CBNW meets Joaquín Baumela, CEO of Spanish company Ibatech Tecnologia.
Ibatech Technology was founded in 2009 when a team of experts with over ten years’ CBRN experience decided to set up a company focusing specifically on CBRN defence, operating not only in Spain but across the whole of Europe.
At first the company concerned itself mainly with the supply of equipment, representing premium brand international makers such as FLIR, Environics, Biofire and Inficon, among others. Pretty soon our vocation for novel solutions led us to diversify and get involved with research & development and integration initiatives.
The company has seen steady year-on-year growth, consolidating itself as a major point of reference at national and international levels through a wide range of projects covering consultancy, R & D and system supply and integration. It’s also worth noting Ibatech plays an active role in national and international CBRN fora.
CBNW: How many staff does Ibatech employ?
Currently Ibatech comprises a team of twelve, each specialising in one or more areas of the CBRNe disciplines. To that end, we believe our market niche is specialist knowledge on biological, chemical and radiological risk and the associated solutions and applications necessary for national defence and security – without forgetting the civilian domain.
As a result of growth estimations, Ibatech is currently in a phase of expansion in terms of work facilities and personnel who are able to contribute skills and value to existing and upcoming projects.
CBNW: Can you outline the military and civil services and solutions you offer to the CBRN market?
To address this question properly we have to differentiate between the concepts of services and solutions at the military and civilian level as we have the capability to serve and provide solutions in both domains.
Regarding services, where we have over 20 years’ experience – we act as consultants, designers of integrated solutions, equipment selectors and custom-made solution providers where gaps may be evident in system integration. We also provide equipment and system maintenance services to end-users and clients whom we supply.
These services are extended to third-party service support for companies without the CBRN skills set, as we pool greater collective CBRN knowledge.
We are also able to make value proposals for client queries and other specific needs irrespective of the degree of complexity they may initially present.
Regarding solutions, we have to highlight those that represent specific progress as part of research & development projects alongside those arising from contracts in both the public and private sphere.
At a technological level we would like to highlight our ongoing efforts to develop novel decontamination systems – based on non-thermal plasma – as well as the construction of CBRN detection networks on naval platforms, warships and critical infrastructure – and rapidly deployable systems.
CBNW: Can you detail your CBRN-related research projects in Rocsafe and Naiades as part of the Horizon 2020 programme?
On ROCSAFE we focused mainly on validating to industry standards biological, chemical and radiological equipment developed for a forensic application for drones and UGV robots. On NAIADES we were entrusted with detecting waterborne chemical agents complemented with artificial intelligence platform sensors to optimise water usage in different European cities.
Besides the above-mentioned projects, we would also like to point out the QUIXOTE project which was a great success – and whose outcomes have been the basis for cold plasma technology. This is recognised by the EDA (European Defence Agency) as an emerging technology – a futuristic CBRN decontamination system incorporating electronic materials that can be applied for airborne and waterborne decon operations.
In this European project Ibatech acted as consortium leader and managed to construct a prototype and pass tests with live agents in accredited laboratories in the Czech Republic and Poland. These tests confirmed the effectiveness and viability of the technology against aggressive, maximum-risk chemical and biological agents.
The resulting success of the technology and project opens up a promising future in terms of competition with conventional decontamination technologies that rely heavily on high-pressure water solutions.
CBNW: What do your engineering teams offer to the CBRN-related projects?
Our engineering team offers experience in all CBRN threat contexts, drawing on extensive experience accumulated on all projects undertaken during our relatively short but intensive trajectory to date.
CBNW: What is your relationship with the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence and FIIAPP?
In this specific case, Ibatech have actively taken part right from when the centres of excellence were set up, bringing CBRN key experts to the fray in projects that are now mostly completed.
We made particularly strong contributions through consultancy work on first-responder system requirements and structures and CBRN monitoring equipment. We have worked in multiple locations including Eastern Europe, Asia and, most recently, various African countries, the Africa-Atlantic façade and Sahel regions in conjunction with the Spanish international cooperation agency, FIIAPP.
CBNW: What percentage of Ibatech’s business is in the CBRN sector?
When we first began the figure was smaller than now (55%), as we also focused on other areas such as meteorology, demilitarisation and environment. Now that figure has increased to 90% of total revenue.
CBNW: Can you explain what training you offer to customers as part of Ibatech’s support programmes?
Ibatech carries out all necessary training for whatever project we are involved in, albeit integrating systems or a supply mission. This is so that the user is able to handle and maintain the equipment by themselves – all the more so, as our instructor has been trained by the equipment maker themselves. We can provide user training at intermediate and expert levels and train up future trainers in Spanish, English and French.
CBNW: Where do you see the greatest potential growth sector for Ibatech’s solutions and services?
The company is currently positioned in technology development and our own patents, with a main focus on sensor integration on land vehicles and naval vessels – as well as fixed or rapidly deployable networks for infrastructure.
We are also invested in the development of cold plasma-based decontamination solutions. We hope these will supersede current solutions, as the cold plasma will practically eliminate run-off and residue – the hallmarks of current clean-up operations. This will be particularly effective in treating systems and equipment considered ‘sensitive.’
The deployment of drones and unmanned ground vehicles in the reconnaissance and sampling of contaminated areas will also be an area to keep a close eye on, seeing as we are well placed to develop and integrate chemical, biological, radiological and even explosives sensors – which come with independent payload and are readily-deployable.
CBNW: To what extent has the COVID pandemic affected your company?
In our case, as we are considered a SME (small-to-medium enterprise) that has worked on various R & D and consultancy projects, the pandemic hasn’t hit us too hard – at least not economically, although perhaps more so at a personal level. Then again, we understand that Covid – like Ebola in the past – has accentuated the need to heighten biological threat security around the world. CBRN knowledge and technologies in the management of this crisis have meant we can move forward and leave the past behind as painlessly as possible.
Joaquín Baumela is an Industrial Engineer from Madrid and holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Currently CEO and founder of Ibatech, his long track record of CBRN-related assignments includes experience in both private and public sectors in cutting-edge technology companies and institutions throughout Europe and in formulating the Company’s commercial strategy for the detection, sampling, identification and decontamination of CBRN agents.
Deployable Biological Laboratory.