Market readiness of your innovation Tubebarrier

An innovator’s experience with the programme.

Robert Alt

Robert Alt has always been a creative person – a fixer, a problem solver. So when he saw the German/Dutch Corps in the news unsuccessfully struggling with heavy sandbags to hold back the floods in Germany in 2014, he got thinking. And as an inventor, he didn’t just think – he developed a mobile flood barrier that was “easier, faster, better” – the Tubebarrier.

For Robert, the challenge wasn’t designing and building a better mobile flood dam – it was developing the innovation into a business. “The business side of things does not come naturally to me,” he explained.

Robert mostly works alone and prefers to spend his time developing a useful product. He recognised that he needed business support – to develop a business strategy, find clients and financing, and to identify business opportunities.

Robert turned to the BRIGAID Business Development Programme. He found the BRIGAID business development tools and support helpful. “The MAF+ tool is great – it’s clear, gives a good overview, and the steps are easy to understand”. Robert also appreciated the in-person support. The regular telephone calls with BRIGAID experts and their direct feedback on his work through the MAF+’s comment function helped him to understand the business development exercises and ideas, and translate these insights into meaningful changes.

The BRIGAID Business Development Programme had immediate and lasting impact. Before, Robert thought Dutch water boards, municipalities, and other public institutions would be most interested in the Tubebarrier. However, he realized that it would take time to convey his innovative idea to this – in some cases – more traditional audience. Through the BRIGAID Business Development Programme, Robert recognised that climate adaptation isn’t just the responsibility of the government – private homeowners might also want to act themselves.

So, Robert shifted focus to homeowners. He designed a lighter, more affordable version of his invention – the HomeBarrier – better suited to protecting private property from rising floodwaters. While this market was always in the back of Robert’s mind, the business development programme was “100% the trigger” for his new focus. And the shift is already paying off. A new customer-focussed page on the TubeBarrier website has already resulted in sales.

The BRIGAID Business Development Programme training has changed how Robert does business. The main difference is that he now thinks much more deeply about potential clients and how Tubebarrier can best meet their needs. Combined with the practical results of developing a business plan and updating his business strategy, this learning has helped him to reach new clients and refocus his innovation to meet their needs. With climate-related flooding only expected to increase in the future, innovations like Robert’s can have a big impact by helping Europe adapt to a changing climate.


The Tubebarrier is the new Dutch temporary flood barrier. It has a simple, lightweight and flexible design that uses water to stop floods. The Tubebarrier’s modular system can be quickly deployed to protect homes, industry, or whole municipalities: four people can install 100m of protection in one hour.

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