9 promising sustainable startups from Amsterdam to watch in 2021

Amsterdam

The debate on climate change and sustainability issues has picked up tremendously in the past few years. Many realised the importance of cleaning up the environment, and this has driven resourceful minds to create technological solutions to save our planet and lives at once. At present, several startups are doing their best to meet their environmental obligations.  

Out of that, we have listed nine highly rated startups from Amsterdam that are taking great strides treading the sustainability route. 

Fairphone
Image credits: Fairphone

Fairphone

Founders: Bas van Abel, Miguel Ballester

Fairphone produces the most sustainable and fairest phones, which means the company makes sure that the raw materials in the smartphone do not come from conflict areas. 

The company aims to make a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing, and life cycle while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first.

Founded in 2013 by Bas van Abel, Fairphone carries the credits of being the first electronics manufacturer to integrate Fairtrade gold into the supply chain. 

According to the company, Fairphone recently became one of the first phone manufacturers to comply with the French Repairability Index that came into effect on 1st January 2021, achieving a score of 8.7/10. “The Index makes it a legal obligation for French resellers and operators to show a repairability score for each smartphone they sell. The score is obtained through answers inputted into a matrix based on criteria such as documentation and spare parts availability,” says the company. 

Last year, in August, the Dutch sustainable smartphone brand launched Fairphone 3+, which is an upgraded version of the Fairphone 3, which uses 40% recycled plastics, equivalent to one 33cl plastic bottle. In comparison, this is a much higher percentage than Fairphone 3 (9 per cent).

Image credits: Land Life Company

Land Life Company

Founders: Eduard Zanen, Jurriaan Ruys

Land Life Company is a technology-driven reforestation company that is on a mission to help restore the 2 billion hectares of degraded land in the world. The Dutch company applies data and technology, such as drones, AI, and monitoring applications during the planting process. The company has offices in the USA and Europe with more than 30 professionals. 

According to the Amsterdam-based company, it restored 1,713 hectares of degraded land in 2020, despite the pandemic. It will remove 368K tons of CO2 on behalf of its customers. Highlighting its achievements in 2020, the company mentions, “From restoring the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico to large-scale planting in Castilla y Leon in Spain. This year was our biggest planting achievement so far, and a logistic and operational masterpiece. Our operations team has been going full force to get our trees in the ground.”

Last year, in October, the Amsterdam-based scaleup raised €6M from the Achmea Innovation Fund, sustainable investment fund Meewind, DOEN Participates, and the Grantham Environmental Trust. This capital injection was intended to be used for the growth of the company and to increase the speed of technological developments. 

Also, as of January 1, 2021, Ernst-Jan Stigter, general manager of Microsoft in the Netherlands, joined Land Life Company as the new CEO. 

Image credits: GreenHome

GreenHome

Founder: Paul Geurts van Kessel

GreenHome (formerly Bleeve) helps homeowners to make their homes more sustainable. The company’s platform connects people on the topic of saving and producing sustainable energy at home, enabling them to create a sufficient society and positive environmental impact.

Based out of Amsterdam, the company is on a mission to provide all homes with sustainable energy and to get rid of fossil fuels. At present, the company works with more than 300 partners in construction and installation companies. 

Image credits: EcoChain Technologies

EcoChain Technologies

Founder: Boudewijn Mos

Originated from the frustration with the conventional LCA (Life Cycle Assessments) method, Ecochain helps businesses to measure the environmental footprint of their value chain. “Life Cycle Assessments used to be tedious and take a lot of time and money. With our solutions and services, we help companies around the world to gain insights into their environmental footprint fast and without headaches,” mentions the company on its website. 

The platform offers insights into the efficiency of energy and resource flows on the company, process, product, and material levels, allowing them to make the most effective measures. The Amsterdam startup allows you to make an environmental blueprint of your organisation.

Image credits: Voltogo

Voltogo

Founders: Job Veltman, Folkert Roscam Abbing

Voltogo aims to make boating in Amsterdam sustainable. The startup offers Voltogo AppBattery, which is a portable battery charger that powers electric boats. The platform brings the world’s first boat rapid charging network in restaurants on the waterside, with already 100 per cent coverage in Amsterdam.

The electric battery is removable and can be charged at a nearby water cafe. Voltogo claims that boats using its battery render 50 per cent more engine power than those using existing motors.

Image credits: Plastic Whale

Plastic Whale

Founder: Marius Smit

Plastic Whale is a web store that recycles plastic and uses it to manufacture furniture. The company based out of Amsterdam is on a mission to make the world’s waters plastic-free and create value from plastic waste. As per the company’s claims, a part of the proceeds will be invested in local initiatives across the world that tackle the plastic soup problem.

According to the company, the plastic it collects is recycled into furniture and more boats—the same kind of boats that are used by the company for fishing plastics. It currently has a fleet of six design boats made from Amsterdam Canal Plastic.

Image credits: Vandebron

Vandebron

Founders: Aart van Veller, Matthijs Guichelaar, Remco Wilcke

The green-energy company from Amsterdam delivers green electricity and regular gas to individual and business customers. Unlike others, this Dutch company helps consumers to buy electricity directly from independent producers such as farmers with wind turbines in their fields without any intervention from the energy company. The company also allows customers to choose which producer they wish to be supplied by. 

“Vandebron only offers energy that is genuinely sustainably generated on Dutch soil. We call it good energy! You choose your own wind, bio or solar energy source. This way, you know exactly where your energy comes from and where your money is going,” says the company on its website. 

Vandebron was acquired by Dutch gas and power provider Essent in 2019. As per this deal, Vandebron will keep its own identity, brand and business model and will continue to operate as an independent company within Essent.

Image credits: The Waste Transformers

The Waste Transformers

Founders: Lara van Druten

The Waste Transformers has developed commercial garbage disposal systems to reduce the food wastage problem. The Amsterdam company has an on-site containerised anaerobic digester — Waste Transformer. It turns biodegradable waste such as kitchen and commercial waste into biogas or electricity and heat. 

“Our Waste Transformers convert organic waste streams into energy, and it recovers the nutrients from your waste streams into a natural fertiliser. It all happens on your own site,” says the company. 

Image credits: Seamore Holding

Seamore Holding

Founder: Willem Sodderland

Seamore turns seaweed into everyday food. The company from Amsterdam presents seaweed as a tasty, healthy, and sustainable alternative to foods for Pasta, bacon, wraps, bread. The company aims to bring them to market in Europe and other countries.

Startups – Silicon Canals

The Brief: Sustainable consumer electronics, outcome optimization, converting to employee ownership, commercial solar in West Africa, coral adaptation – ImpactAlpha

The Brief: Sustainable consumer electronics, outcome optimization, converting to employee ownership, commercial solar in West Africa, coral adaptation  ImpactAlpha
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Parisian startup Shippeo raises €26.3M to help companies track road transport and provide more sustainable operations; here’s how

Shippeo

Paris-based Shippeo, a SaaS platform that provides real-time transportation visibility, has raised $ 32M (approx €26.3M) in a fresh round of funding. The round is co-led by Battery Ventures, (a technology-focused investment firm) and existing investors, including NGP Capital, ETF Partners, Partech, and Bpifrance Digital Venture. 

Use of the funds

Shippeo will use the current investment to strengthen its position in the market and continue to deliver product innovation.

Speaking on the development, founders Pierre Khoury and Lucien Besse of Shippeo, said, “Battery Ventures, founded in 1983, has a long track record of investing in prominent SaaS businesses in the US and Europe and partnering with management teams to help them grow their businesses smartly. With Battery’s industrial reach and strong experience in the technology sector, Shippeo will carry out its main objectives: strengthening its leading position in Europe and boosting its edge over its competitors.”

About Shippeo

The company was founded in 2014 by Pierre Khoury, Lucien Besse, David Barre, Jean-Bastien Dussart, Brice Hua, and Thibaut Morlot. 

Shippeo aims to build a data platform for the freight industry, by leveraging its growing network, real-time data, and AI to help supply chains deliver exceptional customer service and achieve operational excellence.

The company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform offers an API that integrates transportation management systems as well as telematics products, ERP, and electronic logging device technology, among other data sources. This provides real-time location data, delivery tracking, and a proprietary algorithm to calculate a shipment’s Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA).

Shippeo claims to have tracked more than 140,000 deliveries per month throughout Europe for companies such as Leroy Merlin, Saint-Gobain, and Faurecia.

Solving the pain-point of the freight industry

Due to the Covid-19 scenario, the need for supply-chain visibility has been increasing more than ever. With many countries in lockdown and with unpredictable border closures, companies with advanced visibility solutions have managed to reduce the transport delays and operational inefficiencies.

Beyond tracking shipments, visibility platforms now give supply chains the data-driven transparency to meet various customer demands in uncertain and challenging market conditions.

And supposedly, this is where Shippeo stepped in and claims to have more than doubled its subscription revenues year on year.

Companies using Shippeo’s platform can now identify every pain point and inefficiency end-to-end across their global logistics operations and take action to optimise their processes. This results in lower transportation costs, increased customer satisfaction, and more sustainable operations.

Recent development

Just last October, Shippeo acquired the French company oPhone, bringing major customers in the retail and manufacturing sectors in its community. And now, the company’s total workforce has more than doubled, totaling 160 employees, of which 45% work in R&D.

In February 2020, Shippeo raised €20M in its Series B round led by NGP Capital and ETF Partners, with participation from Bpifrance Digital Ventures and Partech.

Prior to that, the company has raised €10M (2017) in Series A round from Otium Capital and Partech. In 2016, it raised €2M in its Seed round from Otium Capital, and in 2015 it raised its pre-Seed round funding of €90K.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Only sustainable entrepreneurship survives: The road to becoming a successful ‘impact entrepreneur’

Entrepreneur

Sustainability is hot. However, for entrepreneurs who really want to make a difference, it is no longer a strategic option, but simply a must-happen. Not only because they want the best for the world, but also because they need to survive. And that is only achievable with products that are profitable in the long run. What differs successful Dutch impact entrepreneurs such as Henk Jan Beltman (Tony Chocolonely), Jasper Gabriëlse (Seepje) and Tom van der Lubbe (Viisi) from other entrepreneurs? For the book ‘LiEF – Succesvol ondernemen voor een betere wereld’, my colleague Mandy Kraakman and I spoke with 29 impact entrepreneurs. These are the five lessons I learned.

Be obsessed about making impact

Obsessive behaviour to do the right thing and thus make an impact is one of the things that successful impact entrepreneurs have in common. Most of them already wanted to change the world at a young age. As a youngster, they dared to think critically and question anything that was considered as ‘normal’. This applies to Roebyem Anders (Sungevity), but also to Maurits Groen (Kipster & Wakawaka), Kees Aarts (Protix) and Jaap Korteweg (Vegetarische Slager & Those Vegan Cowboys): sustainability and creating impact are deeply rooted in their DNA. But luckily, such insights and corresponding obsession can strike at a later moment. As proven by Bert van Son (MUD Jeans) and Kees Kruythogg (The Livekindly Co).

These impact companies’ successes are firstly due to the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs. They set course, energy and a feeling of urgency to the mission of the organisation. By doing so, they do not only move forward but their employees, customers and stakeholders as well. In the startup phase, many impact companies deal with additional challenges, because they attack an existing market with a new concept – often with lower margins and higher complexity. Therefore, you need drive and a strong belief in the higher goal, to push through where others would stop.

Realise it is still a company

This drive to improve the world can only make a difference if your business is in fact profitable. Or as Merijn Everaarts indicates: “Impact entrepreneurship is in the end still entrepreneurship” and “if you want more impact, you need to make more revenue”. According to Idriss Nor, director Participations at the DOEN Foundation (Stichting DOEN), ‘doing good’ and a commercial way of working go hand in hand. However, it still leads to a challenge. “The extraordinary passion by which impact entrepreneurs start- and lead their company, is at the same time a pitfall. You can only win if you play both the sustainable- and the commercial game. On the one hand, there is your social mission to make an impact and on the other, people would rather pay not more for a product.” 

Therefore, look at growth and efficiency as means. If you grow enough, you can make an impact. It is better to have a light green product that creates a movement, than a dark green dot that is standing still. Create a commercially successful revenue model. Only if you are profitable, you can reinvest for fast growth. Besides: if an idea is not commercially successful, it is by definition not sustainable. Therefore, be an entrepreneur who aims forward. Properly design your commercial process. A gold move within this scope: find the right partners who can contribute to your company’s growth goals. And make sure that all are in agreement, so everyone is pursuing the same goal and considers this mission their top priority.

Create a(n accessible) top product

Companies that want to reach a wider audience, create an appealing brand and make smart use of storytelling. In their branding and story, they focus on the quality of the product itself, which obviously needs to be excellent. Customers should be happy with your product because it is outstanding in doing what it needs to do. In other words, just being sustainable is not enough. As mentioned before: for most people, a dark green story is not that sexy.

The most successful impact entrepreneurs have an accessible product. Customers love convenience. As Nor states: “Calling your product a contribution to the world, is not enough. The product needs to be that good, that consumers cannot ignore it. The story needs to be right.” Thereby goes: an exclusive product competes with other exclusive products, which makes a slightly higher price acceptable.

Build a strong and inspiring business culture

If there is anything that applies to impact entrepreneurs, it is that they are driven. And this drive strongly attracts others. With intrinsically motivated people, creating a strong culture and core values is much easier. Your DNA as an entrepreneur – or your company’s ‘why’- sets the base. The larger impact goal connects the employees and creates a positive culture, in which the collective goal is more important than the company, the entrepreneur or secondary employment conditions. Make sure that the mission is sensible in your organisation. Then, it will flow through to the outside world. In the end, intrinsically motivated people in positive business culture, form one of the most important ingredients for long-term business success.

Communicate clearly and powerful. And a lot.

A lot of clear communication is essential for success—both internally and externally. By doing so, the mission and the product will get their well-deserved recognition. Companies with a strong culture and a clear mission, who defend their DNA no matter what, are the most successful. 

Continuously use the sustainable story in the marketing(communication) of your company. All the entrepreneurs I spoke to, were passionate and unique in telling their story. They acknowledge the force of the independent media and have a good relationship with the press.

In short: to become a successful impact entrepreneur, a strong intrinsic drive stays the most important condition. With that drive, you collect the right people around you. Thereby, you are able to build a company – with the help of a strong culture and free pr – with a positive message. And do not be too humble. The most successful impact entrepreneurs are not known for their modesty or their careful attitude – or they’ve learned to let go of this kind of behaviour throughout the years.

Startups – Silicon Canals

‘Netflix for Toys’ startup Whirli lands €4.3 million to expand its sustainable toy subscription service

With Christmas just around the corner, Whirli, the toy sharing subscription service, announces it has raised a €4.3 million seed funding round led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from MMC Ventures. Founded in 2018 in the UK, Whirli has caught the interest of venture funds for its different approach – one that promotes sustainable consumerism,…

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EU-Startups

Sustainable game-changers: Meet the 3 female founders who won Women in AI’s WaiACCELERATE pitch finals

WaiAccelerate

Artificial Intelligence or AI is one of the most promising tech sectors which is being used in multiple areas. Women in AI is a global non-profit organisation, which launched its Dutch chapter back in October 2018. Since February 2020, it has executed its flagship program WaiACCELERATE, which encourages more women to step into the field of AI. The program recently concluded with the ‘Ultimate Game Changer’ winner and two runner ups announced.

Virtual WaiACCELERATE and the winning team

Like most events this year, the WaiACCELERATE program went completely digital. It was held in the VR or Virtual Reality environment of VirBELA, a virtual world platform. The event aims to bridge the gender gap in the AI industry and targets female entrepreneurs in the fields of AI, Machine Learning and Data Science. WaiACCELERATE was organised in partnership with StartupAmsterdam, Smart Health Amsterdam, Amazon Web Services, IBM, VirBELA, Oracle for Startups, and Inspired Minds.

The final pitch event of WaiACCELERATE, “ACCELER-AI-TE,” took place on November 25. As part of the final pitch event, over 20 impact and AI-powered early-stage startups acknowledged their female founders’ courage to build the startup of their dreams, enable it with AI, and their commitment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 by creating a positive impact with their businesses.

The Netherlands-based Food For Gut, led by Jeanet Lin, won the ‘The Ultimate Game Changer’ award. The startup offers an AI-powered digital health app with a data-driven solution. 

Jeanet Lin
Founder of Food For Gut

“Food For Gut help people who suffer from this chronic disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome – which is yet another health condition that has not been talked about or taken seriously but decreases the quality of life significantly of almost 1 billion people in the world and is still somehow stigmatised. Being recognised as the ultimate game-changer and receiving this award is a proof that the time has come to address this issue, reduce the suffering it causes and reduce the social and financial burden it carries with it,” says Lin in an exclusive conversation with Silicon Canals. 

“The prizes from this award will provide the right resources and expertise to support building Food For Gut. I’m confident that having this award will also attract the right talents to join us on this important mission,” she adds. 

This app learns from a users’ behaviour to offer real-time tailored recommendations to IBS sufferers. The app’s advice is tailored to different factors to manage both the gut and the brain. The startup also helps people better understand what IBS is, customised educational tips, how to cope with it, and more. AI is utilised for analytics and to provide personalised recommendations in real-time.

Alongside the AI-powered solution, sustainability was an important factor for startups that participated and were selected in WaiACCELERATE. “Sustainability is crucial to Food For Gut, not only for the solution that aims to help the patients but also benefit society as a whole due to the high costs related to IBS financially and socially. As an IBS patient myself, I’ve personally gone through the whole journey and realise that we really lack the (financial and medical) support and tools to help us deal with IBS in our daily lives. Food For Gut aims to provide an effective and affordable solution that is easily accessible for the IBS patients,” explains Lin. 

The nine-month-long WaiACCELERATE program has helped all participants receive hands-on online training on various aspects of entrepreneurship. Notable and accomplished industry, tech and business professionals offered their expertise throughout WaiACCELERATE, which was spread into over 20 workshops that covered a variety of topics.

Meet the other two winners

Ekaterina Stambolieva
Founder of Nina Space

Alongside Lin’s Food For Gut, two other women-led companies displayed great potential over the course of the WaiACCELERATE program. The first runner up was Ekaterina Stambolieva led Nina Space from Portugal. The startup is an alumnus of the European Space Agency Incubator in Portugal. It employs AI-powered solutions to help local governments implement wildfire mitigation measures since the private forestry industry has not yet evolved to offer wildfire risk reduction services. 

“You know the old saying – ‘I will believe it when I see it’ – well, yesterday ACCELER-AI-TE! helped us see 20 high-tech female-led businesses. I like to believe that this might change perceptions and biases (if any) and lead to equality in the business, in STEM, in tech and in investment,” says Stambolieva. 

Each year, 1/45th of the total land area on earth is gulped up by forest fires. This affects the overall carbon being pumped into the atmosphere and the planet’s ability to sequester carbon. Nina Space helps government agencies monitor and mitigate such forest fires via its platform that leverages satellite images to automatically monitor the implementation of defensible spaces, detect changes in vegetation, and identify strategy zones, which, when treated, protect many more hectares against wildfire

Nina Space is also big on sustainability. “We believe that businesses should make a commitment to future generations and fight a global issue. Ours is wildfires. We do this from space. We started the business so we can solve a massive environmental problem. We aimed at working on SDG 13 – Climate Change from the very beginning. We know we need to become and be sustainable so we can work on solving this problem year after year after year – as it takes time and dedication,” says Stambolieva. 

Kim Taylor
Co-founder at Which Plant!?

The 2nd runner up is Netherlands-based Which Plant!? Led by the co-founder, Kim Taylor, the startup is focused on bringing more greenery into city spaces. The startup is a family business, and Kim has previously worked on the introduction and commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cell cars, sustainable advertising, electric cars, renewable energy storage & backup power, and solar panels. 

With the AI-powered Which Plant!?, one can easily find the correct plants based on their wishes in combination with their current environment’s soil, location, climate, and orientation of their balcony or garden. Additionally,  users can also receive assistance with what they want to do with their plants. This includes maintaining balcony privacy, attracting bees, permaculture, food forest, vegetable patch, flowers or plants, and more. 

“I think it is wonderful to show that 20 women have established 20 AI companies in 2020! I could not be more proud of all these women and myself. What an achievement and impact on the gender gap in the industry!” Taylor exclaims. 

Image credits: Women in AI

Startups – Silicon Canals

Microsoft to open its first sustainable data centre region in Sweden next year

Sweden

In general, the IT industry is evolving at an exponential pace! And the modern-day data centres look nothing like what they used to a few years ago. These days data centres are far more efficient and produce less carbon emission. Right now, a handful of data centres are being built across the world, focusing more on sustainability than never before. 

In this regard, the Redmond giant Microsoft has announced the launch of a world-class, sustainable datacenter region in Sweden in 2021 with a presence in Gävle Sandviken and Staffanstorp. 

The Microsoft Cloud delivered from data centres will enable Swedish businesses to empower employees, engage customers, transform products, and optimise operations supported by advanced data privacy and security. 

Invested €1M

The company claims that continued investment in community development to support new economic opportunities in the region in which it operates and across the country is critical for it. To date, Microsoft has invested $ 1.25M (approx €1M) in Sweden in partnership with 13 organisations to advance STEM programs focused on youth, skilling, and culture.

“We believe that digital transformation should always be both inclusive and sustainable. As such, we will provide digital skills training for up to 150,000 citizens, to help support their employability and empower them to take advantage of the opportunities that this investment brings to Sweden. It’s a game-changer that the new cloud region will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, thanks to our partnerships with Vattenfall and a world-class sustainable design,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations.

Why Sweden?

According to Microsoft, Sweden is a country of strong commitments towards sustainability and innovation. The new datacenter region will be the first hyper-scale cloud region to use the Vattenfall 24/7 solution in a commercial product. 

It enables Microsoft and other Vattenfall customers to see if its 100 per cent renewable energy commitment covers each hour of consumption and to translate sourcing of renewable energy into climate impact.

The company’s data center region in Sweden will seek zero-waste certification and will include a Microsoft Circular Center, designed to extend the life cycle of servers through reuse and support a circular economy for the Microsoft Cloud.

Notably, Sweden’s Microsoft Cloud region will join the largest cloud infrastructure in the world and will deliver: Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, and Power Platform. 

The Sweden datacenter region will help customers store data at rest in Sweden and comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new region will also deliver Availability Zones, which are fault-isolated locations within an Azure region, enabling customers to design their applications with additional tolerance to datacenter failures.

Swedish customers and partners are already driving business transformation with the Microsoft Cloud, including H&M Group, Sandvik Coromant, and Accenture Sweden, who have all expressed their intent to use Microsoft Cloud services when available from the new region in Sweden.

Microsoft is also advancing its work with the #SkillUpSweden initiative, announcing a new collaboration with Sigma Young Talent to support young professionals in AI and cybersecurity skills. #SkillUpSweden aims to provide digital skilling opportunities for up to 150,000 Swedes to strengthen their technical competence and builds on Microsoft’s goal announcement this year to help 25 million people globally acquire new digital skills.

Main image credits: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

Startups – Silicon Canals

Microsoft to open its first sustainable data centre region in Sweden next year

Sweden

In general, the IT industry is evolving at an exponential pace! And the modern-day data centres look nothing like what they used to a few years ago. These days data centres are far more efficient and produce less carbon emission. Right now, a handful of data centres are being built across the world, focusing more on sustainability than never before. 

In this regard, the Redmond giant Microsoft has announced the launch of a world-class, sustainable datacenter region in Sweden in 2021 with a presence in Gävle Sandviken and Staffanstorp. 

The Microsoft Cloud delivered from data centres in Sweden will enable Swedish businesses to empower employees, engage customers, transform products, and optimise operations supported by advanced data privacy and security. 

Invested €1M in Sweden

The company claims that continued investment in community development to support new economic opportunities in the region in which it operates and across the country is critical for it. To date, Microsoft has invested $ 1.25M (approx €1M) in Sweden in partnership with 13 organisations to advance STEM programs focused on youth, skilling, and culture.

“We believe that digital transformation should always be both inclusive and sustainable. As such, we will provide digital skills training for up to 150,000 citizens, to help support their employability and empower them to take advantage of the opportunities that this investment brings to Sweden. It’s a game-changer that the new cloud region will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, thanks to our partnerships with Vattenfall and a world-class sustainable design,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations.

Why Sweden?

According to Microsoft, Sweden is a country of strong commitments towards sustainability and innovation. The new datacenter region will be the first hyper-scale cloud region to use the Vattenfall 24/7 solution in a commercial product. 

It enables Microsoft and other Vattenfall customers to see if its 100 per cent renewable energy commitment covers each hour of consumption and to translate sourcing of renewable energy into climate impact.

The company’s data center region in Sweden will seek zero-waste certification and will include a Microsoft Circular Center, designed to extend the life cycle of servers through reuse and support a circular economy for the Microsoft Cloud.

Notably, Sweden’s Microsoft Cloud region will join the largest cloud infrastructure in the world and will deliver: Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, and Power Platform. 

The Sweden datacenter region will help customers store data at rest in Sweden and comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new region will also deliver Availability Zones, which are fault-isolated locations within an Azure region, enabling customers to design their applications with additional tolerance to datacenter failures.

Swedish customers and partners are already driving business transformation with the Microsoft Cloud, including H&M Group, Sandvik Coromant, and Accenture Sweden, who have all expressed their intent to use Microsoft Cloud services when available from the new region in Sweden.

Microsoft is also advancing its work with the #SkillUpSweden initiative, announcing a new collaboration with Sigma Young Talent to support young professionals in AI and cybersecurity skills. #SkillUpSweden aims to provide digital skilling opportunities for up to 150,000 Swedes to strengthen their technical competence and builds on Microsoft’s goal announcement this year to help 25 million people globally acquire new digital skills.

Main image credits: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

Startups – Silicon Canals

This Dutch agritech startup uses satellite data to tackle deforestation & help companies achieve a more sustainable supply chain; raises €1.9M

Dutch agritech startup Satelligence is a satellite-powered geodata analytics company providing daily insights into the global performance of agricultural production and supply chain risks, such as deforestation, forest fires and flooding. The company has secured nearly €1.9M funding to bring about a transformation in the global commodity supply chains and eliminate deforestation.

Investment from 4impact!

Based out of Utrecht, Satelligence has secured $ 2.3M (nearly €1.9M) funding from Dutch tech and impact investor 4impact along with the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The investment will allow its clients to improve their mitigation of social and environmental risk involved in agricultural commodity production. Satelligence’s investment further strengthens the development and implementation of risk forecasting and carbon accounting methods.

Development plans ahead

Until recently, food and agribusiness players and investors lacked the tools and data necessary to assess and report progress to minimise deforestation, vegetation fires and other forms of ecosystem degradation. This resulted in environmental damage and social conflict. With Satelligence and other such agritech startups, it is possible to minimise these losses and damage.

Founded by Niels Wielaard in 2016, Satelligence leverages insights based on satellite and supply chain asset data, machine learning and human intelligence. The Dutch startup offers more accurate and granular visibility over their supply chains to identify those environmental risks and opportunities and take meaningful action. Its technology monitors land cover changes such as deforestation and fire impact using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence. These can be analysed within the most complete and up-to-date supply chain asset information.

Rapid warnings and science-based information delivered via web app, data feeds or custom reports help identify risky suppliers and reduce the necessity for ground checks. Apparently, it leads to better engagement and responsible sourcing strategies, contracts and investments.

“We achieved very strong growth to date based on market demand. Building on our strong partnerships, we aim to service new commodities and markets and cover more risks beyond deforestation and vegetation fires, enabling clients to be first to know and first to act on risk and performance issues,” says Wielaard, founder and CEO of Satelligence.

It helps customers including Mondelez, Unilever, Bunge, WorldBank, Rabobank, Robeco, World Wildlife Fund, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands demonstrate progress towards zero deforestation, and make the right sourcing and investment decisions. Commodities covered include palm oil, cocoa, soy, rubber, beef, pulp and paper, biomass among others. It has offices in the Netherlands, Bolivia, Indonesia, Ghana, and Tanzania.

According to the company, it hopes to expand to 2 – 3 other market segments which it thinks are serviceable: financial institutions, luxury goods and fashion. New industry-led commodity initiatives appear, for instance for rubber. “We will rapidly expand beyond palm oil, cocoa, and soy in the coming years. Leading coffee and rubber traders have already contacted us,” the company says.

Main image picture credits: Satelligence

Startups – Silicon Canals

The Netherlands has enormous potential for sustainable energy startups, but investments lag behind: Report

Techleap sustainable energy cover image

With the rapid increase in global warming, the focus has recently shifted towards encouraging greener energy production practices. The EU has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2050, which is a notable commitment. However, in order to do so, countries in the EU need to plan a major transition to renewable energy generation. Startups could be a major help in achieving this goal. Furthermore, a new report by TechLeap notes that there’s a great potential for sustainable Amsterdam-based energy startups, but the investments are nowhere near enough. 

Flattening the climate curve 

TechLeap is a non-profit funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The organisation helps accelerate the Netherlands’ tech ecosystem by offering programs and initiatives. The new report by the non-profit maps the energy ecosystem in Europe, and it conducted research with over 120 sustainable energy startups. All this fits into the broader theme of the report to gain insight into what hinders growth for sustainable tech companies and how they can be removed. 

Challenges for Amsterdam-based energy startups 

As per the report, scaling opportunities for sustainable energy businesses are slowed down by challenges, in particular, access to markets and capital. Additionally, connectivity is also a problem since connecting with the right partners, both from VC and startups’ end, can be difficult. The graph below is from the report, and it indicates investments that happen every year in the energy sector. As evident, the Netherlands has a relatively high number of startups and a low number of scaleups per capita.

Looking at investment transactions via Dealroom and the startup survey, Dealroom claims that 72% of the Dutch energy startups have no known registered funding. Startup survey results also indicate that most respondents’ latest funding type was seed investment (48%), while 18% of participants received no funding at all. 

Later stage companies mostly reached series B and seed investments (both 33%). On average, total funding to date is €3.22M for early-stage businesses and €14.46M for late-stage companies. 

Alongside funding and connectivity, another important difficulty for energy startups is protecting their intellectual property. Furthermore, having a well-functioning and diverse team is also a key requirement for a startup, which companies this sector have shown lacking. 

Over 25% of the startups and scaleups in the energy domain observe high competition in terms of salaries within their sector or with corporates, the report states. Gender balance also needs to see some improvement in energy startups, which is deemed central to help foster innovation, resilience and growth through a greater variety of problem-solving approaches, perspectives, and ideas.

The commercialisation of IP is another aspect that needs to be improved, which could help energy startups generate more revenue. The report takes a look at the number of IPs created, which is promising since half of the companies participating in the survey said they create their own hardware. However, only 13% of the respondents own a patent on their technology, and merely 17% are commercialising a patent from a university. 

RISE Programme

The TechLeap report also introduces the new batch of companies that will be participating in the RISE programme. The programme is designed to help and support the most promising Amsterdam-based scaleups. For this year’s batch, scaleups that fit the ‘flatten the climate curve’ theme were selected, and these scaleups are working around scaleup-building solutions pertaining to topics such as energy efficiency, smart & circular living. And sustainable mobility.

The program will enable the scaleups to form connections and gather insights. After joining the programme, these scaleups will join five expert sessions with scale coaches, who will answer their questions about the talent, capital and going international with people who have gone through it before. TechLeap says 78 companies applied for the program and 20 scaleups were selected to deliver their pitch digitally. Out of these, 11 scaleups that proved to be the best fit for the programme were selected. 

DyeCoo®, Excess Materials Exchange, Felyx, Hello Energy, Hardt Hyperloop, Overstory, Lightyear, Physee, Solarge, Sensorfact and Sympower are the 11 startups that have made it to this year’s RISE programme. 

Image credits: TechLeap

Startups – Silicon Canals