Groundbreaking collaboration for cleaner waters: AstraZeneca awarded wastewater treatment pilot through Leading Cities’ AcceliGOV Challenge

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wastewater treatment

Groundbreaking collaboration for cleaner waters: AstraZeneca awarded wastewater treatment pilot through Leading Cities’ AcceliGOV Challenge

Water is the most essential need for all humans, and yet, with only 1% of the world’s water available for drinking, we are all inadvertently contaminating our waters with organic pollutants every day, threatening both the sustainability and resiliency of our communities. Organic pollutants are bioactive molecules that can cause great harm to ecosystems when released into our waters. Leading Cities, a Boston-based nonprofit and global leader in sourcing and facilitating the deployment of innovative solutions to societal challenges, is tackling this water pollution issue through its AcceliGOV Challenge.

More about Challenges and Opportunities in the Water Industry.

This year, Leading Cities partnered with Pharem Biotech, an award-winning solution selected from over 500 companies worldwide, to offer a no-cost pilot for deployment in an industrial or municipal wastewater treatment facility. Through the 2022 AcceliGOV program, municipalities and companies compete to win pre-paid pilots of such globally sourced and vetted solutions. The pilot is funded through the generosity of QBE as the grand prize of the QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge, one of the world’s Top 5 Govtech accelerators.

The winner of Leading Cities’ 2022 AcceliGOV competition and the Pharem Biotech pilot is AstraZeneca in Södertälje, Sweden. AstraZeneca was selected from among four impressive finalists, including Fort McMurray, Canada; Wien, Austria; and Traverse City, United States.

AstraZeneca has been chosen as the winner, in recognition of their vision for a more sustainable and resilient society and the positive impact deploying this technology can have on surrounding communities. Through this pilot project, AstraZeneca’s largest manufacturing site, Sweden Operations, in Södertälje Sweden, will partner with Pharem Biotech’s Zymatic solution to more effectively treat wastewater by removing organic pollutants and ultimately protect the local environment.

“We are committed to constantly explore and improve our sustainable ways of working, including waste management of active pharmaceutical ingredients. This opportunity provided by Leading Cities to engage in a strong collaboration with Pharem will be another important step on our sustainable journey at AstraZeneca,” said Nina Andrén, Head of AstraZeneca’s campus in Södertälje.

In a departure from its traditional focus on municipalities, Leading Cities opened the 2022 AcceliGOV program to industry applicants in addition to municipalities.

“With a powerful solution like Pharem’s Zymatic, we are able to advance smart city solutions not only through local government but with industry partners like AstraZeneca as well,” said Michael Lake, CEO of Leading Cities. “Our communities are complex ecosystems that require engagement and collaboration among all stakeholders to protect our planet and achieve the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.”

“As a global company, we have an obligation to contribute to a sustainable environment, not only on a global level but also in the communities in which we operate,” said Andrén. “This technical solution gives us an opportunity to move our organization towards greater sustainability at the local level, and share what we learn within AstraZeneca to improve the sustainability of other communities around the world.”

With innovations in wastewater treatment like Pharem’s Zymatic solution, the world has the opportunity to address the invisible threat to our water, our environment, and humanity at large. Fortunately, studies have demonstrated that innovative solutions can actually reduce the concentration of harmful pharmaceutical compounds by up to 95%. This leaves the world with the question, who are the public and private sector leaders that are willing to champion the investment that is required to upgrade our wastewater treatment facilities to remove organic pollutants?

About Leading Cities 

Leading Cities is a Boston-based global non-profit founded by Dublin, Boston, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Lyon, Hamburg, Lisbon, Zapopan, Vancouver, and Haifa. It was built on the philosophy that cities, which for the first time represent most of the world’s population, are essential to overcome our great challenges—climate change, human equity, and technology development. Originally established in 2008 at Northeastern University, it later spun off as an independent organization expanding beyond research to advance government sustainability and resiliency. Since then, Leading Cities has evolved to provide a wider range of services for governments, start-ups, and corporations. To connect its global networks, LaunchPad 11 was launched as the first metaverse ecosystem for Smart & Resilient City innovators by clustering entrepreneurs, investors, and decision-makers. Its signature program, the QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge, is considered one of the Top 5 Govtech accelerators in the world.

Additional information can be found at or by following Leading Cities on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.

About Pharem Biotech

Pharem is cleantech company with an advanced biotech division. Using a combination of various technology areas, they have developed Zymatic, an enzyme-based treatment technology which offers treatment of organic micropollutants. It can be tailored to fit broader treatment requirements for municipal wastewater treatment plants and more specific treatment for industry processes.

Pharem was the 2021 QBE AcceliCITY Resilience Challenge Champion. Selected from over 500 innovative solutions sourced globally, Pharem demonstrated the innovation and leadership to transform the future of water treatment in the world’s cities.