Blog13 June 2019
Blik Sensing, specialist in the automated measuring of groundwater levels in real-time, was one of the 11 selected Dutch water entrepreneurs at the impressive Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 on 3-5 June in The Hague. Daniël Heimans, General Manager and co-founder of the start-up, went home with his smartphone filled with interesting new contacts and business leads. For Blik Sensing, the coming weeks will be all about following up on these leads. Luckily, its NWP membership will help with networking.
"Blik Sensing has only been around for 2.5 years and we have spent that time on piloting and further developing our product. In the meantime, the counter has reached more than a million measurements and we now dare roll out our mature hardware on at a large scale. Of course we need customers and investors for this and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit was the perfect place to find them.
One of our goals was to gather knowledge about the market, to find out what is going on and to make contacts. And we are very pleased with the outcome – we definitely achieved what we set out to do. I have received and handed out a large pile of business cards, exchanged LinkedIn data and telephone numbers. We have made contact with at least eight serious investors who want to know more about us and our product. We met more than 10 companies from the industry with which we may be able to form partnerships. These companies include satellite data providers. This could be a valuable combination with our data from the ground.
One benefit was that we made contact with the Dutch Embassy in Delhi, India. India is facing major groundwater problems and is looking for expertise. We may be able to join a trade mission, now at the planning stage, in October and present our product and our knowledge there. This is really a potentially monumental outcome of the GES – for a young company like Blik Sensing this is significant as the Indian market is huge.
I of course attended the conference’s water programme, jointly led by NWP, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Dutch water sector. The programme’s meetings were fascinating and inspiring, and certainly the session that was chaired by Henk Ovink. It is unbelievable how much key information you get. And all those top-level people: ministers, CEOs, Ivanka Trump, Her Majesty Queen Máxima. At a certain point I was having a very casual conversation with a director of Deltares – that does not happen every day. And when I asked a question during a session, four people immediately approached me afterwards for more information. That was really cool. I also spoke to an investor from Lithuania, which is experiencing major problems after one year of drought. She turned out to also organisezing TEDx talks in Lithuania and she suggested that I give a TedX talk there.
I very well realise that we are only at an early stage. You can’t start from scratch and expect to close a deal in just a few days in The Hague. It is important to follow up on the contacts made. You could say that we have given ourselves a lot of work by walking around in The Hague for two days. My agenda for the next few weeks is full. But that was the whole idea behind going to the GES in the first place. And it is also why we have become a member of NWP; we want to strengthen our network and share our knowledge and experience with the sector. Building partnerships is crucial for international success!”
GES brought together 2,000 selected world leaders in innovation, entrepreneurship, investment, science, and policy. The summit revolved around 1,200 unique entrepreneurs, primarily scale-ups, that included 400 from the USA and 400 from the EU, of which 200 were from the Netherlands. NWP members Villagepump, Blik Sensing, and LG Sonic were among the 11 selected Dutch water entrepreneurs.
The water-related programme included an Industry Panel with representatives from Coca Cola, Swiss RE and others to discuss the importance of water management and innovation for businesses. One session was Resilient by Design on water technology with Henk Ovink, Deltares, LG Sonic, Jacobs Engineering and the Irrigation Association which discussed the need for water technology innovation for climate adaptation. Another feature was the Solutions Stage on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus theme.
Watch the video to get an impression of the event from a water sector perspective!