A young Belgian company that installs biogas facilities on farms is growing fast. Here’s how BNP Paribas Fortis is helping its development.
Biolectric is the epitome of the sustainable do-economy: it manufactures and sells anaerobic digesters, which are installed on farms so as to produce ‘green’ energy based on the biogas released from the farm’s own manure. The green heat and power generated from cow dung make the farm an energy-positive business. No less important is the fact that this approach reduces emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane by up to 70%. The average Biolectric reduces greenhouse gas emission by an equivalent of 2.000 kilometers driven in an modern car.
The company, which started up in 2011 in the East Flanders municipality of Temse as a typical scale-up, nowadays sells anaerobic digesters to farmers all over Europe.
Biolectric is a fast-growing company. In 2019, in order enable further growth, the bank provided the firm with a series of credit facilities, mostly in the form of a ‘sustainable impact loan’.
Tom De Winter is Biolectric’s contact at BNP Paribas Fortis. He tells us: “The bank has been working with Biolectric since the very beginning, but the relationship has become much closer since 2017. In order to obtain a better grasp of their technology, I’ve visited the firm several times with expert from our Sustainable Business Competence Centre. It’s very important to be able to understand and evaluate the firm’s technical proposition. When Biolectric founder Philippe Jans and industrial investment company Ackermans & van Haaren (AvH) came to talk to us last year about the imminent onboarding of the company by AvH, and the subsequent creation of a new low-threshold business segment, namely the construction of a facility with its own anaerobic digesters so as to be able to sell electricity to farmers in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, we knew straight away that we ought to go along with them on the project.”
“We weren’t the only bank in the running, but the client had clearly chosen us. The coordinated approach of BNP Paribas Fortis and our clear policy of backing sustainable solutions played a big part in that decision,” explains Tom De Winter.
As a pioneer, Biolectric has independently developed compact anaerobic digesters, known as ‘pocket digesters’, specifically designed to turn cattle dung into electricity and heat. Today there are over 200 of the company’s installations operating all over the world. This technology provides Biolectric farmers with a very nice economical as well as ecological return on their investment.
In 2019 Ackermans & van Haaren, which is also a BNP Paribas Fortis client, acquired a 60% stake in the company from Taste Invest, with founder Philippe Jans retaining the remaining 40%. AvH brings its professional management experience to Biolectric, thus strongly boosting the firm’s growth potential.
Mobility Solutions of the Future
Your employees’ mobility needs are not standing still, and legislation is also changing at lightning speed. As a company, it is therefore crucial to work today on the mobility of tomorrow.
A changing world
Today you drive to visit customers, tomorrow you work from home and on Friday you take the train and the shared scooter from the station to the office... Your employees’ mobility needs are not standing still and the demand for sustainable, integrated and flexible solutions is increasing.
Legislation and economic conditions are also changing at an unprecedented pace. As part of its initiative to make the automobile sector more sustainable, the government has set a number of ambitious targets, such as greenhouse gas-free company cars by 2026 and betting on smart mobility for commuting. For this reason, many companies are currently considering a transition from a car policy to a mobility policy, in which employees are also given access to other alternative means of transport. In practice, however, there is a lot of extra administration involved when your employees opt for combined mobility to get around. A forward-thinking digital mobility solution tailored to your company will give you a big head start.
Employees want to choose for themselves
Multimodal mobility is an important asset for attracting and retaining talent. Not everyone benefits from a company car alone as a means of transport. Your employees want to be able to choose how they travel to and from work. One day the car is the best option, the next day, the bike or public transport. By moving towards a flexible mobility policy, employees will be able to choose the mobility solutions that suit them best in the future, so that they can go to work in complete freedom and with a good feeling.
Reducing CO² emissions
We are facing a real challenge in the coming years. Mobility and logistics account for as much as 22% of CO2 emissions in our country. If we are to achieve the European target – to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 – we need to work urgently on greening our mobility. Electrification of your fleet in combination with soft mobility is already a step in the right direction. The government is driving this transition to zero-emission mobility by discouraging fossil-fuelled vehicles from a tax perspective and rewarding electrification. Think about more than just purchasing or leasing electric vehicles.
Towards Smart, Integrated Mobility Solutions
Mobility cards that offer an all-in-one solution for all your employees’ professional travel are still relatively unknown, but work very well. They allow you to book and pay for all necessary means of transport, from leased cars, public transport and taxis to shared mobility of bicycles, scooters and cars. Employees can also use them to fill up their lease cars, charge them and pay for parking and car wash.
Mobility platforms and apps go one step further: they offer the ideal multimodal solution in real time, depending on needs and traffic conditions. For example, taking the car to the outskirts of Brussels and then switching to an electric scooter or, in nice weather, biking to the office. The user of the mobility app can also buy a ticket directly from the suitable mobility provider, with a mobility budget that the employer makes available via a linked mobility platform. Such a platform allows employers to customise their mobility policy to meet their specific needs. This way, all employee mobility solutions are managed on the same platform. Moreover, all this is directly linked to the payroll of the payroll service provider. Thanks to the platform, the actual situation is displayed at all times and wages are always calculated correctly, taking into account individual mobility plans and expenses.
Say goodbye to congestion and administrative hassle, and hello to sustainable mobility!
Do you want a mobility policy that responds to the ever-changing needs of your employees and is committed to sustainability? Our experts will be happy to help you.
Mobility solutions are offered by Arval Belgium SA/NV via BNP Paribas Fortis SA/NV, Montagne du Parc/Warandeberg 3, B-1000 Brussels, Brussels Register of Companies VAT BE0403.199.702.
The information provided here does not constitute an offer. An offer will be made only after your dossier has been accepted and shall always be subject to the general terms and conditions of Arval Belgium SA/NV.
No challenge is too big for Skyhaus
Every day, determined men and women are pushing back boundaries and helping to build a sustainable and digital economy. Like Matthias Feys, Chief Technology Officer of Skyhaus, who wants to use artificial intelligence to solve the most challenging issues.
Chief Technology Officer Matthias Feys has been an integral part of Skyhaus since CEO Nicolas Deruytter founded it in 2013. Machine learning, data analysis, artificial intelligence... in less than ten years, the Ghent tech specialist has grown from a six-person start-up into an international player with nearly a hundred employees in six countries.
“Specifically, we identify that certain very complex or repetitive tasks can be performed by machines. This makes them more efficient,” says Matthias Feys. “Think of scans in a hospital. Right now, these are often analysed by doctors, but you can also have scan analysis carried out automatically. The computer itself looks for anomalies at an early stage. Or take the production of pills: the quality must be carefully inspected. This can be done perfectly by a machine.”
Only the greatest challenges
Smart technologies are taking an increasingly prominent place in our society. And yet while there is more than enough work for the many technical start-ups, there is also a lot of competition. “We differentiate ourselves by focusing on the most challenging projects,” says Matthias. “We invest our time and resources on issues for which there is not yet a ready-made solution.”
Efficient knowledge sharing
Skyhaus has grown into an international company. Yet despite this, everyone keeps in close touch with each other. “We work with both multidisciplinary and expert teams. Successes and experiences are shared among them. In this way, knowledge, new developments and opportunities are easily exchanged across national borders.”
For financial management, Skyhaus works with BNP Paribas Fortis. “It’s nice to have a partner you can always turn to for advice and practical help,” says Matthias. “In the beginning, we mainly had standard questions, but as we grew and started operating abroad, our needs changed. We received appropriate advice and the bank introduced us to the local offices abroad. In time, we will be able to turn to the experts at Global Trade Solutions, who offer worldwide support in the area of cash flow.”
Entrepreneurial success stories
At BNP Paribas Fortis, we are proud to work with passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs such as Matthias Feys. Because building the entrepreneurship of tomorrow together, that too is Positive Banking.
“The energy transition is first and foremost an attitude”
Every day, determined men and women are pushing back boundaries and helping to build a sustainable and digital economy. Such as Léopold Coppieters en Arthur Dawans, founders of the Brussels scale-up Skysun, which is already saving 1,450 tonnes of CO2 per year by installing photovoltaic power plants in companies.
Imagine a photovoltaic power plant being installed free of charge on the roof of your company, and you receiving electricity at an attractive price. This is the concept that Léopold Coppieters and Arthur Dawans developed with Skysun out of their passion for climate protection. “We are not solar panel installers: we want to facilitate the energy transition in the long term,” explains Léopold Coppieters.
Skysun’s business model is based on selling energy produced by solar panels that the company finances and installs itself. “We take care of the entire investment in order to be able to offer a win-win solution. The customer’s energy savings determine our profit.” The third winner in this story? Our planet. Skysun is reducing the ecological footprint of about 2,100 families while also securing their annual electricity consumption. “And in the next five years it will be fifteen times as many.”
But renewable energy should not be an excuse for overconsumption. Skysun is therefore committed to guiding companies towards greater sustainability. “The best energy saving is the energy that is not consumed,” emphasises the young Brussels entrepreneur. “We have installed some 21,000 panels since 2018, so our solution provides an answer to a real demand.”
Strategic financial partner
Skysun’s activities follow the rhythm of market fluctuations and regional regulations. But the financial plans for each new project also play a role. The scale-up takes on this challenge in close collaboration with a team of market specialists within BNP Paribas Fortis. “It’s a crucial partnership for us as a specialist in third-party investments. BNP Paribas Fortis finances eighty percent of our projects.”
Skysun’s first installation of 1000 solar panels dates back to 2018. Three years later, the company has installed no less than 1.2 hectares of solar panels on the roof of the Anderlecht slaughterhouses. It is the largest installation of photovoltaic solar panels in an urban environment in Europe, and guarantees electricity for 700 families. “We have opted for a sustainable approach here as well, with respect to the aesthetics of the listed building and a technique of ultra-renewable panels,” concludes Coppieters.
Entrepreneurial success stories
At BNP Paribas Fortis, we are particularly proud to support passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs like Léopold Coppieters and Arthur Dawans. Working together to forge new ways of doing business: another example of Positive Banking.
“The takeaway fitness during the lockdown was a success!”
Every day, determined men and women are pushing back boundaries and helping to build a sustainable and digital economy. That's exactly what Ann Van den Rijn, physiotherapist and business manager at Gym Tonic did. “In order to serve our customers most effectively, we are currently working on an even better digital app.”
Gym Tonic’s mission is to get and keep people moving. Anyone who has ever joined a gym only to never put on a pair of trainers knows the perils of a well-intended 'resolution'. And if your gym is forced to close its doors, this resolution virtually turns into a 'mission impossible'. But Ann Van den Rijn kept in touch with her customers. “When the lockdown was announced, I knew that we had to act very quickly,” says the entrepreneur. "Many sports centres are stopping their services altogether. We had already launched an online programme after just one week, with live streamed workouts."
Exercise via the app
Gym Tonic’s major advantage was that the centre was already using digital technology quite extensively. "We already had our own app, so we could easily continue to reach our customers online. We therefore no longer had to make this investment. We did, however, invest in a good studio with professional sound and audio equipment, so that the digital lessons were of high quality. We also introduced takeaway fitness: training programmes for home, including loan equipment such as spin bicycles." Later, Ann and her team developed two more fit-o-meter courses nearby and organised outdoor classes.
Children in bed? Time for an online workout
“By staying in touch with customers using newsletters, online surveys and telephone conversations, everyone was aware of our offering and I was also able to properly assess what our customers' needs were,” continues Ann. She discovered that many are willing to continue to pay for online workouts even after the reopening. "Gym members who like to train in the gym find it an added value to also be able to take part in an online lesson after they have put their children to bed. But we have also discovered a completely new target group: people who live further away and never come to the gym, but want to enjoy the online offering We are currently building an even better digital app to continue serving them now that we are open again."
Image of Loet van Eijndhoven
Continuing to innovate
Our bank contributed to the digitalisation of the sports centre. "We were in close contact with our relationship manager at BNP Paribas Fortis. It's great to have your bank check in from time to time to see how your business is doing and to help communicate your renewed offerings," Ann says. She joined BNP Paribas Fortis about five years ago. "At the time we were also going through a more difficult period. As a result of roadworks, Gym Tonic was barely accessible for a year. We had to reinvent ourselves to stand out from the crowd. BNP Paribas Fortis understood where we wanted to go, which allowed us to expand our sports centre with the group practice 4 Effect, where we collaborate with physiotherapists, an osteopath, a nutritionist and a mental coach. BNP Paribas Fortis has been working with us from day one. As a businessperson, you have to make sure that you have a partner that not only takes care of your money matters, but also broadens your network and forms a sounding board for testing new ideas. Because no matter how you look at it, constant innovation is a must. As Darwin put it, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change."
Entrepreneurial success stories
At BNP Paribas Fortis, we are particularly proud to support passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs like … Working together to forge new ways of doing business: another example of Positive Banking.