We are on a mission to eradicate the issue of fat, oil, and grease (FOG) around the world. We believe that digital innovation requires the use of data in completely new ways and our platform has been designed to do just that. Having launched just over two years ago, the Horizon 2020 SME instrument has allowed us to expand rapidly and develop relationships with local partners in various regions throughout the EU and US.
Our Fast Track to Innovation
Expanding a business into new regions is daunting.
When you are a startup still in its infancy, it’s downright terrifying. At SwiftComply we were lucky because we always saw our solution as a global one. We created our platform to improve the relationships between restaurateurs, service suppliers and city regulators. Our long-term aim is to eradicate the growing issue of (FOG) around the world.
Cities of FOG
Having directly consulted on the FOG programme in Dublin Ireland, we’ve had a ringside seat as FOG and fatbergs have taken over the urban world. You may have seen fatbergs on the news. They have become a daily news item in some countries. The growth of fatbergs is often a result of a poor understanding of what contributes to them. We see this every day in the restaurant industry and the wider public. Tackling the issue is difficult due to the size and spread of the problem when compared to available resources.
The fragmented relationships which restauranteurs can have with suppliers and regulators hinder efforts. While the industry has made a lot of progress in their efforts to digitise customer interactions, they still struggle to automate supplier and city management.
Building new structures
Yet as digitisation continues to permeate every aspect of business operations, we knew we had an opportunity to create a platform which simplifies FOG management around the world. The platform ensures that each stakeholder can collaborate proactively.
We successfully launched in Dublin in 2017, capitalising on our intimate knowledge of the market. Although we were only a year old at the time, we realised that we were at the beginning of a global journey, but we needed financial support. So we applied to the prestigious Horizon 2020 SME programme.
If you haven’t heard of Horizon 2020 it is the largest EU research and innovation programme ever created. Irish companies have acquired almost €62 million in funding through the SME Instrument to date. Pretty impressive and with a stated aim of tackling societal challenges through innovation, the programme reflected our vision for SwiftComply.
This funding gave us resources to research and plan our market entry strategies for our target regions. We had seen how important this insight was to our launch in Dublin. Access to acceleration services allowed us to scale our operations and enter new regions simultaneously.
Startup in residence
One of the programmes that came to our attention through Horizon 2020 was the Startup in Residence (STIR) programme in Amsterdam. STIR facilities cooperation between SMEs and government agencies over six months through the development of new technologies. Technologies aimed at solving specific municipal issues in Amsterdam.
STIR’s support and the need for radical change in FOG management made Amsterdam an easy choice for our expansion. In 2016 the maintenance costs for the sewer system in Amsterdam reached €42.6 million. In old districts such as Amsterdam Centrum, the sewer system is over 100 years old and struggles to cope with a growing urban population. The risk of overflows and contamination leaching to Amsterdam’s canals is ever present.
Before launching we needed to bring together companies with a deep knowledge of the problem and local FOG policies.
STIR provided us with intensive training and access to local mentors who were invaluable when it came to localising our platform. They also gave us the opportunity to meet with restaurant owners in Amsterdam and understand their needs and motivations. Through STIR we were able to develop a relationship with Waternet who maintain and manage the local sewer network. Despite their efforts to protect local properties and the surrounding environment, the negative effects of have FOG continued to grow.
Waternet were impressed with our understanding of FOG and agreed to partner with us to eradicate the issue of fatbergs in Amsterdam’s sewers. Yet whilst FOG is a global issue, we knew we couldn’t produce the same content and ideas for Amsterdammers. While we have produced a lot of global content, we knew we needed to create campaigns that would resonate with local food service providers.
Working with STIR and Waternet, we developed a specific Amsterdam communications campaign. From July to September, restaurateurs can become our Amsterdam Vetstrijder (Fat Fighters). We aim to raise awareness of the issue in Amsterdam and gather invaluable data from restaurants in the Horeca area.
It’s been a whirlwind journey since our launch two years ago. Our platform has gone from strength to strength and is now live in many regions throughout Europe and the United States. While we always believed that we could be the solution to the worldwide urban FOG problem, Horizon 2020 has given us the opportunity to grow massively in such a short space of time.
Most importantly they have given us the opportunity to create partnerships with organisations throughout the world who share our vision for a more sustainable future.