”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.
Vialitics – Gap in the market for gaps in the road?
Checking road surface conditions is not exactly an easy job. An average city usually has hundreds of kilometers of asphalt lying around. So, constantly keeping an eye on them is fairly intensive work. Innovation is sometimes not necessarily about coming up with a completely new concept; it might also entail a combination of existing techniques. Tools for assessing road surface quality already exist, but how exactly do you plan to utilize them? While using the service vehicles that are already on the road?
Service vehicles, such as street sweepers, already cover a lot of kilometers in order to carry out their work. They travel to all parts of the city during their excursions. These are the perfect candidates for the equipment of the German start-up Vialitics to connect to. These transform the street sweeper into a smart street sweeper. Spotting defects becomes routine and in no time cracks and holes in the road are detected so that they can be repaired. Are there by chance any Innovation Origins readers from Belgium out there?
Sinn Power – Wave power
Hydroelectric power stations are reputed to be a fairly green and efficient source of energy. For instance, in Norway no less than 99% of the electricity is generated from water. It is also a very welcome source of energy in mountainous countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland. Although you don’t necessarily need rivers and mountains for hydropower. Sinn Power has designed a buoyant wave power station that can be installed anywhere on the ocean.
The advantage of this method is that it is both more efficient and does not adversely affect marine life, as is often the case with tidal power stations mounted on seabeds. These are known to be problematic. Cluttering up the horizon is not an issue either, unlike tall wind turbines at sea. The power station is not much bigger than a boat. And because of the system’s modular structure, the Sinnpower plant can be built anywhere and in any size in the blink of an eye.
MIWA – Done with disposable plastic
There seems to be little room for disposable plastic in the upcoming third decade of the 21st century. However, a world without environmentally damaging packaging is easier said than done. Still, allowing consumers to bring their own packaging with them to collect their groceries is causing quite a mess. This only works on a very small scale and is a nightmare for manufacturers.
The Czech start-up MIWA is going back a step in the production chain. You shouldn’t leave something like packaging to the customer at all. The manufacturer should actually provide a universal cartridge where everything can be packed. The customer fills in exactly what they want on an app via their smartphone. The dispensers in the supermarket register this and issue a sustainable micro-chipped container that can be reused hundreds of times. The ultimate goal? A sustainable self-service supermarket where either disposable plastic or human resources are no longer needed.
What about the used packaging? You can hand that in at the cash register, just like at festivals. They will then be rewashed and reused.
GRDXKN – Vandal-proof 3D textiles
GRDXKN’s printing technique was not really intended for clothing at all. The founder nevertheless managed to land in the fashion world thanks to a favorable set of circumstances. What is it exactly? It’s a combination of textile printing and coating that creates a unique new layer which can be used to strengthen clothing. And not only that – the material is completely environmentally friendly and it also looks incredibly futuristic.
There is a great demand, especially from the cycling world, for a material that is light, airy, comfortable and protective. German inventor Bastian Müller took advantage of this by bringing his material to the attention of trade fairs under the Patronace label. That really worked out for him. The major sports brands meanwhile were completely convinced. The fabric is infinitely more durable than Lycra and completely climate neutral as well!
ECsens – Farewell to expensive CT/MRI scans?
At present, tumors are being monitored using very expensive hospital scanning equipment. These CT and MRI scans would be a thing of the past for cancer patients if it were up to the ECsens start-up. They came up with a tiny counterpart that is able to take over this work. And makes it at least five times less expensive.
Instead of lying under a wildly expensive and claustrophobic scanning unit, simply giving a little bit of blood is enough for this technique. A patient can be checked much more often since it is so much cheaper. And this is very important when it comes to treating cancer. Moreover, the disease can be detected at a much earlier stage. This means that a lot of suffering can be spared through preventive therapies.
There is no such thing as one ideal cancer treatment. One particular kind of treatment is more effective for a specific patient than that of another. For instance, immunotherapy costs around €70,000 a year. Even though it only works for 20% of patients. A doctor can, however, use the results of the ECsens chip to see beforehand whether this expensive treatment will actually work for a patient.
Cancer devastates many lives, and adequate treatment is more essential than ever due to an ever-increasing ageing population. ECsens does not provide a cure for the disease, but they are nevertheless clearly taking a step in the right direction. The enormous cost savings, the preventive character and the potential to expand the technology in the future are all very compelling.
The diagnostic chip recently won the 4TU Impact Challenge, and may now also claim the title of Innovation Origins Start-Up of the Week!
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