HOPU brings innovation through the latest technologies such as AI, IoT and Data-Quality.
As part of their journey on BlockStart’s Acceleration Programme, as a startup developer of blockchain technology, they were looking to further develop their solution and for new opportunities for collaboration with end-user SMEs that could validate and help them improve their “Blockchain of Things Devices” blockchain solution.
We spoke with the CEO and R&D Director Antonio J. Jara to know more about HOPU and their participation in BlockStart.
In one paragraph, what is HOPU?
HOPU is a technological company focused on the development of certified IoT solutions and trustable contextual evidence-based services to enable the digitization of processes in companies and public administration, assisting them to make informed decisions in terms of sustainability and quality of life of the population. For this aim, HOPU is providing a modular and cost-effective solution adaptable for the specific needs of the end-users, supporting reliable and high data quality for environmental monitoring, gases, and toxic substances identification. This is extensible with other contextual parameters as noise, affluence of people and the relevant data sources from customers that supports the understanding of the status to enable a data-driven and evidence-based decision-making. Our main differentiation resides in the added value of our services: trustability of data provided and regulatory compliance via certification.
Can you tell us how the idea for your startup began?
HOPU started with the mission to bring innovation into action for climate change mitigation. HOPU joined forces with Climate-KIC, FIWARE and EC, to let all stakeholders to use the power of policies, data and IoT to build a solution to address this challenge.
In fact, HOPU is the result of the PhD results from Antonio Jara; HOPU started with a research-oriented ambition as a consequence of the research background of the initial team. However, 3 years ago HOPU pivoted drastically the mission and vision towards a business area that could take benefit of the value proposition; after all these explorations, the conclusion was Smart Cities, which satisfies the product-market fit that previous tries did not succeed, such as B2C for financial services (home insurances with IoT monitoring devices). For that reason, new market and approaches were focused on B2G and B2B2G, enabling a sustainable solution to address emerging challenges about regulations (regulation technologies – RegTech) and the gaps from IoT in areas as data quality, remote maintenance, cost-effective management and transforming massive amount of collected data into quantifiable benefits. For that purpose, HOPU envisioned an air quality solution, creating its own manufacturing plant for IoT devices, laboratory for calibration, and finally a software team to build services that valorize collected data. At this stage, HOPU is living the last revolution, where SaaS and data-driven services are defining our new business model, with the initial success stories as Madrid Central contract (Madrid 360), Madrid innovation investment, European Commission funds, deployment/replication of our services in more than 25 cities and with a growth rate of more than 30%. As a result of an excellent success rate for public tenders, global partnerships with key corporates as Telefonica, NEC, T-systems, and the initial investments opportunities from corporates and venture capitals, that we hope can be consolidated with the support of Climate KIC stage 3, as a completion of our journey of transformation during previous stages in this acceleration programme.
What is HOPU passionate about achieving?
HOPU is an SME, established in 2013 in Spain. At HOPU, we are passionate about designing and providing efficient and innovative evidence-based solutions, through the latest technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain and data quality. We offer support for any decision for customers and digital transformation through data-enabled tools via dashboards, as well as other tools that support decision making. In turn, our offer includes a large number of advanced and certified IoT devices that monitor the state of the environment, measuring air quality, noise, and climate.
Who are the team members and what backgrounds do you have?
Dr. Antonio J. Jara – R&D leader: Antonio J. Jara is the CEO and founder of HOPU (www.hopu.eu), and chair of Data Quality and IoT in IEEE. He did his PhD (Cum Laude) at the University of Murcia (UMU), Spain. These PhD results present a novel way to connect objects to Internet-enabled platforms in an easy, secure and scalable way. He also carried out a MBA and entrepreneurship formation in the ENAE business school and UCAM (2012).
Mr. Javier Sánchez – software integration and user interface design: Javier has been a Front-end Developer & UX Designer at HOP Ubiquitous since 2017. He performs the user interface design as part of the software team. He holds a Graphic Design Degree. He designs webs based on the experience gained in different jobs, such as in applications and in the videogame industry, working on the user experience. For his graphic designer training, he is also in contact with the communication team. He has created several illustrations, motion graphics or animations used for many other applications.
Germán Molina – full stack developer & cybersecurity expert: Germán is the Head of the Software Department and a Full stack developer at HOPU. He is leading the developments in the mobile applications side for the physical web applied in the different projects. He finished his bachelor degree in Computer Engineering, at the University of Murcia in 2013. He was awarded the Cathedra from Telefonica in 2014 and his works are mainly focused on Security (Internet Security) and Quality of Software through Test Driven Development. Finally, his main interests are blockchain and he is contributing to Open Source projects as Linux Hyperledger Fabric and he is studying about Solidity (Smart Contracts for Ethereum).
Iris Cuevas Martínez – Head of innovationIris is a chemical industrial engineer with experience in industrial production and calibration and quality control. She has over 4 years of experience in working on environmental assessment, emissions control and petrochemical industry.
Sonia Tovar Guillamón – business development and customer discovery: Sonia is a project manager at HOPU. She holds an Information Sciences degree and a Master in Information Systems Management and Business Technology. In addition, she holds a Level 3 Certificate of professionalism in Multimedia and Interactive Products Design. Currently, she performs as project manager as part of the communication department at HOPU, carrying out tasks related to projects development and management, business development (testing the viability of new products and services with early adopters) and participating in different dissemination activities.
Can you tell us about the prototype you have developed with the support of BlockStart Acceleration Programme?
The prototype developed consists of a comprehensive industrial emissions monitoring system, conceived as a Policy Based Solution (PBF) via Blockchain, certified IoT for indoor air quality monitoring, other heterogeneous data sources and visualization tools (dashboard: dashboard example). The approach selected for the prototype is, specifically, to handle authentication and authorization of carbon emissions through PBF in order to enable trustable and reliable data. Thanks to the proposed solution, customers will have an evidence-based value chain of their emissions: monitoring – certification – recording and regulatory compliance – compensation / monetization.
The main technical aspect resides in the integration of an alert register service based on blockchain in the industrial ecosystem. In this approach, two security services will be enabled: Ethereum (public and private keys) and PBF. Moreover, other contextual data will be integrated, as each competent administration issues the allowance of emitting an amount of CO2 emissions consistent with its economic activity as well as the total amount allowed in the country (Paris Agreement).
Finally, it is expected that the SME adopters will implement the digitization of their manufacturing processes for controlling their emissions via continuous monitoring and specific consultancy services to support them. By using the solution proposed by HOPU in BlockStart, companies will be able to finally generate Tokens / monetization that ensure the reduction of their emissions as CO2 credits with an economic value on the market.
What were you most excited about in taking part of BlockStart Acceleration Programme?
- Heterogeneos expertise available for mentoring that is able to address our needs and challenges.
- Real SMEs adopters willing to adopt the solution and validate it with us
- Explore the multiple benefits of integrating blockchain in so many different solutions to solve different needs / issues of customers.
Which were the major challenges you have faced during the development and market/fit validation of your prototype?
- The integration of a Policy Based Framework considering that current regulations in terms of carbon emissions are different in each country and region.
- Understand the different needs of the industrial sector depending on their kind of industry and carbon offset needs.
- Show the evidence and benefits that customers will obtain from the digitization of their processes and raise their awareness regarding the possibilities of obtaining other benefits, including monterization, thanks to the certification processes via blockchain.
What unique aspects does your company and the prototype you have developed have to offer to the market sectors/type of companies you wish to enter/sell and to the blockchain ecosystem in Europe, as a whole?
“Our unique value resides in the differentiation of our added value services offered, including a high accuracy and regulatory compliance”
The differentiation of the solution resides in the Unique Value Proposition based on data quality and trustability and its cost effectiveness. This combination together with its cost-effectiveness (SaaS solution and optional IoT monitoring hardware equipment) make up a robust solution based on data quality and reliability, in addition to other added value features related to regulations compliance. We will continue defining the sales price of the solution and working on new added value services by generating official certificates of accuracy and standardization. Moreover, we are working on the idea of integrating the solution in other services such as navigation services, tourism maps, real estate, etc.
The solution is conceived taking into account 4 regulatory frameworks: EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV), European Green Deal :Aims to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution, RegTech: Blockchain will have a direct impact on our lives in the next few years, the Digital Identity and Regulatory Technologies are going to be two of the pillars that will change our way of seeing things and ISO 17025: General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. The 17025 accreditation (ENAC accredited laboratory) of the gas calibration laboratory is an evolution of the calibration laboratory implemented under LEADER funds in the project presented in February 2018. It is therefore new equipment that completes the company’s technical capacity and opens up a new line of business, as an official calibration laboratory.
Is collaboration with SME adopters important for piloting your solution?
Definitely, yes. The pilot stage will be essential to finally test the solution in different real environments, thanks to which we expect to evolve the solution from a TLR 6 to a TRL 8 and launch it to the market, following our roadmap and the business model planned. Afer pilots we will also receive a new chance to finally adjust the functionalities of the solution to the customers real needs after receiving feedback from SMEs adopters.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
Nowadays, our customers’ portfolio is over 30 cities and 10 corporate partners, being recurrent customers. We are helping them to mitigate climate change with a direct impact on the environment. At the same time, we are generating jobs, being today 27 people and expecting being over 50 employees in 5 years. Our turnover is over 1M€, and expect to move to 2M€ in one year, and over 5M€ in 5 years, thanks to joint partnerships and potential merges/acquisitions and the new solutions focused on private corporates and industrial sector.