• Innovation

#3 Sopht x BNP Paribas: how to reduce the digital impact of IT departments?

Episode 3 of our ”Let's Innovate series": we meet Hugo de Broucker, Head of Delivery of Sopht, a Green Tech company that is in the process of tackling a major challenge: the decarbonisation of digital activities. And it’s urgent! By 2040, digital activities could account for up to 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Where does the name Sopht come from?

Hugo de Broucker : This name comes from the combination of a commonly used word in our sector, software, and Sophia, which means wisdom in Greek. The idea is to use digital tools wisely, which goes hand in hand with issues of sobriety and intelligence in the way we handle these very powerful tools. We want to strike an innovative balance between decarbonisation, the digital environment and practices in IT departments.

How did the Sopht start-up come about?

Hugo de Broucker : Sopht’s founders spent nearly 10 years working on digital transformation projects for major companies. They found that one link was systematically missing: the assessment and consideration of the impact of these activities on the environment. Yet, the digital sector accounts for a large and growing share of global CO2 emissions, around 4%*. The digital sector emits 2 times more greenhouse gases than civil aviation*. It is becoming crucial for companies to be able to manage these carbon emissions. Sopht is part of this strategy, providing IT departments with tools for calculating and understanding the impact of their activities on the environment, with the ultimate aim of contributing to decarbonisation.

*source Shift Project

15,5 % 

digital economy's share of global GDP

Over the past 15 years, the digital economy has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP* 

The digital sector currently accounts for 3 to 4% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, and this figure could rise significantly if nothing is done to reduce the footprint of digital activities: +60% by 2040, i.e. 6.7% of French greenhouse gas emissions*

*source Arcep, Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques, des postes et de la distribution de la presse (French regulatory authority for electronic communications, post and press distribution)

Decarbonising an IT department’s activity wasn’t the most direct route to working with BNP Paribas...

Hugo de Broucker : The initial meeting took place in 2022, via B!UP, the BNP Paribas accelerator. A fantastic opportunity to share ideas and be ‘accelerated’ at Station F (Paris), an ultra-stimulating environment. After this initial contact, we met with the IT department of BNP Paribas’ Banque Commerciale en France (BCEF French Retail Banking) in response to a call for tenders, which we won in December 2022.

The IT team at BCEF (French Retail Banking)** was looking for a solution to assess and manage the emissions associated with its applications, and we were lucky enough to be chosen! It’s very valuable to be able to navigate within the Group with the help of the B!UP accelerator, which opens a lot of doors for us. 

**Sopht is co-innovating with BNP Paribas as part of the Green Eco initiative. This collaboration has resulted in the creation of a dashboard to measure the environmental footprint of each of BCEF’s IT applications in France, and to identify ways of reducing it.

B!UP, the BNP Paribas group's Tranformation Hub

B!UP is the start-up acceleration programme of BivwAk!, the BNP Paribas Group’s transformation hub. Hosted in Paris at the Station F start-up campus, B!UP aims to provide Fintech and Insurtech start-ups with the skills, resources and network they need to bring their projects to fruition.

Read more about B!UP

What is the nature of your partnership with BNP Paribas today?

Hugo de Broucker: At Sopht, we prefer to talk about collaboration rather than partnership. Firstly, it provided us with a fantastic guide to finding our way around a group the size of BNP Paribas, making it easier for us to meet the right entities and the right people. Working with B!UP has also enabled us to take full advantage of the Station F environment and the connections that exist within this ecosystem of start-ups. It’s priceless to be able to take advantage of B!UP’s strike force to move forward and to be part of a forum dedicated to start-ups operating in green IT or elsewhere. We felt that the accelerator really had the ambition to help these companies grow and take off.

The prospects for our collaboration are quite clear today: we’ve already been able to demonstrate the value of Sopht, the seriousness of our approach and our capacity for industrialisation to IT teams, and we’re currently in discussions with other BNP Paribas entities. That’s what the accelerator is all about: proving our worth and replicating this approach in different sectors. 

What are Sopht's perspectives ?

Hugo de Broucker: We’ve grown from four to twenty or so people, and our space at B!UP in Station F was cramped. We’ve just moved to the offices of ‘We are Innovation’, another BNP Paribas accelerator dedicated to more mature start-ups. We feel that now is the time to take off, because our growth is promising. 

Read more about WAI Paris, We are Innovation by BNP Paribas

What advice would you give us on digital sobriety?    

Hugo de Broucker: I’d like to share the fruits of our experience. Although it’s still in its infancy, we’re beginning to see very concrete results in terms of optimising hardware, which is a major source of emissions. We can see that companies upgrade their hardware very frequently, usually every 3 years. This is where the greatest potential for reducing our carbon footprint lies. We’ve performed simple simulations for our customers, comparing the impact of replacing 25% or 50% of their hardware over a period of 3, 4 or 5 years. Based on a benchmark of hardware and its emissions, performance and efficiency, we draw up trajectories that enable our customers to think about a more economical depreciation strategy without compromising efficiency. The gains are truly significant.

" We can see that companies upgrade their hardware very frequently, usually every 3 years. This is where the greatest potential for reducing our carbon footprint lies.” 

Hugo de Broucker

Head of Delivery & Customer Success, Sopht

The Sopht method for measuring the carbon footprint of digital activities in two stages:

  1. Stage 1 :
    The calculation. Sopht collects concrete data over a defined period of time, which is an essential prerequisite for measuring the carbon weight of activities. This data is then tracked in real time, so that the CO2 consumption associated with an IT department’s activities can be known at all times. More than a snapshot on a given date, this provides a continuous film to monitor the decarbonisation trajectory and ensure that actions are effective.
  2. Second 2 :
    Once the data has been collected, it is transferred to a management platform accessible to customers so that together they can define the standard threshold (the benchmark against which they will be measured) and the reduction targets, which are often linked to those of the Group. Sopht co-builds this trajectory, because its actions can have an impact on all the users of the same system, so we need to be careful. Sopht’s mission is to combine all the company’s challenges: environmental, business performance, application availability, effective use by customers, as well as its financial challenges.

Find out more about Sopht: 

  • Year of creation: end of 2021 in Paris
  • Mission: Sopht is a Green Tech company developing a software solution for IT departments that enables them to measure the environmental footprint of their IT ecosystem and suggest a decarbonisation path.
  • Our vision is to use technology to reduce their own environmental impact, accelerating the decarbonisation of corporate IT environments and relegating offsetting to a residual role.
Link to Sopht website

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