It finally came, this very first Demo Day of the Eindhoven-based bootcamp for tech start-ups, High-Tech XL! I have joined its community of mentors earlier last year (including my participation it the selection days), and then went through the whole range of different activities with the start-up teams, the XL team itself, and also with other mentors. It was both exciting and stressful, as every first try is supposed to be (High Tech XL is itself a start-up of a kind, and had to go through many pivots on a way.)
But this day was the climax, a truly stunning show of energy and commitment of the organizers, and a demonstration of the creativity, professionalism and business potential of the enterprise.
It was held in Evoluon, a legendary landmark in Eindhoven, an UFO-like congress center built nearly fifty years ago and yet looking incredibly futuristic even today. I have a large collection of the pictures of its dome, but couldn’t resist to take few more, especially because it was also lit with a special, victoriously-red light.
I will write about just a few key impressions of the event, and also show a handful of pictures, but in case of interest the whole 100+ set is available online, in my Flickr (see High Tech Demo Day in Evoluon).
The show was opened by Rob van Gijzel, mayor of Eindhoven, who greeted the participants and the guests:
Apparently, more than 700 people gathered for the day!) Eindhoven for the Win!
Johan van Hall, Chief Operating Officer of ABN AMRO, who is one of the sponsors and supporters of the the High Tech XL, shared some insights into the new forms of open and future-proof innovation:
Guus than gave a lecture about the fun, and the dangers, of high-altitude mountaineering:
All the teams were waiting nervously: their ta-da moment was yet to come – soon:
The first round of presentation included five teams:
1. Jonathan Rodriguez, CEO of Prospero, presented their innovative add-on to mass spectrometry equipment (and how it could change the whole game of medical diagnostics and treatment in the future).
2. Rolf Huiberts, CEO of Sensus Energy, is on a mission: to combat shade (or rather, the negative impact it makes on the solar power panels).
They have a solution that, when implemented, will allow much wider and more complex use of solar panels, for instance, their integration into the building structures (e.g., facade panels, or roof tiles).
3. George Sidiropoulus, CEO of Think Silicon, explain how the revolutionary architecture of graphic processors (GPS) they developed will make augmented reality (finally) true:
4. Apparently, there is a 20% error rate in medication distribution in the hospitals today. Gauti Reynisson, CEO of Mint Solutions, and his team will make sure that there will be no errors anymore, soon.
5. I first thought that Marco Atissani, CEO of Watly, will sing an opera aria (I bet he could). But instead he presented the latest design of their device, capable to produce clean water, free energy – and internet connection as a bonus! – basically, everywhere in the world, using solar power:
And Marco didn’t just told about this future device – he was able to demonstrate it for real, brought from Spain to Eindhoven! The device, looping more like a wrap-driven spaceship, was an epicenter of attention of the day:
And – he was also presented his tripple-win team (here I again started to think of an opera):
We then had a break, to digest all this information (and for the investors to rush to teams to talk about the deals). After the break Patrick Gabriels, a co-founder of High Tech XL, opened the second round of presentations:
… by giving the floor to Jan Hommen, president of the supervisory board of BOM (Brabant Development Agency), who explained why capital is always in search of the new (or at least it should be):
6. Fortunato Cardenas presented his company, Green Earth Aerogels, that developed chip yet amazingly good insulation material:
Together with his business parter, Marco Antonio, they demonstrated – live! – the unique qualities of their new insulation aerogel:
7. Shinjan Dasgupta and Bas van den Heuvel from Proxible told their story creatively copping with some technical issues – their technology will change the way we experience space (=making it even more ‘experiencable’, so to speak).
Internet of Things is a buzzword these days, yet it is the companies like Proxible that could turn the words into reality, and real benefits, for people and for businesses:
8. Michael Loufakis from AquAsZero will purge arsenic – in all its forms – from the water we drink. This will improve live of 300 mln people – and most likely yours, too.
(Hint: Stop drinking German beer for a while – wait till they talk to this guy).
9. BlinkSight from France was a bit of a wild card; I didn’t know the company, they’ve been brought to the Demo Day in the last moment, I understand, to fill the gap made by one drop-out. But an interesting idea, of making GPS working indoor too (it seemingly overlaps with Proxible, to some extent).
10. The last presentation was by Boudewijn de Kerf, CMO of Ingeny, who told how his device WILL “cause a revolution in genetic diagnostics”. Apparently, it can analyze DNA 10 times faster than any competition, and can indeed change not only medical diagnostic and treatment, but also food industry (and our live in general):
The final words were by Eric van den Eijnden, another co-founder of High Tech XL, who closed the day – and at the same time opened the ‘serious conversations’ between the investors and the teams.
Big kudos to the XL team – for the XL day, and also for the entire XL experience they created!