by an experienced business coach.

– The support from Chalmers Ventures and the other startups in the incubation program and the accelerator have helped us greatly in our work, both in developing this new technology and the business around it.

Atium is currently initiating two pilots, testing the technology in a real setting and develop their first prototype: One with EKA Chemicals in Bohus and another one with a metal manufacturer. 

– To make this possible we have received funding and support from Chalmers Innovation Office, ALMI Väst, Climate KIC and Chalmers Ventures, says Emma.

Targeting a niche market 

The biggest challenge so far has been to find the most suitable application area for the technology, Emma explains. 

– Our technology is very versatile and can be adapted to many different application areas. That means there are several potential target markets. Initially we are aiming at implementing this technology in industry wastewater sanitation, as we have seen a large demand for better technologies there. However, we also see great future potential for treating drinking water in polluted areas in developing countries as well.

To make the decision and choose which initial market to enter without knowing about the future was a big challenge for the Atium team. 

– We needed to narrow down the focus and develop our technology for a more niche market. Dealing with a lot of uncertainty is something we have worked with a lot during our journey. What we also have learned during the past year with Atium is that in order for a startup to move forward in times of uncertainty, you need to start testing, iterating and learn through failures.