Start-ups shine at the Tech Tour Tomorrow.Blue Economy in Barcelona

The second edition of the Tech Tour Blue Economy demonstrated that start-ups continue to be essential allies for innovation in the sector. PierNext covered the event and spoke to the winners of an initiative that revolved around sustainability and efficiency.

Posted on 12.16.2023
Tech Tour awarded the most outstanding proposals of the 32 start-ups that presented their projects (PierNext).

Tech Tour Tomorrow.Blue Economy awards innovation

The stage was Tech Tour Tomorrow.Blue Economy, held on 7 and 8 November with a programme designed by Tech Tour and co-organised by the Fira de Barcelona, the Port of Barcelona and the city council in the context of the Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC). 

The aim was to promote the solutions proposed by innovative companies and to foster relationships with potential investors. In total there were 32 participants, of which  Gazelle Wind Power Limited, Titanium Technology, Everimpact, Buyco, Evoy, Venus Shell Systems Pty Ltd, Cargofive and zero44 shined in the Maritime Supply Chain and Smart Ports category, i.e. maritime logistics and technology, digitalisation and sustainability solutions  related to decarbonisation.

The diversity of the winning projects

The first winner to present its project was Buyco, led by its co-founder and Chief Financial Officer, Geoffroy Willaume. The start-up was awarded thanks to its will to simplify container shipping. 

During his presentation, Willaume said that a key aspect is the visibility that this program offers. "The ambition is to solve a large part of large exports and imports through a platform that helps them to manage all container ships worldwide," explains Willaume.

Throughout the session, the different start-ups presented their proposals to the audience. The only exception was Evoy, as its CEO, Leif Stavostrand, was unable to travel to Barcelona. The Norwegian project consists of using electric motors on boats to support the decarbonisation process and enable fast charging.

Another big surprise was the winning proposal from Gazelle Wind Power Limited. The Dublin-based company has developed an innovative floating offshore wind platform, whose manufacturing characteristics and increased durability allow it to place wind turbines offshore to better harness renewable energy generation. 

This was not the only disruptive idea presented at the Tech Tour Tomorrow.Blue Economy. Venus Shell Systems also surprised. It is Australia's first algae farm for food and consumer products. The nutritionally and clinically backed farm reuses nutrient resources that would otherwise be wasted.

One of the key themes throughout the SCEWC was digitalisation, as in the case of the third winner, Cargofive: "The vision we have is that moving containers has to be as easy as ordering food on UberEats or booking an airline ticket, and we are building technology to make this possible," explains co-founder and CEO Sebastian Cazajus.

Cargofive compares the rates of different shipping companies and simplifies processes thanks to the digitisation of information, a project that was born out of Cazajus' own experience. 

"I worked in the container shipping industry. I was in charge of understanding the cheapest way to get a container from point A to B. At that time it took days and hours and took me days and hours searching for mails, Excels, different websites to find different prices... And I asked myself: 'where is the Booking of this industry? It was my own need to develop it," says the start-up's CEO.

Cargofive has a strong presence in the Latin American market thanks to its global vision. However, for Cazajus, recognition is not its greatest success, but the internal unity of the start-up.

"The challenges are changing all the time depending on the stage we are in. Over the last few years people have realised that things can change a lot. In the end, the key is to have a solid team that knows how to adapt to each of the difficult situations that are going to come, because they are going to be constant."

On the other hand, zero44 presented one of the most innovative proposals of the day. "Our goal is to help the world's shipping companies manage carbon regulation. There is increasing pressure from the European Union and other bodies, so we want to streamline carbon management in real situations. Streamline it while providing a bigger and better base. So that companies don't need to do this manually with a lot of requirements, just with our software," says Friedemann Nierhaus, Head of Business Development at zero44.

For Nierhaus, zero44's success is due to two key aspects: the experience of its team in the port sector and that its software covers all the needs of companies. "We know how to build good software, but we also know the requirements. We offer very specific functions for each business model," he says. 

Another start-up that also stood out for the control of carbon emissions was Everimpact. Through accurate and direct GHG measurements, the company connects satellite data to serve four customer groups: Cities and Territories, Ports and Shipping, Forestry and Agriculture, Transport and Logistics. 

A record and forecasts of GHG allows to identify reduction opportunities, as well as encouraging monitoring. Thanks to this method, the French company supports one of the founding objectives of Tech Tour Tomorrow.Blue Economy: the search for solutions to improve efficiency and sustainability in the port environment.

Titanium Technology was the only Spanish start-up among the winners in the Maritime Supply Chain and Smart Ports category. This Madrid-based SME, founded in 2019, presented its solution to prevent the encrustation of microorganisms, plants, algae and small unwanted animals in submerged structures. 

The solution, based on titanium and electrochemistry, has led the company to lay the foundations for antifouling technology, which has two advantages: it lasts and it does not harm the environment. For this reason, it was one of the companies that received the highest recognition.

More innovative proposals

Other companies such as AllRead, Navozyme and Usyncro also presented their innovations aimed at transport or the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

In the case of Usyncro, it uses artificial intelligence and blockchain to facilitate all information transfer processes. 

"What we bring is traceability, because it also gives a lot of transparency about operations and everything that is done in the logistics chain. At the same time, it reduces the use of paper, digitises and provides a lot more convenience. By being connected to customs, it also speeds up the bureaucratic procedures that can be carried out," explains the start-up's Chief Operating Officer, Octavio Fernández.

"We still have very archaic, paper-based processes that are not very digitised. European regulations are changing: we are being forced to become more professional and work more effectively," says Fernández. 

Subdron GmbH, meanwhile, relies on drones for maintenance tasks. "You see a lot of drones everywhere doing a lot of tasks. But underwater, on the other hand, there are far fewer and everything is more limited," explains its Chief Technology Officer, Arnau Carreras, for whom the key to his project lies in automation.

"The robot works automatically on its own, i.e. the person only has to define the mission to be carried out, and it is able to adapt itself. This is not really the case at the moment, as there are divers or people controlling a robot with a cable. In contrast, our solution does not have these restrictions," he adds.

Tech Tour Blue Economy gave the spotlight to start-ups and rewarded the most outstanding proposals. However, the real winner of these two days was the maritime industry, which, thanks to the drive for innovation, continues to sail on the right course towards the goal of sustainability and efficiency.