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HighTechXL Startup Accelerator Spring 2018: Robotics, medtech and red-hot chili peppers triumph at Eindhoven’s tech accelerator

Terry Boyd
July 18, 2018

How bad do you want it?

That’s the question put to 18 startup teams March 12 during HighTechXL’s Impact Finals in the new atrium at ASML’s Eindhoven headquarters.

Those startups were vying for the right to enter the seventh cohort of the five-year-old HighTechXL incubator, an incubator that’s shaped 56 teams – soon to be 66 – and helped those companies raise about 41 million euros in early-stage funding.

Ten teams had the right answers and will enter the program starting April 9.

A 9:30 a.m. intro by HighTechXL CEO Anique Soetermeer-Gabriels began an intense 10 hours that included opening 1-minute pitches, followed by eight rounds of probing interviews and feedback from HighTechXL staffers, mentors and industry experts.

At about 7 p.m., Soetermeer-Gabriels revealed the selected teams. She rated the new HighTechXL Class of 2018 “a very diverse batch, with some very early-stage startups, and some later-stage firms. And it’s a very international batch again.”

When it comes to startups, the Eindhoven model is not so different from The Valley Model: Ultimately, it’s not so much about the tech as it is about the people, Soetermeer-Gabriels said.

“It’s all about how enthusiastic these people are,” she said. “How well can we coach them? Can we coach them in areas where we’re most knowledgeable? Do they have the network to help them further in their journey of building a business?”

The Next Impact Makers

  1. AirBliss+: Based in the United Kingdom, AirBliss+ created a smart air pollution breathing mask. AirBliss+ emphasizes excellent user-experiences such as fit, ease of cleaning and ease in breathing, eliminating heat and humidity.
  2. UBIK Solutions: From Estonia, UBIK has developed an all-in- one device that helps solar-panel owners in residential areas increase solar efficiency.
  3. MiniFab3D: From Mexico, Mini Fab3D designs and manufactures high-end 3D printers, robotic arms, computer numerical control devices and laser cutters. Their goal is to develop new technology including bringing a high-resolution stereo lithography printer to market at an accessible price.
  4. Applied BioTech: Their core technology is a sustainable enzymatic process for the production of capsaicinoids, the spicy molecules from chili peppers. That’s right, hot peppers. In turn, those capsaicinoids are used as organic pest repellants, coatings, in making pharmaceuticals and, of course, pepper sprays for self-defense. The team is from Mexico.
  5. Tusti: Tusti is a high-tech recycling company, founded in 2015 by the cooperation of Technical University of Eindhoven, Holding and Stiphout (Stiphout Industries, Stip Recycling and Stiphout Plastics). Among other innovations, Tusti has developed a cleaning process to remove frying oil from high-density polyethylene, a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum, making it easier to recycle.
  6. Hipermotion: From Eindhoven, Hipermotion developed a new medical rehabilitation and training machine, the MaxDFM, using patented dynamic force modulation technology.
  7. Recath: From Eindhoven Medical Robotics, Recath has developed a minimally invasive robotic catheterization technology. The steerable device utilizes Bluetooth.
  8. Flow Matters: Flow Matters is from the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Flow Matters offers consultancy services and software for fluid dynamics simulations to help engineers at high-tech companies design products effectively with state-of- the-art numerical models translated from fundamental and applied research into the industrial practice.
  9. StormRam 4: From the University of Twente in the Netherlands, StormRam 4 is the world’s smallest and most accurate 3D-printed biopsy robot. Driven by air pressure, the plastic 3D printed StormRam 4 can be used in MRI machines, which increases the accuracy of the procedures.
  10. MindYour Pass: MindYour Pass from the Netherlands is a security startup that has developed a system allowing people to access all digital accounts with one password while still maintaining security. Their slogan is: “No more difficult passwords to remember, yet all your external accounts secured with a strong password.”

The focus for the cohort was to get medtech robots. “We got a few in that area. But much more in different areas,” including mechatronics, precision engineering, medtech and embedded software, said Soetermeer-Gabriels.

HighTechXL drew candidates for this cohort from three sources:

  • The Netherlands’ three technical schools – Eindhoven, Twente and Delft.
  • Get in the Ring, a Rotterdam-based foundation that uses a global network to link startups to startup organizations, governments and corporations.
  • HighTechXL’s global network.

The day-long Impact Finals included several presentations, including a look into the future with legendary TU/e Professor Maarten Steinbuch, a pioneer in surgical robotics. Steinbuch presented a vision of the future where not only do autonomous cars negotiate who goes first in intersections, but no one drives … and where robots perform surgery. Steinbuch has founded two surgical robotics companies, Preceyes and Medical Robotics Technology. His focus has been on using robotics to eliminate the slight hand tremors even skilled surgeons have to optimize accuracy.

Winner of the Battle, Jan Kolijn co-founder and CTO of Tusti

Tusti co-founder and CTO Jan Kolijn duked it out with Applied BioTech’s Alejandro Torres-Gavilán. Kolijn was declared the winner by a panel of judges that included Maarten Steinbuch and executives from Philips, NTS-Group and ASML. Kolijn said he thought enthusiasm won it for him: “I am convinced our team can do this.” “This” is rounding up enough customers. Tusti already is doing 4,000 tons of plastic recycling now. Kolijn added that “because we know what we’re talking about,” it builds confidence in his pitch. His goal is to get “investor ready, as they call it. That’s the most important thing that will happen. That, and getting a feeling for political lobbying and the game that surrounds plastic recycling on the Netherlands level, on the European level and even on the global level.” Burning plastic waste is banned in the Netherlands and increasingly across Europe. “That’s the game that will change.”

Here’s what selected HighTechXL teams get:

  • A 3-month result-oriented program run by the experienced HighTechXL Team with focus on customer traction and funding.
  • Hundreds of hours of expert support from not only ASML, Philips and NTS-Group, but also specialists from EY, ABN AMRO Bank and other partners in sales, engineering, manufacturing, IP, supply chain, finance, legal, internationalization and investment.
  • Pilots with partnering companies.
  • Support from hundreds of mentors formally connected to HighTechXL.
  • Access to potential customers, partners and suppliers.
  • Professional workspace at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven, the prime tech campus in Europe, where 160 companies and institutes are based.
  • €15.000 cash contribution.

About Get In The Ring:

Since the start of Get in the Ring, they have been developing a global network of support organizations, corporates and governments that want to make an impact. Together with them they organize activities and support programs around the world. They identify promising solutions developed by startups and connect them to opportunities and resources that enable them to show the impact they can make.

About HighTechXL:

Founded in 2013 in Eindhoven, HighTechXL was created expressly for a demanding high-tech and R&D region where a normal accelerator model wouldn’t cut it. Partnering with the global tech giants in the region, HighTechXL founders created a 3-month business acceleration program focused on taking hardware startups from prototype to market. Next, HighTechXL adopted the approach to corporate teams to support top-priority projects.

Struggling with your team? At HighTechXL we've been working with startups for the past three years supporting them to build their businesses. Find out here how we can help you develop your high performing team that is ready for your startup challenge.

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