Article

23.08.2016

Virtual and augmented reality spell real business opportunities

Originally, both techniques were known for the excellent potential they showed in the video games and entertainment fields. Today however they are demonstrating their ability to transform the user experience in a wide variety of industries and service sectors.

It is now clear that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are not restricted to the world of entertainment and gaming. They might have been closely associated with these ‘fun’ areas in the very beginning but now the figures show that their positive impact goes much further.

A report from Goldman Sachs forecasts that by 2025 VR and AR will be generating more revenue than the television market. Meanwhile studies estimating the value of the VR and AR markets are outdoing each other in predicting revenue in the tens of billions. Today the applications of these cutting-edge technologies have already pushed beyond the boundaries of the entertainment and gaming industries.

“From the consumer’s viewpoint, AR and VR increase and enhance the human experience. Notions of time and space become relative. As a user, I can find myself in places that I’m exploring for the first time, in eras that I’ve never lived through. This can generate a lot of applications for a wide range of industries. This is even more true when VR and AR are combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence and eye-tracking,” explains Sivan Iram, General Manager at River Studios, a company working in VR and AR.

Moreover, the power of VR and AR is being demonstrated in sectors such as commerce and mass retail, real estate, plus also in education and in-company training. A quick overview of the most innovative virtual reality applications currently in use should suffice to convince any doubters of the extent of AR/VR potential.

Retail wants to offer a compelling Customer Experience

In the retail sector, a number of luxury and ready-to-wear apparel brands have ventured into filming their fashion shows in 3D, later relaying them to their shops, where customers can use VR headsets to get a virtual front-row seat at the show.

The promise that virtual reality holds in these examples is to generate brand engagement. Volvo in the United Kingdom  recently partnered with Microsoft HoloLens with a view to transforming the purchasing experience. Given that vehicles cannot be available for demonstration with every possible option at every car dealership, it is easy to see how augmented reality can help potential customers not only to visualise the interior and the exterior of the car, but also to test its range of functionality.

Total immersion a boon for real estate viewing

Another sector where opportunities exist to greatly enrich the buying experience is the real estate business. Matterport offers to create 3D visualisations of for-sale properties for real estate agencies, a cut above the 2D photos and modest 360° panoramas that are still the norm here. It provides a demonstration on a mobile app for the end-customer and will also provide the real estate agency with the hardware and software needed to make 3D visualisations, leaving the agency to take care of the actual shooting.

Meanwhile GeoVC, a New York-based start-up, has come up with an app that enables the user to scan a space, such as an apartment. It also allows you to measure the dimensions of a room and even modify the configuration – for example taking out one element such as a screen and replacing it with another feature. Here the immersive experience offered by VR technology is extremely useful when looking to purchase real estate. GeoVC reckons that people visiting a house or apartment with a view to purchase will tend to try and visualise themselves inhabiting the space and also project themselves forward in time – to the moment when any planned alterations have been completed.

Enhancing learning techniques at school and in-company

As the General Manager of River Studios emphasises, VR enriches the human experience. Taking this observation to heart, many start-ups have recently been getting into the education sector, which is an obvious field of application for these technologies. Plunge with London-based Alchemy VR into the midst of the primitive life forms which began to shape our world, listen to Albert Einstein explain his theory of relativity in an amphitheatre with the LectureVR created by Irish company Immersive VR Education, go on an expedition to Mars one afternoon with Google Expeditions, or simply practice your Spanish at a meet up via your headset, courtesy of Californian company AltspaceVR. Virtual reality has the power to transform the way we teach and how students of all ages acquire knowledge. zSpace technology is already in use in many educational establishments in the United States, revolutionising the way children learn about anatomy and biology.

And it is just one step from education to the world of work. Virtual reality and augmented reality are now playing an essential role in the changes taking place in the workplace environment and the tools used by Human Resources departments. ScioVR gives us a taste of what professional training might look like in future. The Swedish start-up has embarked on a research project – the ‘Virtual Operating Room’ – in partnership with Södersjukhuset, one of the main hospitals in Stockholm. Using VR headsets, the medical teams are immersed in classical situations, learn to repeat medical procedures over and over again, and also acquire best practice in terms of communication in the operating theatre.

Next steps

VR and AR technologies can thus enable all kinds of people to develop not only technical competence but also soft skills by immersing them in standard situations. Will company adoption of VR and AR encourage more widespread use of the technologies beyond the realm of video-gaming and take them to the general public? Technological progress – starting with ever-higher picture resolution – coupled with a progressive reduction in costs, could well be a driver. And guess which company is currently working on a VR headset? No less a player than Google, which is now researching a successor to its Cardboard. This is a sign of things to come that should not be ignored.

(Source: http://www.atelier.net)

Article

21.10.2021

Ingrid Daerden of Aedifica is the new ‘Trends CFO of the Year’

With this award, which was presented on 20 October for the tenth year in a row, Trends and BNP Paribas Fortis are highlighting the achievements of a Belgian CFO.

Ingrid Daerden of Aedifica won the award this year, succeeding Nicolas De Clercq of Kinepolis. She owes this to a miracle 2020 in which, despite corona, Aedifica raised more than 700 million euro and got a Bel-20 listing.

In addition, the Walloon biotech group Univercells received the award for ‘Deal of the Year 2021’. Univercells raised 120 million euro from a number of prestigious investors and is preparing an IPO.

Ingrid Daerden’s great track record at Aedifica

The jury named Ingrid Daerden ‘CFO of the Year’ because of her contribution to the strategic development and financing of Aedifica’s growth. Since she joined Aedifica as CFO three years ago, the healthcare real estate specialist has enjoyed remarkable growth. During that time, the 47-year-old commercial engineer paved the way for seamless financing and built her finance team into a solid foundation for Aedifica’s growth. In 2020, the healthcare real estate company became a fixture on the Bel-20, raising over 700 million euro in capital. In June this year, it raised another 286 million euro, and in September Aedifica issued a 500-million-euro bond. In times of COVID-19 this all went smoothly. The jury also saw the integration of sustainability and ESG criteria in the financial policy.

Ingrid Daerden won over four other outstanding candidates: Charles Jacques of Masthercell, Jean-Pierre Mellen of Recticel, Nadia Messaaoui of Technord and Geert Peeters of Greenyard.

Univercells wins the 'Deal of the Year 2021'

Vincent-Vanderborght-Univercells-CFO

For the third time, Trends also awarded a prize for the ‘Deal of the Year’. All mergers or acquisitions and capital operations (initial public offering, capital increase, private placement, etc.) in which a Belgian company was involved in 2020 qualify for this award. Univercells received the award. The Walloon biotech group managed to persuade KKR, an American investment company, and funds linked to the foundations of Bill and Melinda Gates and Georges Soros, to enter into its capital. This complex operation earned Univercells the ‘Deal of the Year 2021’ award.

 

Partnership

Since 2012, BNP Paribas Fortis and Roularta have been highlighting the exceptional qualities of CFOs in Top 500 companies in Belgium. The jury’s choice is primarily determined by the strategic vision and leadership shown.

Read the full interview with Ingrid Daerden, CFO of Aedifica (FR-NL), and with Hugues Bultot, CEO of Univercells, and Vincent Vanderborght, CFO of Univercells (FR-NL).

Source: Trends

Article

14.10.2021

Deliverect, Odoo and Abriso-Jiffy win the Private Equity Awards 2021

On 13 October, our bank and the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association put the spotlight on these companies, as they achieved remarkable growth thanks to private equity.

A number of fast-growing Belgian companies were once again honoured at this year’s Private Equity Awards. This event highlights the role that venture capital investors play in the growth of both start-up, fast-growing and mature companies. Raf Moons, Head of Private Equity at BNP Paribas Fortis, represented our bank in the jury.

Three categories

The jury had the difficult task of choosing one winner from three nominated companies for each of the three categories – Venture, Growth and Buy-out.

  • The ‘Venture company of the year 2021’ category focuses on young companies developing and marketing an innovative product or service with the support of a venture capital investor.
  • The ‘Growth company of the year 2021’ category is for companies that expanded their business significantly through organic growth or an acquisition policy. They brought a financial partner on board without the latter aiming for control.
  • The ‘Buy-out company of the year 2021’ category focuses on the transmission and growth of companies achieved by management and a private equity investor with a controlling stake.

Strong winners

  • Venture company of the year: Deliverect

    This fast-growing SaaS company connects delivery platforms with food companies around the world. To help companies manage their delivery and pick-up operations more efficiently, Deliverect integrates food ordering platforms into the cash register system, eliminating the need to re-enter orders and the costly errors that come with them. Deliverect was founded in 2018 and is headquartered in Ghent. It employs more than 200 people.

    Deliverect emerged as the winner because the company has achieved enormous growth in the short term. The company is active in 38 countries and, therefore, certainly has the opportunity to become a global player within its sector. The delivery and takeout solution developed by Deliverect is crucial to the restaurant industry and became very relevant during the pandemic.

    Other nominees in this category were AgomAb Therapeutics and Imcyse.

  • Growth company of the year: Odoo

    Odoo is a suite of open source business apps that cater to all business needs: CRM, e-commerce, accounting, inventory, point of sale, project management, etc. Odoo has more than 7 million users, located in more than 120 countries. The company has over 1,700 employees, was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in Grand-Rosière (Walloon Brabant).

    For the jury, the resilience shown by the company in recent years was one of the decisive factors in selecting Odoo as the winner. A deciding factor was also the quality of its products, which are not only very modern but also very user-friendly. Finally, the company, firmly anchored in Belgium, has a large international reach with its presence all over the world.

    UgenTec and Univercells were also nominated in this category.

  • Buy-out company of the year: Abriso-Jiffy

    Abriso-Jiffy has evolved from a local 'bubble & foam' manufacturer to a leading European group specialising in sustainable protection and insulation materials for the packaging and construction sector. The group was founded in 1985, is based in Anzegem and employs approximately 1,500 people across 15 production sites in 11 European countries.

    This company was chosen by the jury because of its track record. First of all we are talking about a successful turnaround, followed by the entry of Bencis Capital, the acquisition of Jiffy and finally the very attractive exit. This journey was accomplished by a broad-based team. In addition, ESG criteria are deeply embedded in the company’s business model, making Abriso-Jiffy a true ambassador for the Private Equity Awards.

    In addition to Abriso-Jiffy, Corialis and Circet Benelux were also nominated.

Didier Beauvois, Head of Corporate Banking and Member of the Executive Board of BNP Paribas Fortis:
"As co-founder of the Private Equity Awards, we have organised this event now for the fourth time. On the one hand, to highlight successful Belgian growth companies and, on the other hand, to show how private equity can help companies. Not only innovative scale-ups, but also companies that wish to make the transition to a more sustainable business model through extra investment, have a natural need for capital. This type of investment often only pays off in the longer term. That is why, as a bank, we believe it is important to assist companies with this through our private equity offering. In this way, we can make a positive contribution to the Belgian economy and to society. We are actually freeing up additional resources for this and intend to double our private equity portfolio to EUR 1 billion by 2025."

Read the full file on Private Equity in Trends-Tendances:

  • Full portrait of the winners in Trends/Tendances (Dutch/French)
  • Interview with R. Moons, Head Private Equity BNPP Fortis and P. Demaerel, Secretary General at BVA (Dutch/French)
  • Interview with B. Peeters and Q. Masure from Tiberghien (Dutch/French)
  • Interview with M. Thumas and J. Van Assche from Eight Advisory (Dutch/French)
  • Interview with M. Herlant and S. Spitaels, Associaties EY Strategy and Transactions (Dutch/French)

Discover more about private equity as a financing solution for growing companies 

Read the full Press Release

Article

13.10.2021

Belgian gaming industry gets a big push

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, together with Howest and Cronos, recently founded ForsVC, the first venture capital fund to focus exclusively on the Belgian gaming industry.

The gaming industry is booming all over the world. A lot of Belgian talent works on the development of computer and video games. In recent years, there has been a true explosion of creative video game start-ups in Belgium. But still, a lot of highly skilled creative people too often go abroad.

From brain drain to brain gain

As a venture capital fund for the Belgian video game industry, ForsVC wants to combat this brain drain. In the coming years, it will invest 10 to 15 million euros in gaming. Each of the three parties is bringing its specific experience and expertise. The Kortrijk college Howest as a reputable training institute. The Cronos group as a seasoned entrepreneur and investor in technology companies, including gaming studios. And the bank as a financial expert in Private Equity.

Stronger ecosystem

By making capital and expertise available to promising game companies, the existing ecosystem is enriched and made a lot more attractive. Belgian companies can professionalise themselves, develop high-quality games and pay competitive salaries.

University funds

Mireille Kielemoes, managing director fund investments Private Equity at BNP Paribas Fortis: “ForsVC is what we call a “university-linked” fund. This is a specific envelope within our Private Equity portfolio which, among other things, invests in university spin-offs or innovative companies whose IP (intellectual property) has a link to universities or knowledge institutions. Through these funds, we support innovation, creativity, job creation and entrepreneurship in Belgium in promising areas. For ForsVC, we’ll also be working via a participation in the game companies, but individual games are also eligible for project funding through revenue-based lending.”

Read the full press release here

Find out more about Private Equity here

Press coverage dated 14/10
Article

07.10.2021

Which Belgian companies will win the Private Equity Awards 2021?

On 13 October, together with the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVA), we will present awards to three companies supported by private equity or venture capital. Discover the candidates.

This fourth edition once again recognises successful Belgian companies that used private equity or venture capital to finance their growth. BNP Paribas Fortis is also supporting the Private Equity Awards for the fourth time as a member of the BVA. The bank will both host the event and serve on the jury.

Raf Moons, Head of Private Equity at BNP Paribas Fortis and juror: "We believe it is important to reward the growth companies in question and also highlight private equity's usefulness as a financing solution. Private equity is an excellent tool to boost the economy. For 40 years now, we have used it to offer companies opportunities at all stages of their life cycle. Besides this, BNP Paribas Fortis also supports companies that aim to use additional investments to increase their sustainability. This type of investment will only show financial returns in the longer term, which is why we wish to support them through our private equity offerings. In this way we can make a positive contribution to the Belgian economy and to society. We are actually freeing up additional resources for this and intend to double our private equity portfolio to EUR 1 billion in the next five years."

Pierre Demaerel, BVA Secretary General: "In the past few years the global private equity market has grown considerably. In Belgium, 1,400 deals amounting to over EUR 10 billion altogether were concluded in the past six years. And this trend is increasing. It involves EUR 1.5 to 2 billion annually. However, we have noticed there is a wider audience that is still insufficiently familiar with the possibilities offered by this form of financing. That is why for the fourth time, the BVA is proud to be highlighting, together with partner BNP Paribas Fortis, several Belgian companies that have exhibited remarkable growth thanks to the support of private equity or venture capital investors."

Who will follow in the footsteps of iStar Medical, Cegeka and Destiny?

The jury has nominated nine companies. There are three nominees each for the categories 'Venture Company of the Year', 'Growth Company of the Year' and 'Buy-out Company of the Year'. The jury will announce which companies they feel have achieved the steepest growth trajectory in each category on 13 October. We are pleased to introduce the nominees:

  • The ‘Venture Company of the Year 2021’ category focuses on young companies developing and marketing an innovative product or service with the support of a venture capital investor.
    • AgomAb Financials is a Ghent-based biotech player that develops drugs to repair damaged human tissue.
    • Deliverect, also a company based in Ghent, creates software that allows restaurants to manage their online orders and integrate these into their existing cash register system.
    • Imcyse is a Liege-based biopharmaceutical company that pioneers the development of a new class of immune technologies for the treatment of serious auto-immune diseases.
  • The category ‘Growth Company of the Year 2021’ is for companies that expanded their business significantly through organic growth or an acquisition policy. They brought financial partners on board without the latter desiring control.
    • Odoo from Ramillies in Wallonia develops open-source management software for SMEs. With over 10,000 fully integrated apps, the company offers solutions for the full automation of business processes.
    • UgenTec from Hasselt develops pioneering lab software for the automation of DNA analyses, making it possible to detect respiratory infections, STIs and various types of cancer much faster.
    • Charleroi-based Univercells develops technologies for the production of low-cost and large-scale vaccines. This company has won the confidence of many (inter)national investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The category ‘Buy-out Company of the Year 2021’ focuses on the transmission and growth of companies achieved by management and a private equity investor with a controlling stake.
    • Anzegem-based Abrios-Jiffy is a leading manufacturer specialising in the extrusion of sustainable, innovative, protective and insulating materials for the packaging and construction industry.
    • Corialis in Lokeren designs and manufactures high-quality, technologically advanced aluminium systems for in-wall (windows, doors, sliding elements, roofing systems, curtain walling), indoor (partition walls, walls, fire protection doors) and outdoor (balustrades, greenhouses) applications.
    • Esas from Wilrijk, which will be renamed Circet Benelux in future, is a service provider for the installation, maintenance and management of smart devices in sectors such as telecom and energy. The company also handles the construction and maintenance of coax, optical fibre and mobile networks for large telecom companies.

Want to learn more about the Private Equity Awards? Go to the BVA website

Discover private equity as a financing solution

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