I (Irma) Steemers-Rijkse

I (Irma) Steemers-Rijkse

Programme Manager Circular Water Technologies

Having worked in the water treatment B2B market for a long time, I started as Business Development Manager at the Wageningen Food & Biobased Research institute (WFBR) in May 2019. With my comprehensive knowledge on water, production processes, (bio)chemical water specialties and extensive experience in the industry, I want to contribute to solutions for a sustainable and circular use of water. In order to expand, integrate and frame our activities within this area, the WFBR launched a new programme at the beginning of 2020: Water Treatment & Technology, nowadays Circular Water technologies (CWT). As Programme Manager of CWT, it is my aim to work with stakeholders on economically viable and sustainable technologies for the water sector.

The propositions we are working on within the CWT team, is circular water, the reuse of valuable nutrients, desalination, (waste) water purification and the development of biobased water treatment chemicals. But also disinfection technologies, fast micro-organism monitoring and technologies for the energy transition in the water domain are topics of research.

Next to Wageningen’s well-known agriculture, horticulture and food domain, the subjects we are working on are relevant for all types of industry, as they are extensive water users. The sectors are connected by a common water chain and likewise have similar issues; The need for sufficient and clean, fresh water. Working on the WUR-campus gives me the chance to develop a trans-disciplinary approach for water related issues, which benefits a biobased and sustainable economy and is interesting to me.

My career started at TNO-ITC (polymer membrane research) and the bio-organic chemistry department of the University of Utrecht (research on carbohydrates). From 1987 until 2019, I have worked in the chemical water treatment business on R&D, product management, customer & sales support, project management, commercial market development and business strategies at several private entities. In the last 20 years of my career I focused on biodegradable compounds, sustainable solutions and innovation routes. This interest brought me to Wageningen.

I have studied analytical chemistry, environment, technology & ecotoxicology and completed some management courses, but I am always learning by exploring challenging activities. For this, the WUR society is an excellent environment.