On January 26, the hybrid event “Corporate Venturing in SEE for Sustainable Startups” was held in Sofia. The forum was initiated by Sofiyska voda, operated by Veolia, and The Recursive. At the invitation of the organizers, Maria Hristova the CEO of Invest Sofia and Kristin Dermendzhiev, Senior Expert at the Investment Analysis department of Invest Sofia, and our CEO Dr. Maria Hristova attended the event together with corporate innovation leaders, startup investors, and founders of startup companies that develop solutions for clever resource and waste management, clean environment, and climate change.
The event aimed to show what is the value of incubating cleantech, greentech, and sustainability-related technologies in a corporate context. Sofiyska voda, part of Veolia, presented best practices of regional cooperation between corporate innovators and venture capital investment funds. The panel discussions also highlighted opportunities for growth by connecting sustainable startups with relevant stakeholders and investment funds in South East Europe and beyond.
In addition to the discussion panels “How corporates work with startups” and “Financing opportunities for startups”, part of the event was a pitching session for startup clean and sustainable resource management solutions and successful collaboration with corporate innovation leaders. Two of the projects presented during the session are smart solutions developed by Sofia-based companies – Gridmetrics and SatGeo.
Gridmetrics offers a solution that optimizes industrial processes through digital twins and machine learning models to optimize and reduce energy consumption. The startup partners with Sofiyska voda for the optimization of the operation of pump stations according to the supply demand in periods of high and low consumption. As a result of the dynamic and automated control of the pumps’ activity, the project reports a nearly 30% average reduction in electricity consumption and 36% electricity savings in low-demand hours, when the pumps operate in a slower mode without disrupting the water supply needs.
SatGeo develops a technology based on satellite imagery that helps in the early detection and prevention of accidents on the water supply network.. In 2021, the project raised funding from a joint acceleration programme led by the innovation agency Innovation Starter and the French Veolia, owner of Sofiyska voda. The solution has been integrated into the company’s activities that ensure the water supply in Sofia. Over 50 accidents have been prevented, and hard-to-locate leaks have been detected, some of which are causing a water loss of 20 liters per second. On an annual basis, SatGeo’s solution saves 1.55 million cubic meters of water, which is the annual water consumption of an entire smaller town near Sofia such as Samokov or Ihtiman.
During the hybrid event, many more successful examples and best practices from Sofia, Bulgaria and SEE were presented. A video recording of the discussions, keynote speeches and pitching sessions can be seen here.