Startup Europe Awards

Fourth session of Next LATAM-EU Generation addresses business cooperation between the EU and Latin America in the water management sector

Fourth session of Next LATAM-EU Generation addresses business cooperation between the EU and Latin America in the water management sector

The webinar was held on July 13 to commemorate World Population Day and World Oceans Day

Circular economy and wastewater management project LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 was the overarching topic throughout the webinar

The event was supported by Red Business Market and the Congreso Iberoamericano de Empresas Familiares y Pymes

A meeting will be held in Medellin (Colombia) in late 2021 to deliver the LATAM Startup Europe Awards

Brussels, 14.07.2021 – On Tuesday 13 July, 2021, on the occasion of World Population Day and World Oceans Day, Finnova Foundation and Startup Europe Awards launched  the fourth session of Next LATAM-EU Generation: “Entrepreneurship and Water: a Driver of Economic Recovery and Social Development of Regions and Municipalities” together with Red Business Market and the Congreso Iberoamericano de Empresas Familiares y Pymes.

The main objectives of Next LATAM-EU Generation are the transfer of knowledge, the dissemination of information on available funding facilities for both continents and the development of shared projectsamong Latin American and European countries in order to forge business alliances.

The fourth session of Next LATAM-EU Generation: “Entrepreneurship and Water: a Driver of Economic Recovery and Social Development of regions and Municipalities” was chaired by Finnova – LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 CEO Juanma Revuelta, who used LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0. to showcase best practices in the wastewater sector. Partnered by Finnova, LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 aims to control on-demand production of biogas in WWTPs digesters. This project seeks to treat organic waste from livestock farms e.g. swine or chicken manure, waste from the HORECA sector, waste from cooperatives and supermarkets, and solid urban waste in order to foster sustainability and to reduce CO2 emissions.

Javier Vázquez Hueso, CEO of EMALGESA and Deputy Mayor of Ayuntamiento de Algeciras, which harbours the fourth most important port in Europe and is located between two continents, was the first speaker in the “Institutions” section of the webinar. Mr. Vázquez said that Algeciras will invest €25M in the upcoming years on its water agenda.

Rafael Heredero, Policy Advisor at EurEau, broke down into different sub-topics the European Green Deal, the EU’s strategy to become a resource efficient, competitive and modern economy, which urges to minimise GHG emissions by 2050.

Luis Lehmann, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development Consultant, initiated the “Water and Region Experts” section by pointing out the major problems which affect water in this decade i.e. water pollution,poor quality of water for human consumption and floods. All of these are particularly dangerous for Latin America. “Facing these challenges by implementing a circular economy model to reach sustainable development is a great opportunity, especially for local governments”.

The CEO of Red Business Market, Josu Gómez Barrutia, said that over the past years, “there has been a growing interest in the sustainability and circular economy start-up ecosystem”. According to Mr. Barrutia, the amount of environment-related start-ups in Spain has soared to more than 36%, which has led to a 361% surge in renewable energies and sustainability related patents. This clearly shows the concern of start-ups vis-à-vis the environment.

Ana Beccar Varela, Water Project Manager at The Nature Conservancy, introduced a long-term water funds management strategy. Waters funds are organisations which design and promote financial and governmental mechanisms bringing together public, private and civil society agents to achieve water security based on the comprehensive management of watersheds and the implementation of nature-based solutions.

Diego Correa, CEO of APSU, talked about a microwave reactor APSU is currently using and which extracts biochar from sludge. This project was accelerated by Finnova’s Startup Europe Accelerator and won the Startup Europe Awards competition in the water category in 2017. This sludge represents “one of the greatest dangers to water”. Mr. Correa said this reactor “transforms this sludge into clean energy, eliminates pathogens and extracts biogas with steam in a single process”.

Speaking from Águas de Gaia in Portugal, CEO Miguel Lemos stressed the urgency to take care and to protect water. “Water is necessary for human life. We need to find a social, financial and environmental balance when it comes to water management”.

Sub-director of Agri-food Innovation at Cajamar Ricardo García talked about Almeria’s “agricultural miracle” i.e. its strategic water management system. Mr. García and his team strive to recruit new talent in the agri-food industry of Almeria to copycat this very same system in the rest of Spain and the world.

José Teixeira, Key Account Manager of Buntplanet, discussed how his company has created a unique software based on AI to optimise water management and to prevent leaks by digitalising it.

Adrián Nadal, CEO of Bioferric, talked about Bioferric’s technology to design and assemble water treatment and purification plants. Bioferric won the first edition of Water Accelerathon, an event implemented by Finnova. Thanks to their technology, Bioferric can recover up to 95% of components from effluents.

The last speaker in the “Experts” section was Carlota Corzo, Co-founder of Lazzaro, a technology-based and socially-oriented enterprise specialising in designing software for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to manage their websites and to raise funds and donations, hence filling the digital divide. “One of our goals is to monitor transactions by using blockchain, as the first reason why people avoid donating to NGOs in Spain is the lack of confidence. We realised only 8% of NGOs are digitalised”.

Adrián Noheda, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director at Finnova Foundation, wrapped up the “Funds” area by explaining the different EU funding opportunities for all those entrepreneurs wishing to bring their projects into the EU and who participate in companies operating in Member States.

Horizon Europe, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2021-2027, has been recently launched. It envisages international cooperation with non-Member States.

The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action created in 1992. For the 2021-2027 period, the programme has a financial envelope of €5.4 billion, which means €1.9 billion more as opposed to the 2014-2020 period. LIFE can be broken down into four sub-programmes whit a co-funding rate of up to 60%: Nature and Biodiversity, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Circular Economy and Quality of Life and Clean Energy Transition.

Mr. Noheda seized the opportunity to use LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 as a best practice example. This project is a consortium formed by Global Omnium, Finnova Foundation and Aguas do Centro Litoral.

Mr. Noheda also talked about the Innovation Fund, one of the most comprehensive funds in the world for the development of low-carbon innovative technologies. This fund will provide nearly €20 billion for 2020-2030 to commercialise industrial solutions to decarbonise Europe and to help achieve a climate-neutrality transition.

On the other hand, the European Innovation Council (EIC) offers up to €15M-worth investments and up to €2.5M-worth grants for entrepreneurs and SMEs having from 1 to 250 employees and less than €50M revenue.

The fourth session of Next LATAM-EU Generation was closed off by poet and president of Poets without Borders Chema Paz Gago, who read his ecopoem called “False Prestige”.

If you couldn’t attend the event, you can watch it here.



The first LATAM-EU session was held on March 8 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. It was run by several female speakers, such as Patricia Llombart, EU Ambassador in Colombia, Liskel Álvarez, External Actions Senior Officer at Cabildo de Tenerife, and Adriana Vargas, head of Trading Links of the Colombian Mission in the EU. The goal of this event was to discuss the role of women in business cooperation between Latam and the EU, with a special focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The second session, which was held on April 6 (on the occasion of World Health Day), was named “Challenges and Opportunities for Tourism through Cooperation between Latam and the EU during Covid-19”. Its main topics were the challenges that the tourism sector has to face and how to. This session was attended by Manuel Vegas, president of Asociación Española de Directores de Hotel (AEDH); Antonio López de Ávila, Co-founder and CEO of Toursim Data Driven Solutions (TDDS), and Irene Sánchez, Business Creation Manager at EIT Health Spain.

The third session, which was held on May 11 on Global Recycling Day, was named “Challenges of Circular Economy in LATAM-EU Cooperation as a Production and Consumption Model for Sustainability”.Speakers included Isabel Silva Souza, Ambassador of the European Commission’s Climate Pact; Álvaro Hernández, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Inboplast; Sharam Yalda, partner of CirCoAX and founder of HumanNation; Alonso Salguero, CEO at GTA Ingeniería y Medioambiente, and Giuseppe Liberati, Executive Director at Bridging Value.

Next LATAM-EU Generation is made up of nine online events which will take place every second Tuesday of each month. Each event is held on the occasion of an International Day in line with UN SDGs. To top it all off, if the health situation allows it, an on-site event will be held in Medellin (Colombia) to celebrate the final of LATAM Startup Europe Awards.


About LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0

The main objective of the LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 project is the real-scale demonstration of an innovative technology for the automated control of waste dosage in anaerobic digesters of WWTPs to maximise the production of biogas on demand as a renewable energy.

LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 undertakes to turn biogas into a reliable source of energy to supply green power to industries and companies in order to ensure that the EU’s goal to reach at least 27% of renewable energy in 2030 is met. This methodology is especially interesting for Europe, as there are 18.000 water treatment plants accounting for 0.8% of energy consumption.

LIFE ECOdigestion 2.0 kicked off on 1 September, 2020, and will continue up until 29 February, 2024. Its main coordinator is Global Omnium Medioambiente, and its main partners are Finnova Foundation and Portuguese consortium Águas do Centro Litoral. It has a €970,000 budget.

About Finnova Foundation

Finnova Foundation is a Belgian-Spanish foundation which helps institutions and organisations to get funds for their innovative projects. Finnova aims to promote private-public cooperation through innovation in order to address social challenges, e.g. employment, training, entrepreneurship, SDGs, circular economy, etc. As part of its commitment to innovation, Finnova has been organising the Startup Europe Awards since 2016, an initiative from the European Commission.

Finnova’s HQ are located in Belgium and across Spain – Comunitat Valenciana, the Basque Country, Andalusia, Madrid and the Canary Islands. It also has branches in Chile and Panama.

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About Startup Europe Awards

Startup Europe Awards is an initiative by DG CONNECT and has been implemented by Finnova Foundation since 2016. Startup Europe Awards are an open innovation mechanism aimed to identify disruptive start-ups and to promote private-public partnerships. They also seek to raise awareness on the importance of self-entrepreneurship as a driving force for job creation. In addition to promoting networks to meet the UN SDGs and the European Green Deal objectives, they also contribute to circular economy, sustainable tourism and fighting against climate change.

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About Red Business Market 

Business Market is a forum connecting investors, businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups from Ciudad Real aiming to create a network of business, financing and support for economic and business projects in that area. All this funding can be coupled with venture capital, business angels, personal investments and corporate or financial funds for innovative and disruptive initiatives with an added value which need funding to start operating.

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