The Challenges Of Streamlining For Commercialisation

RSS-Hydro CEO and founder, Guy Schumann has a passion for sustainability and smart solutions to handle incidents such as flooding. (Photo © RSS-Hydro)

RSS-Hydro is a recognised centre for R&D in the domain of geospatial and modelling intelligence. CEO and founder Guy Schumann discusses the challenges of balancing innovation and commercialisation and reveals that the company is participating in NVIDIA’s Inception Program.

RSS-Hydro is working on innovative solutions that address challenges posed by natural disasters like flooding or wildfires. Its team—comprised of AI and GIS experts, hydrologists and remote sensing professionals—is led by Guy Schumann, who holds a PhD in geography, remote sensing and flood hydrology. 

As Schumann explains, the company is run on two pillars: one is research and development, and the other is commercial products and services. He admits the company took a slightly different approach than most startups.

“I never considered ourselves a startup because we’re probably growing more like a traditional company, more organically. But we are a startup in the sense that we push very hard on innovation.” 

Guy Schumann, CEO and founder of RSS-Hydro

The team prides itself on working with universities to take on students, some of whom take on a six-month placement and can write a thesis with them. Among their partners are the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), and, as Schumann notes, “Our company is also recognised by the ministry of economy as an accredited centre for carrying out research in the private sector.” 

Careful selection

But being a part of so many research projects can be a challenge for a for-profit company, and it’s for this reason that Schumann says “we need to streamline all that into one roadmap for the company to go commercial.”

Despite receiving regular contacts from some “big players” to loop RSS-Hydro into new research projects or consortia, Schumann says they’ll need to be more selective, and projects will be “carefully selected” based on how they fit into more of a commercial roadmap moving forward. 

“It took us four years to get to a very good understanding of how we want to fuse these two pillars… It’s clear we still want to keep this R&D pillar very active… at the same time, we also get a lot of recognition from future potential clients that we could have in the commercial part because of this R&D part we run.” 

Guy Schumann, CEO and founder of RSS-Hydro

Schumann says startups get support from the Luxembourg government and banks quite easily. However, he sees some issues that can make it challenging for startups. One is regarding contract types, employee hours, etc., that you can have as a for-profit company. “We’re lacking flexibility in labour… the labour law is very strict,” the CEO says. 

Additionally, he says that the timeline after receiving European funding can be somewhat slow. “In other countries, that cash disbursement is happening a lot faster,” he adds.  

2024 developments

In September 2023, the team moved into their own offices. And Schumann is excited about developments this year, including the fact that RSS-Hydro is in a Google startup programme and part of NVIDIA’s Inception Program where they are “collaborating on a number of ideas.”

The team has also been invited to attend and present at Nvidia GTC, a leading global AI conference, which takes place 18-21 March in San Jose, California.

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