GES2019: The perfect push for scale ups in the water sector
Entrepreneurs from all around the world will take the stage at the 2019 edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague on 4 and 5 June, to convince investors their business is ready to scale up globally.
Managing Director Bianca Nijhof at the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) has a powerful message to the participating entrepreneurs of the water sector. "Make the potential investors understand that investments in water solutions have a very broad impact. Persuade them to reach out further than they usually do in other sectors".
NWP is in the lead for the summit’s water programme together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Dutch water sector.
Nijhof hopes that investors at the summit will give the entrepreneurs with their promising water solutions, the perfect push. However, she believes that it is also necessary that entrepreneurs play their part; "they must draw the investors out of their comfort zone".
According to Nijhof the water market has very special features as it cuts through many other sectors, such as agrifood, health and energy. "This means investing in water solutions, often has additional positive impacts and hence creates more revenues elsewhere", she explains. "Investors can reduce the risks by considering a longer return time and by including the externalities in the equation".
"Innovators are often young and think less in constraints, compared to those who are around a little longer. This can be a source for really new solutions", Nijhof continues. "Large companies have solutions that they already use on a large scale. Many are of limited use in the less developed world, especially when it comes to water supply. This is where young and smaller organisations can come in with more tailor-made solutions".
Nijhof hopes that the investors that will attend the GES summit seriously consider the wider impact of the solutions presented by the entrepreneurs of the water sector. "That is also the aim of the GES summit. To offer them a stage and connect them with investors who hopefully think more out-of-the-box and not only go for the short term financial gain, but also for the wider societal impacts and the broader economic gains".
Gateway for water innovations
The addition of the water theme to the agenda of the summit, is important to the Dutch Government that co-hosts the event. The Netherlands is not only a gateway to Europe with its seaport in Rotterdam and its airport in Amsterdam. The country also has internationally renowned water technology hubs such as Startup Delta in Delft and the Watercampus Leeuwarden.
"The Netherlands lives with water", Nijhof adds. Her organisation promotes the Dutch water sector throughout the world. The fact that the summit will be held in The Netherlands has a special meaning. "Water is a public good and people tend to sit back and leave it to the governments to solve the global water issues. I’m very honoured that so many entrepreneurs will come to the Netherlands next week to show what they can contribute. It fits in perfectly with the strong Dutch business environment of innovative start-ups and scale-ups that are engaged with global issues like water."
Array of speakers
With only a week to go, the programme shows a great line-up of speakers, including two Dutch royalties, Queen Maxima and Prince Constantijn. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo will open the summit. Ivanka Trump has been confirmed to attend the closing plenary.
The water-related programme includes an Industry Panel with representatives from Coca Cola, Swiss RE, Dow The Chemical Company, and others. They will discuss the importance of water management and innovation for businesses.
Additionally, a Resilient by Design session on water technology with Dutch water envoy Henk Ovink, Deltares, LG Sonic, Jacobs Engineering, and the Irrigation Association will discuss the need for innovation on water technology for climate adaptation.
Thirdly, a Solutions Stage with the theme Water-Energy-Food Nexus will be held.