During our Investment Ready Program we support sustainable enterprises in reviewing their business model, strategy and team, and crafting a funding plan. The 2018 edition was won by CoVadem, who just secured an investment of €1,5 million. Find out how they are using big data to make inland shipping more efficient and sustainable.

“More than 30 percent of goods transported in Northwestern Europe are moved by ship. And factors such as available water depth determine how much cargo inland vessels can carry, as well as their fuel efficiency. Currently, reliable water depth data and performance metrics are lacking, so many ship owners leave cargo behind and thus miss out on fuel savings.We wanted to develop a solution to benefit all skippers and ship owners. And we started with depth sensors – every ship has one installed. But what you had access to the depth readings of other vessels? By combining a ‘sailing network’ – vessels who share their depth metrics – with the latest big data technology, we created a smart, cloud-hosted cooperative platform that is always up to date. It helps all ship owners optimise their cargo loads, sail more efficiently, save fuel, and reduce their CO2 emissions.”

From idea to raising €1,5 million investment

“We first got the idea for CoVadem in 2010 after realising that there was a lot of room for innovation to make the shipping industry more efficient. In 2012, we started a consortium of industry players and research institutes, including Deltares and MARIN – ‘the NASA of shipping’, as we call it – to test our platform’s feasibility. Once we knew it could be implemented on a large scale, we started a company and now have a ‘sailing network’ of 60 ships. But to always provide sufficient actual data, we needed investment to scale up to at least 250 measuring vessels in the next two years. Through the Investment Ready Program, we established a network of over 20 interested investors, including Change Club, our first external funder. And in December 2018, we signed a €1,5 million investment deal with PDENH and Forward.one, which will help us to achieve our goals.”

Getting support from fellow entrepreneurs

“In our consortium phase, we were used to a research institute’s business model, which is to secure financing by broadening its scope and starting new projects. But when you’re running a company, you have to narrow things down. Thanks to Investment Ready, we feel confident that our base case is strong enough. We found it inspiring to exchange knowledge with entrepreneurs from completely different fields and to see them pivot – everyone’s here to make it work! During our investment negotiations, I could call Manon Klein, Investment Ready Program Manager, for quick chats about deal terms. It’s these little things that make the program great. You could try writing strategies on how to build this kind of supportive, friendly environment, but Investment Ready does it very well.”