”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 Saturdays, we always choose the week’s winner.
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.
Mobilis Robotics – The blind can find entrances with beeping beacons
For people with a visual impairment, finding their way around n a foreign city is quite a challenge. Sight is regarded as the most important sense when it comes to perceiving the environment. Our whole society is geared towards this. Blind and visually impaired people have to manage this through touch and hearing. Of course, navigation systems do exist, but this kind of software also works with a visual screen and maps. Nor does the navigation voice take sight limitations into account.
The Polish start-up Mobilis Robotics has designed a kind of mobile TomTom that enables blind and visually impaired people to find building entrances using audio signals. By equipping building entrances and doors on public transport with a tiny ‘Sound Beacon’ receiver, the user can hear exactly when they are in the vicinity with the help of a transmitter. A bit like a radar that beeps.
Agrilution – Fresh home-grown vegetables in every kitchen
Having their own vegetable garden is often a big dream for lovers of fresh vegetables. But vegetable gardens do require a lot of maintenance, specific expertise, and space. And this is not an option for every city dweller. Many of them don’t even have a garden where anything could grow, so then it’s more of a pipedream.
But fortunately, we are living in times when everything is becoming more and more compact and simplified. Including vegetable gardens. The Dutch concept from Agrilution turns every kitchen into a high-tech greenhouse in a kitchen cupboard format. What’s more, green fingers aren’t necessary at all, just change a so-called ‘seedmat’ once a month. Something even a child could do. The system automatically regulates the right irrigation and lighting conditions for an optimal harvest out of your own kitchen.
Inoqo – Sustainable consumerism can be learned
Sustainability often tends to be a somewhat vague and elusive term. We all need to start living a greener life, but ways of actually doing this often need quite a bit of homework. How do you even know if you are doing it right? It’s not like someone’s keeping a green score for you based on your shopping basket.
Or are they? The app from the Austrian company Inoqo makes the elusive sustainability phenomenon extremely tangible. The app is reminiscent of a mobile game where you can score points by buying sustainable products. Plus, it offers a series of challenges as well, such as not eating meat for a month. You won’t have to take on this challenge on your own. You could do it together with all its users who collectively form a global platform. This leads to an interactive community that take the ecological footprint of their groceries into account and encourages each other to make the future, even more, climate neutral. A greener future starts with yourself.
Solarimo – Solar panels for rental properties
Whereas residents of owner-occupied homes continue to have countless options when it comes to solar panels that offer tax advantages and savings on utility bills, renters are often left behind. It’s a shame for both consumers and policymakers who are trying to meet the Paris climate targets. German start-up Solarimo is making it easier than ever for renters to also equip their homes with sustainable roofs.
Who is going to pay for this investment and keep the panels in good working order? Not the tenant or the landlord in any event. This start-up takes care of the expenses while remaining the owner of the panels in return. The landlord enters into an energy contract with Solarimo, who immediately becomes the new electricity provider. The administrative burden is kept to a minimum this way. While everyone involved – including the planet – will benefit from it.
VALI – Sweet treats without sour notes
As icing on the cake for this start-up of the week, we would like to introduce you to Belgian start-up VALI Sweet but Different. Obesity is a significant problem in modern societies. More than half of all adults are overweight and should really go on a diet. However, dieting is only fun for a few people. Dieters are obliged to say goodbye to their sweet snacks, that at the same time are often among their favorite foods. But what is wrong exactly with this human longing for seductive sweets? After all, it is also unhealthy to suppress things.
The Flemish cakes from VALI are a treat for everyone. It is no longer necessary to resist a piece of cake while your mouth is watering. Because these cakes are low in calories and free of animal products – without making any concessions to either the sweet flavors or the colorful decorations.
Raw, vegan, and sugar-free snacks do not usually look like an appetizing alternative to their calorie bomb rivals. As a result, those who have a sweet tooth and who already have a few pounds too many are constantly tempted to stray from their good intentions. But why do those healthy alternatives often look so unattractive. There’s no need for that, is there?
The long-term effects of poor nutrition and obesity are not particularly palatable and are relatively well known nowadays. Yet maintaining a healthy diet remains a real challenge for many people. Low-calorie alternatives not only have an image problem, but in practice are often less creamy, sweet, and tasty. In fact, VALI’s vision is exactly the opposite. Is this the low-calorie and vegan delicacy of the future? In any event, our editors are convinced that it is. We can hazard a guess as to how VALI is probably going to celebrate winning our IO Start-up of the Week trophy …