May 30 - In a joint venture with Israeli food and drinks maker, Strauss Group, Virgin has launched a water purifying machine for homes in the UK, but it's not for the developed world yet. Joanne Nicholson reports.
The idea came from this factory in Israel, where they make water purifying machines for the home. Israel's innovations in water solutions and distribution were born out of necessity - vast areas are cut off from clean supplies. And Richard Branson has tapped into this with his latest venture. It's a foray into these water purification machines with Israel's second biggest food and drink maker, Strauss Group. SOUNDBITE (English) JOANNE NICHOLSON, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "We know you, Richard Branson, as an entrepreneur, and we know Virgin probably best for travel. What's the research, or the intelligence that's led you into this market?" SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP, SAYING: "We started looking into what happens in the UK. People go and buy big plastic bottles, they lug them home. When they want a cup of tea, they have to wait while the kettle boils, and all in all we thought this is the answer." Branson's message is very much along the environmental lines. He is involved along with a group of elite industry moguls in campaigning to save the oceans. But I wanted to know what was in it for him and the Virgin Group SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP, SAYING: "One of the best bits of research is from Israel where this was launched five years ago. Now 20 percent of households have one of these machines, so if we can get a small percentage of that in the UK, getting a Virgin Pure machine, we believe we've got a very successful business" There are plans to expand into countries like France and Australia but there doesn't seem to be a strict timetable for elsewhere: The chair of the Strauss board says the secret to the company's innovation, which is the second biggest food company in Israel, is in where they are harvesting their ideas from: SOUNDBITE (English) OFRA STRAUSS, BOARD CHAIRPERSON, STRAUSS GROUP "We are connected to all the universities in Israel with different startups. Everything that has to do with water purification and different energy saving." Under the agreement between the companies, Virgin will grant Strauss Water a 30-year licence to use its brand name for marketing and sales in exchange for royalties. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters