Capricorn Digital Growth Fund announces first investment in Dutch AI company Gradyent while also adding new investors bringing the total fund size over € 50 million

16 June 2020

Leuven, Belgium: 16 June 2020 – Capricorn Partners announced today the intermediary closing of its Capricorn Digital Growth Fund bringing commitments to over € 50 million. At the same time the fund closed its first investment together with Helen Ventures and ENERGIIQ, jointly committing € 1.9 million to Gradyent, a Dutch energy analytics solution company. Gradyent has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) cloud-based platform that supports the management and optimisation of district heating networks, making them more sustainable and cost-effective. The investment allows Gradyent to further develop its innovative software and to commercialise its services. Katrin Geyskens, Partner at Capricorn said: “Serendipity allows us to welcome Noaber Ventures, the impact investment arm of the Dutch Noaber Foundation and a number of private investors to join our Capricorn Digital Growth Fund, at the same time as we are announcing the first investment of this fund. Gradyent is a perfect illustration of our investment strategy focusing on data driven companies. The drive towards accelerated digitalization and the smart use of data has been clearly underpinned during the current pandemic. Hence we are convinced that our Capricorn Digital Growth Fund will see AI based interesting and rewarding investment opportunities both in digital health and industrial applications.”

Strong investment consortium for Gradyent

The investment in Gradyent of almost € 2 million comes from a European consortium of investors including the Capricorn Digital Growth Fund, Helen Ventures (Finland) and ENERGIIQ (Netherlands). Together with existing investor henQ, the syndicate will support Gradyent with expertise and access to their international networks throughout Europe. Gradyent was founded early 2019 by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs with years of national and international experience in energy, tech and artificial intelligence (AI). This combined with the expected positive environmental impact and significant market potential of their AI-powered solution for heating networks, makes Gradyent a very attractive investment target. Maarten Lambert, investment associate at Capricorn Partners, says: “Gradyent is a perfect example of how AI technology can transform raw data into actionable insights. We are proud to be part of a company that has the ambition to support businesses on their journey to become more energy efficient and make our planet a better place to live.”

Optimising the management and efficiency of district heating networks

Many district heating networks run on legacy control systems with often outdated software solutions that provide limited insight into the network’s efficiency – or lack of it. This gets in the way of innovation and constrains optimisation. Gradyent’s solution helps district heating companies participate in the sustainability transition by improving the management and efficiency of district heating networks without compromising stability and reliability. Gradyent uses digital twin technology (a replica of real-world objects) built by a unique combination of hydro- and thermodynamic modelling combined with AI. Its AI cloud platform not only provides insight into heating networks but also determines how to optimise them and improve overall efficiency. The solution leads to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and users immediately see a positive financial impact as the solution provides a rapid return on investment. Gradyent is showing promising results with its first customers. As Mikko Huumo, director of Helen Ventures, explains, “In the coming years, energy companies, including Helen, will transform district heating networks into sustainable CO2-neutral heating systems. In practice, large fossil fuel-fired power plants will be replaced with smaller decentralised heat sources and this will increase complexity in the network. Digital tools, like Gradyent's AI platform, will be needed to provide heat efficiently and reliably to customers every single day.”

Continuing the journey

Gradyent will use the funding to commercialise its services and expand its efforts particularly in AI and software development. Hervé Huisman of Gradyent: “More than half of the world’s energy demand is in the form of heating, and our team believes there is a huge potential for improving sustainability by smart optimisation and AI. Our first projects with district heating customers in the Netherlands confirm the potential of our solution, and we are excited about extending the offering to our growing Dutch and international customer base in the coming period. We are extremely proud that we can now continue our journey with Capricorn, Helen Ventures and ENERGIIQ on board. These parties can all add relevant insights and provide access to energy, digital growth and district heating networks. Together with our current investor henQ, we have the perfect foundation for our next chapter!” Rafael Koene, fund manager at ENERGIIQ: “The ENERGIIQ investment team is impressed with Gradyent and the investment consortium that was formed. We are convinced – also because of the strong management team – that Gradyent will experience strong growth in the coming years and that many heating networks will start using Gradyent’s AI platform. The growth will lead to significant CO2 reduction.”

More info on Gradyent's website.