Innovation in Action: Accessible Wastewater Treatment in the Philippines

This case study is based on an article published by WIPO GREEN found here.


In recognition of this month’s UN 2023 Water Conference, which seeks to identify opportunities to accelerate progress on integrated water resources management, we explore how one company is leveraging intellectual property (IP) rights to produce an innovative solution to global water challenges.


Who: Dr. Merlinda A. Palencia, inventor of Vigormin and founder of Envigor Natural Products Manufacturing Inc.


Challenge: Wastewater, largely originating from households, has resulted in high pollution levels in approximately half of the Philippines' rivers and other natural water sources. This pollution has significant impacts on both human health and the environment. In response, the Government of the Philippines implemented the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, aimed at safeguarding the country's water bodies from land-based sources of pollution. However, more can be done to address this issue.


Opportunity: To aid in the restoration of water sources using accessible technologies across the Philippines, Dr. Merlinda A. Palencia, a researcher at Adamson University, was motivated to invent an organic process for transforming wastewater into clean water suitable for irrigation purposes.


Dr. Palencia's research led to the creation of Vigormin, a powder made from a mixture of orgo-minerals and other natural components, locally-sourced in the Philippines. Vigormin cleans and neutralizes wastewater without the use of harmful chemicals. Unlike traditional water purification products, which can be difficult for small businesses and households to utilize, Vigormin's organic composition makes it an accessible and non-toxic alternative.


Additionally, Vigormin powder significantly improves the quality of domestic wastewater by reducing suspended particles and organic matter, as well as increasing the amount of oxygen available for microorganisms to break down waste. Treated wastewater can be reused for purposes like irrigation or industrial activities, which helps to conserve freshwater resources and promote sustainable practices.


The success of this product, from research to launch, is an important reminder that IP rights safeguard the lasting competitive advantage of new innovations and provide the important incentives for additional research endeavors that foster new, innovative solutions. Robust IP rights help generate the drive to address global challenges like water resource management, as exemplified by revolutionary innovations such as Vigormin.

“My experience in science has shown me that women have an immense potential in innovation. We need to share our individual talents and collaborate actively, not only for the advancement of technology, but more importantly towards the protection of the environment and conservation of resources.”

– Dr. Merlinda A. Palencia

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