Steinbeis 2i remains important partner of European Union accelerator program
It’s all in a name. Deep tech start-up is the new term for a start-up founded on the basis of a breakthrough technology or science. The start-up’s product or service often revolves around a disruptive innovation. The development cycles they are involved in are often longer and more capital-intensive than with the products found in other sectors of industry. The European Union has spotted this and is now funding a European accelerator programme called DeepTech4Good. The initiative is part of Horizon 2020, the European Union Research Framework Programme, and the aim is to help start-ups raise their market profile and become a driving force in the Internet of Things (IoT) market. Five European start-up events will be organized under the programme, each resulting in the selection of eight start-ups to receive coaching on growing their business from the project partners of DeepTech4Good. The first finalists have already been chosen at the first two events called DeepTech4Good#Paris and DeepTech4Good#Stuttgart. DeepTech4Good#Stuttgart was organized by the project partners, S2i and Photonics BW.
DeepTech4Good is being coordinated by Cluster Systematic. Under the initiative, eight partners from Germany, France, Austria, and Spain will receive approximately €1.5 million from the EU and will be charged with acting as official EU ambassadors for the Startup Europe initiative. Based on a vision that deep tech is good for society, the program focuses closely on four IoT sectors: Smart Cities, Smart Mobility (modern travel solutions), Industry 4.0, and Health & Well-being. In total, 200 high-potential start-ups from four European hubs will be helped to forge networks with relevant stakeholders with the aim of initiating innovation projects. This should make it easier for them to access funding and gain further support in raising their profile. One of the overarching aims of the programme is to network and connect up hubs within Europe.
Eight start-ups receive awards at the pitch in Stuttgart
The DeepTech4Good#Stuttgart event in late 2018 was an opportunity for 23 young European enterprises to make a 5-minute pitch and inspire investors with their ideas. Eight winners were chosen after winning over the jury: Adlatus Robotics, AScon Systems, HD Vision Systems, INERATEC, skinmade, and vialytics (all from Germany), Mobility Work from France, and EET from Austria. The winners are now eligible to receive personal coaching and may progress to the accelerator programme. Gaining access to a Europe-wide network and receiving input from experts will help the start-ups scale up their business and provide welcome support with innovation initiatives – ideal prerequisites for evolving into future deep tech unicorns in Europe.
The role of Baden-Wuerttemberg as a start-up hub
“Deep tech start-ups will increase in significance for Baden-Wuerttemberg in the coming years. It’s particularly important to recognize and promote the scale-up potential. Events like DeepTech4Good#Stuttgart make a crucial contribution in this respect. With powerful sponsors like bwcon, Start-up BW, Agorize, VentureZphere, the Stuttgart stock exchange, and the StartupEurope initiative organized by the European Commission, the event provides an ideal network and it’s sponsors like these that will secure Baden-Wuerttemberg’s position as a future hub for start-ups,” says Dr. Petra Püchner, Commissioner for Europe of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour, and Housing Baden-Wuerttemberg, summarizing the exceptional importance of the event. “This support already starts on the doorstep at our events. For example, the start-ups receive specific training on the best way to sell themselves and different ways to network and embark on a collaboration with partners from industry,” adds Samantha Michaux, who as a project manager and Startup Europe Ambassador at S2i is responsible for supervising the project.
DeepTech4Good#Stuttgart: Overview of Finalists
ADLATUS Robotics (GmbH)
Digital solutions and skills shortages are driving transformation in the service sector, particularly in facility management. One company that has jumped on this trend is ADLATUS Robotics, founded in 2015. ADLATUS provides support to the cleaning industry and other sectors with its autonomous cleaning robot, the CR 700, which takes on tasks independently and helps with skills shortages.
What’s different about the product: The cleaning robot produced by ADLATUS is entirely autonomous. Not only does it clean level floors independently, it also drives itself back to its own docking and service station. If the CR 700 notices that its battery is running flat, the waste water tank is full, or the unit requires more clean water, it automatically returns to the base station and replenishes its supplies.
Success stories: The ADLATUS CR 700 cleaning robot was first presented to the general public at the ISSA Interclean international trade show in Amsterdam in May 2016. Within a year, the product had been launched on the German cleaning market and won the PURUS Innovation Award in the heavy machinery category at the CMS trade show in Berlin. In early 2018, ADLATUS won a gold medal from the German railway company Deutsche Bahn for winning the first cleaning robot challenge. The award came with a two-year contract to supply and develop cleaning robots. The company adopted a more international setup in 2018 and is now continuously expanding its network.
Vision for the future: ADLATUS would like to launch a modified cleaning robot, which is now a different size and has adapted functions. The firm is also working on new product concepts. One concept is for outdoor use. For example ADLATUS is hoping to introduce a communal vehicle for countryside management or a logistics robot to address issues surrounding the “last mile.”
Contact: Matthias Strobel (CEO)
In 2016, INERATEC started using its innovative chemical reactor technology, which works in decentralized units, to convert greenhouse gases and renewable electricity into synthetic, carbon-neutral liquid fuels or valuable chemical products. The firm’s technology uses three conversion processes: gas-to-liquid, power-to-gas, and power-to-liquid. The start-up’s microstructured reactors were developed over the past 10 years at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and launched by the three founders of INERATEC. Their innovative chemical reactor technology makes it possible to integrate chemical units into standard shipping containers. The system can be used in a broad variety of areas. For example, customers range from energy providers to manufacturing enterprises.
What’s different about the product: The size of the units allows for decentralized or distributed use. This makes it possible to generate renewable electricity (which could not previously be stored), and store it directly on site in synthetic hydrocarbons. Benefit can also be drawn from greenhouse carbon emissions, by using them as a raw material for producing carbon-neutral fuels such as gasoline, diesel, or kerosene.
Success stories: INERATEC has already sold and successfully launched nine units to international clients, in countries such as Finland, Spain, and Switzerland. INERATEC has won a number of awards for its innovative technology and successful market introduction, including the German Entrepreneur Award and the German Gas Industry Innovation Award.
Vision for the future: The next big step for INERATEC will come in 2020 when it starts serial production. The firm aims to sell 50 units worldwide by 2021.
Contact: Isabel Fisch
skinmade was launched in 2018 as part of an existing spin-off of the Fraunhofer Society. The company markets personalized body care products under its own brand name. Its products, which are sold in conventional downtown outlets or online, consist of individually matched ingredients. Sold in stores, products are made at the point of sale using a specially developed mini-factory.
What’s different about the product: skinmade uses regular skin readings and artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalized ingredients and concentrated formulae matched to individuals or the current condition of their skin. As a result, the start-up delivers highly effective skin care. Skin readings are taken using a method that comes from medicine by evaluating the exact current skin condition by measuring biomarkers. Using AI makes it possible to pinpoint the precise ingredients and concentrations required for a specific measurement reading. skinmade has come up with a patented manufacturing technology for customer-specific production.
Success stories: The start-up’s mini-factories are already being used in three outlets owned by the perfume retailer Douglas – in a flagship store in downtown Frankfurt (Zeil), in a Douglas Pro concept store in Eppendorf (Hamburg), and in the Breuningerland department store in Sindelfingen (near Stuttgart). Around 600 customers have bought into the product concept since October 2018.
Vision for the future: skinmade would like to roll out its concept in Germany and the rest of Europe. The aim is to set up more mini-factories in Douglas outlets. skinmade also believes there is a future market in online trading. Customers could take skin measurements in the comfort of their own home and be sent a personalized skin care product. To set this up, skinmade is currently developing a compact skin measurement device alongside an app for home use. The device and app should be ready by the summer of 2019.
Contact: Viktor Balzer
vialytics started operations in 2018 and is specialized in the automatic, continual monitoring of road surface conditions. To do this, the company uses existing fleets of vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI). The idea is to allow local authorities to keep track of the roads in their jurisdiction. The technology is mounted on the windshields of municipal vehicles to detect holes in the road early using artificial intelligence during the course of everyday operations. Further relevant use cases have been identified in the fields of (workforce) safety and GDPR-compatible censorship.
What’s different about the product: The technological know-how needed to record road conditions is more than about capturing data. It has to be evaluated automatically using nothing more than an existing fleet of vehicles. Damage is detected at an early stage and this makes it possible to track actual changes in the condition of roads. This also makes more efficient use of human resources and the quality of repairs can be enhanced. To evaluate data, the technology uses special algorithms, themselves part of a self-learning system.
Success stories: The benefits of the system are clearly recognized by municipal leaders and the Baden-Wuerttemberg state government. As a result, all funding applications submitted by vialytics under the Future Communities 4.0 programme were approved. Another high point in the young company’s short history until now was coming first in the start-up contest at the 2018 Smart Country Convention in Berlin. Vision for the future: The next logical step will be to start integrating and analyzing cycle paths and sidewalks in the technology. The company will launch the product shortly. Its know-how until now has revolved around capturing and analyzing public information. This focus will be significantly widened in the future.
Contact: Patrick Glaser
ASCon Systems (GmbH)
ASCon Systems, founded in 2017, creates a digital twin which combines product lifecycle management (PLM) with analysis, IT, and operations technology. The twin digitizes process interruptions using a unique module-based method, thus building a continual bridge between planning and implementation. Using highly innovative methods makes it possible for the digital twin to intervene on different levels of execution, right up to full automation. As a result, it can go on a “round trip” of information, looking at plant, workstations, mobile units, or building units, or use this information to map all areas and directly intervene in systems. All units coupled with the digital twin in the physical world emit signals at intervals of milliseconds, and the start-up makes these signals usable.
What’s different about the product: No other current industrial Internet of Things platform is capable of fulfilling the core requirements of digital transformation to the same extent as the digital twin of ASCon systems. It captures, stores, and processes gargantuan data flows from an exploding number of sensors in real time; it processes these data volumes in meaningful ways for control purposes; and it effectively supports decision-making through data analytics and AI.
Success stories: The start-up became an IBM global rollout and service partner in 2017 and the first projects were commissioned later that year, partly by Daimler and Audi. In 2017 revenues already stood at €1.2 million. In 2018, the Silicon Valley research company Gartner named ASCon one of four “cool vendors” in the world. Vision for the future: The disruptive technology produced by the start-up is radically changing the way the products of the future will be manufactured. ASCon expects to cross the billion euro turnover threshold by the early 2030s.
Contact: Alexander von Klein
HD Vision Systems (GmbH)
Founded in 2017, HD Vision Systems is developing and commercializing an optical measurement system called LumiScan, which is based on the principles of 3D light field sensors and makes it possible to evaluate high-resolution 3D data in real time. Successful long-term testing of pilot series prototypes has resulted in the first systems being introduced to production lines. Customer feedback has confirmed that the LumiScan technology developed by the three business founders significantly simplifies the complex field of machine-based visual inspection, thus adding value.
What’s different about the product: The USP of LumiScan technology lies in its use of light fields. The system makes it possible to take extremely precise measurements and even carry out quality inspections on shiny metallic materials, as well as fiber composites. New machine learning techniques make the technology easy to use for customers, who can adapt systems to new measurement tasks. The solution provides robots with human-like vision, removing the shroud from industrial image processing.
Success stories: As well as reaping the DeepTech4Good award, HD Vision Systems has won prizes such as the Cyberchampion Award (best start-up for performance), the ZEISS Robotic Challenge, the Germany, Land of Ideas award, and VDMA – Startup Live. Thanks to its involvement in the third round of Startup Autobahn and the FastTrack programme, HD Vision Systems also successfully secured and implemented 16 pilot projects with leading corporations and medium-sized business enterprises. Vision for the future: To build on the business success of projects, this year the company will start selling serial versions of its own hardware and software. Expansion is planned in markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa as part of a future drive to become more international with strong business partners, even extending to the Far East and the American continent. The idea is for the start-up to become a 3D software platform for optical sensors, optical measurement technology, and automation.
EET – Efficient Energy Technology (GmbH)
EET was founded in 2017 and has developed a product called SolMate, a compact system consisting of a photovoltaic unit and a storage system that feeds electricity into sockets. SolMate produces renewable electricity on domestic balconies and feeds it back into wall sockets at the exact moment when it is needed in the household. The SolMate system is simple to mount on lightweight flexible solar panels, or it can be set up as a standalone operating unit that can be used for emergency electricity. The design has been kept simple so that SolMate can be integrated into any type of balcony or mounted on terraces or in the back yard.
What’s different about the product: The key innovation offered by EET and its SolMate system lies in the patented measurement technology, which makes it possible to track household electricity requirements through sockets. As a result, SolMate monitors electricity consumption from the balcony and feeds energy into the home when it is actually needed. Any surplus electricity generated during the day can be stored temporarily and held back for the evening. Success stories: The company attracted €1.15 million of funding in the first year and this made it possible to set up a team of 10 employees. Two years after launching the company, it reached the go-to-market stage after a successful crowdfunding campaign. The company will start supplying products and embark on regular market operations in the spring of this year.
Vision for the future: By the spring of 2019, all households will be able to generate and make contributions to renewable electricity with a solar panel measuring only 2.5 square meters. SolMate will initially go on sale in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. The firm will roll out to further markets in 2020 in order to continue the success story of SolMate.
Contact: Jan Senn