”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.
Moveo Walks – A small step for men
The Exoband equipment from the Italian start-up Moveo Walks is designed to support physical rehabilitation. This soft exoskeleton is geared towards helping people who are suffering from a physical condition, chronic illness or serious injury. Its purpose? To teach people how to walk again. Often these kind of robotized exoskeletons look a bit like … robots.
The Italians approach things completely differently. Their Exo strap is made out of a material that is lightweight and soft. On one hand, this makes it a lot easier to move around, and on the other, it’s a lot more comfortable to wear. After all, several kilos of metal is already a huge burden on your body even if you’re in optimal shape. When you need some form of rehabilitation, the less kilos that weigh your body down, the better.
Futuralga – Would you like that wrapped in seaweed?
Disposable plastic has had a huge impact on the planet. Entire islands of the stuff float around on the ocean. Now that governments have come to realize that it can’t go on like this, alternatives must be found. What if a few Spaniards state that plastic bags can also be made from algae? Sounds a bit weird, but these biologists and divers have managed to make bioplastic from seaweed.
As far as sourcing is concerned, Futuralga should be fine. Every day the Spanish beaches are inundated with piles of smelly seaweed. Because visitors to the beaches think that the seaweed stinks so much, cleaning crews transport it to garbage dumps for now. But Futuralga’s solution means that you can kill three birds with one stone: clean beaches, less mess and a sustainable alternative to plastic bags. The prototype should be finished before the end of the year. Will seaweed get rid of disposable plastic altogether? We’ll see!
DiManEx – Spare parts from a 3D printer
So much equipment, so many parts. Entire warehouses are full of all sorts of very specific circuits for very specific models. Sometimes finding the right part is a bit like finding a needle in a huge haystack. And sometimes it turns out that a certain needle doesn’t even exist anymore. Particularly when it comes to older equipment. Many companies have phased out some specific parts, therefore they’re no longer available. Why? Manufacturing and storing these old parts for a longer period of time is no longer profitable. Which means that at some point, once your old, faithful equipment from the 90’s finally gives up the ghost, it really will become obsolete.
The start-up DiManEx should change all this. With a 3D printer, they make sure that useless parts never have to take up space again. They just print one out. This eliminates the need for mass production, which in turn offers a lot more opportunities. The one condition? The part has to be made of metal or plastic.
NoBox Lab – Sublime schooling in the middle of the Sahara
In Moroccan rural areas, education is not quite where it should be. This is a shame since even in the more rural regions of the country, there are enough children growing up who have the talent to become an astronaut or an engineer. Yet they will never get to know about these things at their rigid and outdated rural schools. Fortunately there’s the smartphone now that puts the whole world in the palm of your hand.
NoBox Lab is an internet platform in Arabic specifically aimed at introducing rural children to science and technology. Through video lessons and game elements, more potential can be harnessed so that even farmers’ kids from the farthest corners of Morocco can make their dreams come true – which they hadn’t even realized they had. Nor even knew that this was actually an option in the first place.
Rebel Meat – Is it meat? Is it veggie? No, it’s in vitro!
Although meat substitutes have gained a better image than they had a decade or so ago and their quality has improved considerably, there is still a lot that can be done. How do you imitate that real meat taste? Mushrooms? Peas? Cultivated meat? A lot of meat lovers are not convinced. Rebel Meat’s in vitro burger should cater to them. The secret is in the magical mixture. As the specific texture, taste and juiciness of animal meat is still not really been achieved with alternatives yet, Rebel Meat has adopted a different approach. They came up with a hamburger that is made up of oyster mushrooms, millet and herbs for one half, and of our all-too-familiar beef for the other half.
This 50 % reduction in meat per burger is already a very substantial step forward. Especially when you consider that beef is pretty much the least sustainable meat product out there. And the taste? It seems to be indistinguishable from the real thing. Admittedly: a vegetarian burger will always be more sustainable. Nevertheless, the Austrian alternative to meatless alternatives think they can finally serve the mainstream meat lover something they want. So that sustainable alternatives are no longer just for urban hipsters with a beard, MacBook and a nose ring. Despite the image upgrade, meat substitutes still have a bit of a trendy-lefty image. This burger is perfect for every meat lover and you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint in a whole new way too.
That ‘we have to get rid of the meat’ has been acknowledged by experts for many years now. Yes, it’s a very tasty accompaniment to a meal, but it takes a lot out of the planet. All the more if there are nearly 10 billion of us by 2050. That’s why this is a very welcome alternative. Objectively speaking, the world would benefit from replacing meat in its entirety. So, this is only going halfway? Maybe. But even German-speaking burger connoisseurs can’t distinguish this burger from the real thing. Will Rebel Meat ever treat us at IO to a sustainable meal? Please do! In any case, they’ve won our Start-up of the Week trophy!