Climate journalist Bernice Notenboom, investor and founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance Michael Liebreich and city councillor for sustainability Arno Bonte were always going to draw a crowd, even online. Their passionate contribution to the launch of the Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund, a collaboration between InnovationQuarter and the City of Rotterdam, helped make the launch event of the fund a big success.
The online kick-off on Thursday, 3 June was hosted by BlueCity at the former Tropicana swimming pool building – the beating heart of circularity in Rotterdam since 2015. Along with the keynote speakers who all have proven track records as innovators in energy transition and the circular economy, an entrepreneurs’ panel was also in attendance. The members’ backgrounds in the field of recycling, new technologies for offshore solar energy and biochemistry made for an interesting and diverse programme.
Cornerstone but obstacle
Rotterdam and its port are a cornerstone of the Dutch economy. However, as the region is responsible for 20 percent of national CO2 emissions, it presents a significant obstacle for the Netherlands on the road to becoming climate neutral by 2050. During the online launch of the Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund, speakers and panel members presented their views on the challenges facing the region and the opportunities for lowering CO2 emissions, improving air quality and reducing the use of primary raw materials.
Fund manager InnovationQuarter and the City of Rotterdam envisage a two-pronged approach: the €100 million Energy Transition Fund will accelerate the energy transition by investing in innovative businesses that drive change; it will also help the city recover faster from the coronavirus crisis. Scale-ups, in particular, can request co-financing of between €1 million and €10 million for projects that strengthen the circular economy and make energy generation, infrastructure and usage in Rotterdam more sustainable.
Arno Bonte, Alderman Sustainability, city of Rotterdam, says: “In Rotterdam, we see abundant innovative strength. But we also see that companies often face a lack of appropriate funding to realise their business cases. The city council has therefore decided to establish the Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund. With investments from this fund, we can help innovative companies boost technologies that contribute to CO2 reduction and the circular economy in Rotterdam.”
Most important condition for financing
Examples of promising projects include large-scale energy storage, electrification of industrial processes and transport, new technologies for recycling plastic and creating an infrastructure for hydrogen. An important condition is that these innovative initiatives do not readily qualify for market funding. This could be due to risk profile, higher capital requirements or longer payback periods, for example. The expected impact on the business climate and employment also plays a role in a successful investment application.
Rafael Koene, Fund manager Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund at InnovationQuarter, adds: “As fund managers, we place a strong emphasis on whether a business can develop a technology that will make a substantial improvement to the world of tomorrow. In this respect, as an investor, InnovationQuarter has a long-term focus and an ongoing commitment. The Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund will particularly invest in innovative, capital-intensive companies that struggle to receive funding due to higher risks because of the technology, capital intensity or return on investment timescale.”
The Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund is a revolving fund: profits from investments flow back into the fund and can then be used for new investments.
An additional €30 million
The Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund is part of the ‘Rotterdam, Onwards Stronger’ investment programme and is partially financed from the sales revenue of energy company Eneco. In addition to €100 million for scale-ups, the fund contains €30 million for owners’ associations, private individuals and SMEs. In the form of low-threshold loans, the fund stimulates various sustainability measures, such as home insulation and the installation of solar panels. This part of the Rotterdam Energy Transition Fund is managed by SVn (Stimuleringsfonds Volkshuisvesting Nederlandse gemeenten). Like InnovationQuarter, SVn has extensive experience in the management of public investment resources to achieve social objectives.
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The Nordic markets are generally attractive for a (first) international step for Dutch scale-ups in the sustainable energy and circularity sectors. As this market is generally receptive to sustainable innovations and there is a willingness to invest in these. The other way around, for Nordic cleantech companies the Netherlands, with its innovative mindset and open business culture, is a great place to scale and expand to the rest of Europe. To capitalize on this, InnovationQuarter joined forces with Cleantech Scandinavia to set up the first Dutch-Nordic Market Access Program. With this program Dutch and Nordic cleantech companies will be supported intensively in their first steps into each other’s markets.
On the 29th of April the Dutch-Nordic Market Access Program was kicked off with an informal and interactive session in which we explored the participating companies’ individual goals for the program and everyone was asked to share relevant experiences. These goals vary from setting up a first pilot project abroad, finding a commercial client, or preparing for future establishment in the foreign market. What participants showed to have in common was a great drive to learn and help each other explore the respective markets. In fact, the kick-off also enabled companies to get to to know each other, and the first opportunities for synergy and collaboration between participants, be it in their home or target market, were explored.
The Dutch-Nordic Market Access Program runs until September 2021. In May two more plenary sessions are scheduled in which we will focus on providing Dutch and Nordic market information respectively, and give the participating companies the possibility to check their propositions and USPs with stakeholders in the target market. In the period from June until September the program will continue. Each company will be assisted on an individual basis: they will be supported in obtaining the specific information and contacts needed for market entry. Because of this individual approach, the number of participating companies has been limited and in this first edition of the program a total of 11 companies have been selected for participation.
About the partnership between InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia
The Dutch-Nordic Market Access Program follows from the Memorandum of Understanding Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter signed in 2019, thereby committing to intensifying collaboration between their respective ecosystems. The focus of this partnership is supporting companies in entering and accelerating their activities in each other’s markets, either for international collaboration, trade or establishment.
Other currently running activities that follow from the MoU are a series of round tables to connect Dutch and Nordic actors in the fields of sustainable building and urban energy systems, as well as a joint Dutch-Nordic digital mission on Deep Energy Retrofits to Boston, in which 16 companies introduce their innovations to stakeholders in the Boston region.
The building sector plays a major role in the Swedish and Danish society reaching their ambitious climate targets. The investments that come with this push towards climate neutral buildings, in combination with the innovation and sustainability-minded approach in the region, make these markets attractive to Dutch companies that offer sustainable and energy-efficient solutions for buildings. But how do you act on those opportunities when you cannot travel physically? Our colleagues Anne de Vries and Tiffany Meijer took a group of 16 Dutch innovative companies on a digital trade mission to test the waters. Their conclusion? With about 110 new business connections established, and 65% of the Dutch companies expecting to sign a contract as a result, digital missions might not just be the next best thing in doing business abroad, but could become a key component of any (sustainable) international business trajectory.
The digital trade mission, which InnovationQuarter organized in collaboration with the FME and the Dutch Embassy Network in the Nordics, took place between October 26th and November 6th. The program was aimed at providing a targeted group of companies with in-depth knowledge and high-quality business contacts. The delegation familiarized with the Swedish and Danish key stakeholders and market trends, through a mix of small-scale round table discussions, keynotes from industry leaders and one-on-one matchmaking. The interest from Danish and Swedish stakeholders to participate in these sessions was significant: over 90 developers, architects, building companies, city planners and others attended the respective Dutch-Danish and Dutch-Swedish days on sustainable building and energy systems to connect to the Dutch delegation and share their knowledge and expertise.
Some of our key takeaways
- There is no ‘Nordic’ market
Contrarily to what some entrepreneurs who start expanding to Northern Europe believe, there is no such thing as the ‘Nordic’ market. Although the energy and climate goals of Sweden and Denmark are similar, the context in which they work towards these goals varies. For example, in Denmark, the architect has a large role in promoting sustainability, not only at the design stage but increasingly also throughout the entire construction cycle. In Sweden, on the other hand, large construction companies like Skanska and NCC hold much of the influence in sustainable innovation. For a foreign entrepreneur, this means that the best ambassador for your product may differ between the markets. Also, the construction market is in many ways more locally organized than nationally, especially outside the larger cities.
- A trend towards long-term thinking
A tendency that is similar in the Danish and Swedish market is the increasingly long-term approach to real estate investment. This opens up the market for sustainable solutions that are not necessarily a quick win but do lead to a return on investment in the longer run. This trend is most strongly observed in the public sector (including public housing), which is to lead by example. However, industry insiders increasingly observe the private sector moving in the same direction as sustainable and climate-smart premises have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining tenants and buyers. As one of the speakers concluded ‘the market is in favour of sustainability now’.
- Data, data, data
The mission contained 45 different (break-out) sessions on a variety of topics. One theme that came back in almost all of them though was the importance of gathering and standardizing data. In order to obtain zero-energy buildings and circular construction, there is a great need to gather and standardize data on construction materials, processes and the actual behaviour of buildings in use, so that sustainability can be better quantified and managed. Both in the Danish and Swedish context, digitalization is considered a key driver in the sustainable building sector and considerable investments are anticipated.
- The value of a digital trade mission
This digital mission proved just as effective as a physical mission in gathering market information and getting new business contacts and had the additional advantage of being time and resource-efficient. Although meeting face-to-face remains a vital part of doing business, and will be needed to turn new contacts into actual partnerships, this digital trade mission allowed to identify those areas and stakeholders that provide the best opportunities for Dutch companies, thus making follow-up sessions and visits much more targeted. Hence digital trade missions could well be used as a first step in any future international business development trajectory. In that manner, we do not only work on selling our sustainable technologies abroad but also making that process more sustainable in itself.
As our mission participants are following up on their individual leads, we are planning for future joint activities to help them further expand their network and business. In the first quarter of 2021, a series of digital round tables will take place to continue conversations with the Danes and Swedes. These will be targeted towards the three key pillars that offer market opportunities for Dutch companies: Energy, Circularity and Digitalization, and hopefully followed with small scale working visits in the second half of 2021. Do you want to be part of this follow-up or would you like to hear more about the opportunities the Danish and/or Swedish market might offer for your company? Please get in touch!
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African Bamboo produces pioneer materials utilizing Tropical Bamboo. A Dutch-Ethiopian company, African Bamboo has been working with the leading European research institutes for many years. CEO Khalid Duri shares: “We decided to select Delft for our R&D location to build on our relations with TU Delft & TNO and the proximity of the port of Rotterdam.”
Started in 2013, African Bamboo works on bamboo-based alternatives to building materials using proprietary, smart and energy-efficient production technology. Khalid Duri shares: “We are driven by a vision of a world in which bamboo is part of everyday life, providing sustainable materials while contributing to the abatement of climate change and poverty.”
By locating their second R&D facility in Delft, African Bamboo aims at creating an innovation cluster for natural fibres in the heart of Europe. The company plans to establish high-tech laboratories and piloting facilities at a Center of Bamboo Research & Application (COBRA) and boost commercialization of products and applications, benefiting from the central location of the R&D centre at YES!Delft and the proximity to the port of Rotterdam.
InnovationQuarter assists African Bamboo, together with TU Delft, in finding the right location, introducing the company to the TU Delft campus and the region, and supporting the African Bamboo team with relocation.
Chris van Voorden, head of internationalization at InnovationQuarter: “African Bamboo is a great addition to Delft and the region. African Bamboo’s focus on building materials of natural fibres fits well in our strategy combining smart manufacturing and the impact potential on the environment. Our region’s R&D and logistic opportunities offer ideal conditions for African Bamboo research & development and connecting to the European market.”
Capricorn Partners, Helen Ventures and energy innovation fund ENERGIIQ are jointly investing €1.9 million in Gradyent, a Dutch energy analytics solution company. Gradyent has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) cloud platform that supports the management and optimisation of district heating networks, making them more sustainable and cost-effective. The investment will allow Gradyent to further develop its innovative software and commercialise its services.
Strong investment consortium
The investment of almost €2 million comes from a European consortium of investors including Capricorn Partners (Belgium), Helen Ventures (Finland) and ENERGIIQ (the Netherlands). Together with existing investor henQ, the investors will support Gradyent with expertise and access to their international networks throughout Europe.
Gradyent was founded in early 2019 by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs with years of national and international experience in energy, tech and artificial intelligence (AI). This, combined with the expected positive environmental impact and significant market potential of their AI-powered solution for heating networks, makes Gradyent a very attractive investment target.
Optimising the management and efficiency of district heating networks
Many district heating networks run on legacy control systems with often outdated software solutions that provide limited insight into the network’s efficiency – or lack of it. This gets in the way of innovation and constrains optimisation.
Gradyent’s solution helps district heating companies participate in the sustainability transition by improving the management and efficiency of district heating networks without compromising stability and reliability. Gradyent uses digital twin technology (a replica of real-world objects) built by a unique combination of hydro- and thermodynamic modelling combined with AI. Its AI cloud platform not only provides insight into heating networks but also determines how to optimise them and improve overall efficiency. The solution leads to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Customers immediately see a positive financial impact as the solution provides a rapid return on investment. Gradyent is showing promising results with its first customers.
As Mikko Huumo, director of Helen Ventures, explains, “In the coming years, energy companies, including Helen, will transform district heating networks into sustainable CO2-neutral heating systems. In practice, large fossil fuel-fired power plants will be replaced with smaller decentralised heat sources and this will increase complexity in the network. Digital tools, like Gradyent’s AI platform, will be needed to provide heat efficiently and reliably to customers every single day.”
Continuing the journey
Gradyent will use the funding to commercialise its services and expand its efforts particularly in AI and software development. The company will also move its operations to South Holland, where it will contribute to local job creation.
Hervé Huisman of Gradyent:
“More than half of the world’s energy demand is in the form of heating, and our team believes there is a huge potential for improving sustainability by smart optimisation and AI. Our first projects with district heating customers in the Netherlands confirm the potential of our solution, and we are excited about extending the offering to our growing Dutch and international customer base in the coming period. We are extremely proud that we can now continue our journey with Capricorn, Helen Ventures and ENERGIIQ on board. These parties can all add relevant insights and provide access to energy, digital growth and district heating networks. Together with our current investor henQ, we have the perfect foundation for our next chapter!”
Rafael Koene, fund manager at ENERGIIQ: “The ENERGIIQ investment team is impressed with Gradyent and the investment consortium that was formed. We are convinced – also because of the strong management team – that Gradyent will experience strong growth in the coming years and that many heating networks will start using Gradyent’s AI platform. The growth will lead to significant CO2 reduction.”
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The e-bike has been the best-selling bicycle in the Netherlands for over two years. However, there is no sustainable, user-friendly charging structure in place yet. Delft based tech firm Tiler has developed an innovative charging tile, which will allow e-bikes and other light electric vehicles like e-cargo bikes and e-steps to be charged wirelessly. Tiler has secured €250,000 from UNIIQ investment fund to scale up and further develop its charging tile. Jolanda Jansen, director of Rotterdam Ahoy, announced the investment on in a video message.
The charging tile works through induction and is mounted in the ground, just like a paving tile. Charging starts automatically when an e-bike with a compatible kickstand is parked on the tile. An associated software platform for fleet management will eventually make it possible to check availability and charging status and to book and pay for charging. The platform will also facilitate linking with customer systems, the use of a Tiler app and GPS cloudlock for extra security. Tiler aims to boost wireless charging and green mobility.
User-friendly, sustainable and affordable
The innovative system, which has remarkably low purchase and maintenance costs, boasts many advantages over existing alternatives. Docking stations and e-bike charging stations are a lot more expensive, more susceptible to vandalism and take up more space on the street. Charging via a socket also has its disadvantages – each brand has its own adapter, which is vulnerable to cable breakage and corrosion. Because of the risk of explosion, an increasing number of companies are banning indoor charging of bicycle batteries. Firms are therefore keen to find a sustainable, user-friendly and affordable charging infrastructure for their fast-growing fleets of e-bikes. The Tiler wireless charging tile offers a solution to this problem.
Tiler was founded in October 2019, initially under the name Fesla Charge, by Christiaan van Nispen and Olivier Coops. Both entrepreneurs are experienced in founding and kick-starting tech startups. The TU Delft spin-off will use the investment to recruit talented staff, invest in R&D and scale up to the first production batch. Tiler will initially focus on the corporate market – businesses and organisations that encourage their employees to use bicycles more often. The number of companies with an e-bike leasing plan is expected to increase thanks to a new tax measure introduced this year.
Following successful testing of the prototype, Tiler will soon install the first charging tile at pilot customer Rotterdam Ahoy. Production of the tiles will start in the summer and the initial batch will come onto the market in September 2020.
Watch the video message here:
CEO Christiaan van Nispen:
“The current boom in light electric vehicles for corporate fleets can only succeed with a corresponding charging infrastructure. The hassle of an adapter with a cable, the installation of a bulky charging-station infrastructure or expensive maintenance due to corrosion will be a thing of the past with the Tiler tile. We’re going to build a great team to commercialise our solutions and bring them to market through partnerships and pilot customers. Without UNIIQ’s investment, this would not be possible.”
Hans Dreijklufft, UNIIQ fund manager at InnovationQuarter: “Tiler, a spin-off of TU Delft, is focused on the strong growth in electric mobility. The company’s smart charging tile with compatible kickstand is set to play an important role in e-bike charging. Having Rotterdam Ahoy as a pilot partner of Tiler emphasises Ahoy’s ambitions in this area and is a strong validation for the company. UNIIQ is therefore happy to support Tiler’s entrepreneurs accelerate the market introduction of their product.”
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Energy innovation fund ENERGIIQ, informal investors and existing shareholders are jointly investing €3.4 million in smart office software developer Mapiq. The Delft-based company will use the capital injection to scale up its software platform. Mapiq allows organisations to make more efficient and flexible use of their office space and facilities, thereby increasing employee satisfaction, saving costs and reducing CO2 emissions.
Development of Mapiq
Mapiq was founded in 2013 by CEO Sander Schutte and CTO Jasper Schuurmans. At the time, the two founders, who had both been PhD students at Delft University of Technology, had already clocked up several years’ experience as entrepreneurs. Mapiq made its breakthrough a year later thanks to partnering with Deloitte, which rolled out the Mapiq platform in its energy-neutral office building The Edge in Amsterdam. Mapiq is now a frontrunner in the smart office market with national and international customers like PwC, AkzoNobel, Heineken, KPMG, ENGIE, Unilever and Microsoft.
This investment will allow Mapiq to continue its international growth acceleration and boost employment in the greater Rotterdam The Hague area.
Increased job satisfaction
As companies compete for the best talent, employee wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important consideration. In this respect, the workplace plays a vital role. From a nondescript location where people perform routine nine-to-five jobs, the office environment is undergoing a transformation into an inspiring meeting place where great results are achieved together – and where everything runs frictionless.
Mapiq’s smart office platform taps into the trend of activity-based working. Employees can easily switch between spaces and workplaces depending on the type of activity they are engaged in. Mapiq informs users about free desks, meeting rooms, lockers, the location of colleagues and other conveniences by means of an intelligent 3D card. Using seamlessly integrated data and technology, Mapiq then links employees to workspaces and facilities that suit their needs.
The system’s analytics platform provides predictive information and gives facility managers tools to further optimise capacity based on data insights. Mapiq enables employees to work more flexibly and share the office more efficiently. At the same time, the system makes offices future-proof.
Significant reduction in CO2 emissions
The innovative software is connects to IT systems of the customer, in combination with sensors provided by Mapiq (or other parties) as necessary. Mapiq developed both the hardware and the software, which are in compliance with the GDPR as well as ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 for quality and information security. Offered as a SaaS subscription, the monthly costs of the platform depend on the size of the office building.
Mapiq allows organisations to make data driven decisions on their housing and safe costs. Every square metre of office space accounts for around 70 kg of CO2 emissions annually. More efficient use means that less space is needed per employee, which results in a significant reduction in these emissions.
Sander Schutte, CEO of Mapiq:
“The role of the office is constantly evolving. Organisations can save money by using their expensive offices more effectively and by optimising space in the ‘war for talent’. Mapiq is indispensable for making offices more efficient and attractive for employees. This financial injection will help us accelerate our international expansion and strengthen our leading role.”
Rafael Koene, ENERGIIQ fund manager at InnovationQuarter: “We are very impressed with Mapiq and convinced that the company will achieve strong, profitable growth in Europe and beyond. It is our expectation that Mapiq will be a market leader in a few years’ time with a product that not only delivers a more pleasant and effective working environment but also reduces CO2 emissions substantially. ENERGIIQ has every confidence that these great ambitions will be realised.”
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On 4 February 2020 InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to intensifying the collaboration between the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems in the coming years. The collaboration is focused on supporting Dutch and Nordic companies in entering and accelerating their activities in each other’s markets, either for international collaboration, trade or establishment.
Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter, together with their respective partners, have regularly partnered up to boost collaboration between the Dutch and Nordic cleantech ecosystems over the past year. In 2019 the organisations co-organised the Sustainable Building and Energy Systems Mission to Boston, and were involved the Dutch-Nordic Business Event connected to the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. During these events it became clear that a joint Dutch-Nordic presence helps businesses make more impact when entering a foreign market, but also that there is a lot of interest among entrepreneurs and clusters to increase innovation and business collaboration between Dutch and Nordic cleantech players.
To boost such collaboration, InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia organised the Nordic Business Day on February 4 2020, where Dutch and Nordic entrepreneurs, clusters and governmental organisations exchanged market information and business experiences in the fields of smart & sustainable building, mobility and life sciences and health. Moreover, they took this event as an opportunity to formalise and commit to a multiyear collaboration to connect the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The goals of this MoU is to set up a multiyear collaboration (2020 – 2022) to connect the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems in order to
1. Promote collaboration between The Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems, as well as the various players within them.
2. Support Dutch and Nordic companies in entering and accelerating their activities in each other’s markets, either for innovation, trade goals or establishment in respective markets.
3. Investigate possible future collaboration to target other foreign markets.
Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter intend to realise the above in various manners:
1. Sharing of relevant market information;
2. Support each other’s network in entering their respective markets. For example by providing introducing companies to potential partners (matchmaking), guiding small groups of entrepreneurs in their respective regions, providing soft-landing services, etc.;
3. The organisation of various events in the Netherlands and the Nordics each year. These events will either involve bringing over a delegation to each other’s region, or be focussed on informing the ‘home market’ on the opportunities that exist in the other region.
4. Supporting Dutch and Nordic entrepreneurs in jointly entering foreign markets.
What’s coming up in 2020?
As part of their collaboration Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter have the intention to contribute to the following events:
1. Dutch Sustainable Building Mission to Stockholm from 20 to 24 April (sign up before February 27, click here for more information and registration)
2. InnovationQuarter visits Energy Capital Day in Lund 12 – 13 May.
3. Dutch-Nordic Cleantech mission to Boston – to be held in Boston in the autumn of 2020
4. Dutch/Nordic event at the Smart City expo in Barcelona in November 2020
5. Participation of Nordic Cleantech delegation at Cleantech Summit in Rotterdam in November 2020
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High-tech company ROCSYS has secured a €200,000 investment from UNIIQ to help further develop its technology to enable unmanned charging of electric vehicles. Bas Vollebregt, Delft city councillor, announced the investment at the opening of the ROCSYS public test facility at the Green Village in Delft.
ROCSYS is developing a ‘soft’ robotic arm and computer vision technology to enable the fully automated charging of electric vehicles. As this operation does not require human input, plugging and unplugging will become faster and safer; for instance, high voltages can be used safely during the automated charging of commercial vehicles. Of course, this will be convenient for drivers of electric cars. But it will also benefit operators of fast-charging stations and owners of commercial fleets, comprising trucks, buses and industrial vehicles, as they will be able to make optimal use of their assets.
With its technology, ROCSYS is making significant improvements to electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The company’s innovation gives the energy transition an important boost and paves the way for future developments as autonomous driving and parking.
Patented soft robotics and computer vision technology
What makes ROCSYS’ automatic charging solution unique and distinctive is the use of soft robotics and computer vision technology. This combination guides the plug to the socket of the electric vehicle, after which the soft robotics enable the vehicle to be scanned as it were before the plug is finally plugged in. The soft nature of the robotic arm also allows the system to absorb shocks, such as when the driver gets in or out of the car. In addition, the system sees and ‘senses’ when a person puts their hand against the plug. The ‘soft’ robotic arm stops moving and, unlike standard robotic arms, does not continue on its path. This makes the system completely safe for users.
An experienced team of serial entrepreneurs
ROCSYS was founded by a team of experienced entrepreneurs with highly complementary skills and strengths: Crijn Bouman (co-founder of Epyon, a fast-charging station company based in Delft), Joost van der Weijde (PhD candidate in soft robotics and co-founder of SpringScan) and Kanter van Deurzen (co-founder of Fizyr, a Delft-based computer vision technology company). The team, therefore, has a solid technological foundation as well as access to a very broad network in the industry.
The functionality of this technology has already been proven in a controlled lab environment in Robovalley. The UNIIQ investment will be used for the next stage of development, which involves testing and optimising the automatic charging technology in the real-life setting of the Green Village field lab.
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Energy innovation fund ENERGIIQ and existing shareholders are jointly investing €1 million in Involtum. The Rotterdam-based scale-up will use the funds to accelerate the development and roll-out of its activation and payment platform for electrical charging points and other power supply facilities. The platform makes it possible to conveniently pay for the temporary use of electricity in places such as car parks, ports and event locations. The power points replace environment polluting engines and generators, thereby significantly contributing to the reduction of CO2 and particulate matter emissions as well as noise. Berend Potjer, the regional minister for energy for the Province of South Holland announced the investment at the Prinsjesfestival in The Hague.
Photographer René Zoetemelk
Ports and cities are becoming increasingly cleaner
Refrigerated trucks spend a lot of time parked at roadsides or in service stations and keep their cargo cool by using diesel generators. Similarly, while in port, sea-going vessels and river cruise boats also use generators for their power supply.
However, to reduce noise and limit CO2, particulate matter and NOx emissions, governments in Europe are setting stricter rules on the use of diesel generators.
In 2012, Rotterdam-based Involtum began providing electrical power at truck stops. Drivers of refrigerated trucks are able to preserve their cargo at these sites without having to use environment polluting diesel generators. Involtum has continued to develop its power activation and payment transaction platform and it is now available for many other applications.
Easy payment for temporary use of electricity
Today, the platform allows people to pay for the temporary use of electricity at various locations, including car parks, campsites, festival grounds, marinas and seaports. One of the latest applications allows payment by smartphone for the use of Miele washing machines at launderettes. Involtum offers providers of shared facilities a total solution: the platform, back office and call centre services, payments channel, apps, websites, portals and required hardware.
Important contribution to energy transition
Involtum will use the investment by ENERGIIQ and its shareholders to expand the platform and stimulate further growth. Involtum founder and CEO Maarten Hektor: “The investment will enable us to give a boost to sales and marketing. It will help us expand in Europe and further develop our services in Germany, Austria and the UK as well as in the Netherlands.” By unburdening electricity providers, the platform will allow decentralised power supply facilities to be set up at more locations, thereby making an important contribution to the energy transition.
Berend Potjer, the regional minister for energy for the Province of South Holland, says:
“The transition to sustainable energy does not have to be difficult. The Rotterdam-based scale-up Involtum is showing the way by helping skippers of inland vessels and truck drivers switch from environment polluting diesel to clean electricity. Thanks to Involtum’s expertise and endeavour, diesel fumes at events, car parks and quays may soon be a thing of the past. Isn’t that what we all want? I for one certainly do. That’s why I am happy to announce this investment.”
Rinke Zonneveld, the executive director of InnovationQuarter, is very happy with the investment: “Involtum is a Rotterdam-based company that is leading the way in developing new business models for IOT applications. ENERGIIQ regards Involtum’s platform as a simple and scalable solution to reduce the use of diesel aggregates. An easy-to-use app will allow barge skippers and truck drivers to access power supplies in ports and at service stations, thereby significantly reducing CO2 emissions.”
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Last week Toronto based MaRS and InnovationQuarter signed an MoU, signifying the start of a collaboration. The two organisations will explore options for setting up a market expansion programme in support of cleantech businesses looking to set foot on the ground in the market accross the ocean.
The common goal of MaRS and InnovationQuarter is to set up a reciprocal program that enables entrepreneurs and innovators in the cleantech space to gain access to the Dutch or Canadian market for companies looking to accelerate their growth in the region across the ocean. This program will assist growth-stage cleantech ventures with market expansion through partnerships and funding opportunities in either the Toronto or the West Holland region.
MaRS works with startups and scale-ups and offers a range of services that help founders increase revenue and fuel their competitive advantage. With an extensive network that spans over 1,200 companies across the country, MaRS can help turn breakthrough ideas into products and services with global impact. MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub occupying 1.5 million square feet in downtown Toronto. It is a diverse community of more than 120 tenants, including research labs and global tech companies, each selected to create a community that is collaborating on real solutions to important problems.
The collaboration will give Dutch companies access to the services of MaRs, such as advisory support and connections to talent, access to investors as well as connections to partners.
InnovationQuarter will assist Canadian cleantech companies in their business expansion into Europe and accelerate their growth. This collaboration should result in a market expansion program similar to previously set up programmes, such as the BOSteRDAM program, which is set up in collaboration with Greentown Labs in Boston. Here foreign companies are offered the opportunity to spend two weeks working in our region, engaging with locals as a local.
The specifics of the collaboration will be determined by both MaRS and InnovationQuarter over the coming months. If your company is considering expansion to the Canadian market, please get in touch, we would be glad to discuss the possibilities the collaboration can offer.
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Solar Monkey brings international solar panel market ahead
Solar Monkey delivers B2B software for the design of solar power systems as well as remote performance monitoring services. This enables installers to remotely design and offer solar power systems with confidence. Solar Monkey’s products stand out by their great ease-of-use, as well as their unique and accurate yield calculations developed at the TU Delft. Clients experience efficiency gains in their sales process as well as a higher conversion rate of their leads. “I cannot imagine having to work without Solar Monkey anymore,” says Danny Holtrigter at Feenstra. At the same time, the care-free monitoring service gives PV-owners the ease-of-mind that their system is performing up to spec.
Market leader in The Netherlands
The company already serves hundreds of installers in The Netherlands, who combined represent the leading market share of installations. Solar Monkey now intends to enter into international solar markets, as part of its mission to accelerate the adoption of solar power. Solar Monkey has already made headway in Belgium, in response to customer demand. Other countries beckon, especially those where installers still have to resort to using manual methods for delivering designs and proposals.
CEO Jan Pieter Versluijs: “This funding round enables us to gain a critical competitive edge as we venture abroad. We want to deliver maximum value to our new partners, so every dime goes into improving our product and telling our story.”
4impact and InnovationQuarter invest in impact
To fund their outreach and product development, Solar Monkey has raised the necessary capital in a round led by 4impact in combination with the existing investors InnovationQuarter and an informal investor. The equity round totals over EUR 1 million. The funds will be used for the development of new features and international products, team expansion and the international roll-out. Aside from a strong financial backing, the investors provide international networks and expertise that will help drive the international strategy.
Accelerating the much needed energy transition
For 4impact, a tech and impact focused venture capital fund, the investment in Solar Monkey marks their second investment in March. “Solar Monkey has shown incredible traction in the rapidly growing solar industry. We see the efficiency they provide through their advanced software with easy user interface, which helps to accelerate the much needed energy transition. The opportunities for the company are tremendous and we look forward to working with its driven team and existing investors to see the business expand both locally and internationally”, says Pauline Wink, Managing Partner at 4impact.
Team shows great complementary qualities
InnovationQuarter, a VC fund for the South-Holland region, was an early investor in the company, together with an informal. “We have supported Solar Monkey from a very early stage, and we are extremely satisfied with the progress so far. The founding team has shown a combination of technical, commercial and managerial skills that is the foundation of its success. Together with our partner investors we look forward to help expand this success into new markets”, says Francis Quint, Head of Capital at InnovationQuarter.
Solar Monkey will be present at the Solar Solutions trade market from 19-21 March 2019, where they will launch a sneak preview of what can be expected in 2019.
High pressure on shipping to reduce air pollution
On average, seagoing ships consume 30,000 litres of fuel oil a day, which amounts to 40-50% of a ship’s total operating costs. The maritime industry is under pressure to greatly reduce air pollution and international requirements for monitoring and cutting CO2 emissions in the industry have recently been tightened. New regulations, effective from January 2020, will result in an expected 70% increase in fuel costs as many ships will have to switch to cleaner, more expensive fuels. Legislative authorities have also imposed designated emission-controlled areas (ECA) for shipping.
Monitoring, analysing and optimising fuel efficiency
Delft startup We4Sea analyses and reports fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions from seagoing ships based on a unique Digital Twin concept. The collected data is analysed and then used to minimise fuel consumption. Ship speed, draft and water depth form part of the analyses as well as wind, waves and currents. The ships are monitored remotely using simulation models. Unlike its competitors, We4Sea can do this without hardware by using the Digital Twin.
As the only company with this technologyWith this software-only technology, We4Sea can therefore provide extremely accurate calculations of a ship’s fuel use and emissions to parties that do not have direct access to the ship, such as charterers and providers of ship finance. For a ship with average fuel consumption, savings can easily add up to thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions and tens of thousands of euros a year.
In 2016, Michiel Katgert and Dan Veen founded their company We4Sea – incubated as part of YES!Delft’s Port Innovation Lab growth programme – based on the conviction that ships should operate more efficiently and sustainably. This investment will enable them to accelerate the development and roll out of their platform.
Dan Veen, CEO and co-founder of We4Sea:
We’re proud of the growth achieved in recent years, but there’s still a wealth of opportunities that will help us improve our product, connect with more customers and expand the market. This is in line with our mission to prevent one million tonnes of CO2 emissions from shipping.
Nienke Vledder, ENERGIIQ fund manager: “ENERGIIQ is delighted to congratulate We4Sea with the growth investment it has secured through Mainport Innovation Fund II, angel investors and ENERGIIQ. We4Sea’s Digital Twin offers customers transparency in fuel consumption, helps them drastically reduce CO2 emissions drastically and leads to significant cost savings.”
ENERGIIQ is the energy fund of the province of Zuid-Holland and is managed by InnovationQuarter.
Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy: “These results once again confirm that foreign companies are important to our globally operating country. Around one million people work for foreign companies in the Netherlands and an additional half-million work indirectly for these companies as suppliers, particularly in SMEs. Due to the growing international uncertainty surrounding Brexit and changing global trade policies, the importance of a good Dutch business climate for all of us is continually increasing.”
The work of the NFIA falls partly under the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag: “The impending Brexit and tensions around international trade provide opportunities for Dutch companies. Our companies are innovative, flexible and adapt to this changing market. Furthermore, the Netherlands’ position as a stable economic hub is also attractive to foreign companies. This position will only be further strengthened. It is positive that this is reflected in the approximately 10,000 newly-created jobs in 2018.”
These results once again confirm that foreign companies are important to our globally operating country – Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy
From headquarters to R&D
The NFIA is responsible for 8,475 out of the 9,847 jobs created by the Invest in Holland network. In 2018, the NFIA managed to attract 248 foreign investment projects to the Netherlands, which collectively account for 2.76 billion euros in investments. The annual results also show that the majority of new jobs are created within headquarters (2,259), followed by marketing & sales offices (1,834), distribution centers (1,053), service centers (977), production sites (884) and R&D locations (755). As illustration, sports media company DAZN established a development center in Amsterdam, Giant and Timberland expanded their European distribution locations (in Lelystad and Almelo respectively) and Mitsui Chemicals committed to producing plastics at the Chemelot Campus in Limburg.
The majority of ‘foreign jobs’ are, as in 2017, created by US companies. In 2018, this accounted for 3,185 jobs, with a total accompanying investment of 1.19 billion euros. Following the US is the United Kingdom (1,596 jobs), then China (614 jobs), Japan (580 jobs) and Germany (300 jobs).
More Brexit companies
In 2018, the Invest in Holland network brought 42 companies to the Netherlands as a result of Brexit, accounting for 1,923 jobs and some 291 million euros in investments. Companies signaling expansion of their offices in the Netherlands partly due to Brexit , include the Japanese investment bank Norinchukin and media company TVT Media. Financial services providers MarketAxess and Azimo, and maritime insurer UK P&I all announced office openings in our country last year, due to Brexit as well. The relocation of the European Medicines Agency(EMA) to Amsterdam, also supported by Invest in Holland, is included herein. In 2019, several companies, including Discovery and Bloomberg, have already announced their intention to invest in the Netherlands because of Brexit.
The number of companies relocating activities to our country due to Brexit has grown compared to 2017, during which 18 companies made a Brexit-related move to the Netherlands. Additionally, the NFIA is talking with more than 250 foreign companies considering setting up operations in the Netherlands following Brexit. These are predominantly British companies, but also American and Asian organizations that are reconsidering their current European structure due to uncertainties caused by Brexit. These include companies in the financial sector, media and advertising, life sciences & health and logistics. In addition to the Netherlands, these companies are also investigating options in other countries, including Germany, France and Ireland.
Since the establishment of the Invest in Holland network in 2015, the NFIA and its regional partners have attracted 1,402 companies to the Netherlands. This has resulted in a total direct inward investment of 8.1 billion euros and the creation of more than 43,000 jobs in the Netherlands. In addition to the NFIA, the Invest in Holland network comprises the regional development agencies: NOM, Oost NL, North-Holland North, amsterdam inbusiness, InnovationQuarter, The Hague Business Agency, Rotterdam Partners, Invest Utrecht, BOM, Invest in Zeeland, LIOF and HIDC.
The bio-based solutions created in Leiden will have a direct impact on some of the most pressing societal issues of today: reducing food waste; reducing the environmental impacts of livestock farming and improving animal health; producing renewable fuels; and lowering environmental impacts in the textile and laundry industries.
The capacity of the new site in Oegstgeest will double the potential for growth of the current employee base, with the potential of creating an additional 100 jobs at the facility, including research and development, application development, marketing, sales and customer service. The building will serve as the new EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) headquarters for DuPont Industrial Biosciences.
“Our Leiden scientists have been developing innovations that enable our customers to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their processes and products for many years,” said Simon Herriott, Vice President & Global Business Director for Bioactives at DuPont. “This new facility will enable our teams to do even more – to improve the pace of biotechnology and the speed with which we can deliver it to market. The ecosystem of talent, academia and community we find in the Leiden Bio Science Park is ideal for our work and for keeping us globally competitive.”
“Oegstgeest is pleased with DuPont establishing a site in our municipality. With DuPont building this facility in the Oegstgeest part of the Leiden Bio Science Park, organizations such as Corpus, Hilton and Avery Denison will be joined by an esteemed neighbor,” commented Jan Nieuwenhuis, Alderman Economic Development and Bio Science Park of the Executive Mayor and Aldermen of the city of Oegstgeest. “We are pleased to welcome such an internationally oriented, science-driven and socially responsible company as DuPont into the region, which undoubtedly will impact local job development.”
DuPont has partnered with Dutch developer and construction company Dura Vermeer on the building in Oegstgeest, which will cover 7250 square meters, a doubling of the capacity of the current facility for the business. The project will receive a BREEAM “Excellent” rating – an impressive measure of a building’s sustainability and environmental footprint. The construction is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
“The design is in the service of the employees,” said Director Peter Krop of Dura Vermeer. “Ultimately, it is about creating the right inspiring and flexible working environment. We are proud to be able to add DuPont to our customer list.”
The construction marks an important milestone in the growth of the company, with the new site in Oegstgeest being an important hub for business in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Source: DuPont Industrial Biosciences