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 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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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