”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 will consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the de Sustainable Development Goals  of UNESCO. They will all be passing by here and towards the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.

LignoPure

Plastic is perhaps the most pervasive innovation of the last century. Plastic is inexpensive, versatile and has a very long life span. Yet it also has some drawbacks: its long life span is as much a curse as a blessing and it is produced from fossil fuels. LignoPure solves this problem by fabricating plastic from wood and straw. The end product is called lignin and can be a sustainable alternative for several sectors, such as the food and cosmetics industry.

Whether lignin will become the plastic of the 21st century is as yet unknown. The material is not yet on the market and is currently being developed further. In any case, the makers are ambitious; they want lignin to become a standard component in all sorts of everyday products. It almost sounds too good to be true. All of the benefits of plastic, without the dirty downsides. Naturally, it’s nice to know that edible microplastic – which is found in just about all daily groceries – is made of durable materials and all the while, its inside your body.

Blinklist

What do successful people like Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Yes, they all have well-stocked bank accounts, but they are all very fanatical readers too. Despite their very full agendas, they are real bookworms. Still, few people manage to actually read 50 books in a year. Audiobooks can be a welcome solution, although they can take up a lot of time as well.

“Big ideas in small packages” is how the Berlin start-up summarizes its service. By summarizing the most important information of around 3000 non-fiction books into 15-minute soundbites, anyone who has limited time is still able to take in a lot of information. Blinklist has been around for 5 ½ years now and has already been used by millions of people. Lifelong learning at the touch of a button. So anyone who is too lazy to actually read a book can still serve up trivial factoids during birthdays and networking get-togethers. Very handy!

Sport Tech Campus   

Innovation within the sports world is a team sport, according to Arno Hermans from Eindhoven. He founded a platform where innovative ideas come together where they can be matched with clients. This creates a bilateral relationship between passionate visionaries on the one hand, and sports companies on the other.

It is one thing to have a good idea; actually being able to carry it out is quite another matter in sports. Connections are often needed for this and initiators no longer see the wood for the trees. Sport Tech Campus acts as an intermediary through which all parties involved get to benefit. The people of Eindhoven think big; this summer, the campus is being expanded to include Denmark and then the rest of the world should follow. As a result, due to its international character, matches may occur which would otherwise never have been possible. A kind of E-Bay, but for smart ideas and (hopefully) less tricky communication.

I-Med 3D Loupe

Remember Google Glass? That was a huge flop, but the idea behind interactive digital optics is by no means wrong. Especially during surgery when every second counts. Working with computers is essential here, only the problem is that this information is on screens and a doctor can hardly tie a screen around his or her face.

With this 3D surgical lens, an operation can proceed without interruptions and all the necessary medical information can be accessed at the push of a button. This way, the surgeon has everything directly in his or her field of vision and is able to move on immediately. And there’s another advantage: the built-in camera and streaming capabilities mean that everyone is able to watch and that no additional camera equipment needs to be installed in the operating room. This allows doctors in training to watch at any time and makes remote assistance easier.

Pretty cool, right? It is almost a pity that this gadget is only available for medical personnel at the moment and that there are no plans to storm the consumer market. So you will have to finish your medicine studies first.

Pendix

The winner this week seems to be as Dutch as it can possibly be, but comes from … Germany and goes by the name of Pendix. They came up with a flexible electric motor that turns every two-wheeler into an e-bike. This means that consumers no longer have to say goodbye to their old trusted two-wheeler if they want to change over to an e-bike.

Simplicity is the magic word here; this applies not only to the idea but also to the assembly and ease of use. This is a great solution, especially for the elderly and for people with specific needs relating to cycling. Plus, more e-bikes on the road means fewer cars, which in turn reduces traffic jams and emissions in large cities. On top of that, cycling is healthy and in times of an ageing society and obesity, making this bit of exercise more accessible is, of course, fantastic. That’s why Pendix is for us the justifiable first Start-up of the week.