”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.
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.
Loop – Hearing protection as a fashion statement
Hearing protection has undergone a major image upgrade over the past ten years. Whereas in the past you were usually regarded as a bit of a poser when you put your earplugs in on a night out or at a concert, these days things have changed drastically. Why? The younger generation has now discovered that irreparable hearing damage caused by excessive noise is not actually such a great fashion accessory after all.
On the eardrum lifesaver market, you had the choice so far between mediocre disposable types or specialized custom-made earbuds that cost €150 and aren’t exactly easy on the eye. The Belgian start-up Loop has made a veritable fashion line with slick ring-shaped accessories. Their design works just as well as a custom-made version and is cheaper too. A simple choice for the young consumer who doesn’t have much to spend, loves music, cares for their hearing and is fashion-conscious. One very cool ring!
Semila – Circular festival sanitary solutions
On an average festival site there is no sewerage system. Given the fact that people do need to do number ones and twos during these events, sanitary facilities also need to be provided. However, the options are far from ideal. Most Dutch festivals have WC units that have to be emptied by trucks. Another option is of course the tried and tested construction site toilet block. However, this bright orange toilet block is not very popular. The cubicles tend to get a bit stinky, especially on a hot summer’s day.
Brabant start-up Semila believes that this can be done in an entirely different way. They came up with a mobile ‘sanitation hub’ that can process waste water into usable water at any location, rendering it suitable for drinking. And yes, even urine can be turned into sparkling fresh tap water this way via a filtering process. If that isn’t recycling, then what is?
BrightSentinel – Refrigerators that keep their cool
A bystander would expect that refrigeration which is used to transport medicines, donor organs and embryos is of very high quality. Current technology leaves a lot to be desired, according to the founders of BrightSentinel. They are an American start-up founded by an Australian duo. For example, there are substantial temperature differences between the shelves. Plus transportation is anything but idiot-proof. A temperature difference of half a degree can be fatal for an IVF embryo.
It is therefore literally a matter of life and death to be able to rely on these coolers. The duo developed a smart refrigeration system which is connected to the internet. This enables an algorithm to continuously monitor the system. It also intervenes when the required temperature is deviated from. And the founders believe this is necessary, as this kind of Celsius check only takes place once a day at the moment. Rather troubling, considering that a donor organ needs slightly more care than a carton of milk.
FastFeedGrinded – Sustainable shoes that are genuinely sustainable
Nowadays it’s trendy for fashion brands to be concerned with sustainability. A little bit of effort for a better world is, of course, great marketing given current events. Still, the true level of sustainability of many ‘green’ clothes turns out to be somewhat disappointing. Adidas, for instance, advertised a shoe that was ‘made of fishing nets.’ Although fishing nets are indeed used in the production process, this is at most a couple of percent. That’s according to the initiators of the Dutch start-up FastFeedGrinded. The rest of the material still hails from dubious sources.
It’s time for a shoe that really is comprised of sustainable materials for 100%, so the plan goes. In the meantime, they are working with Runnersworld, Intersport and Decathlon to create their dream shoe made entirely from recycled materials. The basis for this is the clothing that is tossed into orange containers throughout the western world. Contrary to what you may think, they’re not so keen on our discarded items in Africa and Eastern Europe. If it’s up to FastFeedGrinded, the contents of those orange containers will remain in our own country and we’ll convert them into brand new footwear.
Hydraloop – Save your bathwater for other stuff
One of the most underestimated problems in the western world is the shortage of clean drinking water. Water is the most important foundation for life on earth and is scarcer than you might suspect. Bear in mind that an average household runs dozens of liters of clean water into the sewers every day which is subsequently treated by a water purification plant several kilometers away. This can all be done much more efficiently. That’s what they thought at Hydraloop, a Dutch start-up who designed a water recycling system for residential homes.
The product is commercially available now and has proven to be very successful. With a Hydraloop at home, no less than 45% of the water is saved which would otherwise have disappeared down the shower drain. This water is processed inside the house using a bioreactor and ultraviolet irradiation. Then it is recycled as water for the toilet, garden hose or washing machine. The patented filter method is fully automated and requires virtually no maintenance. But a water purification unit for the home – isn’t that a huge hazard? It isn’t. This water saver is comparable in size to a small fridge. That’s not so bad for environmentally conscious consumers who don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The Hydraloop is a huge hit internationally. In recent years it has built up a pretty imposing trophy case filled with national and international awards. Innovation Origins understands this. Almost 50% less water wastage is quite impressive. Especially in times when clean drinking water is becoming more and more scarce. This is obviously far more than a drop in the ocean. Reason enough for Hydraloop to call itself the Start-up of the Week this week!