Thomas MacaulaySenior reporter
Thomas is a senior reporter at TNW. He covers European tech, with a focus on deeptech, startups, and government policy. Thomas is a senior reporter at TNW. He covers European tech, with a focus on deeptech, startups, and government policy.
Some of Europe’s hottest startups arrived at TNW València last week to develop ideas, expand networks, create new leads, and — and most importantly of all — fight.
Not in the physical sense, of course, but in a fiercely-contested TNW València pitch battle. After surviving a series of fiery knockout clashes, eight of Europe’s most electrifying startups were selected for the contest final on Friday.
València provided the perfect stage for the showdown. The region is Spain’s fastest-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the most startups per capita in the country. It was also bathed in glorious sunshine — but this was no vacation for the contenders. With thousands in attendance, an all-star jury on the front row, and a springboard to success on the line, the stakes were high for all the startups.
To the victor goes an array of spoils, including a 4 square-meter turnkey booth at TNW Valencia 2024 and two business passes for TNW Conference in Amsterdam on June 15-16. But best of all the prizes — and I say this without a scintilla of bias — is a full feature on TNW’s wonderful website by our marvellous media team.
Before we reveal the winner, here are the eight elite finalists who pitched for first place.
Many of today’s biggest internet companies are essentially data mining companies. Google, for instance, generates over 80% of its revenue from advertising, which it amasses by leveraging user data for ad targeting.
Internxt has created an alternative model: data storage that respects user privacy.
The València-based startup provides an end-to-end encrypted cloud storage service, which means nobody can see your files. Founded in 2020, the company has positioned itself as a privacy-centric competitor to Google Drive.
“We provide an easy way to manage, share, and store user data in a completely private way,” says Joan Mora, head of data and analytics at Internxt.
Users can get 10GB of free storage. If they need more, premium subscriptions that provide from 20GB to 2TB are available for as little as low as €0.89 per month.
Sophie’s Bionutrients has reimagined protein production. It’s the first company in the world that uses microalgae to develop 100% plant-based and sustainable alternative protein.
The microalgae is cultivated inside bio-reactors and harvested within days. This rapid process also minimizes the quantity of energy and water that’s required.
Both the idea and name for the company came from the daughter of Eugene Wang, the co-founder and CEO of Sophie’s Nutrients.
“Sophie is allergic to shellfish,” says Wang. “That’s how the whole thing started — I was looking for a way for people to get nutrition from the ocean without using the animals.”
The startup began life in Singapore, before moving its headquarters to the alt-protein hotspot “Food Valley” in the Netherlands. Wang now plans to take the product around the world, in a B2B business model that will first target small and medium-sized food manufacturers.
CAPS is developing a product that seems futuristic: an urban aircraft for single passengers. Yet the company expects the tech will soon be available to the public.
“My strong belief is that you will be experimenting with flights in urban areas within the next 10 years,” says Paul Cass, CEO of CAPS. “For that to properly be done, it has to be quiet, safe, and affordable.”
The startup’s founders got the idea after growing sick of their long commute to college. In a garage, they began to assemble a more convenient alternative: a flying car.
Their concept evolved into a driverless aircraft for single-passenger trips in urban areas. Both small and entirely-electric, the vehicle is built for a quiet flight with optimum security. In case of technical trouble or emergencies, a professional driver in the company’s operating centre can remotely control the aircraft.
CAPS is confident that the design offers the safety, affordability, and practicality needed for mass adoption. With the world’s electric air taxi network scheduled to launch in 2024, the vision could be closer to reality than it first appears.
Wenalyze is on a mission to protect SMEs, which represent 99% of all businesses in the EU.
In tricky economic times, these companies face mounting challenges. Insurers can provide a safety net, but bad information is reducing the security. According to Wenalyze, insurance companies have 47% of their data wrong, leading to underinsurance and premium leakage.
The Spanish startup wants to reduce the risks. The company uses open data analytics to correct, update, and enrich SME information. As a result, insurers, banks, and financial institutions can offer their clients the right coverage.
To access the enhanced insights, users only need to enter the name and address of the SME. Wenalyze’s system will then analyse open data sources and deliver real-time results.
“By protecting SMEs, we protect our economy,” says Carlos Albo, CEO and co-founder of Wenalyze.
Amid a global energy crisis, the vast electricity consumption of data centres has become a pressing concern. But even greater harm to our climate comes from heating, which comprises half of the world’s total energy consumption. That’s roughly the same imapct as electricity and transportation combined.
Therminer has created a system that addresses both concerns: a cooling solution for servers that reduces their energy consumption and recycles the wasted heat to warm buildings.
According to Gonzalo García, CEO and co-founder of Therminer, the system cuts 95% of the energy consumed to cool servers — and recycles 90% of the heat they release. “Our competitive advantage from the data centre perspective is that we can reduce operational costs and our data centres are more sustainable,” he says.
From its base in València, Therminer produce the hardware, installs it in homes, and manages the data centre services. The initial target for the system is single-family homes.
“They can use our waste heat and we can create a decentralised network of data centres and then sell hosting power,” says García.
Flying economy is rarely a pleasurable experience, but Chaise Longue believes comfort doesn’t have to cost a fortune — and has the chair to prove it.
The Madrid-based startup has created a double-decker airplane seat configuration. The design increases comfort, reduces cabin weight, and provides at least the same passenger capacity. Best of all, it’s made for economy class.
The extra space comes from maximising the cabin’s verticle volume. Overhead luggage compartments are removed, with bags instead stored in bays under seats. The result is bigger recline angles, extended leg room, and more overall space.
The modular structure is designed for swift integration into existing aircraft. According to Alejandro Núñez, Chaise Longue’s founder, CEO, and designer, most leading airlines are interested in the system — and planes are just the start.
“We are also moving into other industries such as trains, buses, and ferries — for the lowest class and for the cheapest tickets,” says Núñez. “We are trying to improve that experience for everyone.”
Twitch enjoyed explosive growth during the pandemic, and still consistently doubles its pre-COVID audience numbers. Many advertisers, however, remain wary of entering the market, which can appear too large and complicated. Nightstream wants to help these brands to grow alongside smaller streamers.
The startup found that brands currently use just 250 streamers to advertise. That means that oer 1.5 million daily viewers — and 95% of streamers — are being overlooked. Nightstream’s software is designed to capitalise on these opportunities.
The company’s tools and services allow brands to connect with streamers that will reach their target audience. Streamers, meanwhile, get the chance to build their audiences, earn money, and win prizes.
Brands are given data dashboards and analytic tools to analyse the performance of each player in the ecosystems. Nighstream also picks moderators for each streamer and brand, which further strengthens the partnership. To increase the streamers’ audiences, the startup rewards viewers as they become part of the communities.
“With our API and software, they can develop and connect directly with brands that don’t have enough money to connect with the biggest streamers,” says Luis Ruiz Climent, co-founder of Nightwatch.
Crowmie has invented a unique approach to sustainability: the first investment platform in tokenised renewable energy projects.
The concept aims to turbocharge the adoption of renewable energy, while democratising investment in the sector. At present, the vast majority of the market is controlled by large energy generators, which are financed by the traditional banking system. Crowmie allows the public to make their own contributions — and get returns.
After registering, the user can invest a minimum of just €100 in any asset on the platform. The user receives tokens in return. These entitle them to monthly rents for the electricity generated and sold by the energy project. Users can also sell the tokens to another investor at any time.
The investment is used to build facilities that produce electricity. Once built, the projects generate renewable electricity that’s sold to the grid. Profits from this sale are distributed among investors according to the number of tokens they hold.
“We have completely changed the way of investing in traditional assets, accelerating the energy transition, supporting the business fabric, and allowing anyone in the world to invest from just 100 euros,” says Fernando Dávila, CEO and co-founder of Crowmie.
The winning pitch
All eight finalists would make worthy champions, but there can only be one winner of the pitch battle. To find who our all-star jury chose for the grand prize, follow our coverage of TNW València next week.
For those of you who couldn’t attend the event in-person, we hope to see you next year, for more pitches, talks, learning, networking, and festival vibes in beautiful València.
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.