Start-up of the Day: Vialytics quickly registers road conditions

How do self-driving cars handle potholes on the road? As just stay driving ahead or spontaneously around them aren’t an option. You have to take the bull by the horns, that’s what the founders of vialytics were thinking. They designed a system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to map out road conditions. This is how the road authorities can deal with the problems as quickly as possible. Danilo Jovicic, who founded the start-up together with Achim Hoth and Patrick Glaser, explains how the system works.

The founders of vialytics GmbH, (from left to right) Achim Hoth, Patrick Glaser, Danilo Jovicic ©vialytics

How did you come up with the idea of setting up vialytics?

We wanted to do business as an independent company and set up our own start-up. We got to know each other through the Activatr and Pioniergeist start-up programs. It was by coincidence that we then got together in a small group. That’s where the idea of doing something with road management took shape. We came up with a lot of wild ideas for a couple of weeks. We also had a lot of contact with municipalities who told us about problems concerning road management. The overarching issue there was autonomous traffic. We thought carefully about what you need to do in order to be able to drive safely autonomously. That invariably comes down to good roads.

What does your product look like?

Municipalities can continuously monitor their streets with our system. This is done with the help of a modified smartphone mounted on the windscreen of a municipal service vehicle. On a sweeper, for instance. These are at any rate always out and about in the city. The smartphone records the road every 4 meters.

This data is subsequently sent to us. It is then analyzed using an algorithm. Any damage to the road is automatically detected this way. The municipalities get the data back again in the form of a dynamic map. As they are better informed about the condition of the roads, they can react more quickly to any damage. This leads to a more sustainable and efficient way of road management. After all, plenty of municipalities don’t address the maintenance of their streets until it is far too late. Which means that the costs are also much higher. Current systems do not offer a proper solution. Those recordings are actually made with too great a time frame between each other. Nor are they carried out systematically.

Was there a problem you had to resolve first?

It was particularly difficult in the beginning to gain the trust of municipalities. This was mainly due to the fact that municipalities rarely cooperate with start-ups here. We set up 5 pilot projects where our system was tested. Thanks to the positive reactions we received, we have now managed to build up a customer base of 50 municipalities throughout Germany. Currently, we are also in contact with cities in other countries who are interested in our product.

What are you especially proud of?

We are especially proud of our first customers who have dispelled any preconceptions that local councils are a bit stuffy. Some of them were so enthusiastic about our solution that they bought the system before it had even been fully developed. Of course, we are also very proud of our team, which has expanded considerably over the last 6 months. Our employees are busy developing the product on a daily basis.

©vialytics

What does the future of vialytics look like?

Our goal is that of internationalization. We want road authorities all over the world to be able to maintain their road networks in an efficient and sustainable manner. Apart from that, we will continue to work on improving things so that we can keep on responding to the requests of our customers.

What tips do you have for other starters?

Do you have a good idea? Jump into the deep end and dare to make your dreams come true. And for those who have already set up a company: at some stage, take each employee along with you to a client. That’s what you’ll learn the most from.

More articles on start-ups can be found here.

 

Start-up of the Week: The magical veggie garden of tomorrow

.”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Vienna Textile Lab – Colorful microbial microfibres

Giving clothes a bit of color has been done for thousands of years. Dyes from nature has been used for this ever since prehistoric times. Yet these had their limitations and that meant that certain colours were very difficult to come by. Purple is a good example. Have you ever noticed that this colour can’t be found on any country’s national flag? That”s because purple dyes used to be very expensive. Synthetic dyes came on the market in the 19th century and solved that problem.

Vienna Textile Lab is really going to where it originally all started – back to nature. Another discovery was made in the 19th century: the existence of bacteria. These microorganisms can be an organic and sustainable method for dyeing textiles. The disadvantage of synthetic substances is that they are bad for your health and the environment. And the beauty of this Austrian textile dye is that it is based on an entirely organic process.

Energy Floor – Streets made of solar cells

This Rotterdam team came up with a groundbreaking innovation in 2010. A sustainable dance floor that could generate its own energy using the kinetic energy of dancing partygoers. They collaborated with artist Daan Roosengaarde and this resulted in a luminescent interactive floor. This was world news at the time and the floor was actually in place.

The principles behind this dance floor are still very much alive ten years later; it’ s just morphed into a street tile now. The kinetic energy has been replaced by solar energy, so that anywhere where there are streets, small power stations can be installed. Which means charging stations for electric cars might no longer be necessary. The Energy Floor also monitors traffic flow so that everyone can see exactly where there is available parking space. Any other advantages? A lot of street lighting is switched on when nobody is around. Such a waste! Lastly, it just looks really cool.

Revibe – Electricity out of thin air

On railways, construction sites and in heavy industry, colossuses of machines are in constant motion. These movements cause friction and friction equals energy. However, this energy is still being completely wasted at the moment, even though it could also be used to generate electricity. This is the main starting point underlying the Swedish start-up Revibe. They have developed a compact module that serves as a kind of mini-generator for where there is a lot of kinetic energy present.

The advantages are obvious. Equipment that uses this start-up’s technology no longer need a battery or a power cable! And on top of that, it might be the cleanest form of electricity generation ever. The patented battery is very easy to mount on a vibrating surface and then goes ahead and does the job all by itself. And not insignificantly, the electricity can even be stored so that you can use it to do things like make coffee or something similar.

Spaceflow – The e-VVE and landlord

Homeowners’ associations usually have a rather old-fashioned baby-boomer image. Tenants’ contact with their neighbours or with the manager of an apartment complex tends to happen on an inefficient and decentralised basis. This ought to change; that’s what they thought at the Czech start-up Spaceflow. They developed an app specifically for tenants of residential complexes that was designed to take over all communication concerning residential and communal areas. Think of it as a kind of Facebook, but only meant for people who are part of your building complex.

Through the app you can get in touch with neighbours, request repairs, read service announcements and give feedback. There is no need either for separate keys for the communal areas. The app can also be configured for specific situations in a modular way for property managers.

In theory, the app could even replace your house key. So if you lose your phone, you’ll immediately lose your house key as well. Want to make it even more disastrous? In the event you pay for everything via Apple Pay, you would strike out three times in a row then.

Grow X – Vertically grown top quality vegetables

Human beings have been growing crops horizontally for some 7,000 years now. And as this past century has seen us all of a sudden doing just about EVERYTHING differently, we’re also now seeing a trend with vertical gardens and fields. Why vertical? It’s a bit of the same principle behind skyscrapers; they take up less space and are efficient. Vertical gardens have been around for some time already, but now there are also vertical vegetable gardens. Grow X is an example: they grow high-end vegetables for the more luxurious segment of the market.

Fresh vegetables that are grown in their own region are of great importance to the best restaurants. This is what distinguishes them from the hospitality industry where imported or canned vegetables are on the menu. Entrepreneurs can choose from around fifty organically grown mini vegetables offered by Grow X. The advantage of these mini varieties is that their taste is more concentrated than conventional varieties. Grow X is nowadays a regular supplier to the leading Dutch restaurants.

The fact that the Netherlands is internationally known as a major innovator in the horticultural sector has been confirmed once again by this start-up. It is even not commonly known in The Netherlands that our small country is the second largest food producer in the whole world. And this is not per square metre or per capita. No, this is in absolute numbers. Innovation and efficiency are the magic words here and Grow X is an excellent example of this. It is such an excellent example that we have crowned this ambitious start-up from Zeeland Start-up of the Week!

Start-up of the week: a Dutch solution for a Dutch problem

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

EP Tender: a powerbank on wheels

It’s a strange sight, but the battery trailer from the French start-up EP Tender is definitely a very serious plan. You can regard the vehicle as a kind of extra battery for electric cars. This increases the range of the electric car by a maximum of 150 kilometers. Useful for holidays abroad where there are less charging stations than in The Netherlands. For the start-up it is to be hoped that battery nanotechnology is not set to overtake this wee trailer in the next decade.

Credimi – Fast financing for start-ups

Often an ambitious innovative business model needs money. Money that those involved don’t always have in their own pockets. Of course, you could go to a bank to finance your project, yet that frequently takes up an incredible amount of time. What makes Italian Credimi different from other lenders is that they are very fast. An applicant knows within 48 hours whether or not they will receive the loan. And this can be very welcome if you need to act quickly in a volatile market.

Skinive – Pocket-sized dermatologist

Almost everyone has discovered something on their skin that they were a little concerned about. A birthmark you didn’t know existed. Or a type of rash, an innocent spot. Or perhaps it would be a good idea to see your family doctor after all? By using the app from the Belarus start-up Skinive, you can find out directly by pointing your phone’s camera at your skin and taking a few pictures. The app then matches the images with data from a database that contains a multitude of nightmares for hypochondriacs.

The project initially began with the aim of discovering the first stages of skin cancer.However, the founders soon figured out that their smart app also worked for many other conditions. And because the app works on any smartphone, skin research is more accessible than ever. Skinive just offers advice on dermatological conditions, but unfortunately it doesn’t help against hypochondria.

Hydrogenious – All hail hydrogen

That hydrogen has the potential to be used as a fuel has been known for some time now. And how nice it would be if this would also be possible to roll it out en masse. Hydrogen is not a greenhouse gas. It produces about three times more energy than the same amount of petrol and there is more than enough of it on earth. So much for the advantages. Hydrogen is quite flammable at room temperature. Something that is obviously not very practical when you want to travel by car. In addition, the gas has the lowest density of the entire periodic table of elements, which makes it extremely difficult to work with. The gas evaporates just like that.

The German team behind Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies wants to address and overcome these two disadvantages with an innovative bit of chemistry. The ambitious start-up devised a process whereby hydrogen can be stored without any risk of explosion. And that’s not all. They have also discovered a way in which the gas can be transported to the end user with a tanker or a pipeline. How great would it be if we no longer needed to reduce the use of environmentally hazardous fuels, but simply had a clean alternative that we could burn which never runs out?

Fieldfactors – Avoid wet feet with green fields

Climate change is likely to have serious consequences for the Netherlands. Due to the fact that half of the country is actually below sea level, the risk of flooding is constantly looming over our tiny hinterland. And this is not the sole threat. Heavy rainfall will be more frequent as a result of a warmer kind of climate. Excess rainwater has to go somewhere if you don’t want the streets to be flooded. This is especially a problem in built-up areas. It can be very difficult to get rid of water when everything is packed in tight. However, the Dutch wouldn’t be Dutch if they didn’t have an innovative solution for this. One of these is Bluebloqs, a system from the start-up Fieldfactors, whereby 95% of rainwater can be stored underground in a basin.

This storage technology not only keeps our feet dry, it also looks pretty green. The system is visible at street level in the form of a plant bed. This naturally enhances the appeal of the street scenes. A win-win situation. An underground system is currently being installed in Rotterdam and is also dealing with a third sore point. Climate change does not limit itself to heavier rainfall, but also to longer periods of drought. Thanks to the compact storage basin, rainwater can be stored for months and reused at any time.

The biggest job these ex-students from Delft University have done so far was to install a storm water drain near the Kasteel football stadium, the home of Sparta. The football field is being watered in a sustainable manner through this basin. The square in front of the station has become a lot greener. And the local residents are no longer inconvenienced by flooding.

That the Dutch are internationally known as experts in the field of water management has once again been by Fieldfactors. The initiators show that innovation does not necessarily have to involve high-tech gadgets. One can also look towards nature too. In fact, everyone benefits from this system at a time when a well thought-out irrigation policy is more important than ever. This is enough reason for us to reward Fieldfactors this week with the title of Start-up of the Week!

Start-up of the Week: Farewell to filthy seafarers?

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

CityStep – E-scooters set to soar in The Netherlands

The four students from Breda at CityStep have proven that holidays can sometimes also be a time to reflect and be inspired. Sometimes you don’t even have to come up with something completely new for a good business plan. Instead, you can simply shift an existing idea from one place to another. The Brabanders were so enthusiastic about their e-scooter tour during a city trip to Valencia that they immediately thought: ‘We have to got to bring this to The Netherlands too’. But that was easier said than done, as ever since the Stint tragedy in 2018, electric bikes in the Netherlands have suffered from a bad image.

The National Transport Authority (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) has significantly tightened up the rules due to safety reasons, but this did not prevent CityStep from going ahead with their plans. During a networking get-together on a rooftop in Tilburg, they came into contact with a scooter manufacturer that meets these strict regulations. The first rental scooters in Tilburg are now available for hire. The transformation towards an e-scooter empire which encompasses the Netherlands should take place over the coming years.

Wabenwerk – Done with non-recyclable plastic

The invention of plastic in the twentieth century meant a real revolution in the packaging sector and in food preservation. Yet plastic is both a curse and a blessing. Mountains of disposable plastic pollute the oceans and the stuff is so tough that it takes nature hundreds of years to break it down. How wonderful would it be if you could have the versatility and advantages without the drawbacks? More and more governments are working on reducing dnon-recyclable plastic. There is even a complete ban in Costa Rica. However, an alternative is needed. The founders of Wabenwerk in Germany were inspired by Mother Nature herself.

Bees in their natural environment are also constantly working on sealing their larvae, pollen and honey in their hives. They do this with honeycombs that they make out of beeswax. Wabenwerk developed a cling foil made of this organic material so that plastic foil is no longer necessary. Bees play a very important role in the pollination of crops in nature. They fly from flower to flower and gather more pollen on their feet. Whenever things go bad for these insects, you can also see this reflected in the environment. Do the diligent six-legged honey makers still play an essential role when it comes to the livability of our planet? That may very well be the case!

SARA – More mechanical hands on hand in homes for the elderly?

The workload within the elderly care sector is set to increase at an unprecedented rate over the coming years. In about ten years’ time, a relatively large group of elderly baby boomers will need a great deal of care. At the same time, there will be significant shortages in this sector. Nevertheless, there is a trend that more or less coincides with that of baby boomers who are in need of care. Namely, the rise of service robots. The Eindhoven-based company Bright Cape has designed SARA, which is a Social & Autonomous Robotic Health Assistant, SARA already carries out work in two Dutch senior citizens’ centers on the work floor. Ironically, this robot offers a modicum of humanity in times when every minute of care is supposed to be spent efficiently.

SARA is able to chat with chronically ill clients, play a number of interactive games with them and even has a program with made-to-measure physical exercises. This allows her human colleagues to spend more time on healthcare tasks. However, it is a bit odd that a robot like SARA is supposed to make sure that the human element comes back to the care for our senior citizens. Wouldn’t it be more logical to employ a robot nurse for the medical tasks and thereby give people more time for a cup of coffee or a chat about the weather? All the same, SARA is more than welcome! Clients and care staff are happy with this innovative nurse on wheels. She is a keeper for them in any event.

Heat Power – Flexible turbines for peak demand

The first two decades of the 21st century were characterized by flexibility. And if it’s up to Henk Ouwerkerk, this should also be the case for consumers of large quantities of energy. This Dutch start-up designed a system that they have called Rankine Compression Gas Turbine. A steam turbine that can be switched on when there is a need for more power. Why is this so convenient? Large consumers often buy electricity in bulk. So when they unexpectedly need more than that, they tend to buy extra. However, this costs them a lot of money and puts an extra burden on the electricity grid.

By using the RCG system from Heat Power during times of peak demand, you can avoid that this ‘peak demand’ becomes the new standard. You can’t use this superfluous amount of electricity for any other purpose, so it’s a real shame that it’s generated for no reason. The steam turbines can be activated in the event of a power outage but remain inactive for the rest of the time. Ideal for manufacturing companies that have to deal with fluctuating and unpredictable demand.

We4Sea – Farewell to filthy seafarers?

The fact that flying and driving contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases is now well known. We all have to live more sustainably on a massive scale and every polluter has to be involved in this. One sector which is somewhat less commonly recognized as far as this is concerned, is the shipping industry. Container ships are essential for the transport of goods around the world, but they have a very nasty disadvantage. They use heavy crude oil and this is about the most environmentally damaging fuel out there. In fact, one container ship produces as much carbon dioxide emissions as no fewer than 50 million cars. So there is a lot of ground that can be gained here, as they pointed out by the We4Sea start-up based in TU Delft.

What does this international team do? They use data models to advise the maritime sector on how to reduce their emissions by a substantial percentage. Measurement equipment usually has to be installed for comparable initiatives, which is easier said than done for large ships. We4Sea uses a unique technology that utilizes satellite data, ship position data, weather data and technical data from the ship for creating a computer simulation. Real-time advice is generated on the basis of this data. This enables the crew to drastically reduce their emissions. These energy-saving measures are not only sustainable, but also make a considerable difference in terms of costs for companies. Because, of course, no one wants to emit more than is strictly necessary just for the sake of it.

Much still has to be done despite the fact that in recent decades considerable steps within the shipping industry have already been taken towards a more sustainable future. The sector has set itself strict targets. By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 50%. While such targets are naturally a welcome first step, they still have to be met. This is also easier said than done. For example, the Dutch government has not met its 2020 targets. Nor do  they expect to meet those of 2030 either. Perhaps the shipping industry will succeed in 2050 with We4Sea’s help! Their single-minded, innovative approach to a sector that is not known for its flexibility and sustainability has in any case convinced us to honor We4Sea with the title of Start-up of the Week!

Start-up of the week: see the forest through the trees again

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced. Moreover, our weekly winners may be awarded another prize. Because at the end of each calendar month, our readers, together with the editors of IO, will select the Start-up of the Month!

Nefino – Smart wind farms

A common argument when discussing wind energy concerns efficiency. Wind turbines do not have a very positive image when it comes to revenue and profitability in comparison with environmentally harmful energy sources. Nevertheless, we need to live more sustainably en masse, so a way to monitor wind farms more effectively seems to be a logical step towards a greener future. After all, to measure is to know. But this is easier said than done.

A lot of factors have to be taken into account before the energy output of a wind farm can be optimized. These are actually too many factors to keep an eye on or keep track of in an Excel file, so solutions are sought in software. Nefino is a software system that works autonomously and becomes smarter and smarter the longer it runs. Aside from analyses, it also provides user-friendly overviews so that everyone knows exactly where they stand and are able to act accordingly. This is good for everyone – as a wind turbine that only runs at half power is a sheer waste of capital.

Sirum – ERP for SMEs

Almost all multinationals that are dealing with a complex logistics operation nowadays use systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). And because every company is unique as far as its logistics processes are concerned, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all software system. This is the reason why many of these types of systems are specifically tailored to the needs of a customer. However, this is where a problem arises with the smaller players on the market. These types of systems are very expensive, often too expensive for SMEs who would certainly benefit from them if the costs were not so prohibitive.

The German start-up Sirum does things differently: customers here are able to choose which modules they most need. In need of human resources but not fleet management? Does transport play an important role in this company, but has it outsourced its warehouse management? Everything is possible! All combinations can be put together according to your own preferences for a fraction of the price of customized ERP systems used by large companies. One more advantage? Since the system is in the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere and the risk of failure is minimal. Meanwhile, the company maintains close contact with a community of open-source developers so that specific customer requirements can be linked to the people who are capable of arranging this for them.

Genomtec – Medical laboratory in the palm of your hand

A family doctor is usually the first point of contact when people come forward with medical complaints. A referral is often made to a hospital for a blood test if the cause of a problem is not obvious. After all, most GP practices do not have a laboratory hidden somewhere. Plus, this type of examination also necessitates a completely different kind of expertise. The Polish start-up Genomtec wants to offer GPs a mobile and digital blood sampler that can instantly analyze samples, making referral to a hospital a thing of the past. And one drop is enough!

Genomtec is connected to a handheld device which has the analysis equipment on board. Blood test results are delivered immediately and this saves a lot of money and time. The device is affordable and ensures that hospitals, which often have too much work on, are relieved. Any hospitalization that you can prevent is a gain, not only for the well-being of a patient but also for healthcare providers. And this is very welcome in times of ever more expensive healthcare. Moreover, it doesn’t affect your health insurance deductible. Everyone’s a winner with this mobile medical research laboratory.

 

Enerbrain – Buildings equipped with a sustainable brain

Usually, energy-saving measures are about the source. But an energy-efficient future works both ways. After all, less energy is needed if less energy is consumed. We are already working en masse on double glazing and smart thermostats, but this Italian start-up goes a step further. Enerbrain has developed a software environment that makes buildings as a whole ‘smart’. No, this doesn’t mean that the walls are listening in on you. It just means that the devices inside the building will work in tandem in order to reduce consumption as much as possible. Think of it as a smart thermostat, but then on a larger scale.

According to the designers, the Enerbrain system can reduce consumption by as much as 30 %. And the best part? The user doesn’t have to do anything at all because the system works completely autonomously. Installing eNodes in a building means that the humidity, CO2, temperature and air pressure are constantly monitored. This data is linked to optimized conditions in the system so that no more kilowatt hours will be wasted than is strictly necessary. This should put an end to dumb air conditioning systems that are still in many commercial buildings and are notorious for their high wastage rate.

Drone analysis – Tree counter with a propeller

The Drone analysis story is about a school project that eventually got out of hand. This drone project from Roy Monissen and his partner in crime Sebastiaan van Adrichem was originally designed for the football field. They used it as a tool to analyze football games. The high-tech football analyses from above, however, did not get off the ground owing to tricky regulations. But the duo then came into contact with a tree nursery. They didn’t want to have a game analyzed, but wanted to have a monitor that could detect plant diseases. Drone analysis’ self-learning software turned out not to be a football analyst at all, but a tree doctor instead.

Just imagine yourself there, you’re facing an orchard and have to count exactly how many plants there are. Often you can’t see the forest for the trees, pun intended. This is an impossible task, especially in the case of larger areas. It gets even worse if you also have to keep an eye on each individual tree. This drone provides an overview and shares its findings with the help of a comprehensive map. The software also gives growers advice on how to divide up their land as effectively as possible.

Monissen and Adrichem already have their affairs in order in spite of their young age. Their project already offers fantastic opportunities. Although it seems that Drone analysis is by no means finished yet when it comes to counting. This way Drone analysis should evolve into the flying forest ranger of the horticultural sector over the next five years. We at IO are happy to support these kinds of ambitions. Which is why Drone analysis can call itself start-up of the week this week!

Start-up of the Week: Let’s drink to that!

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced. Moreover, our weekly winners may be awarded another prize. Because at the end of each calendar month, our readers, together with the editors of IO, will select the Start-up of the Month!

Magnotherm – Cool refrigeration magnets

We mainly know fridge magnets as a decorative item on the doors of our dull white goods. Although they often add a personal, feel-good touch and can be practical for shopping lists, they remain primarily a cosmetic feature of a refrigerator. Up until now that is. Did you know that magnets actually can play a prominent role in a refrigerator? And not just any role but the absolute leading role, in any case if it is up to Magnotherm. This German start-up addresses refrigeration in an entirely novel way.

And it is not just limited to refrigerators. Air conditioning and freezers can use this method to carry out their cooling function as well. This is a lot more environmentally sustainable than the gases that are still currently in use. Those gases are flammable and make a significant contribution to our ecological footprint. In fact, those greenhouse gases are more potent than carbondioxide.

How does it work? Think of it as a kind of microwave, except precisely the other way around. Bonus points by the way for the founding father who goes by the name of Max Fries! His name will no doubt delight English-speakers when they hear what kind of work he does.

DAC – Cooled air

Now that winter is approaching, cooling is apparently totally cool. Because this second start-up also has something to do with this branch of industry. Now, however, they are not magnetic coolants, but cool air cooled by … air. The Ukrainian team behind DAC was greeted with furrowed brows when they asserted that they could pull off this neat trick. It was said to be a Harry Potter magic spell that would only work in fiction. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Collaboration was sought with the Czech Pavel Panasjuk and now they want their idea to become a reality. Because why would you use any polluting gases, when you can also use air to cool things?

The entire cooling process avoids the use of any greenhouse or toxic gas. The air is cooled by itself with a kind of kinetic reaction of the gases that can be found all around us. And this works better than you might think. These cool ‘wizards’ are able to lower the temperature of their immediate surroundings by 60 degrees within one minute. At the moment they are looking for investors who have no faith in hot air or castles of air, but who do have ears for a cool castle built on concrete ideas.

Neuron Soundwave – An ear for equipment

Appreciate it, fix it!” – that’s the slogan of the most recent public campaign in the Netherlands. Why? People throw away far too much stuff that might just as well be repaired. Great excuse to buy a new one, right? Still, repairing something is not just easier on the wallet, but it’s a sustainable option as well. Equipment breaking down nonetheless never happens at a convenient time. Frequently you don’t find out that there’s something faulty until it stops working. If only there was one system that could tell you exactly when something is about to break down. After all, prevention is better than cure. Neuron Soundwave was created for this very reason. This Czech system ‘hears’ when a part of a nearby device is about to fail.

Mechanical parts that are almost worn out have a different sound signature than brand new parts. As a rule, a human ear cannot really distinguish that. But it is now child’s play thanks to the self-learning system from Neuron Soundwave. It’s very simple. You put the Neuron Soundwave receiver in a room, and it provides an ear that listens to the devices that surround it. When the receiver recognizes an anomaly, it alerts the user via an e-mail or a text message. A device rarely breaks down on its own accord, often it’s the result of an earlier process. This astute listener is connected to the futuristic Internet or Things so that no one else need be involved in the intercommunication. Moreover, it is capable of being self-taught as it shares the data with all the other Soundwaves. These are are all underpinned by an algorithm that is increasingly becoming capable of recognizing malfunctions of various equipment.

Eyesynth – I hear, I hear what you don’t see

Actually it’s quite strange that we know more about distant galaxies than about our own grey matter. Thankfully, in recent years innovation has made it possible for us to find out more and more about the workings of certain processes. These can be foreseen. An example of this is Eyesynth, which gives blind people the opportunity to see with 3d glasses by listening. Hearing the appearance of objects? No, this is not a hallucinogenic drug but rather futuristic technology. In the human brain, senses are constantly working together in order to perceive something. For the Spanish start-up Eyesynth, the principle that they focus on is called synesthesia. This means ‘crossed senses’ and causes sensory perceptions to flow through each other. This allows us, for example, to smell certain colors or visualize music. Okay, maybe it is a bit like hallucinogenic drugs …

Babies are 100% synesthete. As a person gets older, this trait disappears in most people. About 14 percent of the adults have a (light) form of synesthesia. These are often quite creative people. Eyesynth’s 3D glasses mimic this effect. Some very encouraging preliminary tests show that it seems to be a godsend for the blind and visually impaired. The data from their surroundings are converted into sound by this technology, creating a geometric ‘shape’ in the brain. The wearer then associates this sound with a specific object. Does it work? Absolutely! Even very small details can become visible. For example, even those who have never seen daylight are able to transform into veritable visual thinkers. Sounds a bit like a superpower, don’t you think?

Vitibot – the winegrower on wheels

The start-up VitiBot is perhaps the biggest nightmare for hedonistic travelers who want to do vacation work in a southern European vineyard. Whereas automation in agriculture has been rapidly spreading over the past few decades, winegrowers still rely on manual labor and fossil fuels to keep things ticking over. Surveying grapes, harvesting them and then stamping them into a pulp has been done by people for centuries and requires many helping hands. Where does this start-up happen to come from? No, for once we won’t pull the wool over your eyes. As it happens, Vinibot simply comes from France.

Vitibot designed a smart autonomous winegrower with the very congenial name of Bakus. It works completely autonomously, can be used 24 hours a day and is very energy efficient thanks to its electric motor. Bakus has already undergone a considerably lengthy developmental process and does exactly what a human winegrower with a lot of experience can do. Will there come a time when robots do all the dirty work on the vineyard while people just relax and enjoy the wine? This might just happen!

An entire fleet of these kinds of mechanical Ilya Gort’s will have to be built in the coming years. And the first signs of this perhaps happening are quite auspicious for these French guys. They have already secured their first substantial financial investment this year. In the coming period, a further investment of millions is called for from European funds and venture capitalists. The aim is to have the product on the market within two years and in this way help move wine production into the 21st century. No doubt the traditional images of harvesting, stamping and subsequent wine tasting will go down in history. But is that such a dreadful thing? The pleasure of wine is usually not really in the drawn-out production process, but rather in the final product. Speaking of finished products, Vitibot is almost ready for the market. Is this the new chapter for grape cultivation? Only the future can tell us that. In any case, they have our confidence with our Start-up of the Week incentive prize. Santé!

Start-up of the week: an invisible problem made visible

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced. Moreover, our weekly winners may be awarded another prize. Because at the end of each calendar month, our readers, together with the editors of IO, will select the Start-up of the Month!

 

Future Mobility Solutions – Simcity for optimal traffic flow

Anyone who has ever played Simcity or Cities Skylines faces a major challenge at some point. The roads are hit with chaos, congestion and traffic jams when your city population reaches a significant number.

As a matter of fact, this happens in real life. Traffic experts are constantly working on streamlining traffic flow in cities as efficiently as possible. Productivity is adversely affected every minute that a vehicle is stuck in a traffic jam. And it’s obviously not much fun for road users either. The German team behind Future Mobility Solutions wants to work with virtual cities in order to find the optimal solutions for urban mobility.

They have designed an urban simulation platform where new ideas can be tested out. Checking if a potential investment of millions of euros will lead to improved traffic circulation in practice is, of course, more than welcome. The focus herein is not solely on the car, but also on all present and future motorists who form, in a sense, an entire ecosystem that is connected with everything and one another.

Unifly – Air traffic control for drones

Air traffic must comply with all kinds of strict rules and regulations to keep the airspace safe. These regulations are there for a reason and ensure that fewer accidents happen. However, in recent years a new member has joined the aviation ranks. One without a pilot in a cockpit and who doesn’t always abide by the rules. We are referring to drones, which are increasingly being used for a variety of purposes.

Unifly maintains that drones must comply with air traffic regulations too. Since 2014, Unifly has been keeping the airspace safe around Antwerp Airport. They have introduced a type of license plate and tracking system for unmanned aircraft. This is a relief for everyone. ‘Old-fashioned’ aviation is no longer plagued by ‘drone anarchy.’ And drone pilots now know where they stand, without having to fear that their equipment will be confiscated or shredded by a Boeing’s engine.

APICBEAM – A screen without a monitor

With confidence verging on certainty, we daresay that you are viewing this article on a screen. Either on a small monitor or a large one. As far as APICBEAM is concerned, the era of the physical gogglebox may well be coming to an end after more than one hundred years.

This German start-up wants to use holograms to create digital displays and animations that can be seen all around you. In other words: you transform your entire immediate environment into a screen without using a monitor. These holographic images are not just static but are also able to show movement.

In any event, advertisers are already enthusiastic. They can hardly wait to use holograms to market their merchandise to unsuspecting passers-by.

Woon Duurzaam – Sustainability without unsustainable costs

The energy transition is a reality. So, as a consequence, many households will have to become more climate-neutral. This transition should take place progressively more over the next decade. Former PvdA (Labour Party) leader Diederik Samson irked a lot of people when he said that a sustainable heat pump ‘costs just €10,000.’

Through his start-up Woon Duurzaam, Rense van Dijk wants to make it clear that sustainability does not necessarily have to be expensive. He was shocked by the number of doomsday scenarios that were being touted in the media. That’s why he wants to get the real story out there.

Homeowners can install energy-saving measures step by step in their homes with the help of his tailor-made deals. Within five years, 10,000 households should have ‘gotten rid of gas’ this way. Nonetheless, whether biased reporting will subsequently also disappear into the history books remains to be seen …

Hawa Dawa – Fine particle radar

Fine particles are anything but a fine thing for city dwellers. In fact, this invisible air pollution has lowered the life expectancy of many urbanites by several years. Of course, you can measure air quality on various criteria with certain equipment, yet Hawa Dawa takes a broader and more coordinated approach. They have designed a system whereby the quality of city air can be seen at a glance on a map. This information is also updated in real time.

The Munich-based start-up uses a network of measurement units. The resulting data is linked to external factors such as weather conditions. This is comparable to a kind of weather vane for air quality. Authorities can then take appropriate action on a local level when excessive levels of toxins are found in the air via this data.

Hawa Dawa solves a burgeoning problem as more and more people live in cities. This in turn has led to a vicious circle of increasing air pollution and a greater risk to public health. Making an invisible problem visible in real-time means that governments can take proper measures to protect their citizens. This start-up has the potential to save lives over the long term. That’s why we at IO believe that Hawa Dawa more than deserves our Start-Up of the Week incentive prize!

Start-up of the week: charging your car can be done in minutes

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

Moreover, our weekly winners may be awarded another prize. Because at the end of each calendar month, our readers, together with the editors of IO, will select the Start-up of the Month!

start-up Sovigo

Sovigo – nanomedicine to treat intestinal complaints

The way we use medicines is still somewhat primitive. Maybe that’s not surprising, because our options are limited when it comes to taking medication. Most organs are well protected from the outside world. Nevertheless, this also means that medicines cannot be administered very effectively. Dosages are therefore often higher than necessary because they have to travel a long way through our bodies.

Sovigo wants to change this through nanotechnology. Their capsules are about 100 nanometres in size, which is 10,000th of a millimeter (!) The main advantage is that this nanomedicine is effective solely at the point where the medication is actually needed. Preliminary results are encouraging for treating intestinal disorders.

 

Blue Planet Ecosystems, Ökosystem, Fischzucht

From sunlight to fish, Blue Planet Ecosystems wants to shift pisciculture to computerized container systems

Climate change and dwindling agricultural land are major challenges for food and feed production. The supply of animal protein is particularly problematic.

The start-up Blue Planet Ecosystems, based in San Francisco and Vienna, wants to shift pisciculture (fish farming) to computerized container systems. The ecosystem is to be simulated in such a way that nature is able to grow in self-sustaining LARA systems (Land-based Automated Recirculating Aquaculture).

Lara Systeme (c) Blue Planet Ecosystems

start-up Doks. Innovation

Doks. Innovation – flying management assistants

This German start-up’s drone system has brought a new automation revolution to warehouses. The flying assistants are able to make an inventory of a warehouse on their own by making a kind of digital impression of it. At present, maintaining a warehouse is a time-consuming task. Doks. Innovation promises a time gain of no less than 90% and a cost reduction of 80%. Data collected by the drones are subsequently made available in a proprietary data analysis system. Similar concepts are focused on a single management system as a rule, whereas Doks offers a universal system.

start-up Wheelblades

Wheelblades – move your wheelchair without fear through snow

Giving freedom back to people who have limited freedom of movement. That’s the noble goal that former snowboarder Patrick Mayer has committed himself to. Mayer ended up in a wheelchair for a long time himself and personally experienced how winter can throw a spanner in the works. Moving through snow and over ice in a wheelchair or with crutches is just not much fun.

Which is why he came up with Wheelblades, a kind of mini-snowboard that gives more stability to the front wheels. For people on crutches, there is the SafetyFoot, an extra foothold for underneath crutches. And Wheelblades are also suitable for prams, so that you are able to go on a winter hike with your little one without any hassles.

start-up Chakratec

Chakratec – ‘just a quick refill’ will soon also apply to electric cars

Recharging: it is perhaps the greatest sore point that is associated with electric mobility. Compared to traditional refueling, it takes ages before you can get back on the road. If it’s up to the Israeli start-up Chakratec, this will soon be a thing of the past. Their kinetic battery fills up about as fast as your diesel tank does. Yet the potential is even greater: the battery has unlimited charging cycles and contains no pollutants.

They are setting their sights on a heroic reputation. A start-up ‘for the benefit of humankind’. What makes this mission even more challenging, is that the market in which they have delved into is dominated by Chinese companies. How do you stand out? The solution is simple and difficult at the same time.  Come up with something completely new. The result is a kinetic battery with flywheel technology.

A battery can be highly innovative; but without a good charger it is of little use. Chakratec maintains that current infrastructure has been overwhelmed by reality and is suffering from too much red tape. It would be possible to create fast charging stations anywhere, even with a weak network, with the relevant fast charging technology.

The potential of Chakratec’s technology has not gone unnoticed. The start-up has already won several awards, including one for best storage technology. They can add another feather in their cap because the favorable prospects for Chakratec make it the Start-up of the Week!

Worldwide quest

There is a frantic search going on around the world for efficient and sustainable batteries and the subject is also regularly addressed by Innovation Origins. At the beginning of this month, for example, we spoke to the start-up High Performance Battery, which is also trying to bring a new type of smartphone battery onto the market. Or does the future for cars lie with hydrogen technology? We sought answers to that question here in this series.

Start-up of the week: Greenhouse CO2 emissions can be reduced by tons

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

De TORQAMP-turbo

TORQAMP – making existing engines cleaner

What if, in order to reduce road emissions, we are not just reliant on new, more sustainable vehicles (which are expensive), but are able to update existing cars using electrical technology? That’s the idea that the duo behind TORQAMP are working on. The TORQAMP is an electric turbo unit that can be installed relatively cheaply into existing engines.

In contrast to conventional turbo engines, this compressor does not emit any exhaust fumes in order to boost performance. The result: up to 35% less carbon emissions. The spin-off from the Eindhoven University of Technology is mainly geared towards the motorsport world at the moment. Nevertheless, the gentlemen do foresee a future where even diesel engines will no longer be emitting any soot.

De 4Silence-techniek langs de weg

4Silence – a novel way to reduce traffic noise

Residents living alongside busy roads think they are being fooled by the 4Silence invention. Not a meters-high sound barrier, but a kind of concrete grid that deflects noise upwards. This noise solution is cheaper and lasts longer than existing options.  Merely blocking noise suddenly sounds rather old-fashioned.

The men behind 4Silence fought for four years for legal recognition of their now patented technology. After all, it is not only residents who were skeptical. Several Dutch agencies have all tested it out for themselves. Apparently, a solution can sound so simple that some people refuse to believe it. Yet the first Dutch sale is already a reality and other European countries are soon likely to follow suit.

De Clean Energy Pack

Clean Energy Global – cloud power

Cheaper power supply and fast charging times: this is battery-as-a-service. The Berlin start-up Clean Energy Global is doing its best to establish this model. Suppliers and users of electrical systems are currently saddled with cumbersome and expensive batteries, e.g. for use in electric cars.

Clean Energy Global’s energy storage system should change all this. Their Clean Energy Pack offers universal energy storage for both mobile and stationary applications. The accompanying Clean Energy Net forms the underlying infrastructure that should make rapid storage and supply of electricity possible. Charge your car in one minute? This start-up believes that this is well within reach.

Voorbeeld labtest

Cytuvax – promising new vaccine for doctors and care providers

Doctors, firefighters and officers of the law must be properly vaccinated so that they do not pose a risk to the people they are supposed to help. But if you’re unlucky enough to have a vaccine that doesn’t work, it might simply mean the end of your career as a doctor or care provider. This is the case for about 5% of people where the Hepatitis B vaccine is concerned. The Cytuvax technology offers them much better prospects. Their vaccine is effective for 92 % of the so-named non-responders compared to the standard vaccination. The result: Cytuvax has already gotten one hundred doctors back to work.

Etagrow testruimte

Etagrow – no more throwing stones at glasshouses for being CO2 polluters

As our planet becomes more and more populated, there are increasingly more mouths to feed. The land that grows that food is becoming available less and less. Greenhouses are economical when it comes to soil and other raw materials. Yet they do consume much more energy. The culprit: that sixty year old technology in the lamps that are hanging overhead. Technicians Stefan Huebl and Florian Ablinger thought there should be another way to do this. And sure enough, it can be done differently.

The water-cooled LED system that they came up with – Etagrow – reduces greenhouse energy use by more than half. That’s ten tons of CO2. Per fixture. The lamps also maintain the right climate inside the greenhouse. If the inside climate is not what you need, then you can use an online management system to adjust it.

Recently the equipment was tested in a legal cannabis greenhouse. Eventually, the start-up also wants to introduce a second product line for small-scale usage, for instance for florists and people who grow plants at home. No, not those kind of plants …

The system is also suitable for vertical agriculture, i.e. for growing plants in buildings (also known as urban farming). This can also provide a solution in the search for more efficient food production. Not only is it a smart way of using space, but it saves a lot of transport costs as well. Earlier this year we visited the Seven Steps To Heaven vertical farm. You can read the interview here.

Because of the enormous potential for reducing CO2 emissions, we consider Etagrow to be the Start-up of the Week!

 

Start-up of the week: potential breakthrough in battery technology

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Aisens – smart sensors for physiotherapy

 

Polish start-up Aisens recently launched Orthyo, a sensor system that supports physiotherapy and rehabilitation therapy. The system measures joint mobility and can help specialists make the right diagnosis. Moreover, the sensors can also guide the patients in their rehabilitation exercises that they have to do at home. The data generated by these exercises may also be shared with their therapist.

With this launch, Aisens has not only introduced a promising new resource, but has also demonstrated how valuable the flexibility of startups can be. How come? The sensors were originally designed to improve drone orientation. However, the three founders discovered that these sensors could also be used to measure joint mobility. This is something that is sorely needed given that therapists have to rely primarily on their eyes at the moment. That’s according to the wife of one of the founders, who is a physiotherapist herself.

Delta X Innovation Solutions – combating drought with water reservoirs

 

The fact that farmers are battling ever-increasing periods of drought is no secret. Although the discussion has not yet been settled as to who should do what about this. But there are also creative people out there who are simply putting their shoulders to the wheel and looking for solutions. Such as the twenty-three year old Tijmen Dekkers from Zundert. Just like a true Dutchman, he set to work on this water problem and has invented the Delta X. Which is an underground water reservoir that stores water during heavy rainfall. This way a reliable water source is always available, even in times when there is a water shortage.

The reservoir is lightweight which makes transport and construction easily manageable. Few issues with moving it around saves on CO2 emissions. In addition, the components are recyclable and the underground storage saves space above land. That’s triple the gain.

Everest Climbing – never again the same climbing route

 

You would think that there is not much ‘clever stuff’ you could do when it comes to making a climbing wall. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Everest Climbing is a dynamic, rotating climbing wall (think of a vertical treadmill with climbing grips) which is not only constantly inventing new climbing routes, but also adapts itself to the needs of the user through the use of motion detectors. This makes the wall not just suitable for professionals who want to train specific skills. This climbing wall could also become a valuable resource for the rehabilitation sector.

Aside from that, it’s just a cool thing, even for people who are afraid of heights. They no longer have to struggle with anxiety because the wall just comes to them. They won’t have to assail any ominous peaks.

Heyfair – hand washing saves lives

 

If you’ve been raised properly, you’ll wash your hands after every use of the bathroom. But how do you know if you are washing your hands effectively? You probably won’t notice the consequences of inadequate hand hygiene at home. Yet this phenomenon does lead to millions of infections in hospitals every year. With all of the consequences that this brings. Many infections are able to be prevented with properly disinfected hands. But how do you check that? Please welcome:  dyed hand soap.

The idea of the German start-up Heyfair is accessible and effective. The dye shows exactly where the soap is on your hands and consequently also reveals areas that have been missed. Moreover, from now on, others will also be able to see if you are washing your hands properly, so you won’t be able to get away with not washing your hands well anymore.

High Performance Battery – the days of the power bank are numbered

 

Our society cannot do without batteries. From the smartphone in your pocket to the propulsion of electric cars and the storage of sustainable energy – batteries are used everywhere. The demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to increase by 18% over the next six years. It is still unclear whether the supply of raw materials will be able to meet that demand. On top of that, the quality of today’s batteries is rapidly deteriorating. Intensive smartphone users among us will no doubt have a few things to say about this.

Besides that, the production of modern batteries is extremely environmentally damaging, partly due to the use of cobalt. The raw material is being extracted under appalling conditions, e.g. in the Congo. The search for alternatives has been going on for some time now.

And to make matters worse, these batteries also pose a safety risk. When it comes to the storage of solar energy and in electric cars, for example. It was announced last week that emergency services have great difficulty extinguishing and salvaging electric cars.

Swiss start-up High Performance Battery should put an end to all this misery. The company claims to have solved the aging issue of batteries . They have done this at the chemical level, which does not reduce battery performance. The production of this new battery no longer requires cobalt and the environmental impact is 50% less than the batteries that we are currently familiar with. And as icing on the cake, they are also non-flammable. Because of the range of problems that this new battery has the potential to solve, we crown High Performance Battery as Start-up of the Week! So put that power bank away, because according to the founder, the new generation of batteries is just around the corner.

Vote now! Who will be our Start-up of the Month?

Every working day we select a European start-up of the day and every week we choose a weekly winner. At the start of each new month, readers can decide who will be awarded the Start-up of the Month award. And next year (drum roll) …. but that will take a while.

The nominees for September come from Austria, Poland, Lithuania and Germany. The choice is yours. We will once again reacquaint you with the companies below the poll.

[democracy id=”6″]

1. Herbi Clean: Clean your house with acorns

Cleaning products typically contain a lot of harmful chemicals. It is not without reason that those orange warning labels appear on the packaging. Yet Mother Nature also has a cleaning lady hiding in her, as the Polish company Herbi Clean has proven. They came up with cleaning agents made of acorns which do not need any ominous orange warning labels.

It is actually quite odd that not more research is being done into cleaning products made from plant-based material. Why should we spray our homes with dangerous substances or artificial chemicals if there is a substance in nature that does exactly the same without the disadvantages? As there seems to be a lot more to be gained from this, Innovation Origins Herbi Clean was awarded the title of Start-up of the Week.

2. Parkbob digitizes mobility processes

Christian Adelsberger (c) Parkbob

Parkbob was launched four years ago with an app for motorists looking for parking space in Vienna. Within a short period of time, the start-up company expanded its services even further. Today, it is an expert in digital transport services and cooperates with Shared Mobility providers worldwide.

Four years after its establishment, a parking assistant service has already been integrated into Amazon’s voice control system. Now it is Alexa who is providing drivers with information about available parking spaces and parking fees. Soon Parkbob will also be available for other navigational devices and in-car systems. This service is always free of charge for customers. The real profit area is in the B2B sector, specifically in the mobility and automotive sectors.

Several factors led to the rapid growth of Parkbob: the decisive factors, however, were venture capital finance, expansion into the USA and diversification. Today, Parkbob covers a total of sixty cities all over the world. The collaborative partner is Reach Now at BMW/Daimler.

 

3. Sketch AR: Transforming the world into your blank canvas

Drawing is a skill that usually requires a lot of practice. Tracing something over another piece of paper or physically covering an image with translucent tracing paper are both possible. Yet now this can all be done in a more modern and practical way. Meet SketchAR, the first app that combines augmented reality with actual drawing.

The Lithuanian initiators combine creativity and technology in a whole new way and make drawing, a skill that you either have or don’t have, more accessible to everyone. It is a great example of how the real world and augmented reality can enhance each other. Its simplicity and combination of something analog with something digital convinced IO to reward SketchAR with the title Start-up of the Week!

4. E-Bot7  Automated customer service

The team behind E-Bot7 wants to help telephone customer services enter into the future by using artificial intelligence to ensure that customers are served faster and more effectively. As a result, queues of up to 45 minutes and frustrating repeated calls (due to unsolved problems) may be a thing of the past.

The need for customer service is greater than ever, yet this technology makes it cheaper and more efficient than ever before. And that’s how you save on both personnel and office costs. It’s a pity though that this technology means that thousands of call center employees will have to look for new employment in the coming decade. Nevertheless, the innovative start-up from Munich was selected as Start-up of the Week.

Start-up of the week: a real person as a customer service rep? How old-fashioned!

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

SatAgro – A satellite’s eye for precision farming

As new technologies emerge, it is becoming easier for agricultural businesses to keep an eye on their land. In the past, everything had to be checked by hand and consequently a lot was overlooked. A combination of GPS equipment and sensors under the ground, on the land surface and in the air allows us to keep a very close eye on the growing crops without the need for human eyes.

SatAgro is actually exactly what you would expect from it – a satellite that looks after crops. The farmer saves a lot of time by outsourcing monitoring and always knows exactly how much fertilizer, pesticides or phytohormones are needed at any given time. This system might also be a solution for people without green fingers and a lousy garden …

Glowingplaces –  Let forlorn city spots shine once more

Eindhoven is generally not really known as a picturesque place with beautiful historic buildings. Most will associate the city of Brabant with desolate, redeveloped buildings and Philips. In the 1970s, no fewer than 40,000 people worked for the electronics company. However, this was almost half a century ago, and Philips gradually began to disappear from Eindhoven over time. What was left were abandoned factory sites with little left to do besides demolishing them.

Sandra Poelman has shown that things could be done differently. She was one of the architects behind the renovated Strijp-S, which over the past decade and a half has developed from a sad abandoned mess into one of the most innovative hotspots in the Netherlands. And now her expertise and experience is available to everyone through her start-up Glowingplaces. Which helps transformations from hopeless to hotspot. Poelman’s experience says more than enough. Let’s just say that a certain, sensational, unspecified site that publishes about start-ups is located at Strijp-S … we are not naming names here.

Zwolle, Oss and Bergen op Zoom have already started working with her and at the moment she has had so many requests that there’s a queue.

Tofmotion – Robot security

Following transport, logistics and administration, security should become the next sector where machines will take over from the people. Technological tools in the security sector are nothing new, but if it is up to Tofmotion’s camera equipment, video surveillance ought to be carried out without the intervention of a single person in the future.

This LIDAR technology is not new, but Tofmotion has made LIDAR more accurate. This technology used to work a bit like a knight’s helmet, so it could only make environmental scans using ‘stripes’, which were never very reliable. This is not the case with the cameras from this Austrian company. They use so-called Time-of-Flight (flashLIDAR) technology, which emits a kind of electromagnetic cloud that is immediately analyzed in order to determine whether or not there are any deviations from a normal situation.

Tofmotion sees itself as a pioneer in this field, their camera has already received an official safety certificate and they are eager to continue discovering the unexplored world of robotics and security. Will the ubiquitous V insignia on security staff uniforms disappear from the streets soon? Then this trio just might have something to do with that ….

 

Tangany – Extra security for blockchain

Blockchain was quite the buzzword in 2017.  No one really knew what it was, and every self-styled innovation guru thought that this was the future and that everyone should go for it. So far, even government agencies are convinced that blockchain is the future for them as well. Although they still don’t know exactly how and in what areas, it does sound good. Blockchain … a wonderful word that appeals to the imagination, obviously. ‘Cyber security expert’ Rian van Rijbroek has even created a whole revenue model around it and was able to amplify her mind-bending message on the Dutch national news television program Nieuwsuur.

However, blockchain is a technology that must be taken seriously and it offers plenty of advantages. The decentralized storage of data on numerous interconnected servers certainly has merit. And even though nobody really understands all the possibilities of this technology, Tangany promises to offer concrete solutions. It also offers concrete products for companies that want to work with blockchain, yet who don’t know exactly how to do that. The Germans are still looking for funding, but believe that, as pioneers, they will make the potential of blockchain technology more accessible as well as discover new innovative applications.

 

E-Bot7 – Automatized customer service

The team behind E-Bot7 wants to help telephone customer services enter into the future by using artificial intelligence to ensure that customers are served faster and more effectively. As a result, queues of up to 45 minutes and frustrating repeated calls (due to unsolved problems) may be a thing of the past.

A self-learning system that is designed to handle complaints or queries which can be resolved on the basis of standard procedures.  On average, around 90 percent of incoming calls to a telecom provider are handled by a computer. What is this percentage based on? The personal experience of this author, who in their grey past was once a ‘customer expert’ at a really friendly call center. In cases where more customization and expertise is needed, it will still be possible to transfer the call to a skilled human customer service representative. The E-Bot7 is very much in its infancy at the moment and can only speak English and German. However, the German company has big plans and wants to expand the software step by step with new technologies, specialties and languages.

Now, as a reader, you are probably thinking: _an insensitive robot on the line which is nothing more than a talking procedure … That’s not much different from the current situation, isn’t it?” This is partially true, especially for certain companies involved in parcel delivery and unnamed government agencies burdened with issues such as tax, benefits or driving ability.

However, it definitely makes a difference: artificial intelligence is not familiar with the phenomenon of ‘office hours’, which means that you are able to get your affairs in order even in the middle of the night. Ideal! And that’s why we want to crown E-Bot7 with the honor of calling itself Start-up of the Week! Despite the fact that personal attention is being lost, E-Bot7 – or technology that resembles it – certainly seems to be the future. What’s more, companies en masse are already working on it, but not on the same general and universal scale as this start-up who can roll it out across more sectors.

The need for customer service is greater than ever, yet this technology makes it cheaper and more efficient than ever before. And that’s how you save on both personnel and office costs. It’s a pity though that this technology means that thousands of call center employees will have to look for new employment in the coming decade.

 

Start-up of the week: clean your house with acorns

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

PlaygroundVR – Playing outdoors while stuck in a hospital bed

A long-term stay in a hospital is no fun at all for a child. Outdoor play is often sorely missed. A Dutch team developed PlaygroundVR and this is exactly what you would expect from it. By using VR-glasses, children are able to take a trip to a colorful online playground where there is plenty to do. Fantasy and creativity play a prominent role and physical games are also a possibility thanks to the virtual reality feature. Gaming numbs your brain?!? – What a 20th century mindset!

The game is connected to the internet so that anyone, anywhere in the world, is able to join in the fun. It can also be a solution for healthcare providers because it offers a bit of a distraction when it is time for those unpleasant medical procedures. Lastly, it offers a good alternative to children who need some distraction but are no fans of Clini Clowns.

Axiles Bionics – prosthetic feet with joints

The technology for feet prosthetics has been standing still for fifty years according to the founders of the Brussels start-up Axiles Bionics. The wooden peg prosthetic as used by a stereotypical pirate is more accurate than you may think – even in the second decade of the 21st century. Of course it does have the shape of a foot, but the way in which it works has not changed over time.

Nevertheless, a human foot is a lot more complex than a piece of solid wood. As a result, wearers of these prosthetics will never be able to move as effortlessly as they used to and will experience back pain due to unnatural body posture. Yet developments are not standing still, robotics might very well prove to be the answer. A complex mechanism of springs and motors is able to accurately simulate the functioning of muscles and joints. The team is working towards an affordable prototype that should last for a good number of years.

Skoon Energy – A marketplace for large-scale batteries

The benefits of the Sharing Economy have become increasingly evident during the second decade of this century. For instance, a drill is used merely a few hours each year while it is kept in storage for the rest of the time. It’s a shame and extremely inefficient. Surely it would be much more practical if you shared your sunbed with a large group of people who could each use it when they wanted to?

Those at Skoon Energy think that the same thing is happening when it comes to large batteries. Festivals, construction sites or ships all need a lot of power, although not all year round. To be able to meet this peak demand for electricity, this Dutch team makes it possible to have a mobile battery delivered in a container as conveniently as a home-delivered meal. And when it is no longer needed? Then it can just go on to the next destination.

Felyx Sharing – Thousands of share-scooters

In an average big city when you look all around you, it’s impossible to imagine the streets without all those brightly colored shared cars and shared bikes. This trend has actually evolved quite fast, but what struck the founders of Felyx Sharing was that there was at the time hardly anything like this available for electric scooters.

Two years on, Felyx Sharing now has a fleet of 1250 flexible rental scooters in Amsterdam, Brussels, Rotterdam and The Hague. Simplicity is essential here. Users install an app and are able to drive off with just a few clicks of a button. The parking spaces are unattended and located at several locations. The team is ambitious and has big plans ahead for scaling up!

Not convinced? Try driving into the center of Amsterdam with a car.

Herbi Clean – Cleaning with acorns

Cleaning products typically contain a lot of harmful chemicals. It is not without reason that those orange warning labels appear on the packaging. Yet Mother Nature also has a cleaning lady hiding in her, as the Polish company Herbi Clean has proven. They came up with cleaning agents made of acorns which do not need any ominous orange warning labels.

How do they do that? This is due to tannin, a substance that plants produce in order to protect their seeds from greedy herbivores. Acorns contain 7% of this substance which has an anti-bacterial effect. And it is precisely these microorganisms that tannin fights that are the main cause of a lot of grime. There are already six products on the Polish supermarket shelves, including a toilet cleaner and a detergent.

It is actually quite odd that not more research is being done into cleaning products made from plant-based material. Why should we spray our homes with dangerous substances or artificial chemicals if there is a substance in nature that does exactly the same without the disadvantages? As there seems to be a lot more to be gained from this, Innovation Origins Herbi Clean has been awarded the title of Start-up of the Week.

Start-up of the week: Use AR to turn the world into your own blank canvas

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Live e-trips – the Y2K generation summarized in a start-up

One of the most important things about holidays for people under thirty is of course making people on social media envious of your cosmopolitan photogenic unique jet set life. Usually we fly to exotic destinations for a few tenners. For a unique personal report of your holiday and for offsetting your flight shame, there is now Live Electric Tours in Portugal.

What is this exactly? A personal electric golf cart that will allow every tourist to make the most of the streets of Lisbon and Porto and more. The cart is equipped with a camera so that the whole world will be able to enjoy your city trip. Having to think for yourself or posting stuff is no longer necessary. Plus, you can throw out any interpersonal contact with a real-live personal guide as well. You will be presented with a route in your own language and getting stuck in traffic is a thing of the past for cars. Because these camera-equipped four-wheeled Segways are allowed on the sidewalk! And the locals? They say they love the carts.

Rosebox – Live roses in boxes

Roses are appreciated by a great many people for their distinctive appearance, beautiful colors and association with love. But roses wilt. How beautiful it would be to brighten up your surroundings with real roses without having to renew them every couple of weeks. The German start-up Rosebox has developed a special method that treats the flowers in a unique way which keeps them beautiful for far longer than their bouquet-ed competitors.

Fake flowers are virtually passé now because although these boxed flowers may not be alive anymore, they still look that way. How? These colorful flowers don’t last just days, but rather for years. And they are delivered in a box that will revamp any grey interior without you having to fuss over them. This product has never been available in Germany before and now orders are pouring in. Rosebox offers a very sustainable solution for people who like to be surrounded by fresh flowers.

Dynaxon – Particle accelerator as a drug dog

You can explore the mysteries of the universe and anything that has to do with Higgs particles at the gigantic particle CERN accelerator beneath the ground in the border region of France and Switzerland. Dynaxon prefers to keep it closer to home and has devised a very practical application for this technology.  You are also able to use it for detecting explosives or drugs. Is this done by threatening suspects with a one-way ticket into the enormous accelerator?  Nope, this idea is something completely different.

The initiators want to flood postage items and parcels with neutrons. These neutrons instantly show the contents of a package. Drugs, weapons, explosives and other illegal goods are in fact primarily sent by international mail.  As it is impossible to check each package individually, this would be a major solution. Especially in the US there seems to be a lot of interest in this ultramodern detective which doesn’t walk on four legs and doesn’t have a physical nose.

Advantis – Brings the brain into view

Brains are rather complex in their make-up and when it comes MRI scans, their results are not exactly known for their clear imaging. The Eindhoven-based start-up Advantis has come up with a new analytical technology whereby it is possible to make a sophisticated data visualization of each brain.  Moreover, the system is connected to a cloud-based system, enabling it to conduct research without the need for human intervention.

The 3D reconstruction enables a doctor to see at a glance what is wrong. If they have any questions, they can be in contact with colleagues from all over the world in no time.  A good graphical representation is necessary because outdated analysis software can lead to errors in diagnoses or serious diseases may be overlooked.

SketchAR – Turn the world into your canvas

Drawing is a skill that usually requires a lot of practice. Tracing something over another piece of paper or physically covering an image with translucent tracing paper are both possible. Yet now this can all be done in a more modern and practical way. Meet SketchAR, the first app that combines augmented reality with actual drawing.

You could compare it to the technology of Pokémon Go, except that virtual Japanese figures are not going to materialize around you. Instead lines will appear that you can use to trace from. Aim the smartphone at a piece of paper (or even a wall) and all you have to do is to copy the projected lines with your own paintbrushes or pencils.  The app is specially designed for people who have no sketching skills. Which means that this could be a solution for even the most desperate doodler.  Don’t know what to draw?  SketchAR’s extensive library will provide you with some inspiration.

The Lithuanian initiators combine creativity and technology in a whole new way and make drawing, a skill that you either have or don’t have, more accessible to everyone.  It is a great example of how the real world and augmented reality can enhance each other. Its simplicity and combination of something analog with something digital have convinced IO to reward SketchAR with the title Start-up of the Week!

 

Start-up of the week: test for HIV without a clinic

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Einride: Electric trucks with no cab and no driver

In order to keep the world’s economy to a certain extent up and running, things have to be transported all the time from A to B. And even though the 21st century is now entering its third decade, this still happens in very much of a 20th century way: with an old-fashioned truck which has a dirty diesel engine and a human driver. This can be done much more sustainably and efficiently, or so the Swedish start-up Einride thinks.

In principle, autonomous trucks are nothing new; nevertheless, most of the time these are still made up of an  ‘old-fashioned’ chassis with smart equipment on board, while the conventional engine continues to hum along nicely and consequently still emits a lot of CO2. That is why the Scandinavians have changed the entire design and have created a means of transportation that is as compact as possible and as sustainable as the most modern electric vehicles nowadays are. This means that you can still have the transportation of heavy goods, but without the ecological and personnel issues. And what’s more, this “driver” never has the need for sleep or extremely bad snack food from a roadside restaurant which has dubious hygiene standards.

Edward – the e-PA for super-salespeople

The technology for virtual assistants is slowly but surely starting to grow up. However, the applications of Alexa or Siri generally tend to remain relatively simple in nature and have an all-round character. Putting on music, listing your schedule or reading out the weather forecast is often all quite possible, but in case of more specific requests, a button has to be pressed or text entered somewhere.

Edward is different, he has been developed as a mobile device and especially for work carried out by salespeople. This virtual assistant, who at the moment speaks Polish and English, is responsible for all the paperwork involved in a sale and will store the customer data himself. This means that the salesperson only has to do what they are good at: giving sales pitches. Perhaps healthcare and the education sector could also use an Edward …

Styleriser – The software stylist

Just what is your “color” actually? Most people will not have an immediate, straightforward answer to this question. Something that can be a bit of a gamble when looking for a perfectly fitting item of clothing. And to make matters even worse, we now have access to entire department stores with a very extensive range of clothes. This range is so huge that we easily lose an overview of everything. Although … even when the range is expanding so fast, an algorithm will help you! The Styleriser software will match your appearance with your colors that suit you and your and shape the most through the use of a selfie.

All the preliminary work is done by this digital personal shopper which takes into account the shape of your face and the color of your eyes, skin and hair. Your choice can also be matched with other items of clothing so that you can create a great color palette in your set. According to the designers, this is necessary because retail environments have changed rapidly in recent years and the range of choices has become excessive as a result. Moreover, online stores do not have employees who recommend or discourage particular combinations. So this is where the online assistant comes in. Nonetheless, it can’t yet say that it ‘has this shirt too,’ given the fact that the Styleriser does not have any skin tone, face shape much less a physical body.

WEtell – The mobile network with sustainability certification

It is not easy to live in a climate-neutral way. Of course, you could use green electricity, eat less meat and cycle more often. But one of our most popular devices still makes a significant contribution to CO2 emissions – the smartphone! Of course, there are brands such as Fairphone that are manufactured without harmful substances. But this only solves part of the problem. Your provider works with network masts and, you guessed it, they are bad for the climate. Alternatives were also not available until quite recently, discounting the fact that you would then have to go through life without a smart phone altogether.

What the Germans at WEtell do differently then, is tackle the problem at its core. They are on a mission to also make the supply of networks and providers greener and that is why they started their own telecom service provider. And this is reflected in all facets of the company where their magic word is consistency. Customers are aware of the fact that when they start working with WEtell, the seas won’t get any warmer because of their services. This philosophy is reflected in their entire business operation and they also place a high value on privacy. It’s a pity that hackers and evil-doers can’t go beyond the legally required period to check whether your smartphone use is sustainable.

Biosure – HIV check outside of a clinic

Although HIV is now no longer the deadly disease that it once was at the end of the last century, it can still be a chronic, dangerous condition whereby patients are condemned to a lifetime of swallowing expensive HIV-inhibitors. And since prevention is always better than a chronic disease, every effort should be made to determine their status as conveniently as possible. Since the circumstances in which an HIV infection is usually contracted are not among the topics that people readily talk about, this can now be done from home.

Fast HIV testing at home, however, has been around for some time, but so far has had one major drawback. If the user does not carry out the test correctly, then a negative score will result, which may not be the case at all. The Biosure test demonstrates that no unreliable result is possible because of an incorrect application. Inspiration was taken from the all-too-familiar pregnancy test, which is primarily known for its simplicity. Shame, waiting times, fuss and uncertainty are therefore definitely a thing of the past.

In order to stop the epidemic which is continuing to spread, it is very important that everyone in high-risk groups is aware of their status; the ‘unwitting’ HIV-positive group may well be the greatest risk. This risk applies not only to themselves but also to others. And all this can be prevented. Moreover, the life expectancy of someone with the infectious disease is no longer lower than that of a healthy person – as long as they swallow their antiretrovirals. On top of that, the viral load may even become undetectable, so that there would be no risk of it spreading. This super-fast and accurate self-test saves lives, saves costs and should be available at drugstores all over Europe next year. And last but not least, Biosure may call itself start-up of the week as well.

Start-up of the week: Lo-tech urban turbines for cooler climes

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Brettle Haus: tiny house meets pop-up caravan

Have you always wanted to live in your own wee mobile home in the countryside, in the desert or in the forest? In that case, the Latvians from the start-up Brettle Haus think in exactly the same way as you do. They have developed a kind of wooden LEGO house that can be put on a truck and then be connected up within three hours, including the electricity and sanitary facilities.

Living in a small house is one thing, but living without these two fine features will of course make things a lot more uncomfortable. Tiny Houses may be compact, however, they are usually linked to a location. Campers and trailer tents are nice for holidays, but to live in them permanently is a different matter. These have a modern look and are made entirely of wood. Ideal for those born nomads among us who are predisposed to suffering from homesickness.

IMSystems – Robotic arms with fine motor skills

Cars have been assembled by robotic arms for decades because this is a lot faster and more efficient than if left to human hands. Why are things like smartphones, clothing and nice stuff from retail stores for the living room still made under appalling conditions in low-wage countries? That’s because as yet, robotics and AI aren’t nearly as good at everything as human beings are.

One thing that manufacturing robots lack are fine motor skills; in other words, the current generation is far too clumsy to manufacture delicate smartphones with nano-technology where each nanometer counts. IMSystems from Delft wants to kick off a revolution with their ultramodern transmissions so that in the future robotic arms are able to do their work with surgical precision. Traditional sprockets have to make way for cooperative cylinders, which means that the characteristic wooden robotic movement will eventually be a thing of the past.

MX3D – The bridge to 3D-printed bridges

3D-printers have become better and better over the past decade. More and more companies are recognizing the potential of this technology which is still in its infancy. Consumer electronics components, architectural scale models and medical prosthetics are now increasingly being produced by 3D printers.

Nevertheless, all this could be done on a much, much larger scale. As last year, right here in Amsterdam, the very first bridge was built entirely by a 3D printer. Although the potential of this technology is endless in principle, such machines are often limited by their size. This is a problem for large buildings such as bridges and the visual arts.

Basically, with a small unit you can make each part separately. But then you yourself may as well use a welding machine or hobby glue. The Dutch start-up MX3D likes to think big and has developed a 3D printer meant for really big ideas!

Climedo – The metric system for clinical trials?

You see the articles pass by often enough; a revolutionary medicine has been developed against nasty disease X, probably on the market by the autumn of 2025. So, how come this takes so long? For safety reasons, of course.  You must be sure that it has no dangerous side effects. That is why medicines first undergo a long process of clinical testing before they are allowed to be applied to patients. In fact, this is quite a logical process.

However, there is no such thing as a universal language or database where all clinical tests are able to be compared using a standard measuring system. As a result, researchers and physicians themselves have to link the data from many different systems to each other which entails quite a considerable amount of administration. This could be a lot simpler, says Climedo a German start-up who want to make the bureaucracy associated with clinical research obsolete with their smart software. The clinical phase for groundbreaking medication could be reduced by years, which would enable us all to stay healthier for much longer.

R-Energy: Compact wind turbines

The so-called “Urban Turbine” from the start-up R-Energy is designed to make wind energy cost-effective, even with smaller formats. Windmills are typically not known for their compact size and Hans Vullers from Eindhoven was keen to change this.

In many small wind turbines, the energy yield is too low to be taken seriously. Vullers’ so-called ‘urban turbine’ is specially designed for cities; its machinery can convert even the slightest gusts of wind into electricity. Nevertheless, there is occasionally no wind at all even in the Netherlands. Fortunately, this turbine also has the ability to store energy from sunlight.

Whereas a start-up typically involves hi-tech laboratories and advanced materials, this Eindhoven-er uses discarded items from other people, such as bicycle wheels, discarded metal or wood waste, in order to create his sustainable structures. How more ecologically responsible would you like it to be? Utilizing other people’s junk to generate sustainable energy. This consistent philosophy and the very individual approach have convinced IO to reward R-Energy with the title of Start-up of the Week!

 

Start up of the week – Let your dog have nine lives too!

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Presize: the virtual fitting room

One of the biggest drawbacks to shopping for clothes online is that there is no way to try them on to see if they fit. And since sizes, shapes, postures and brands often vary, there are plenty of returns. That kind of image of a model is of course fine, but the average buyer is obviously not a model. When you get home, it turns out that the t-shirt doesn’t fit very well and you find that out a bit too late. How great would it be if you could prevent this from happening beforehand?

When you use Presize, a 3D scan is made of your body and the garments can be tried on virtually. The ‘virtual you’ is designed very carefully and is also animated. This means that you are immediately able to see if an item is not quite the right fit or if it has a fit that does not suit your posture. Lengthy return processes are a thorn in the side for both webshops and consumers. The team behind this app wants to reduce the number of returned shipments and the amount of frustration that has built up for all involved.

Carbon Waters: Graphene without muck

Graphene is known as the thinnest material on earth, it is a conductor of both heat and electricity, is very strong and transparent in color. It is also called a miracle compound and due to it being able to be produced increasingly faster, more and more new possibilities for it are appearing on the horizon. For example, graphene can be used as a coating for foldable or rollable touchscreens, medicines – and tennis player Novak Djokovic has even had his racket fitted out with it. According to the athlete, he hit his balls harder than ever before using this coating.

Yet there are also some disadvantages that are associated with this artificially produced carbon coating. Although there are several ways to manufacture the material, this often involves processes which are not entirely climate-neutral or that involve working with hazardous substances. The French team from Carbon Waters has developed a method whereby graphene is produced in a liquid form. The advantage of this is that no hazardous powders need to be used and that a sustainable production method been achieved as a consequence.

Biomer: from discarded waste to sustainable dye

Astaxanthin is a colorant with many varied possibilities. For example, it is used as feed in salmon farms, which gives the fish their characteristic pink color, and it is used in the poultry sector in order to give egg yolks their characteristic yellow color. Until recently, this substance could only be made with the help of petroleum. And since crude oil is not exactly the most sustainable commodity on the planet, the search for alternatives is extensive.

The team behind the German company Biomer produces the much sought-after astaxanthin through a biotechnological process which makes use of fermentation. Consequently, crude oil is no longer needed and waste products from e.g. agricultural companies are used as a basis. This means that the muck of one agrarian becomes the raw material for food for another agrarian. Oh yes, and the Biomer method is even faster than the pollutant method!

Neosound – No more quarrels with customer service?

The discrepancy in quality between different call centers and service employees is quite substantial. If you want to judge all the conversations held by their quality, then you should employ at least as many quality controllers as there are call center agencies. Obviously, this would be a hopelessly impossible task. That’s why NeoSound works with an automated system that registers whether a call is escalating or not based on silences and raised voice levels and emotions.

The software also immediately indicates where the areas for improvement are so that the employee is able to start working on them. Ultimately, it must improve the quality of customer services. However, they should hurry up as the first fully automated self-learning customer services are not too far away. Needless to say, a system that monitors staff and customers would not be that applicable in that case. Oyster Card customer services and internet provider services etc – are you reading this?

Actijoy – Rather a happy puppy than be as sick as a dog …

These kinds of systems already exist for seniors, pregnant women and houseplants – and now even (hu)man’s best friend has to deal with them. Sometimes you wish dogs could talk, as these faithful four-legged friends are very good at hiding physical defects and you often only discover injuries or illnesses when it is already too late.

And where else could such an idea come from besides the Czech Republic? A country that at times seems to be entirely made up of dog people. Actijoy‘s monitoring system is comprised of a set of food bowls, a health and activity tracker and an app that allows you to learn about all sorts of physical secrets that affect your pet. Kidney diseases and diabetes can be picked up at an early stage so that your pet is able to be treated by a veterinarian in time. You will also know at a glance how much your dog is eating and exercising.

The team also wanted to market a similar system for cats, but this turned out to be more difficult than expected. Although this is not so surprising either. After all, dogs are easier to fathom than cats.

As happy as a puppy is of course better than being sick as a dog. Actijoy’s technology is not new in itself, but the combination of smart water troughs, collars and apps certainly is.

 

 

Start-up of the week: Hands free wheelchair mobility

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

Qwiek – a sensation in senior housing

Most senior housing complexes are not exactly known for their inspiring environments nor their innovative highlights. Admittedly, there are innovations, although these have more to do with the health of elderly residents when something goes wrong. After treatment with the help of hi-tech equipment, many of them will go on living monotonous lives in their cheerless rooms with few visits from their family members.

At Qwiek they thought differently about this, since the surroundings in which seniors spend the autumn of their lives could use some music and color. The team developed a pillow that makes music so that the clients are better able to sleep, and have already come up with an easy-to-use projector which is able to transform every dusty room into a multimedia adventure. The greatest challenge? Making this product as simple as possible so that everyone will be able to use it, including your computer illiterate grandmother.

Artifictial Ecosystems – Smart moss walls

Nowadays an average living room is full of houseplants. And for those of you who want even more – but have hardly any gardening skills – you could choose to cover your exterior wall with a meter-high layer of moss. The vertical gardens from the gentlemen at Artificial Ecosystems are greening up facades and roofs. Green fingers are no longer necessary because the ecosystem is able to maintains itself with rainwater and an internet connection.

No, it is not a hyper-intelligent plant species that uses the Internet for private purposes, because the moss wall is in fact connected to a software program that takes care of the maintenance. The difference when compared to other vertical gardens, is that BryoSYSTEEM moss has been specifically developed to thrive on an exterior wall. Competitive systems use species that originally ‘just’ grew in the forest, subsequently maintenance is much more difficult for those species of moss.

3DQR – Augmented Reality finally grows up?

It is common knowledge that augmented reality can trigger a lot of innovations. The problem, however, is that anyone who wants to get started with this will have to reinvent the wheel. Do you remember those incredibly lame HTML websites back in the 1990s? They didn’t look natural and were only accessible to real nerds. 3DQR is in this phase right now, according to Daniel Anderson, the founder of 3DQR, and so he thinks it could all be a lot more streamlined.

By providing a content management system (CMS), AR will become more accessible to more people as well as making it easier to create apps. The ‘difficult’ steps can be left to the automated system so that the designer’s ideas are able to be realized, regardless of any lack of of technical know-how. Not technical – and yet want to create a virtual world that will improve the world a little more? Using 3DQDR brings this dream closer by.

The possibilities are endless; positioning virtual furniture in living rooms, visualizing how devices are operated, and naturally, being able to go on a virtual holiday to a distant galaxy.

CoVince – Netflix for e-Learning

Lifelong learning is a bit of a cliché, but some clichés are also just simply true. Technological progress is accelerating faster than ever before. And doing the same job with the same level of expertise for 40 years is no longer the case for most people. How are you able to update that expertise? The team behind the Dutch start-up CoVince says that this can be done in a Netflix-like way: you decide exactly what you want to learn from what’s available in a large library and off you go.

It is no longer necessary to go to an actual school building thanks to a combination of AR, gaming, an online community with teachers and fellow students, and an avatar that has been generated especially for you. All this can provide everyone with new and useful knowledge from the comfort of their own home. You could compare it to a kind of smarter educational version of Second Life that hopefully has a slightly less miserable ending. In any case, CoVince inspires great confidence and everything looks very futuristic and impressive in the videos.

Munevo DRIVE – Hands-free wheelchair mobility

Nobody sits in a wheelchair just for fun. Mastering it takes some practice and the user is unable to use their hands freely while on the move with a conventional wheelchair. But there is another way: a team from the University of Munich has launched an app that makes it possible to operate a wheelchair using head movements and smart glasses.

Who knows best how a wheelchair works? These are generally the users themselves. Munevo DRIVE was therefore created with these experiences in mind so that the system accurately addresses the sore points that they encounter. And the concept phase is definitely over: health insurers have recently reimbursed Munevo DRIVE, rendering the obstacles that surrounded a futuristic wheelchair experience a thing of the past. Users are delighted with it.

And that is not surprising; you will only realize how important mobility is when you yourself need the equipment to get from A to B. In this respect, Munevo DRIVE opens doors for a vulnerable group and demonstrably makes their lives a little more wonderful. And that thanks to Google Glass, a product that was laughed at a few years ago because back then it had no added value to everyday life. The latter is the reason why we have selected the team for the start-up of the week award!

Start-up of the week: the revolution in optics?

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Sound Energy – Farewell to airco?

Ironically, traditional air conditioners contribute to CO2 emissions because of their low energy efficiency. This then results in more global warming. But there is another way, the Enschede start-up Sound Energy has developed a technology whereby a combination of heat and sound produces cool air. And the beauty in that? There are no moving parts or electricity so you could not get any more sustainable than that.

Thermal-acoustic technology is not new, but Sound Energy’s founding father was inspired by the potential of this method, which makes use of argon, a clean gas. At the moment, the technology is only available for large business premises, although there are plans to also design smaller models for residential properties. Nonetheless, the systems still need to be made a lot more compact for this, as the current models are larger than an average student’s room in Amsterdam.

Phyktoprove  – No more dead houseplants

Some people have green fingers and seem to be able to talk to their plants, each of which looks enviably beautiful. Most people don’t have this gift and just fiddle around with their houseplants. The result? Off to the local garden center every few months because your house plants have died from a lack of water, too much water, too much plant food, no plant food, too much light, too little light or the lost battle against the cat that saw the plant as a midday snack, a scratching post or a cat litter box.

However, plants never die just like that, there is always a specific reason why this happens. By using the monitoring system linked to an app on your smartphone, Phyktoprove allows you to see at a glance where the problems are. Handy! And the good thing about it? This technology is not only a solution for your living room plants but can be used everywhere when it comes to plant management. From arable farming to the back garden to an orchard or even a Bonsai!

Bound4blue – Sail on cargo ships!

There is no denying it; container ships are essential for getting things from A to B in the world and are therefore a fundamental part of global trade. Nevertheless, the problem is that these ships are propelled by oil, and that is not exactly beneficial to the climate. Yet for centuries humankind has relied on climate-neutral winds as a means of propelling ships forward, so why don’t we have sails for cargo ships?

Admittedly, the sails of the Spanish start-up Bound4blue do not completely make the use of oil superfluous, although they do reduce maritime transport emissions by an average of 30 percent. The system is fully automatic, eliminating the need for any extra crew and is so compact that it does not affect the storage capacity. Ideal when it comes to keeping your conscience clear when your impulse purchases from AliExpress are delivered to your home.

Dignio – Homed in on home care

There are more and more older people. Over the next few decades all the baby boomers will turn into seniors and this will demand a lot from the health care system. The older a person gets, the more illnesses they are likely to get. In order to keep this somewhat under control, a hospital visit should only take place when there is an urgent situation. The Norwegian start-up Dignio allows doctors to monitor their patients remotely.

This platform should offer a solution, especially for the chronically ill. These are people with conditions such as COPD, diabetes, hypertension, chronic heart failure and cancer. When it comes to the requisite medical data readings, a costly hospital visit will be a thing of the past. The patient also feels more involved with their treatment because of the interactive nature of the treatment. Working from home is a trend that has been on the rise for some time now, but if it’s up to the Norwegians, the healthcare sector will also be following this trend.

You Mawo – Custom Frames

A pair of glasses is actually no more than a piece of plastic and some prescription lenses. Well, why does such a thing cost an optician a few hundred euros? The eye wear market is dominated by a large operator known as Luxottica, although this name is unknown to many. They own virtually all eye wear brands, optician chains and lens manufacturers. The company is often accused of monopolistic behaviour, yet the solution to these very expensive frames may well come from the very same country as the eye wear giant.

The German start-up You Mawo aims to create custom-made frames for everyone for a great price. 3D printers are becoming cheaper and cheaper and this would enable them to make plastic items as well. Furthermore, they are made to measure and match each specific face shape. They want to start a revolution inside a very conservative market where huge major players are in charge.

And they have our blessing. This idea of customization and the application of 3D printing technology is something we have never seen before. And in times when increasingly more people are becoming short-sighted and consider themselves more than ever as as individuals, while all the while their income is on the decrease. For these reasons, it seems as if there is a brilliant future ahead for these gentlemen.

Start-up of the Week: innovation a loaded concept? Certainly not!

”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.

Innovation Origins presents a Start-up of the Day each weekday

We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

 

Psious: Turn your fear into a computer game

How do you overcome an anxiety disorder? This is often done by confronting your fears; holding a tarantula, looking down through a glass elevator or going off on holiday by plane. All the same, this is easier said than done. Through the virtual worlds of the Spanish start-up Psious, these situations can be simulated during treatment so that patients are able to ‘rehearse’.

This simulation software is not only used for anxiety and phobias, but also for the treatment of disorders such as PTSD, OCD or AD(H)D. According to inventor Xavier Palomer, this could lead to a revolution in psychotherapy whereby patients can carry out their own VR treatment remotely. And this in turn would lead to shorter waiting lists and less medication being prescribed. Who would now dare claim that computer games are mind-numbing?

Solitaire Power: From musty office smell to clean energy

CO₂ is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand it is fundamental to life on earth, but on the other it is unwelcome when there is too much of it. And no, for once this is not about the greenhouse effect and global warming. Solitaire Power is aiming closer to home; people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors and because of this, they are actually breathing in too much CO₂.

This Finnish filter system ventilates spaces in such a way that more oxygen can be inhaled. Better air quality makes people more productive and also puts them in a better mood. But there’s more! The excess carbon dioxide is stored and converted into a renewable fuel. In this way, stale office air turns into a clean source of energy, requiring less fossil fuels and ultimately still being all about global sustainability!

VarmX: From deadly snake venom to life-saving donation

When you think of snake poison, you think of an affliction rather than a cure and since prehistoric times many people have had an uncomfortable feeling with these slithery reptiles. The poison that some species produce, e.g. the Australian taipan, is a very complex substance that causes very diverse reactions in the body of the ‘victim’.

Cardiovascular diseases are extremely high on the list of most common causes of death in Western countries. Much of this is due to the impact of blood clots. A blood clot is actually an accumulation of large amounts of proteins in the blood vessels. And if the venom from the Australian venom snake is good at anything, then that is breaking down proteins. And the best part? VarmX reproduces the poison in the laboratory, eliminating the need for physical snake bites in the operating room. Good to know, of course.

Tenzir: the black box for online security

The black box is always sought in the event of a plane crash in order to determine the cause. The information in this black box is not only used to find out what went wrong with that particular crash, but also serves as a basis to hopefully prevent these types of incidents in the future. There is no such thing when it comes to the online world, even though cyberattacks have quite a few similarities with air disasters.

The problem with old fashioned anti-virus software and firewalls, however, is that they do not work during a successful cyberattack, which means that essential information about the work methods of the hacker or the virus and the vulnerabilities affected care not able to be stored. Tenzir will operate in the background and will continue to work; whether it is a successful attack or not. As a result, the cat-and-mouse game between viruses and cybersecurity gets an extra watchdog.

Mein Lagerraum³: a second life for the discarded sea container

A world without sea containers would look quite different; these metal giants are a crucial link when it comes to the logistics of world trade. Due to the universal standard, loading and unloading has almost become child’s play. However, sea containers do not have an everlasting life and after they have been written off, are usually scrapped in a not too environmentally friendly way.

But there is another way, that’s what they think at Mein Lagerraum³. The containers can actually be used as rather good building material. This start-up from Dresden transforms them into storage and cooling units, mobile workshops, building huts, cocktail bars, stages, mobile laboratories, horse boxes and so on. Not bad for other people’s junk! The possibilities are endless, on top of that they are economical and durable as well!

Innovation can manifest itself in many ways; the Germans show that an idea and a bit of ingenuity is enough. No conceptual future utopia, high-tech machine or years of university research are involved. The world can also be made a little more sustainable even with the use of practical and ‘old-fashioned’ craftsmanship. This is something that is sometimes forgotten and undervalued in our increasingly digital society. This is why Mein Lagerraum³ can call itself the start-up of the week this week!