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By Nicolas Pinguely, Tamedia Business Reporter, as featured in the 24Heures and Tribune de Genève

Launched in 2018, a Swiss-based start-up has developed smart sensors, which, coupled with cloud computing, allow to monitor water consumption and quality remotely in buildings.

Here in Puidoux (Vaud, Switzerland), engineers behind the scenes are designing systems and sensors to save the blue gold. It is essential to make better use of water,” says Ramzi Bouzerda, founder of Droople, who holds a masters degree in computer science from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, “There are meters to calculate water consumption at the building entrance, but it is not possible to know how this water is consumed.” This lack of visibility affects individuals as well as companies, hospitals, or schools. “Washing machines,
sanitary facilities and other filtration systems in companies are affected,” he lists.

Equipping Food Industry Giants

Among Droople’s customers are companies that supply water treatment systems to the food industry giants, pharmaceutical groups or even semiconductor manufacturers, including Japanese company Kurita and Pentair, based in the USA.

The world of water fountains that flourish in corporate offices is also in Droople’s sight. “There are more than 3 million of them in Europe,” he says. Droople sensors allow the firms that market them to facilitate the maintenance, by “determining remotely when the filters or CO2 bottles need to be changed”.

The World of Facility Management

To ensure its development, Droople also wants to appeal to the world of cleaning, “from shopping centers to hospitals, airports and schools,” says Ramzi Bouzerda. In this context, the sensors connected to the toilets can determine when it is time to clean them or if a toilet flush is broken. “This streamlines the cleaning process of these shared spaces, and automatically locates leaks,” he says. A partnership with the Zurich-based company Vebego was signed in this regard last spring.

The firm is casting a wide net. “Our sensors and software also allow us to understand when individuals and companies need hot water, and to activate water heaters and heat pumps only at the most opportune moment,” confides the boss. This would save up to 20% of energy in buildings.

Made in Switzerland, Growing Worldwide

The firm manufactures its sensors in Switzerland: “in the Cantons of Valais, Fribourg and Vaud,” says Ramzi Bouzerda. “We have managed to anticipate the global shortage of components and our stock of microprocessors should be sufficient to ensure our production until the end of 2022,” he says.

Droople is growing at a fast pace. The firm sells its sensors, as well as the computer monitoring required to analyze the data, in 11 countries across Asia, America and Europe. Having sold 1,000 units to date, the start-up expects to sell 3,000 by the end of 2022.

The company, which currently employs 13 people, including several engineers from the EPFL, has set ambitious goals. “We are aiming for a turnover of 50 million by 2025,” says the founder. The start-up is in the process of raising funds to finance its expansion, “6 Million Swiss Francs in total, including 3 Million from the Swiss Federal Government Technology Fund”.

In short, Droople has a lot on its plate.