Business

Against all odds: HighTechXL’s XL Day showcases six deep-tech startups created amid the pandemic

LEON ARKESTEIJN

Tarucca

Tarucca is developing photonic gyroscope-based sensors that can remotely monitor wind turbines to predict mechanical failures. Energy companies spend big bucks for visual inspection of multi-million euro turbines that often misses problems.

Visual inspection is expensive and labor-intensive, said team member Leon Arkesteijn. Preventive maintenance can’t be done under normal circumstances, because shutting down turbines is an expensive proposition for energy providers. The industry needs sensors directly monitoring the wind turbines that can predict when maintenance and repairs are needed … sensors that are accurate, inexpensive and simple to install, Arkesteijn said.

Maintenance can’t be done randomly, because it costs companies millions to shut down the turbines. Visual inspection is only done while turbines are stopped by trained techs “and it’s only a snapshot,” Arkesteijn said. Predictive maintenance “is the way to go – especially now growth of 20 times in offshore is expected.

“This is a large and rapidly growing market, with 300,000 wind turbines worldwide and no feasible solution. Can you imagine ….” he said.

The Tarucca team includes members with experience building startups and scale-ups as well as international experience, Arkesteijn said. But, because of the pandemic, they’ve only met virtually.

Market launch in 2022.

The ask:

Tarrucca is raising 750,000 euros to get the proof of concept for first prototype with a future raise of 2 million euros to go to market.

MIN’ENHLE NCUBE

ACCUTION

Accution uses ultrasound on a chip hydration monitoring technology developed at Philips to prevent kidney stones, a painful condition that plagues 800 million people.

Min’enhle Ncube gave the pitch for the startup, which uses a sensor worn on the abdomen that measures fluid in the bladder. Lack of hydration is a big contributor to kidney stones, which cause extreme pain and even serious illness as they pass through the urinary tract.

The Accution play is rolling out the wearable as a lifestyle product, so no medical approval is necessary, Ncube said.

In a Q&A session after the pitch, Jan Pieter van Tilburg, Accution CEO, said the technology can be used by athletes to measure hydration levels. And Accution can use the technology for as many applications as they wish as long as there is no direct competition with Philips products.

The Accution team is focused on developing a device that can sell for about 250 euros, the cost of which for patients will be covered by insurance on recommendation of doctors, Ncube said. The patient data generated will be shared with docs and insurance companies.

The ask:

Accution is raising 500,000 euros short-term for hardware and software development with a Benelux rollout by 2022.

Virtual pitches

AlphaBeats, which is part of the Phase 3 HighTechXL cohort, pitched their alpha-wave technology – also developed by Philips – which reduces stress levels.

“We have many competitors, but we’re the only ones using your favorite music … and we’re hardware agnostic,” said Han Dirkx, CEO. We’re offering a structural solution through implicit leaning. No one else is doing that.”

Four years of research at Tilburg University – 600 questionnaires, 300 interviews and 500 live demos – found the AlpaBeats approach four times as effective as music alone.” The technology is in the sweet spot – in the middle of music streaming, wearables and mindfulness, he added, with the goal of integrating AlphaBeats into music streaming platforms and hardware providers.

AlphaBeat holds the worldwide license for the Philips technology, Dirkx said.

“I hear you say, ‘Can they stand the stress?'” Dirkx said. “Yes, they can!!”

The ask:

AlphaBeats is raising 700,000 euros to expand the team, validate the latest version and go to market. The 2020 first version is scheduled to be in stores and available in app stores by September.

Keiron Technologies is using TNO technology to automate the production of microfluidic chips. Their competitive advantage is that their machine allows scaleable manufacturing and multi-material compatibility, said Marco van Hoorn. TNO and ASML are development partners, with Keiron’s MVP scheduled to launch 30 June 2021 and final product ready by 2024.

The ask:

Keiron is raising 450,000 euros for R&D.

Optify

Sunil Jose gave the Optify pitch for the startup’s technology that measures radiation in the inspection process for semiconductor components. Radiation used to detect flaws can – if applied for too long at an elevated level – actually damage those components, a bad thing in high-reliability applications such as aviation and self-driving cars.

Optify uses CERN technology – optical fibre dosimetry – which uses light pulse deformity to indicate when too much radiation is used. Jose termed Optify a “data driven quality assurance company,” developing the world’s first dose absorption mask that can trace, track and monitor radiation in the inspection process.

The ask:

Optify is raising 500,000 euros for its first commercial prototype and to add cloud architecture as well as new team members to the 15-person team, which includes physicists and engineers.

Tag line: “Better dosimetry, better electronics.”

The hybrid live/digital XL Day was both a celebration of how far the teams had come in nine months – some completely revamping their approaches – and how much you can accomplish virtually as the fourth cohort hit the stage.

“We’re breaking free of the physical boundaries,” Frericks said.

About HighTechXL:
HighTechXL is the Netherlands’ premier deep-tech accelerator. HighTechXL is an initiative of the Eindhoven Startup Alliance with ASML, Philips, NTS Group, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, ABN, AMRO Bank, Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (BOM) and EY/HVG as its founding members.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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