Innovation Origins https://innovationorigins.com Your Sneak Preview of the Future Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:46:54 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://innovationorigins.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/favicon_opt-48x48.jpg Innovation Origins https://innovationorigins.com 32 32 €350,000 for Dutch university pilot of gel that restores spinal disc degeneration https://innovationorigins.com/e350000-for-dutch-university-pilot-of-gel-that-restores-spinal-disc-degeneration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=e350000-for-dutch-university-pilot-of-gel-that-restores-spinal-disc-degeneration https://innovationorigins.com/e350000-for-dutch-university-pilot-of-gel-that-restores-spinal-disc-degeneration/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2020 07:30:24 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215668 BioMatrix B.V., a spin-off from the Dutch Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e), is developing a gel to repair degenerative damage to the intervertebral discs located in the lower spine. The Brabant Startup Fonds is investing €350,000 in this low-risk treatment of back pain. Almost half a million people just in The Netherlands suffer from these […]

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BioMatrix B.V., a spin-off from the Dutch Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e), is developing a gel to repair degenerative damage to the intervertebral discs located in the lower spine. The Brabant Startup Fonds is investing €350,000 in this low-risk treatment of back pain. Almost half a million people just in The Netherlands suffer from these problems. The spin-off wants to use the money to complete the preclinical study. According to CEO Bob Guilleaume, this will most likely lead to a pilot with patients early next year.

Wear and tear on the intervertebral discs is a natural phenomenon. The disc becomes progressively smaller with age. This affects the nerves, ligaments and blood vessels in parts of the spine and can eventually cause pain At the moment, patients are first prescribed pain medication and treatment by a physiotherapist. When that fails to help, patients may undergo surgery. The intervertebral disc is then replaced by a prosthetic or the vertebrae may even be fully fixed into place.

No more surgery

According to Guilleaume, this treatment is very old-fashioned. He has been developing medical equipment for the orthopaedic sector for more than 35 years. “An operation involves a lot of risk and recovery is a lengthy process,” he says. A few years ago, TU/e-professor Keita Ito developed a gel made of biomaterial which allows the intervertebral disc to regain its volume. This can easily be injected into the back, Guilleaume states. “As the larger disc brings the vertebrae back to their normal distance between each other, pain subsides fast,” the CEO explains.

“But that’s not all,” he continues. “After a while, the gel is absorbed into the intervertebral disc, which in turn allows the body’s own cells to regenerate.” That process takes about six to nine months. “But we can’t stop the degenerative process. So it could be that over time, the intervertebral discs will become smaller again and the complaints will resurface”. He points out that they haven’t done very much research into the long-term consequences as yet. “At the moment, it looks like we will be able to reapply the treatment.”

Read more about the technology of NC Biomatrix in this article.

In addition, the biomaterial gel is not just exclusively for the spinal treatments. “This can also be a solution for wear and tear on the cartilage in the knee. We might soon be able to develop this further,” says Guilleaume.

First pilot

Currently, NC BioMatrix is focusing entirely on preclinical research in order to be able to use the gel in the spine in the near future. “A lot of testing has to be done before the gel can actually be used in practice. For example, we will initially carry out biomedical tests with human spines. After that, we will have to do extensive safety trials. Only then will we be able to apply for certificates to use the product on a large scale.” Guilleaume hopes that the pilot with a dozen or so patients can take place in the first half of 2021. He expects it to take another three years or so before it can be used commercially, provided everything goes according to plan.

Early phase financing

A lot of money is needed for the development process. In the research phase, the company does not yet have any turnover. Yet money is being spent, for example on materials and man-hours. “This early funding, when the product is not quite ready, is very difficult to find,” says Guilleaume. Such funding generally doesn’t come from private investors. They often find it too risky at this stage. That’s why there are various public initiatives to support these young companies. The Brabant Startup Fonds, who NC BioMatrix has procured funding from, is one of these. The Dutch province of North Brabant plays a major role in this.

Bringing knowledge to the world

It is important for the province, the university and society that research from the university is further developed into a product. It’s a shame if knowledge is left lying in a drawer gathering dust. That is why TU/e, through their Innovation Lab for instance, supports researchers in setting up spin-offs. Business developers take a look at the business plan and help put together a team.

That’s how Bob Guilleaume got to join NC BioMatrix via their network about 1 ½ years ago. “Because of his experience in setting up and running a company, he’s a great asset to any researcher who mainly has substantive knowledge about the product,” says Frank van de Ven, Business Incubation Officer at TU/e Innovation Lab. “It’s nice to see that a spin-off is really gaining momentum on account of his experience.”

Business plan

Of course, any investment also contributes to this. Van de Ven first assesses whether a spin-off is prepared for that. “We then check whether the business plan is formulated in such a way that it appeals to investors,” he explains. “We then look, for instance, at the justification of the financial requirement. Spin-offs need to be able to accurately outline how much money they need and what they plan to spend it on.”

Subsequently, Van de Ven assisted in drafting applications for funding. “That was really valuable to us,” Guilleaume explains. Each financier has their own terms and conditions. For example, the Brabant Startup Fonds must see a high growth potential and a Brabant-based component. For one thing, the company must be located in Brabant. The fund generally issues loan covenants. The companies must eventually repay the money or convert the loan into company shares. Van de Ven: “Once a spin-off has been accepted by the Brabant Startup Fonds, it tends to attract other financiers more quickly.”

Financial car wash

“The funding of start-ups and spin-offs should be seen as a kind of financial car wash,” Van de Ven explains. “They often start out with subsidies, which are generally not very large amounts of money. This is followed by loan covenants, like that of the Brabant Startup Fonds.” These are called soft loans because the fledgling companies are often given the opportunity to develop further before they have to repay the loan. “After that, when the product is almost ready to enter the market, start-ups or spin-offs start selling shares to large investors. This frequently involves huge sums of money.”

It is a complicated world where it is important that you know your way around. “Without the contacts at the various funding bodies and the university’s expertise on how to tap into them, we wouldn’t have had any luck in getting this funding,” Guilleaume says. “Partly because of this, we will be able to help so many patients with more effective treatment in the future.”

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Start-up of the Day: Triply arranges transport for youth to festivals & events https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-day-triply-arranges-transport-for-youth-to-festivals-events/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=start-up-of-the-day-triply-arranges-transport-for-youth-to-festivals-events https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-day-triply-arranges-transport-for-youth-to-festivals-events/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:00:51 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=214998 It’s a problem that many young people are familiar with. What’s the easiest way to get to events or festivals if they are held in the countryside? Or if you yourself live outside the city where a major event is being held? That’s what the founders of the transportation service Triply had to contend with […]

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It’s a problem that many young people are familiar with. What’s the easiest way to get to events or festivals if they are held in the countryside? Or if you yourself live outside the city where a major event is being held? That’s what the founders of the transportation service Triply had to contend with themselves. People can now arrange transportation to and from such event with this app. Specifically young people under the age of 18.

It is also a godsend for organizers of these large-scale events. It solves the problem of a lack of train or bus connections, lack of parking spaces and potential traffic congestion caused by visitors who all go there by car.

Group travel by trains and shuttle buses in one app

The creators of Triply use this transportation service to help the organizers bring visitors to and from events. They arrange group travel by trains and shuttle buses from the nearest train station, as well as scheduling bus routes on request. One advantageous side effect of the smart solution is that it is environmentally friendly. In addition, organizers can make use of the integrated online ticketing system service. Co-founder Sebastian Tanzer explains the concept in an interview with Innovation Origins.

Where did the idea for Triply come from?

“We first came into contact with this subject about five years ago during a school project at the Higher Technical College (HTL) Leonding (Austria). At first it was only a small-scale project, but we picked it up again for our thesis. The title of the thesis was ‘Public Move – smart shared taxis for the countryside.‘ We received very positive reactions and our work was awarded an inter-school project prize.

It turned out to be an exciting subject, which we also ended up discussing with various local authorities. However, people were not yet ready for our concept of shared means of transport. As in, a kind of car-sharing. A transportation service for events, on the other hand, was already viable. Because we focus on a target group who has an affinity with the internet and thinks it offers major benefits. The thesis was completed in April 2017 and we set up Triply immediately after that.”

How did the launch go?

“We used our private savings to set up the company. After that we participated in small-sized accelerator programs. We received our first investment from a ‘business angel’ who teaches geo-informatics at the University of Salzburg. We got to know him via Start-up 300. This is a listed start-up ecosystem in Linz, Austria, made up of several investors.”

How has the transportation service fared?

“We are planning shuttle service concepts and have created algorithms that support planning. The software was only ready just a few months ago. Until that point, we had designed mobility concepts for 17 events. We deem these as our software and concept trials. Our first trial was for a student association at a nightclub with 3,000 visitors. Now we are looking at other aspects of our original concept and are developing software for on-demand mobility analysis.

What problem is Triply addressing and why is that important?

“We are Mobility Enablers and we aim to offer people a handy transportation service with our products. In our first project, we developed a system that enables young people to travel to and from events. Now we want to facilitate mobility in rural areas in general. It is mainly elderly and young people in rural areas who need shuttle services in order to become more mobile.”

What makes Triply better than or different from existing providers?

“Many developers of transportation services focus on urban areas. We focus on the countryside and connections between the countryside and cities. In addition, we not only design concepts for transportation planners, but also for lay people, such as mayors and organizers committed to mobility strategies.”

What are you proud of?

“Knowing that you’ve made it at a young age and that you are able to work together as a team on a mutual idea. Right now, it looks like it’s going to work out.”

How hard was it to get funding for your transportation service?

“Not so difficult. With small awards and subsidies, the start was relatively easy. Already we have some limited turnover now, but we still need investments. In the meantime, we’ve even got several investors on board involved in our company. We still hold the majority shares though.”

What can we expect in a year from now?

“We’re hoping that our event transportation software will become more widely used. And that we can cover additional mobility areas as of now.”

Read more IO articles about start-ups here.

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New blood test detects 50+ cancer types, inc. early stage pre-symptomatic https://innovationorigins.com/new-blood-test-detects-50-cancer-types-inc-early-stage-pre-symptomatic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-blood-test-detects-50-cancer-types-inc-early-stage-pre-symptomatic https://innovationorigins.com/new-blood-test-detects-50-cancer-types-inc-early-stage-pre-symptomatic/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 13:40:02 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215703 There is, in principle, only one method for early detection of cancer: regular check-ups. These are often unpleasant, e.g. mammograms or colonoscopies. Plus they are not always 100 % reliable. Wrong diagnoses happen all the time. On the one hand, tumors are occasionally not detected in some people. While on the other, some receive long-term […]

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There is, in principle, only one method for early detection of cancer: regular check-ups. These are often unpleasant, e.g. mammograms or colonoscopies. Plus they are not always 100 % reliable. Wrong diagnoses happen all the time. On the one hand, tumors are occasionally not detected in some people. While on the other, some receive long-term and unpleasant cancer therapies, even though they may never have had cancer in the first place.

Researchers from the European Society for Medical Oncology in Lugano, Switzerland, have now developed a blood test that can accurately detect more than 50 types of cancer. The test can also show where the cancer originated in the body. In many cases before the patient shows the first symptoms.

Less false positive results

In their study ‘Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas’ (CCGA), the scientists recorded a false positive cancer detection rate of 0. 7%. This means that almost 1% of individuals would be falsely identified as having cancer. Under current methods, about 10% of women are wrongly diagnosed with a false positive cancer when screened for breast cancer. This new blood test was also able to pinpoint the tissue where the cancer originated in 96% of the samples. And it was extremely accurate in 93% of the cases.

Analysis of chemical changes to DNA

The test is predicated on how tumors spread DNA in the blood. This leads to what is referred to as cell-free DNA (cfDNA). However, since this cfDNA can also originate from other cell types, it is often difficult to determine which cfDNA stems from tumours. The Swiss researchers’ blood tests analyse chemical changes in the DNA. This process is known as ‘methylation’, which normally regulates gene expression. “Abnormal methylation patterns and the resultant changes in gene expression can contribute to tumor growth. Therefore, these signals in cfDNA have the potential to detect and locate cancer,” the study explains. This was published in the leading cancer journal Annals of Oncology.

For the test, the researchers examined blood samples from 6689 participants. These were made up of people with pre-existing untreated cancer (2482 patients) and a cancer-free control group (4207 participants). The results from 4316 participants were made available for analysis. 3052 in the training set (1531 with cancer, 1521 without cancer) and 1264 in the validation set (654 with cancer and 610 without cancer).

 

Cell-free DNA is isolated from blood samples from a cancer-free patient (top) or who has cancer (bottom) and subjected to a test. The results, which show methylated (red) or unmethylated (blue) CpG regions, are entered into a ”machine learning classifier” that can identify the presence or absence of cancer and the tissue of origin (TOO) © ESMO

Varying results

The result showed that in most cases the blood test could distinguish between cancer patients and healthy participants. However, discrepancies were observed in the results, depending on the type and stage of the cancer. For example, the percentage for stage I tumors was only 18 %. For stage IV tumours it was 93 %. The average percentage for all 50 types of cancer studied was 43.9 %. For the most common and lethal cancers (anal, bladder, colon, oesophagus, stomach, head and neck, liver and bile tract cancer, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancer, lymphoma and leukaemia), the percentage was 67.3%.

Potentially suitable for population screening

Despite the somewhat mixed results for very early stages of cancer, the researchers were nevertheless pleased. “These data demonstrate the capabilities of this targeted methylation test. We believe it meets the basic requirements of a blood test for early detection of cancer. The test might be suitable for population screening. You can now detect multiple deadly cancers with a single test,” said the lead author of the article, Dr. Michael Seiden (MD, PhD), president of American Oncology (Texas, USA). “Especially because of its low false positive results and ability to detect where the cancer is in the body.”

“Groundbreaking research”

The editor-in-chief of Annals of Oncology, Professor Fabrice André, Director of Research at the Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, also sang the praises of the findings. “This research is groundbreaking. It is a first step towards the development of easy-to-use screening tools. Early detection of more than 50% of cancers could save millions of lives worldwide every year. As well as drastically reduce the morbidity levels arising from aggressive treatments.”

Further research is needed in order to assess to what extent the new blood test can actually detect tumours sooner than conventional screening tests.

Read more IO articles on the subject of cancer here.

 

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LUMO Labs: additional € 20 million to support innovative software start-ups https://innovationorigins.com/lumo-labs-additional-e-20-million-to-support-innovative-software-start-ups/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lumo-labs-additional-e-20-million-to-support-innovative-software-start-ups https://innovationorigins.com/lumo-labs-additional-e-20-million-to-support-innovative-software-start-ups/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:36:20 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215654 Start-ups have always had a hard time, but especially at a time when half the economy is in danger of collapsing, these starting companies have an extra burden on their situation: often not even a working business model, let alone any revenue. And most of the supporting schemes that are now coming into the picture […]

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Start-ups have always had a hard time, but especially at a time when half the economy is in danger of collapsing, these starting companies have an extra burden on their situation: often not even a working business model, let alone any revenue. And most of the supporting schemes that are now coming into the picture from the government are not meant for them. It enticed Brainport Development Director Paul van Nunen to his call “not to forget this group of entrepreneurs”.

But there is actual support on the way. Precisely in these turbulent times in which COVID-19 dominates the news, the Eindhoven-based LUMO Labs today announces LUMO Fund II. LUMO Fund II is an investment fund of € 20 million for innovative software start-ups. The fund not only provides financial support to selected start-ups but also offers each start-up a two-year mentoring program at its office at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. LUMO Labs says that with the investments, in addition to financial return, it also wants to achieve a sustainable social impact. Prerequisite for participation is that a start-up has a positive effect on at least one of the three chosen Sustainable Development Goals (Cities & Communities, Health & Welfare and Education).

“Of course, we have consulted internally whether this is the right time for the announcement”, says co-founder Andy Lürling. “However, we quickly came to the conclusion that it is now that it is important that we continue to invest. The current circumstances show several challenges where innovative start-ups can contribute to fast, but sustainable solutions”.

LUMO Labs expects to invest in around 15 start-ups over the next three years. Within LUMO Labs, each start-up is intensively supervised by a team of experienced entrepreneurs over a period of 24 months. Co-founder Sven Bakkes: “Based on our experience of the past years we have developed the LUMO program. We explicitly look at the needs of each individual start-up. Depending on these needs, we select a number of focus points each quarter, to which we give extra attention and challenge the entrepreneurs”. Previous successful start-ups from the LUMO program are VRee and Pillow’s Willow VR Studios.

One of the other spearheads of LUMO Labs is to stimulate synergy between the start-ups. “Looking at the technologies we invest in – think of the whole range between Artificial Intelligence, Data, Robotics, Internet of Things, VR/AR/MR and Blockchain – we foresee that precisely a combination of these technologies will lead to solutions that society is looking for and the market is asking for”, says Lürling.

Bakkes and Lürling expect to reach the final closing of the LUMO Fund II at the end of this year.

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Can sea sponges prevent corona virus? https://innovationorigins.com/can-sea-sponges-prevent-corona-virus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-sea-sponges-prevent-corona-virus https://innovationorigins.com/can-sea-sponges-prevent-corona-virus/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2020 07:00:09 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215551 Research into an active substance for combatting the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is currently being conducted in laboratories around the world. But could it be that Mother Nature herself has long since provided a cure for the virus? For several years, scientists at the TU Freiberg in Germany have been studying a marine sponge species called […]

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Research into an active substance for combatting the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is currently being conducted in laboratories around the world. But could it be that Mother Nature herself has long since provided a cure for the virus? For several years, scientists at the TU Freiberg in Germany have been studying a marine sponge species called Aplysina aerophoba. This sea sponge produces antiviral properties naturally. These unique substances can inhibit the growth of viruses and stop viruses from attacking cells.

Whenever the Aplysina sponge is damaged, it produces what are known as bromotyrosines. These bromotyrosines are responsible for the antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic effect of the sponge. A sudden chemical reaction occurs when the connections between the tissue cells are damaged following an injury.

When this happens, the amino acid derivative bromtyrosine instantly destroys any foreign bodies, viruses and bacteria that try to enter the tissue cells. Bio-active substances inhibit protein synthesis this way. They prevent the proliferation of RNA viruses, as in viruses that penetrate tissue cells. One of these RNA viruses is the SARS-CoV-2 corona virus. Which the Freiberg scientists were able to prove in pre-clinical studies in cooperation with the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus (Dresden, Germany) when using tumour cells as test examples.

Crystals from the aeroplysinin substance which have a potent antiviral effect. Photo: Hermann Ehrlich

Ready for clinical studies

“We have succeeded in isolating these bioactive substances in a purely crystalline form in such quantities (i.e. considerably more than 10 grams) that they are available for immediate clinical trials against the COVID-19 pathogen,” Prof. Dr. Hermann Ehrlich explains. He’s from the Biomineralogy and Extreme Biomimetics research group at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Freiberg University of Mining and Technology). “In the current situation we are, of course, open to cooperation with the relevant authorities and institutions.”

The marine horn sponge Aplysina aerophoba is native to the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. It’s found mainly off the coasts of Montenegro, Croatia and Albania. It has been growing for more than 500 million years along shallow coastal areas of warm seas. In recent years, the researchers have managed to extract up to 100% of the precious bromotyrosine from the sponge as a result of a new method.

Careful extraction of bromotyrosine

“We use microwave radiation to isolate and extract the bromotyrosine from the cells and skeletal fibres of the cultured sponges,” explains the head of the Biomineralogy Laboratory at the Institute for Electronic and Sensor Materials. The team led by Prof. Ehrlich along with the Saxon start-up BromMarin GmbH are currently proceeding with their research into the ecologically friendly method. This new method involves only partial removal of the sponge underwater.

Since 2014, scientists from the TU Bergakademie Freiberg have been overseeing a 100 square meter sponge farming facility. They’ve been working together on this with marine biotechnologists from the Institute of Marine Biology in Kotor, Montenegro.

Research results from the Freiberg scientists have been published in the academic journal “Materials Science and Engineering” under the title: ‘Marine biomaterials: Biomimetic and pharmacological potential of cultivated Aplysina aerophoba marine demosponge.’

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Start-up of the day: Hyper Poland speeds up the country https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-day-hyper-poland-speeds-up-the-country/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=start-up-of-the-day-hyper-poland-speeds-up-the-country https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-day-hyper-poland-speeds-up-the-country/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 15:00:08 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215240 How to cross over 600 kilometres in less than an hour only by train? We used to think that it’s impossible. Nowadays though, we’re closer than ever to making it happen. Innovation Origins wrote a lot about the hyperloop concept. Recently, you could hear about Delft’s based company Hardt Hyperloop and their newest plans. Meanwhile, […]

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How to cross over 600 kilometres in less than an hour only by train? We used to think that it’s impossible. Nowadays though, we’re closer than ever to making it happen. Innovation Origins wrote a lot about the hyperloop concept. Recently, you could hear about Delft’s based company Hardt Hyperloop and their newest plans. Meanwhile, in central Europe the same idea is spreading in Poland. The company Hyper Poland is currently working on a technology thanks to which we are able – for example – to travel from Gdansk to Krakow within only 30 minutes.

Hyper Poland wants to “speed up” the country since years, by working on magrail technology. The prototype of the Hyperloop vehicle was created by a student team and later on sent to California for a SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II. Since then, the company won multiple prestigious awards and created an international team with a great vision for the future. Their main partners are, among others, Microsoft, Transfer Multisort Elektronik, Warsaw University of Technology and the Railway Research Institute. The progress of Hyper Poland is pretty impressive but Katarzyna Foljanty (Co-founder & CBO of Hyper Poland) claims that they have many ambitious and innovative ideas for the future.

How did you come up with the idea for Hyper Poland?

 Hyper Poland was initiated in 2015. Initially, it was an academic think-tank that comprised of students as well as scientists and alumni representing Warsaw University of Technology. Between 2015-2017 this team has been involved in various hyperloop competitions. They were the finalist of two SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competitions organized by Elon Musk. In 2016, Łukasz Mielczarek (current head of infrastructure) and I joined Hyper Poland. This enforcement helped Hyper Poland to win the BIM of Innovation Award at the Build Earth Live competition in Dubai. When Przemek Paczek (current CEO) joined Hyper Poland in late 2016, this academic think-tank turned into a company. Simultaneously, our team has developed a unique three-stage approach to the hyperloop technology development.

How are the reactions from customers?

 People in Poland are rather skeptical about Polish inventions. Not so much due to the lack of skills of Polish inventors but the lack of adequate financial and political support for such projects. Therefore, people were either delighted with our project and that is developed in Poland or said that it would not work in this particular country.

The concept of hyperloop is still science fiction for many people. However, at Hyper Poland, we developed a unique adaptation into European reality starting with the implementation of its first stage, magrail, within the next few years. This is what makes our approach unique and more down to Earth.

Magrail is a passive magnetic levitation train operating on existing conventional railway tracks at speeds of up to 300 kph and 415 kph on HSR lines. This hybrid solution allows for the functionality of both the magrail system and conventional trains on the same tracks. This can be subsequently transformed into a vacuum system – hyperrail, with a top speed of 600 kph (373 mph) on existing conventional tracks and 1000 kph on HSR lines. Our last step will require new dedicated routes. These new corridors will enable the hyperloop to travel at up to 1,200 kph. It will use subsystems tested in the first two generations.

 

 

What has been the biggest obstacle that you have faced?

 There were many obstacles at the beginning. A lack of trust, lack of money, lack of big supportive partners. We needed everything, literally. We had to prove that our technology isn’t a paper tiger. In early 2019 first big partners believed in us, we got support from Transfer Multisort Elektronik, Microsoft and the National Polish Centre for Research and Development which granted us 3.8 mln euros. Moreover, in Fall 2019 at the magrail demo in Warsaw, we showed a levitating prototype. This was a turning point when many people started to believe in what we do.

 

 

Where will Hyper Poland  be in five years’ time?

At the moment, we’re focusing on our second round of the equity crowdfunding campaign on the UK platform, Seedrs (https://www.seedrs.com/hyper-poland1). Proceeds from this campaign will serve to continue R&D on key elements of magrail. Each euro from this round will be leveraged by another four euros from the EU grant. This, in turn, will be invested to build a 1:1 test track for the magrail system. Between 2021 and 2022, we plan to conduct the first tests. In five years we would like to finish the first pilot projects.

 

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Spaniards aren’t laughing any more https://innovationorigins.com/spaniards-arent-laughing-any-more/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=spaniards-arent-laughing-any-more https://innovationorigins.com/spaniards-arent-laughing-any-more/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:53:15 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215499 After a fortnight of lockdown, the moment has arrived that the coronavirus has complete control over me. Not so much physically – I still feel good. No sore throat, no shortness of breath, no headaches, no snoring. No, Covid-19 has me mentally under its control. The virus is everywhere, even at night in my dreams. […]

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After a fortnight of lockdown, the moment has arrived that the coronavirus has complete control over me. Not so much physically – I still feel good. No sore throat, no shortness of breath, no headaches, no snoring.

No, Covid-19 has me mentally under its control. The virus is everywhere, even at night in my dreams. Not a minute of the day goes by when it’s not somewhere. Very close to my Madrid living room when we applaud the whole neighborhood. Or a little farther away when we see sometimes simply indescribable suffering, whereby the latter is expected of me as a correspondent in Spain.

The Spaniards aren’t laughing anymore

In the initial days of the Spanish alarm phase, everything was still new and even a bit exciting. It was still a time when jokes were made about corona. Humor is the perfect way to dispel fear. But after seven thousand deaths, the laughter of the Spaniards has gone quiet. The disaster is many times greater than anticipated. Or as a nurse confided in me: This is war. And I have suddenly become a kind of war reporter in Western Europe, with everything that may or may not be part of it.

Going into battle unarmed

Medical personnel are certainly at the front line in the fight against the virus. In many cases they even have to fight unarmed, with the chance of being killed somewhere along the way. After all, anyone who has to do their job in a tangle of infected corona patients without adequate protective equipment such as face masks or gloves will sooner or later become a victim themselves. The figures don’t lie. Of all confirmed infections, one in ten is a healthcare worker. Dozens of them have already lost their lives. It is only when the faces behind the numbers become visible that the seriousness of the situation really becomes apparent.

Escape from a horror film

That’s where we come in. The number of infections seems to be decreasing under the lockdown, but hardly at all. Hundreds of Spaniards are dying every day, in many cases without even being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. Every day lifeless bodies are taken from old people’s homes to an ice skating rink that serves as an emergency morgue. A few kilometers away, thousands of lifeless bodies are transported from more old people’s homes to an ice skating rink that serves as an emergency morgue. Not far off, thousands of others are fighting for their lives in the exhibition center as if they have to escape from a horror movie on the very spot where a holiday trade fair was held just two months ago.

The Spanish government of prime minister Pedro Sánchez plans to implement even stricter measures in the coming weeks. Only “essential work” may still be carried out outside the home in an attempt to stop the virus once and for all. In addition to medical staff, the police, army, cleaners, shelf-fillers and journalists are also counted among the most important professions. So I have the “privilege” of walking, cycling or driving through the empty streets. There is no need to search for stories. There are plenty of them. Yet for various reasons I do my work from an appropriate distance. If only to stay healthy myself.

The seriousness of the situation visible only from inside

Anyone who compares this to the work that nurses do day and night might call it cowardice. Whatever. But in the cemetery of Madrid there are many machos who heroically led the battle in other wars. I try to describe as good and evil as I can what is going on in Spain so that others might understand. If there is one thing I have learned from this corona crisis, it is that the seriousness of the situation only becomes visible when you are in the middle of it yourself. And then the virus grips you in such a way that you can hardly think of anything else. I know there’s not much innovative about that. Unfortunately.

Read Koen Greven’s earlier columns about Spanish innovation here.

 

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The choice is yours: who will be the new Start-up of the Month? https://innovationorigins.com/the-choice-is-yours-who-will-be-the-new-start-up-of-the-month/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-choice-is-yours-who-will-be-the-new-start-up-of-the-month https://innovationorigins.com/the-choice-is-yours-who-will-be-the-new-start-up-of-the-month/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:42:23 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215502 Even during this first (and presumably not last) corona crisis month, Innovation Origins has presented a Start-up of the Day each workday. Since real innovation doesn’t allow itself to be slowed down by adversity like this, we have once again chosen four weekly winners and now it’s your turn to choose a monthly winner. And […]

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Even during this first (and presumably not last) corona crisis month, Innovation Origins has presented a Start-up of the Day each workday. Since real innovation doesn’t allow itself to be slowed down by adversity like this, we have once again chosen four weekly winners and now it’s your turn to choose a monthly winner. And later this year … (drum roll) … but that will take a while still.

The nominees for March come from Italy, Portugal and The Netherlands. Are you working at a super cool start-up that hasn’t taken part yet? Then please apply via our form. Underneath the poll you will find links to the articles about the contestants. You have until this Friday to vote.

Who should be our Start-up of the Month?
  1. ISAAC
  2. Fundsup
  3. Secret City Trails
  4. Monobase

Read about a new start-up every workday here!!

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Eindhoven University of Technology students offer help via platform for corona crisis problems https://innovationorigins.com/eindhoven-university-of-technology-students-offer-help-via-platform-for-corona-crisis-problems/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eindhoven-university-of-technology-students-offer-help-via-platform-for-corona-crisis-problems https://innovationorigins.com/eindhoven-university-of-technology-students-offer-help-via-platform-for-corona-crisis-problems/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 10:16:59 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215462 The corona crisis presents companies and institutions with all kinds of new problems. Solutions are more than welcome in the medical sector, but also beyond. For example, in education. Of course, you can take exams digitally, but who can guarantee that the right person is sitting behind the computer? Students of Eindhoven University of Technology […]

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The corona crisis presents companies and institutions with all kinds of new problems. Solutions are more than welcome in the medical sector, but also beyond. For example, in education. Of course, you can take exams digitally, but who can guarantee that the right person is sitting behind the computer? Students of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Netherlands, are offering help in this respect. One example of this is their idea of a pressure-sensitive keyboard.

The TU/e has set up a platform where companies and government bodies can share problems. Students use their knowledge to find a suitable solution together with these parties, for example with a pressure-sensitive keyboard. “Over the past few days, various board members and other employees of the university have received requests from the business community and individuals to help with various challenges,” says Isabelle Reymen, director of TU/e innovation Space.

These requests came to her. TU/e innovation Space has been offering challenge-based learning within the university for almost two years. Students get to work with issues from the business world and civil society organizations. These parties also remain actively involved in the design process. “The coronavirus outbreak is a serious challenge that the whole world is dealing with right now,” says Reymen.

Students not sitting still

TU/e Innovation Space offers space for student teams and start-ups that are working on a solution for a social problem. “Their activities are largely at a standstill. They currently do not have the opportunity to run pilots or build prototypes, for example,” says Reymen. “But their drive to contribute something to society remains. Now they can do that for one of the biggest challenges of recent years.” According to the university, the platform is needed to bring different parties together.

Online testing without fraud

For example, Kayle Knops and Bob van der Meulen want to use their pressure-sensitive keyboards to counteract fraud when tests are taken digitally. “We are normally busy developing software and pressure-sensitive keyboards to recognize stress at an early stage,” explains Bob van der Meulen. “Typing behavior is different for each person and changes based on the emotions someone experiences. Actually, the company would be starting with a large pilot and new research right now, but that came to a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak. “That’s why we now want to use our software to identify students who need to take online tests. This way we can contribute to a solution to combat fraud.”

The students are in discussion with various universities, including those of Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Tilburg. “We can easily add our software to the software that universities are using now,” explains Van der Meulen. “For example, students now have to show their ID card in front of the webcam. Rules like that are likely to stay in place. The software of Intens Keyboards is extra. “Our software looks, for example, at how long someone is holding down a button, how fast someone types and what the choice of words is,” explains Van der Meulen. “We can’t guarantee a one hundred percent foolproof system. We can only make fraud more difficult.”

An Opportunity

Van der Meulen notices that many students within TU/e Innovation Space are motivated to find solutions for the corona crisis. “Some students quickly had a passive attitude and went gaming all day, but the more enterprising students see this as an opportunity to really achieve something. That’s contagious.”

Isabelle Reymen emphasizes that the platform is accessible to everyone who can and wants to make a contribution. “In addition to students, researchers and people from the business world can also sign up to share an idea,” she says. “We are also looking for people who can coach groups of students. Everyone who can and wants to contribute with knowledge in a certain way is welcome.” Through this platform the staff and students of the university hope to contribute to the fight against corona.

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Pioneering-in-Progress: from Wednesday, April 1, there is IO-TV, our own online channel https://innovationorigins.com/we-are-pioneering-from-wednesday-april-1-there-is-io-tv-our-own-online-channel/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=we-are-pioneering-from-wednesday-april-1-there-is-io-tv-our-own-online-channel https://innovationorigins.com/we-are-pioneering-from-wednesday-april-1-there-is-io-tv-our-own-online-channel/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 07:22:02 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215352 Never waste a good crisis. Innovation Origins takes this to heart and will start – perhaps a bit against the trend – with our very own online ‘tv’ channel: IO-tv. This Wednesday, at 4 PM, we’ll launch the station. The inspiration for this initiative comes from the many organisations, educational institutions and companies that have […]

Het bericht Pioneering-in-Progress: from Wednesday, April 1, there is IO-TV, our own online channel verscheen eerst op Innovation Origins.

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Never waste a good crisis. Innovation Origins takes this to heart and will start – perhaps a bit against the trend – with our very own online ‘tv’ channel: IO-tv. This Wednesday, at 4 PM, we’ll launch the station. The inspiration for this initiative comes from the many organisations, educational institutions and companies that have successfully moved large parts of their activities from ‘real-live’ to online in recent weeks.

Hans Meeske (Holland Innovative) is one of them; his encouragement gave us the final push:

“This period of time offers us an opportunity to start working in a different way. I believe this can change our lives, but only if we act now. There is no reason to wait.”

The kick-off is next Wednesday, with the broadcast of Drinks, Pitches & Demos, the monthly event for the innovative ecosystem to inform each other about the latest developments and to help each other with the next steps. DP&D will start at 5 PM, preceded by our own introduction at 4.

Drinks, Pitches & Demos

We want IO-TV to become the channel for people who want to know how things can be done better, for themselves and for the world. With inspiring examples, useful tips, wise lessons from experts and understandable explanations of essential developments, we will ensure that people can develop themselves and thus their immediate environment, their business, their lives. The tone is optimistic – as you would expect from us – and shows how important people are who want to think, pioneer, develop relevant things and want to do all this together with others.

Youtube

Aafke Eppinga

IO-tv uses the technology that is present on everyone’s laptop and smartphone. This way, we can keep costs under control, but at the same time increase accessibility. There is no subscription or separate access, the broadcasts can be followed via Innovation Origins, the partners of the station and media channels Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch. For the live broadcasts, we use Riverside.fm.

Elcke Vels, IO

Station Manager of IO-tv is Aafke Eppinga, known to our regular visitors for her bike tour focused on innovative startups on the European west coast and the dozens of ‘explainers‘ she made for IO. She runs the station together with Elcke Vels, who is in charge of the editorial process and is also known from our explainers. The entire Innovation Origins team supports the production of IO-tv.

Experiment

Anyone who wants to build an entire station in a week’s time has to accept that a feeling of experimenting is paramount. This will be visible in the broadcasts, in the length of the programming, in the undoubtedly frequent adaptations and in the flexibility with which we will have to choose solutions to unexpected problems. Not all our plans and ideas will be feasible in week 1. Even the name – for now, it’s IO-tv – could still change.

When we will be in full swing, the programmes will mainly be shown between 12:00 and 19:00, but nothing will stop us from deviating from that, for example for a live event in the evening. So keep an eye on the ‘programme booklet’ on Innovation Origins (soon on our homepage). And of course, you can re-watch the shows later on as well. So, what to expect?

Partners

The core of IO-tv will consist of broadcasts that originate directly from what Innovation Origins already does. Think of the tech-explainers, live events, but also live interviews where viewers can join the show with their questions. But many programmes come from our partners at this station. Think of workshops, courses, lectures and interesting portraits of people from the innovative ecosystem. Fontys University of Applied Sciences participates with various initiatives (such as the expertise centres for Circular Economics and High Tech Systems and Materials, but also ICT and Economy & Communication), TU Eindhoven is there, Eindhoven Library, HighTechXL, Brainport Development, Station88, Holland Innovative, Fast Moving Targets and Innovation Space. Naturally, many more parties will follow – we are open to anyone who supports the central mission of IO-tv.

We are going to pioneer, it is the right time for it. Are we going to succeed? We’ve never done it before, so I’m sure we will… 🙂

Het bericht Pioneering-in-Progress: from Wednesday, April 1, there is IO-TV, our own online channel verscheen eerst op Innovation Origins.

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Free AI-software for Covid-19 triage on chest x-rays https://innovationorigins.com/free-ai-software-for-covid-19-triage-on-chest-x-rays/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free-ai-software-for-covid-19-triage-on-chest-x-rays https://innovationorigins.com/free-ai-software-for-covid-19-triage-on-chest-x-rays/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 07:00:59 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215383 Delft Imaging has leveraged its expertise and has joined forces with Thirona, Radboudumc, Bernhoven,(Netherlands), HT médica (Spain) and Fakultas Kedokteran UI (Indonesia) to develop a tool for the triage of COVID-19 suspects by using Artificial Intelligence on chest X-ray images. The software is called CAD4COVID (Computer Aided Detection for COVID-19). It will support the health […]

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Delft Imaging has leveraged its expertise and has joined forces with Thirona, Radboudumc, Bernhoven,(Netherlands), HT médica (Spain) and Fakultas Kedokteran UI (Indonesia) to develop a tool for the triage of COVID-19 suspects by using Artificial Intelligence on chest X-ray images. The software is called CAD4COVID (Computer Aided Detection for COVID-19). It will support the health systems and health workers by helping to triage patients and inform the care pathway.

Software solution is free of charge

Delft Imaging is specialized in tuberculosis (TB) screening and with its proven CAD4TB solution has screened over 6 million people in 40 countries. The company optimised CAD4TB to triage Covid-19 suspects and are launching this solution free-of-charge. CAD4COVID has been developed with the intention to support triaging in resource-constrained settings and high-prevalence areas. It will become available this week.

Support healthcare facilities around the world

“Covid-19 is a global health crisis that will long be remembered and that has impacted the lives of millions of people around the world,” state the company in a press release about the AI-based software tool. “Both low- and high-resource countries have been greatly impacted by this public health crisis. In response to this crisis, Delft Imaging wants to support Ministries of Health and healthcare facilities around the world by leveraging their extensive experience in artificial intelligence and tuberculosis screening, with which they have already screened millions of people around the world.”

Heatmap of the infected lungs

The ingenuity behind CAD4COVID uses the same technical core as the software Delft Imaging uses for tuberculosis detection, CAD4TB. CAD4TB is a significant part of the equation because CAD4COVID was built upon the same high-quality standard as CAD4TB, which is validated by over 40 academic publications and has contributed to screening 6 million people worldwide across 40 countries.

CAD4COVID will generate a score between 0 and 100 indicating the extent of COVID-19 related abnormalities, display such lung abnormalities through a heatmap and quantify the percentage of the lung that is affected.

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No reduction in demand: ASML, for now, only mildly impacted by Corona crisis https://innovationorigins.com/asml-for-now-only-mildly-impacted-by-corona-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=asml-for-now-only-mildly-impacted-by-corona-crisis https://innovationorigins.com/asml-for-now-only-mildly-impacted-by-corona-crisis/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2020 06:42:30 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215402 No reduction in demand, but still some changes in the delivery of new systems to their clients. President and CEO Peter Wennink expects ASML to be “limitedly impacted” by the Corona crisis. “Until now the COVID-19 outbreak has had a limited impact on ASML’s manufacturing capability. Also, from a customer point of view, we have […]

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No reduction in demand, but still some changes in the delivery of new systems to their clients. President and CEO Peter Wennink expects ASML to be “limitedly impacted” by the Corona crisis. “Until now the COVID-19 outbreak has had a limited impact on ASML’s manufacturing capability. Also, from a customer point of view, we have not seen a reduction in the demand for our systems this year.”

Still, Wennink sees three COVID-19 related effects to impact the financial results. “First, we have experienced some delays in DUV shipments to Wuhan, China as well as to other customers due to shipment and travel restrictions regarding COVID-19. Second, we have experienced some issues in our supply chain, which for now have been solved. Third, due to concerns around the continued ability to ship systems in the current circumstances, some customers have asked us to expedite the delivery of EUV systems by shipping the systems before the normal Factory Acceptance Tests. The implication of this is a delay in our revenue recognition as final acceptance will now take place after successful installation at the customer site.”

ASML expects revenue in the first quarter to be between € 2.4 billion and € 2.5 billion, with a gross margin between 45% and 46%. “We expect the revenue that we were not able to recognize for Q1 as a result of the issues listed above, to shift to Q2 and Q3 of this year. Despite the challenging circumstances, we have been able to continue ASML’s operations although we, like many of our peers and customers, are dependent on future developments with respect to measures taken to control the COVID-19 outbreak around the world.”

Due to the uncertainties regarding COVID-19, ASML has decided not to execute any share buybacks in Q2 2020. This decision follows the pause in the execution of the program in the first quarter, after having already performed share buybacks under the new program for an amount of approximately €507 million. “The current coronavirus pandemic affects us all. Our primary goal is to ensure, as best as we can, that our employees and their families stay safe, whether they’re on ASML premises or at our customers, suppliers or partners. Our second goal is to ensure the continuity of our business and our customers’, suppliers’ and partners’ businesses, so that we can all continue to serve our end markets.”

Wennink promises to provide more information at the official presentation of the Q1 2020 earnings report on April 15, 2020.

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Follow-up: Should Covid-19 measures override privacy? https://innovationorigins.com/follow-up-should-covid-19-measures-override-privacy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=follow-up-should-covid-19-measures-override-privacy https://innovationorigins.com/follow-up-should-covid-19-measures-override-privacy/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2020 21:36:59 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215355 This week we’re taking another look at the corona crisis here in the ‘follow-up‘ section. Where do we stand when it comes to the ethical side of all this innovation that aims to contain the virus? In countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea, smartphone location data is used to map contacts of people […]

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This week we’re taking another look at the corona crisis here in the ‘follow-up‘ section. Where do we stand when it comes to the ethical side of all this innovation that aims to contain the virus?

In countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea, smartphone location data is used to map contacts of people who tested positive for the corona virus. Apps check if civilians are complying with self-quarantine regulations. And send out SMS alerts that enable you to find out where an infected patient was prior to becoming infected. While in Israel, the Secret Service Shin Bet uses phone records to check the movements of infected people.

In Austria, Italy, Belgium and Germany, telecom companies share anonymized and aggregated user data so that the data cannot be traced back to a single person. The system that companies use for this purpose doesn’t relay information about individual customers. Instead it compares the frequency of movements between transmission masts with previous periods. For example, the data in Lombardy show that movements exceeding 300 to 500 meters have dropped by 60% since the first patient was identified on the 21st of February.

Scientists from Oxford University in the United Kingdom are working on an app where anyone who has been in contact with a person who has tested positive is advised to stay home and self-isolate. This is a voluntary app and users can opt to share their data.

Police officer or app?

Things in Poland are already a bit more stringent. People who must go into compulsory quarantine are given a choice: either a police officer checks whether they are actually abiding by the rules, or patients can download an app. This app requires users to send a selfie within a certain period of time to check whether they are indoors. The identity of the person is corroborated via location information within the photo and through facial recognition.

Calls for the use of big data and location data are getting louder and louder even in Germany. Infections can be more easily pinpointed and contact tracing is a lot quicker with this data. At least that’s the idea. However, these plans are subject to widespread criticism. The House of Representatives in The Netherlands is also not very enthusiastic about this proposal.

Temporary restrictions

When is a government allowed to waive rights like the privacy of individuals in order to protect a large group of people? Philip Frey is an ethicist at the University of Twente and shares his views on this subject.

“We are currently facing a crisis that threatens fundamental values such as health and safety. In a situation like this, you have to weigh up other considerations. You get to make choices that put other things like privacy or democratic decision making in second place.”

Yet according to Frey, the question still remains where the line should be drawn. To illustrate his point, he cites President Orban of Hungary who appears to be using this crisis to take even more power into his own hands. “The EU is not charmed by this plan without reason. Orban is using this crisis to gain a tighter grip on the country, purely under the guise of security. Consequently, you end up on a slippery slope, where certain measures will not be revoked after this crisis.”

Totalitarian state

After all, that remains a key aspect of the considerations that governments must take into account, Frey states. “Measures must be temporary. People understand – despite the fact that they themselves may not be directly at risk – that they must observe the rules that are in force now. We can all get back together on June 1st, this is a temporary problem. You also have to look closely at other alternatives. Will we introduce far-reaching surveillance measures based on the Chinese model? Or are there innovations that are less detrimental to our privacy?”

“If you’re talking about the use of aggregated telephone data to see whether groups of people are complying with measures, I would say: no problem. The same goes for mapping the spread of the virus. It will be a different story if it can be traced back to an individual person and gets used as a means of law enforcement. Or used as a registration of houses where corona is prevalent. Then you end up with weird situations.”

Free society?

It is difficult to say under which scenario The Netherlands would introduce these kinds of measures. Ibo van de Poel, who is affiliated to the Technical University of Delft, thinks so too. “We do not have a totalitarian system. So the fact that the government is going to compel us to stay inside and monitor us just doesn’t suit our society. We’re not currently in a situation where such measures are necessary to safeguard our health. Where the boundary lies exactly is difficult to assess. You could also say that a system like China, where everything is imposed from above, is more effective in fighting the virus than our free society. But how do we want to shape our society?”

“Do you ask yourself if a measure is proportionate? Is the harm proportional to the improvement in health? I think there are currently sufficient alternatives available that have a lower impact on privacy which are just as effective. But there are also measures that can be taken so that you could use data and minimize any loss of privacy. Better encryption of data, for example. Data architectures with dynamic consent, where you can always adjust what happens to your data. Or how long it will be stored and for what purpose. I think we in the European Union generally try to find a good balance between privacy and security regulations.”

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Start-up of the week: ISAAC counteracts tremors and quakes https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-week-isaac-counteracts-tremors-and-quakes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=start-up-of-the-week-isaac-counteracts-tremors-and-quakes https://innovationorigins.com/start-up-of-the-week-isaac-counteracts-tremors-and-quakes/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2020 18:06:01 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215281 ”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 […]

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”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.

OneTwoThreeZero – Foaming shampoo balls

When it comes to foaming bath bombs, you tend to think of having a bath with them just on special occasions and not on a daily basis. Yet in Slovenia they want to change all that. Why you may ask? Because it reduces the use of plastics. The bottles in which shampoo and other cosmetics are usually packed are not very environmentally friendly, so that’s why OneTwoThreeZero came up with a kind of soft shampoo marble.

Once it comes into contact with warm water, the gummy-like substance immediately turns into ready-to-use soap. Which makes plastic bottles redundant. But it did prove to be a bit of a puzzle when it came to designing the casing. It had to be strong enough for holding the contents and at the same time be soluble in warm water as well. The founders are currently only supplying certain businesses with their product. Nevertheless, they also have ambitious plans to conquer the consumer market.

RobotWise – the super smart robot teacher

In the coming decades, robots will slowly but surely take over more and more tasks that are still being done by human hands. Does your work – just like mine – consist of sitting at a desk behind a computer? This might eventually be automated over time too. Yet robots are already capable of doing an ever-increasing number of other tasks.

The Dutch start-up RobotWise has designed a social and educational robot which educates children and adults in a playful way. The robot provides teaching packages for all primary school groups with a contemporary twist. Programming, for example, still isn’t a part of the outdated educational curriculum. At the moment they’re working on programs for secondary and vocational schools. So, are robots just for techies, and is learning these kind of new things boring? Absolutely not!

Volterio – wireless chargers for electric cars

A lot of things that used to require a cable are wireless nowadays. We probably have a completely cordless future ahead of us. Although we are still a long way away from that. Wireless electricity, for example, sounds fantastic on paper but is still not quite feasible. Yet even where this is concerned, more is becoming possible bit by bit. Take, for example, charging mats for mobile phones. The Austrian start-up Volterio has developed something similar to this for electric cars.

The secret is found in the floor of the charging area where the charging system is located. When an electric car is parked on top of this, the charging module makes contact with the car’s battery, supplying it with a fresh supply of power capacity. The ultimate goal is to develop a universal standard for the entire automobile industry. And this is already proceeding reasonably well. Volterio itself hasn’t actually needed to approach anyone for this. No less than 10 car manufacturers were eager to join forces with the Austrians.

RiceHouse – Super sustainable rice paddies

No, this isn’t a fairy tale. Apparently, it’s the genuine article. Italian start-up RiceHouse is doing exactly what you’d expect when you read that name. They can build houses from the ground up using waste from rice farmers. This could be a godsend, especially in developing countries. At the moment, agricultural waste is still being incinerated on a grand scale. A real shame. Because you can also build things with it.

All that this requires is a mindset capable of looking at waste in a completely different way. One man’s trash is another man’s metaphorical treasure. The by-products of rice farming are not only useful for architecture, but they could also be used in fashion, design and retail. That’s according to the RiceHouse team. So how do they fare in terms of sustainability? Better than brick and concrete. Just for fun, see if you can find out the amount of carbon emissions this causes.

ISAAC srl – Smart shock absorber for earthquakes

Earthquakes are the order of the day in some parts of the world. They are hard to predict and can cause a serious amount of misery. Given that prevention is not an option here, damage should be kept to a minimum. How? By installing the autoadaptive ISAAC system on buildings. This device works fully automatically and, in the event of an earthquake, produces a kind of anti-vibration that makes buildings shake less hard when the ground experiences tremors.

Thanks to a database based on AI, big data and algorithms, ISAAC is able to assess how to deal with a quake for each separate building. Although buildings in earthquake zones can take a beating, there is currently no comparable universal and autonomous solution to this problem. However, the need for such a solution is enormous. Earthquakes in Italy alone have cost more than €160 billion in damage over the past 50 years. Reducing damage to buildings also reduces the number of casualties.

Does it take a major refurbishment of a building to be able to install ISAAC? Not at all. This anti-earthquake robot can easily be installed on any type of building without incurring high costs. We do believe in this idea. The system brings together simplicity, affordability and modern technology so as to create a product that saves lives and prevents havoc. Praiseworthy? Innovation Origins certainly thinks so. We were unanimous in deciding who our weekly trophy should go to!

 

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Tomorrow is good: Today’s uncertainties require flexibility and that’s what start-ups have https://innovationorigins.com/tomorrow-is-good-todays-uncertainties-require-flexibility-and-thats-what-start-ups-have/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tomorrow-is-good-todays-uncertainties-require-flexibility-and-thats-what-start-ups-have https://innovationorigins.com/tomorrow-is-good-todays-uncertainties-require-flexibility-and-thats-what-start-ups-have/#respond Sun, 29 Mar 2020 09:10:08 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215222 I remember my disbelief when I heard that entire cities and regions were under quarantine because of the corona virus. What an impact that must have on everyone’s lives. For a few days I was haunted by images of an anxious family glued to the TV. Or bored teenagers stuck with an iPad. Reality turns […]

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I remember my disbelief when I heard that entire cities and regions were under quarantine because of the corona virus. What an impact that must have on everyone’s lives. For a few days I was haunted by images of an anxious family glued to the TV. Or bored teenagers stuck with an iPad. Reality turns out to be something quite different now that we all have to stay at home as much as possible.

Nonetheless, the measures have thrown many companies into acute difficulties. At first, I was somewhat surprised by some companies that turned out to just have 1 to 3 months of runway. Managing your runway is crucial for a start-up. Having 1-3 months of runway is only permissable if you are sure that new funding will be forthcoming in those months. Your runway is, put simply, the number of months that you can still operate on the basis of your current burn rate. Except for most start-ups, it’s often the case that there is no monthly income yet to speak of.

Burn rates vs bad management

If revenue is likely but not set in stone or relatively limited compared to expenses incurred, it is best to leave this out of your planning. That’s why a burn rate for start-ups is often merely: the number of months you can still operate based on your current cash balance divided by your monthly expenses. But for companies who do manage to generate turnover, expected monthly revenue is also taken into account when calculating the burn rate. And for that, they sometimes have years of data at their disposal for determining projected turnover.

So a short runway is not necessarily a result of bad management. But rather something that seems to be ‘a glitch in the matrix’. Who, by default, always plans for a total lockdown of the entire world? It’s nice to see what help is being offered to companies in need. Not only by the government, but also by companies to each other. Hopefully we can all share the burden a little and the help offered will all arrive on time.

Uncertainty requires flexibility

Based on the responses and questions over the past two weeks, I have noticed that some people are also projecting this acute emergency onto Lightyear (a Dutch company designing solar cars, ed.)There’s really no acute situation here with us. It just feels like the next phase. Of course the scenarios have changed and we are also trying to understand where the world is heading. But for now we’re still seeing enough traction. Managing uncertainty has meanwhile proven to be a veritable skill too. Uncertainty requires flexibility and that is what start-ups have in abundance. Both in our organizational and decision making processes. You should be able to accept that you have to make choices quickly on the basis of uncertain data, lack of data or incomplete insight into the consequences of various options.

As a young start-up you have a tremendous advantage in the digital age if you have defined your company’s IT, structure and culture. That’s why a large part of the development is done digitally at Lightyear. Sometimes people are a bit disappointed when they visit us. Instead of a bustling workshop, they find four floors of office workers closed off by large noise-cancelling headsets. Yet this has not only dramatically reduced the entry costs for young companies like us in this industry. For us, it now means that as a full-on digital company, development is in full swing. The software packages required for development are totally cloud-based, as are all the collaborative tools.

Advantages to not having any turnover

For some colleagues, working from home gives them more time to be completely focused. Which means that certain deliverables are handed over even earlier than planned. This is a huge contrast to more established companies. Many manufacturers make it very difficult for their employees to log onto their systems from outside the physical locations. Out of fear of hackers. As a consequence, it’s almost impossible within a short time to make the switch to a system that does work well remotely and securely 100% digitally. These transition processes can sometimes take years. A lot of these companies will have to look for solutions that will still allow for feasible levels of maximum productivity.

At these times, it becomes even more clear what the advantages are of a solid digital IT infrastructure. A friend of mine who works for a technical company mentioned that their VPN was completely overloaded during the initial period. It was almost impossible to access your files. They then let small groups of people work in the office at a distance of 1.5 meters between them.

Lightyear is doing fine

In addition to the loss of productivity, existing manufacturers are also facing a sharp drop in demand and loss of production. Most of them have recently invested a lot of money in new sustainable models. This is bound to hurt a lot. As for Lightyear, it’s not often the case that not generating any revenue turns out to be a key advantage.

From the moment I was forced to work from home, I immediately thought of all the jobs that still had to be done in the house. My racing bike, I’d just replaced the tire. The puzzle with 1000 pieces, or all the books in the bookcase that haven’t been read yet. I even bought 3 more for all that extra free time. Nothing could be further from reality. The days are flying by. Those chores and books are still untouched. Apparently, working remotely isn’t always more efficient after all.

About this column:

In a weekly column, written alternately by Tessie Hartjes, Floris Beemster, Bert Overlack, Mary Fiers, Peter de Kock, Eveline van Zeeland, Lucien Engelen, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions to the problems of our time. So that tomorrow is good. Here are all the previous articles.

 

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Dutch investor Kees Koolen: ‘Corona crisis will lead to a total reset of the world’ https://innovationorigins.com/dutch-investor-kees-koolen-corona-crisis-will-lead-to-a-total-reset-of-the-world/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dutch-investor-kees-koolen-corona-crisis-will-lead-to-a-total-reset-of-the-world https://innovationorigins.com/dutch-investor-kees-koolen-corona-crisis-will-lead-to-a-total-reset-of-the-world/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2020 14:48:29 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215157 Dutch entrepreneur Kees Koolen and investor in Booking.com and Uber from the very outset is busy all day providing support to technological start-ups which he invests in. He has never experienced a crisis as extreme as the current one that’s caused by the corona virus. He expects that the consequences for society will be unprecedented. […]

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Dutch entrepreneur Kees Koolen and investor in Booking.com and Uber from the very outset is busy all day providing support to technological start-ups which he invests in. He has never experienced a crisis as extreme as the current one that’s caused by the corona virus. He expects that the consequences for society will be unprecedented. “A complete reset of the world awaits us.”

You invest in a lot of things. In what and why?

“That varies quite a bit. I always assume that everything can go wrong and I’ll end up with nothing to live on. That’s why I’ve invested in a number of land holdings. I build them up so that if everything does go wrong, I can live off plots of land for the rest of my life by working on them or selling them. That’s my savings account. I do that all the time. So I’m never too panic-stricken when something bad happens in the world. Because I grew up with nothing. But also because I know that no matter what happens, I still have a bit of pocket money.”

But you also invest a lot in companies.

“Yes, in companies that I like and that I think are good for the world. I’ve been involved in medical technology for a very long time, especially in brain research such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. I put money into that. But I don’t expect a lot to come out of it because it takes such a long time and it’s expensive. Maybe someday I’ll earn something from it, and maybe I won’t. I don’t care about that. I invest in modern companies who have a future and are generating turnover, and from whom I think I can earn something from soon. And I invest in technological start-ups. To be honest, that’s where I make the most money.”

What type of technological start-ups do you invest in primarily?

“Over the last few years, I’ve been investing in renewable energy technologies. Previously, I invested a lot in genuine technological start-ups like Uber. I can’t name too many names, but at the time it concerned companies active in logistics. I’m in around four large delivery companies. I’m really into distance learning, communication and digital content. These are all developments over the past seven years. I try to keep up with everything.

This morning I explained to a young VC (Venture Capitalist, ed.) that it’s easy to see what’s doing well right now. But it’s hard to know what will be needed in ten years’ time. That’s why I’m spreading out my investments and making a lot of smaller investments. What I’ve learned is that it is very difficult to predict what will happen. You can identify trends though. You know that now things are pointing towards working from home more and more. Although it is very difficult to predict exactly which product is going to do well. If I believe in a sector, I invest heavily in it. It’s almost always the case that I end up with a number of good companies in a particular sector. But it also invariably means that I’ve invested in a number of companies that, for whatever reason, turn out to have less of a future and which I’m not going to continue with.”

I’ve never witnessed the world come to a standstill. That has far greater consequences than people currently dare imagine.

Surely you are familiar with Techleap, an organization that supports tech start-ups?

“I myself was the chair of StartupDelta for many years. Techleap is what came out of that and its what I put in place for The Netherlands, together with Prince Constantijn.”

A Techleap survey of 445 start-ups reveals that most of them are experiencing short-term financial difficulties due to the Corona crisis because they are struggling to attract investors.

“Tech start-ups are basically always short of money. If you have the right attitude, it’s pretty easy to convince investors to put money into your company. When things get worse economically speaking, it becomes more difficult to raise money. Because anyone who does have money, suddenly becomes very frugal and cautious.

My lesson for young entrepreneurs is that you always have to make sure that you are building a healthy business. That you have a sound cash-flow planning in place and that you have sufficient runway. A tech start-up that has only planned money for two months in advance is not on the right track. Most of them have money for a year. When things start to get tough, you can see that six months in advance. Yesterday I had quite a discussion with a start-up which is also in trouble and which I invest in. I advised them: go back to basics. What do you need to survive? Because if you look ahead into the future – two, three, four years – there is no crisis then. Parties who get through a crisis successfully, are usually the winners.”

What kind of business activities should start-ups in crisis stop doing then?

“All kinds of marketing initiatives that cost a lot and yield nothing, for one thing. Some things you can put off for the time being. But you can’t postpone the core of your business. You have to continue on with that. If you do well as a start-up, then you make sure that you can always let that core activity survive for at least a year. I have my reservations if a start-up gets into acute trouble.”

But this also happens with start-ups which you have invested in.

“Yes. But they still have until October. They are thinking about what they want to continue on with after October. Then you often see that they will still need a bit of money. In that case, investors are likely willing to help them get through the winter.”

Are there any start-ups that you’ve already put extra money into because it was necessary?

“No. So far, no one is panicking. Although the differences between the start-ups are huge. I’m in companies that are 100 % inactive at the moment and I’m involved in companies that have grown by a factor of six over the past month. Like companies active in online learning and working from home.”

So you’re not in companies that have gotten into acute difficulties because of the corona crisis?

“No. But now I and other investors will be taking another critical look at our portfolio. You simply have a limited amount of capital. If you think you’re going to lose capital in certain companies, you won’t reinvest in them.”

Two weeks ago, the hospitality sector had to shut down. That means that some tech start-ups have to close down as well.

How many companies have you invested in?

“About a hundred. Of those, about 80 are tech start-ups and scale-ups. I’m involved in lots of them via small funds, along with dozens of other investors. In some funds, there are three of us investors. While in others, there are ten of us. You cannot personally know every one of those companies yourself.”

How do you view this crisis?

“I think we’re going to end up with a complete reset of the world. I’ve never seen anything so extreme. I started doing business at a very young age and went through a crisis in 1987 and all the other crises since then. During each crisis, business always slows down for a while. But it has never happened before that companies were shut down from one day to the next. Two weeks ago, the hospitality sector had to shut down. That means that some tech start-ups have to close down as well. I’m involved in an IT company that makes planning systems for the hotel business. When hotels and the hospitality sector shut down, a company like that also closes down. Then it’s just over and done with.

I’ve never witnessed the world come to a standstill. That has far greater consequences than people currently dare imagine. I have been telling my start-ups for three weeks already that they should take into account that they will have to close down in April and May. And that they will start up again very gradually after that. Like 25% in June, 50% in July and after that they will start to very slowly scale back again. I expect the global economy to shrink 10 or 15 % over the next year. We have never experienced an impact like this before. I think that very strange things are going to happen.”

What kind of strange things?

“It may be that you are dependent on a certain company and that it no longer exists, which means that you will have to rebuild certain facilities. When we set up Booking.com, we had to build our own data centers. When Uber was set up, you had a lot of standard tools for customer services, data centers, the Cloud and so on. If you take a look now, I’m in a lot of tech start-ups. There are a lot of pretty self-explanatory criteria that you don’t have to think about at all as a starter. It’s possible that start-ups will be left in the doldrums in a year’s time because they’re used to services that are no longer available. On the other hand, we are now getting used to working online. Fundamental societal shifts are taking place that are difficult to ascertain right now.”

It’s possible that start-ups will be left in the doldrums in a year’s time because they’re used to services that are no longer available.

Such as?

“We’re in a kind of lock-down right now. But what happens when it’s over? Are we going to have any more events like these again? I was sitting in a company canteen yesterday where the seats were spaced meters apart …”

You mean we should continue to anticipate the risk of infection?

“We are now being taught that we should not get together. We had a hard time with that during the first week. Some salespeople said they couldn’t sell anything if they weren’t seeing their customers in person. Now they seem to be able to do that remotely, via a computer. That’s working out well too. Two months ago everyone said: that will never work. Some of the things we were used to doing have changed fundamentally in just a few months.”

Do you see any opportunities for innovation in this crisis?

“Look at the situation in the ICUs. Initially, they said they couldn’t make new ventilators in a hurry. They seem to be able to do that now. We have started to work together differently because there is no other way. Every crisis leads to innovations because the situation demands solutions that were previously not available.”

 

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Philips factories in U.S. and Germany help solve Dutch shortage of Intensive Care equipment https://innovationorigins.com/philips-factories-in-u-s-and-germany-help-solve-dutch-shortage-of-intensive-care-equipment/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=philips-factories-in-u-s-and-germany-help-solve-dutch-shortage-of-intensive-care-equipment https://innovationorigins.com/philips-factories-in-u-s-and-germany-help-solve-dutch-shortage-of-intensive-care-equipment/#respond Sat, 28 Mar 2020 13:21:20 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215175 Made in the United States, made in Germany, but used in Dutch hospitals: Philips is supplying up to 1,000 ventilators and 1,000 patient monitoring systems in the near future. The order comes from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and was caused by the rapidly increasing need as a result of the corona crisis. […]

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Made in the United States, made in Germany, but used in Dutch hospitals: Philips is supplying up to 1,000 ventilators and 1,000 patient monitoring systems in the near future. The order comes from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and was caused by the rapidly increasing need as a result of the corona crisis. The first patient monitoring systems were delivered yesterday (Friday) from the Philips plants in Germany; today (Saturday) these were followed by the first batch of ventilators from Philips factories in the United States. This was announced today by the Dutch healthcare company.

These medical devices are vital in the care of patients with COVID-19. Philips expects it will take some months to complete the delivery. The medical equipment is distributed among the various hospitals in the Netherlands on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Partly thanks to these devices, the number of beds for corona patients in Intensive Care can be further increased.

A few days ago Philips was still concerned about the delivery of the devices from the US. This was because the U.S. President Trump had rescinded a 1950 law that gives him the right to keep the equipment in his own country, the Defense Production Act. “We are concerned”, said Steve Klink, spokesman for Philips, earlier this week to NOS. “We’re seeing things that were unthinkable a few weeks ago. We’re talking to the US and we’re hoping we can solve this together.”

For the moment this strategy seems to work, observes Martin van Rijn, Minister of Medical Care in the Netherlands. “The cabinet is doing everything in its power to increase the IC capacity with ventilation equipment as much as possible,” says Martin van Rijn, Minister for Medical Care. “That’s why this supply of ventilation equipment and patient monitoring systems is so important. But we are not there yet, there still is a great need for more equipment. Follow-up deliveries must also come to the Netherlands as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile, Philips is increasing the production capacity of ventilators and patient monitoring systems. “We are working closely with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport to ensure that we can deliver everything in the coming weeks and months,” says Henk Valk, CEO of Philips Benelux. “Our colleagues in the US and Germany are working around the clock to quickly increase production. Parallel to this, our team is working with Dutch hospitals to increase the number of beds in Intensive Care”. Philips says it has already converted more than 150 normal hospital beds to beds with patient monitoring systems in recent days. “And we will continue to do so.”

Elon Musk also purchased a batch of Philips ventilators. In total, he bought 1,255 ventilators from three manufacturers – ResMed, Philips and Medtronic – last week. He said to the BBC that his company would be giving all its ventilators away “whether we buy them or build them”.

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Startup-of-the-day: RiceHouse builds houses out of waste from rice production https://innovationorigins.com/startup-of-the-day-ricehouse-builds-houses-out-of-waste-from-rice-production/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=startup-of-the-day-ricehouse-builds-houses-out-of-waste-from-rice-production https://innovationorigins.com/startup-of-the-day-ricehouse-builds-houses-out-of-waste-from-rice-production/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2020 16:00:13 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=214999 RiceHouse is a young company, born in 2016 and based on the decade-long experiences of architect Tiziana Monterisi. Namely in the sustainable construction field and in the use of natural materials in architectural design. The start-up transforms waste from rice production into green construction materials. This Italian idea can easily be extended to other fields […]

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RiceHouse is a young company, born in 2016 and based on the decade-long experiences of architect Tiziana Monterisi. Namely in the sustainable construction field and in the use of natural materials in architectural design. The start-up transforms waste from rice production into green construction materials. This Italian idea can easily be extended to other fields of application besides architecture. Like that of fashion, design and retail, for instance.

Where did the idea of converting waste from rice production into green building materials come from?

“When I moved to Biella, I was immediately inspired and fascinated by the landscape with its rice fields. As I was tired of traditional energy-efficient architecture, I saw rice and its by-products as a new opportunity. My aim is to offer a line of bio-ecological solutions for realizing so-called “rice houses.” Buildings with a high degree of comfort and healthy indoor climates. I follow the bio-architectural approach that recycles agricultural waste. As in, any generated waste and the impact on the environment is kept to a minimum. This establishes healthy, environmentally sound architecture with excellent performance levels.”

When did you realize that this idea could actually work?

“Ever since the beginning of my practice as an architect, I have been experimenting with natural materials on the various building sites that I’ve dealt with. The occasion that made me really realize that these scraps could work was when I decided to use them to renovate my own house. That was how I came to fully understand their potential. So, that’s when I decided to develop this further on an industrial scale.”

What has been the main obstacle for RiceHouse?

“First of all, we had to make it clear to the farmers that they had an important resource with their valuable waste. Material that is even now still being incinerated. Which is, in fact, such a waste. The public sector – including the Piedmont region – has been instrumental in setting up the network that was necessary for the project’s success. Lack of a real dialogue with industry representatives is an obstacle as far as the expansion of this circular system of rice waste recycling is concerned. This type of waste can really become a resource for other industries. This opportunity should not just depend on mutual contacts and meetings. It needs across-the-board planning on a communal level.”

What do you think of how Italy supports its starters?

“It’s constantly evolving. But there is still a long way to go. Many banks and private investors are not yet inclined to invest in or finance start-ups. In addition to this purely economic side, there is a lack of proper vocational training. Even incubators, which are supposed to train future entrepreneurs, find it difficult to provide the right expertise at an organizational and management level. They tend to limit themselves exclusively to supporting a start-up’s profile and communication.”

What has been the biggest turning point that you have experienced for your business?

“There hasn’t been a real turning point as yet. However, we have already started thinking about other application areas. With the RISOrsa brand, based on rice by-products, we are not only exploring architecture, but also the world of fashion, design and retail.”

What are you most proud of?

“The certitude that we have set up a company that has a genuine ambition to change the way we think about the world. Thinking outside the box about sustainability. Not just when it comes to construction, but across all sectors. Being responsible for making choices that are not always comfortable. Pursuing a vision and striving to be true to my choices and principles. Which allows me to sleep soundly every night, in the conviction that my work contributes to my daughter’s future.”

What can we expect from RiceHouse this year?

“We are following a model of ongoing research and development as well as testing new products that are being brought onto the market. New products for the construction industry are therefore not ruled out. We are also exploring the world of fashion, design and retail with the RISOrsa brand. Above all, this innovation can also be applied in many other areas where rice is produced; on all 5 continents, in more than 100 countries worldwide.

One of our objectives is to export our model to numerous countries around the world. Perhaps through investors outside the world of start-ups, who are interested in investing in sustainable projects and economies. This would make it possible to develop all the areas involved from an economic and social point of view and especially from a sustainability point of view. We are currently trying to gain access to the German-speaking market (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). We think that people there are much more willing to work with our natural materials.”

Are you affected by the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis yet?

“Sure, just like everyone else. This is not an easy period for us. Production has stopped. So in a few weeks – if it doesn’t resume – we won’t have any more materials for deliveries. The next few months will be the hardest. At the moment, we are mainly researching and developing new products and technological innovations. We can do that from home. The construction sector is our most important market. I don’t know whether the sector will drop back to 2008 levels, or whether the construction industry will recover without any major setbacks.

Nevertheless, we hope that this crisis will raise awareness of some fundamental issues regarding our health and the survival of humanity. Making the choice to become sustainable for the well-being of the environment and therefore of humankind. Covid-19 has made clear to us that building and living in a healthy home made only with natural materials is an important part of any change that we need to enact. It forces us to understand that the status quo that we have become accustomed to is anything but normal.”

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Tech solution to help children stop bedwetting gets support from insurance companies https://innovationorigins.com/tech-solution-to-help-children-stop-bedwetting-gets-support-from-insurance-companies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tech-solution-to-help-children-stop-bedwetting-gets-support-from-insurance-companies https://innovationorigins.com/tech-solution-to-help-children-stop-bedwetting-gets-support-from-insurance-companies/#respond Fri, 27 Mar 2020 09:12:45 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=215201 Oopsie Heroes, a children’s product developed by Eindhoven based wearable technology company LifeSense Group, is now 100% reimbursed by Dutch health insurers VGZ and CZ, possibly followed by other insurers. With its product, LifeSense Group hopes to “remove the stigma associated with children’s bedwetting and empower families around the globe to eliminate urine loss”. Oopsie […]

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Oopsie Heroes, a children’s product developed by Eindhoven based wearable technology company LifeSense Group, is now 100% reimbursed by Dutch health insurers VGZ and CZ, possibly followed by other insurers. With its product, LifeSense Group hopes to “remove the stigma associated with children’s bedwetting and empower families around the globe to eliminate urine loss”. Oopsie Heroes will be available from April 2020 to families in The Netherlands; LifeSense Group’s goal is to market it globally.

Following the success of Carin, LifeSense Group launched Oopsie Heroes last year. The product was developed with over 100 children in The Netherlands. Oopsie Heroes is comprised of a small sensor which can be easily attached to any pair of underwear or pyjama bottoms. During the night, “when a child has one of those ‘Oopsie Moments'”, the sensor will send an audio signal to the mobile device running the connected app. The app will then awaken the child so he or she can get to the toilet on time.

More on the LifeSense Group here

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How COVID-19 could change our approach to mobility https://innovationorigins.com/how-covid-19-could-change-our-approach-to-mobility/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-covid-19-could-change-our-approach-to-mobility https://innovationorigins.com/how-covid-19-could-change-our-approach-to-mobility/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 19:30:52 +0000 https://innovationorigins.com/?p=214910 Governments are endeavouring to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona virus) by reducing person-to-person contact. The resulting ban on social activities has largely relegated the economy to the home office. This is also reflected in rush hour traffic, that’s undergoing a dramatic decline. Stephan Tischler from the Department of Infrastructure, Unit of Intelligent […]

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Governments are endeavouring to stem the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (corona virus) by reducing person-to-person contact. The resulting ban on social activities has largely relegated the economy to the home office. This is also reflected in rush hour traffic, that’s undergoing a dramatic decline. Stephan Tischler from the Department of Infrastructure, Unit of Intelligent Transport Systems at the University of Innsbruck in Austria wonders if the COVID-19 crisis has the potential to change mobility behaviour over a sustained period.

How much has commuter traffic changed since the initial restrictions?

Aviation traffic has practically come to a standstill in Austria. Public transport has seen a decline in passenger numbers between anywhere from 40 to 80 % in Vienna. There has also been a significant drop in private transport. Approximately 50 % in Vienna and by up to 80 % in Paris. However, these declines in commuter traffic are less pronounced in terms of regional levels due to rises in the switch from public transport to private vehicles.

The proportion of cyclists in larger European cities has increased. Sometimes quite markedly, as cycling is often favoured over public transport. However, in Tyrol, and in Innsbruck especially, bicycle traffic has been severely restricted. Which means that only a few bike trips are made to do some shopping or get to work. It is also noticeable that shopping is now more often done on foot. Because it is practically the only opportunity for many people to legally leave their homes.

Dr. Stephan Tischler (c) Herwig Zöttl

However, despite all the euphoria surrounding the current dramatic decline in rush hour traffic, it should not be forgotten that virtual mobility will not automatically lead to a lower overall physical volume of traffic once the restrictive measures have been lifted. For example, delivery and refuse collection routes can only be partially reduced, and family pick-ups and drop-offs even less so. Traffic resulting from leisure and holiday activities cannot be avoided altogether either. As far as delivery traffic is concerned, increased e-commerce is likely to  further increase traffic volumes. Yet these could be improved more by incorporating new ideas from the urban logistics sector.

Do you think that this change in mobility behaviour – especially in regard to commuter traffic – could become common practice?

We often shy away from leaving familiar routines and habits to go on and try out new things or to take a closer look at these. What do I need in order to be able to work from home? How do webcams, cloud and web conferencing work? Yet the transition of many businesses to home offices and the huge restrictions on going outdoors are forcing many people to work from home.

The right kind of equipment is being added to where it wasn’t yet available. And sales figures from the last few days alone are impressive. On Saturday, for example, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) reported an increase of over 1000 % in the demand for webcams! Since monitors, printers and docking stations are also being purchased more frequently, it can be assumed that not only are online games booming, but that people are actually working from home more.

Once people put aside their apprehensions and become accustomed to using webcams, they are more likely to hold virtual conference calls for longer periods of time. This invariably saves an enormous amount of time and resources.

What has to happen in order to make sure that working from home and holding virtual meetings can carry on at a high rate even after COVID-19 has passed?

There would need to be an expansion of the technical infrastructure. Stability of connections and high transmission quality must be ensured. Broken connections, audio and video outages ought to become the exception.

It would make sense to create financial incentive schemes for companies and employees. For one thing, the costs of a home office should be deductible or eligible for subsidies.

Moreover, additional software developments would be needed to create a broader range of services. Such as virtual collaboration programs, in which case higher usage levels would automatically lead to more services being on offer. Greater levels of data security would also have to be established.

Probably the most key point is to normalize the practice of working from home.

From an environmental point of view, in which area is commuter traffic particularly problematic?

Route distances and speeds are just as relevant as traffic volumes in terms of environmental impact. The shorter and fewer trips that are made, the lower the energy requirements and emissions. As well as the probability of accidents, expenditure, space requirements for transport infrastructure, etc.

Switching from combustion engines to electric drives solves the problem of pollution along transport routes. Other problematic aspects remain unresolved. Like land use and depletion of rural areas, along with ever-rising interdependencies.

Air traffic will continue to be a problem for the climate for some time to come, seeing that emission-free engines are still not technically available for medium and long distances. The increased use of virtual meetings could lead to a decrease in commuter traffic. Especially when it comes to flights for business purposes.

What would be the ideal solution for an intelligent transport system?

Optimally, it would be self-regulating in a sustainable way. The best example is speed limits. By designing the road layout accordingly. For example, by taking width and visual perception into account, the permissible maximum speed would not be exceeded in the first place. Then there would be no need for time-consuming enforcement and monitoring of speed limits.

And to what extent could – or perhaps should – the impact of the corona crisis on mobility shape this ideal?

All of a sudden it became clear what is possible. Working from home, walking to shops, holding meetings online instead of in person, leisure activities at home instead of travelling by car for hours on end, et cetera.

Another thing that society and politics will have to discuss is that in the present COVID-19 crisis, we are protecting a very sensitive group of people (as in the elderly and those with health conditions) by severely restricting their basic rights. These restrictions have so far been largely accepted and supported without any opposition and across party lines. When it comes to private transport, we know that we could save just as many lives by lowering the speed limits. Just 30 km/h instead of 50 km/h in cities, 80 instead of 100 km/h on country roads and 100 instead of 130 km/h on motorways. But this continues to be regarded as politically inconceivable.

Thank you for the interview.

Het bericht How COVID-19 could change our approach to mobility verscheen eerst op Innovation Origins.

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