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AquaZoom AG

Environmentally beneficial hydropower - Everywhere

AquaZoom is one of those rare opportunities where environmental impact, societal benefit and revenue potential match. The company's technology enables the restoration of rivers, provides stable low-cost electricity, and an investment opportunity with outstanding growth and profit expectations.

The technology is simple and brilliant at the same time: a swirl like in a bathtub drain drives a slow-moving turbine. AquaZoom power plants only need a vertical drop of 1-2 meters, instead of 4-5 meters like most other hydro technologies. This makes AquaZoom feasible for almost all weirs and dams out there, creating a unique opportunity for our company.

Investor proposal

With a revenue of € 40m by 2021 and free cash flows available as early as 2020, AquaZoom provides an opportunity with a large upside. With the first plants already operating, a strong core team and experienced advisors helping its growth, technology and scale-up risks are already well under control. The sales pipeline is strong and on track for accomplishing the company's objectives.

Beyond selling more than 200 units by 2020 with an EBITDA margin of 15% (24% in 2021), AquaZoom aims at owning 75 sites across Europe with a ROC of >60%. Regular maintenance contracts provide additional stable revenue.

Product

The problem this product solves

In Europe alone, rivers are cut into small seg­ments by 500’000 dams and weirs, blocking fish migration. Current EU legislation demands their removal, with little success so far. Sluggish action is caused by the fact that eliminating those hurdles is costly and has no economic benefit.

With an urgent need for more renewable energy, hydropower could contribute, but has taken a back seat due to its negative effects on ecosystems. Additionally, most possible sites only have a low head (difference between upper and lower water level), where traditional hydro technologies cannot perform economically.

How the product solves it

AquaZoom provides a dual solution to the above problems. The technology creates the attraction flow that guides fish upstream and enables them to swim down the river. Inside, a slow moving turbine that doesn't harm fish harnesses more than 80% of the water's kinetic energy and turns it into electricity. That way, both sides win: aquatic life is restored and landowners can get revenue from power production.

Product features


AquaZoom's unique technology provides the following:
- Its patented design creates the necessary attraction flow for local fish species;
- Inside, a vortex forms (like in a bathtub drain) that moves a turbine;
- Easy and quick installation due to its modular and standardized build;
- Unobtrusive and environmentally friendly (small footprint, and not protruding above ground);
- Low maintenance and long life (>50 years);
- Low cost of energy generated (2-6 € cents in advanced, 1-3 € cents in emerging economies);
- No noise generated from turbine.

Product use cases

The now defunct Trafford Mill on the river Gowy in Cheshire, U.K. has been operating since the 14th century. With a head of 1.5m, its weir obstructs fish migration without benefit. Shortly, AquaZoom will build a power plant providing fish passage and producing 100'000 kWh annually. for 50 years or more.

In Kerala (South India), on the Killiyar river, a flood protection dam with a head of 1.5m has been equipped with a AquaZoom twin power plant rated 20 kW. It provides approximately 150'000 kWh of urgently needed energy, and, should water quality be restored, enables fish migration again.

Team

Richard Vögeli avatar
Richard Vögeli CEO
Richard, holding a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Oregon, is looking back onto a long international career in large organizations and as an entrepreneur. His track record includes 13 years at Swiss Re, last as Industry Practice Leader Global Energy, followed by many full and part time roles ... See more
Richard, holding a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Oregon, is looking back onto a long international career in large organizations and as an entrepreneur. His track record includes 13 years at Swiss Re, last as Industry Practice Leader Global Energy, followed by many full and part time roles as an entrepreneur and consultant, among them in the fields of insurance, investment management, renewable energy, and Corporate Social Responsibility, In 2015, he undertook an active effort to focus all protagonists working on vortex hydropower technology into one organization and set up AquaZoom, which he has been running as CEO since. See less
Klaus Petrasch avatar
Klaus Petrasch CTO
A civil engineer (TU Dresden) by training, Klaus worked as a research engineer at TU Dresden until the German reunification. After 1990, he successfully operated his own construction business with up to 40 employees, which he later converted into an engineering services company. Since 2008, he increasingly shifted his activities ... See more
A civil engineer (TU Dresden) by training, Klaus worked as a research engineer at TU Dresden until the German reunification. After 1990, he successfully operated his own construction business with up to 40 employees, which he later converted into an engineering services company. Since 2008, he increasingly shifted his activities towards small hydro and wind power, with a strong focus on vortex hydropower. He is responsible for managing AquaZoom's R&D activities, which includes the collaboration with TU Dresden leading to the verification of the product's fish migration capabilities. See less
Subhendu Biswas avatar
Subhendu Biswas Managing Director India
Subhendu, holding a degree in Chemical Engineering from NIT Durgapur, began his career in operational management roles in the petrochemical industry, before moving to become a specialist in climate-related matters, including carbon trading and mitigation projects. He worked for Det Norske Veritas, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and First Climate India over the past ... See more
Subhendu, holding a degree in Chemical Engineering from NIT Durgapur, began his career in operational management roles in the petrochemical industry, before moving to become a specialist in climate-related matters, including carbon trading and mitigation projects. He worked for Det Norske Veritas, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and First Climate India over the past 13 years. Subhendu is co-founder of AquaZoom and has been AquaZoom’s General Manager for India since the beginning. See less
Bianca Vögeli avatar
Bianca Vögeli CFO
Bianca is a certified accountant (ACCA) and an experienced project manager. She served clients in different industries in audit, finance, and M&A advisory at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for five years. At an international manufacturing company, she led group-wide finance and international expansion projects. Bianca holds an Economics degree from the University of ... See more
Bianca is a certified accountant (ACCA) and an experienced project manager. She served clients in different industries in audit, finance, and M&A advisory at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for five years. At an international manufacturing company, she led group-wide finance and international expansion projects. Bianca holds an Economics degree from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. See less
Hannes Kunz avatar
Hannes Kunz Advisor Operations
Hannes holds Masters degrees in Law and Economics from the University of Zurich, and a PhD in Economics from St. Gallen University (HSG). He worked in management roles in the IT, HR and life sciences industry (e.g. Merck, Inc.) and as a partner in international management consulting firms Ernst & ... See more
Hannes holds Masters degrees in Law and Economics from the University of Zurich, and a PhD in Economics from St. Gallen University (HSG). He worked in management roles in the IT, HR and life sciences industry (e.g. Merck, Inc.) and as a partner in international management consulting firms Ernst & Young and PRTM (today PWC) with assignments in Europe, the Americas and in Asia. He has been president of the Institute for Integrated Economic Research since 2007. During the past decade, he repeatedly accepted key roles in startups that he considered relevant and that can benefit from his vast experience in management, IT, product development and supply chain management. See less
Fred van Beuningen avatar
Fred van Beuningen Board Member
Educated in business at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, Fred has worked as General Manager, Chief Executive Officer and Board member for international industrial companies and as an entrepreneur. Fred serves on the investment committee of a national development fund and on the Advisory council of ... See more
Educated in business at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, Fred has worked as General Manager, Chief Executive Officer and Board member for international industrial companies and as an entrepreneur. Fred serves on the investment committee of a national development fund and on the Advisory council of the Erasmus Center of Future Energy. His recent activities are in venture capital. See less
Arun Amirtham avatar
Arun Amirtham Board Member
Holding a Master’s in Electronic Engineering from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Arun Amirtham spent 24 years with Philips Semiconductors in product development, engineering, marketing and business leadership roles before becoming active in several entrepreneurial roles promoting and implementing solar PV technology, as well as being program director in “zeroPoverty” ... See more
Holding a Master’s in Electronic Engineering from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Arun Amirtham spent 24 years with Philips Semiconductors in product development, engineering, marketing and business leadership roles before becoming active in several entrepreneurial roles promoting and implementing solar PV technology, as well as being program director in “zeroPoverty” Social Business in Switzerland and India. Arun has accompanied and supported the activities of AquaZoom from day one as a non-executive board member. See less
Clemens Bolli avatar
Clemens Bolli Business Development Latin America
With Master degrees in Political Science and in Geographical Information Science, Clemens has worked in various functions for different governmental bodies in Switzerland dealing with Geographic Information Systems and spatial planning, such as the Federal Office of Energy, the City of Zurich and the Canton of Grisons. He has also ... See more
With Master degrees in Political Science and in Geographical Information Science, Clemens has worked in various functions for different governmental bodies in Switzerland dealing with Geographic Information Systems and spatial planning, such as the Federal Office of Energy, the City of Zurich and the Canton of Grisons. He has also led a touristic infrastructure project in the Swiss mountain resort Davos. In his long-term engagement in fundraising for the Swiss Red Cross, he has raised considerable amounts of funds for humanitarian purposes. Prior to his professional career, Clemens has pursued an international career in competitive sports and he speaks six languages. See less
Jayanti Dasgupta avatar
Jayanti Dasgupta Business Development India
With a BSc in Physics and 20+ years experience in solar and other renewable energy projects, Jayanti founded “Inca Solar Energy Pvt Ltd” in 2007, which offered turnkey solar solutions. These included rooftop solar installations, street lights, and solar thermal applications. Her experience also involves other renewable energy domains, and ... See more
With a BSc in Physics and 20+ years experience in solar and other renewable energy projects, Jayanti founded “Inca Solar Energy Pvt Ltd” in 2007, which offered turnkey solar solutions. These included rooftop solar installations, street lights, and solar thermal applications. Her experience also involves other renewable energy domains, and she closely worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and several state agencies. She spearheads the business development activities of AquaZoom in India. See less
Jacob Clayton avatar
Jacob Clayton Business Development UK
With an extensive professional background in geotechnical site investigation, focused on infrastructure and offshore energy, Jacob began studying Environmental Management and Technology with The Open University. As his studies developed alongside his career, he became increasingly conscious of environmental aspects, which led to a move from oil and gas towards ... See more
With an extensive professional background in geotechnical site investigation, focused on infrastructure and offshore energy, Jacob began studying Environmental Management and Technology with The Open University. As his studies developed alongside his career, he became increasingly conscious of environmental aspects, which led to a move from oil and gas towards renewable energy – in particular hydropower. Jacob provides a wide range of technical and practical skills, from advanced laboratory engineering to quality management, allowing him to take a project from an idea through to a fully commissioned installation. See less
Annie Scharbatke avatar
Annie Scharbatke Engineering
With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Annie is focusing on energy technology and hydromechanics, She has contributed substantially to the development, design and optimization of AquaZoom's power plant over the past years. Her expertise was further expanded in her capacity as scientific assistant at the technical university in Brugg-Windisch, Switzerland ... See more
With a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Annie is focusing on energy technology and hydromechanics, She has contributed substantially to the development, design and optimization of AquaZoom's power plant over the past years. Her expertise was further expanded in her capacity as scientific assistant at the technical university in Brugg-Windisch, Switzerland at the Institute of Thermal and Fluid Engineering. See less
Michael Webner avatar
Michael Webner Aquadynamics Engineering
For several years Michael worked as a research assistant at the Technical University of Rostock with a focus on electrical and later automotive engineering. In the following years, he was responsible for the construction of electro-hydraulic auxiliary units for motor vehicles at a multinational company, initially as a project manager ... See more
For several years Michael worked as a research assistant at the Technical University of Rostock with a focus on electrical and later automotive engineering. In the following years, he was responsible for the construction of electro-hydraulic auxiliary units for motor vehicles at a multinational company, initially as a project manager and later as head of development. Following a position at a medium sized company as head of technology and production he founded Ventego AG in 2010, developing, producing and selling renewable energy systems, with a focus on small wind turbines. Michael is an expert in fluid kinetics, as well as drive and control technology. See less
Carlos Freixo avatar
Carlos Freixo Head Technology IT and Control Systems
Carlos main role is managing the development team responsible for all of AquaZoom's IT hard- and software, including the control software responsible for obtaining and displaying the data fetched by the sensors and local controlling equipment connected to Aquazoom's power plants. Carlos is holding a degree in Software Engineering by ... See more
Carlos main role is managing the development team responsible for all of AquaZoom's IT hard- and software, including the control software responsible for obtaining and displaying the data fetched by the sensors and local controlling equipment connected to Aquazoom's power plants. Carlos is holding a degree in Software Engineering by the University of Coimbra and vast experience in software development. See less
Pedro Costa avatar
Pedro Costa Engineering Control Systems
Pedro Costa is a network systems specialist focused on optimizing process and finding solutions. With a degree in computer engineering and a thriving curiosity in technology, he has been responsible for designing the hardware and software architecture for the AquaZoom control units implemented with each v2 power plant.

Market

Target Market

AquaZoom's targets are sites where fish migration is currently blocked by weirs and dams (head of 1-4m). Old mill registers indicate approximately 500'000 sites in Europe, and >1m qualifying sites worldwide.

Total available market (globally): 1m sites
Initial serviceable target market (India, U.K. and Germany): 275'000 sites
Obtainable market: 10% of sites = approx. 27'500 sites
Average revenue per site: € 100'000
Obtainable market volume: € 2'775m (plus service revenue)

Target markets are selected based on hydro friendly regulatory framework and potential market size.

AquaZoom is building and operating the first few plants in each target market using existing Feed-in-tariffs to show the product's capabilities.

Competitive landscape

Two small companies are known to promote vortex based hydropower schemes, Zotloeterer (Austria) and Turbulent (Belgium). Overall, AquaZoom considers competition beneficial as it demonstrates the viability of the vortex technology to potential customers - and the market size is by far large enough.

Additionally, some other technologies are theoretically suitable for low head situations (between 1-4 meters), such as Archimedes screws (high cost, no upstream fish migration) or in-river turbines (low efficiency).





Unique differentiator from competitors

Both key competitors offering vortex-driven power plants are lacking the scientifically demonstrated fish migration capabilities of AquaZoom, and its modular build.

The Austrian competitor (claiming about 10-20 undocumented installations) lacks performance (converting less than 50% of the water's kinetic potential into power).

The Belgian competitor (Turbulent) has so far only implemented a small-scale model and has no further experience and thus no available operational data. A hydrodynamics analysis suggests that its performance will likely harness less than 50% of the water's energy.

Key AquaZoom features enabling fish migration and high efficiency are protected by patents.

Company revenue streams

AquaZoom's main revenue stream originates from sales and maintenance proceeds generated from power plant installations. Depending on size, the average cost of one installation (assuming a 30% sales margin) amounts to € 100'000 in advanced economies and € 50'000 in emerging economies. Maintenance and monitoring services revenue is estimated at approximately 1.5% of cumulative sales revenue.

Additionally, the company operates its own set of plants in markets with Feed-in-tariffs, both as revenue generators and demonstrators (initially UK and Germany).

Share of revenue (in year 4 of a market rollout - example: U.K.):
Sales: 65%
Maintenance: 7%
Build-to-operate revenue (Feed-in-tariffs): 28%

Product/service distribution

Currently, the market is developed using a direct distribution approach collaborating with established local project partners providing the necessary regulatory process experience that accelerates market access and planning success. During the build of the first self-operated plants, local teams (sales, regulatory, installation and maintenance) will be established.

Further, local collaborations with established project developers using "finder's fees" are used to speed up the identification and conversion of opportunities.

Execution

Previous milestones/traction


2011: First plant installed in Schöftland/Switzerland
2012: Second plant installed in Bühlau/Germany
2013: Successful scientific tests regarding fish migration (Bühlau plant)
2015: Setup of AquaZoom as a merger of various activities related to vortex technology
2016: Development of optimized geometry
2017: Start of test plant build at Technical University Dresden
Q4/2017: Ground-breaking of first v2 plant in Kerala/India
Q1/2018: Test plant at TU Dresden live
Q1/2018: Start of UK market activities
Q2/2018: First v2 (high efficiency, remote control) plant in Kerala live

Next key objectives

Q4/2018 - 20 units under planning/construction (UK, India) - on track
Q1/2019 - Germany market launch
Q1/2019 - Full fish testing completed with scientific approval
Q4/2019 - 75 plants commissioned or under construction (UK, India, Germany)
Q4/2019 - EBITDA positive
Q4/2020 - 380 plants commissioned or under construction
Q4/2020 - Cash Flow positive

Previous Financing

2015: Initial share capital CHF 100'000 (€ 88'000 at current exchange rate of € 1 = CHF 1.13)
2016: Seed funding round (valuation CHF 2.5m = € 2.21m): CHF 85'000 (€ 75'000)
2016-2018: Additional share capital contributions from existing shareholders of CHF 522'000m (€ 462'000)

Use of funds

All funds obtained will be used for market access and necessary operational scale-up. Funds use is split as follows:
- Operational scale-up (technology, tools, IT): € 265'000 (46.2%)
- UK Sales, Planning and Permissions: € 105'000 (18.5%)
- Germany Sales, Planning and Permissions: € 120'000 (20.8%)
- India Sales and Rollout: € 85'000 (14.5%)

Return on Investment

AquaZoom is aiming at a long-term growth strategy given is vast market potential and is more focused on continuous high returns than on an exit. From 2020 onwards, annual dividends of >20% can be expected based on the current valuation.

However, for shareholders looking for an exit, the company will create regular opportunities. By 2021, the company's expected valuation of € 49m at a multiple of 6x EBITDA would be 6.5 times higher than today. By 2022, at an expected valuation of € 67m, the multiple would be 10.

Risk Analysis

The following key risks remain:

Operational:
- Scale-up risks (suppliers) - mitigated by slow introduction using self-operated plants, thus reducing negative customer experiences during initial scale-up;
- Management risks - mitigated by a very experienced group of advisors supporting the business.

Market:
- Regulatory - frameworks might be hard to change in some markets - mitigated by flexibly choosing target countries. Many markets don't have hurdles;
- Currency risk - in some markets, currency risks exist (e.g. U.K. with Brexit), these need to be mitigated by local sourcing of most components and using local finance for build-to-operate activities.