Profile series: Antonio Annis (he/him)

Let’s get the basics. Name, where you are from, and your current affiliation/ advisor and profile?

I’m Antonio Annis, from Italy, currently CEO and Co-founder of GRIDDIT Srl and research fellow at the Water Resources Research and Documentation Center (WARREDOC) at Università per Stranieri di Perugia. My advisor and partner in the Company is Prof. Fernando Nardi.

What is the research you are currently working on?

My main activities are:

  1. Hydrogeomorphic models and scaling laws for floodplain mapping,
  2.  Integration of satellite data and Crowdsourced observations in data assimilation frameworks for near real time flood forecasting,
  3.  Multilayer green roofs for urban flood risk mitigation, and
  4. Supporting the coordination of a European project focused on the Water-Energy-Food Ecosystem. In parallel, I’m also carrying on activities related to the development of the services related to the GRIDDIT Startup. We are developing a web service related to hydro-meteo risks and their socio-economic impacts.

What was your motivation and challenges, for your transition from an academic setting to entrepreneurship journey?

I have not totally left academia since I am still a postdoc. However, my experience as a consultant in the past, combined with the outcomes of applied research, made us understand there was a concrete opportunity to bring our know-how to the market.

Tell us about the vision and plans for your company. Was there a key moment that sparked the idea or the desire to tackle the challenge you’re addressing?

GRIDDIT’s mission is to develop a new Earth Observation and Geospatial intelligence service to tackle water, environmental and societal challenges with a major focus on flood risk. GRIDDIT is a spinoff of Unversità per Stranieri di Perugia and is also part of the European Space Agency Business Incubation Center (ESA BIC) program based in Rome co-funded by the local Government of Regione Lazio (Lazio Innova) and by the Italian Space Agency ASI. We understood that there was an opportunity to deploy our research to the market when we presented our approaches at some conferences where people from the Insurance and network infrastructure management worlds approached us, being interested in our solutions. Then we undertook some consulting projects, and we realized that the data produced during these activities could become a web service.

What aspect of climate change does your company address, and how are you intervening? Do you have any particular thoughts for the potential advantages or disadvantages of tackling these from an entrepreneurial perspective?

We are currently at the minimum viable product (MVP) development stage of our solution. In the future,  we expect to include socio-economic impacts of climate change as part of our service since we are aware that changes in extreme events due to this phenomenon are currently affecting many parts of the world.

What would be your advice to the young hydrologists who would like to dare such a journey?

I’m just at the beginning of this journey, so maybe I’m not the best person to give advice. However, already at the beginning, I’m discovering a new world related to business that opens your mind and makes you understand the needs of stakeholders such as assets managers who are in charge of monitoring, managing and mitigating hydro-meteo risks. This is, in my opinion, very fruitful for also prompting the directions that applied research should take.

To young hydrologists interested in beginning such a journey, I suggest trying to immediately validate your business idea, making interviews with potential targets, participating to incubation programs that help you understating how to deploy your idea and build your business model. And, last but not the least, you need a pinch of temerity without too many negative thoughts when you dive into this world!

Checkout Antonio’s Start-up GRIDDIT:

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