Author: kartikayesdelft


Ear defender system for the heavy industries

EIT Health Bootcamp is an annual LaunchLab created by YES!Delft and EIT Health Partners and is designed to facilitate business-case development. One of the successful startups that came out of EIT Health LaunchLab in 2016 is EarTex.

Working in the heavy industries comes with a certain number of challenges, among which the need to balance health, safety and efficiency on the job. Yet, in an environment where there is excessive noise, a balance between those three is not always possible. Or at least it wasn’t until David Greenberg founded EarTex, a London-based startup developing intelligent ear defenders – originally ear-worn computers, now larger headsets – for workers in the heavy industries.

Application deadline for EIT Health Bootcamp LaunchLab 2017 is July 17. For more info click here.

Ever since the age of 18, David Greenberg, now 31, has been working towards the goal of starting his own company one day. That day came in November 2015. With extensive background – both scientific and clinical, in hearing technology, he founded EarTex with the mission to help workers in the heavy industries protect their hearing, without having to compromise on workplace efficiency and communication.

“I started off working as a clinician in a hospital with people who had lost their hearing,” David says. There were two main reasons why people, who cam e to see me, had lost their hearing: They had either gotten old, or they had worked in very noisy environments when they were younger, or even currently.”

Getting to know many such stories, David realized that instead of producing something that attempts to fix a person’s hearing once they have lost it, like hearing aids, it would be better to try and prevent the hearing loss in the first place. And while hearing loss prevention products do exist, they often make it difficult for workers to communicate and even stay aware of their surroundings.

“There’s this conflict between health and safety regulations and the realities of working in a noisy environment,” David explains. “[That’s why] we’ve created a technology that allows for communication, hearing protection and monitoring of exposures. It’s an integrated solution.”

For David, starting EarTex was a gradual and well-planned process. While doing his Ph.D in audio engineering science, followed by a teaching and research fellowship, he made sure to simultaneously learn about running a business, building a team, prototyping and raising money.

Around the time he founded the company, David started looking for the core team, as until then, it had only been him. He is the kind of guy who comes up with solutions. He describes himself as an “ideas type of person. I’ve been a clinician, an academic, and now I’m an entrepreneur. I’m always trying to do different things and I have a natural desire to solve problems.”

Helping him and his team along the way has been EIT Health, whose LaunchLab program led them to their first customer in late 2016. While many startups look to the LaunchLab as a path to validation, David and EarTex had already passed that stage. “We already knew that we were dealing with a real problem and that we had a real solution. Our number-one objective was to secure a launching customer.”

Their first purchase came in December 2016 from none other than marine giant Van Oord. Since then, they have been in talks with a number of other international companies and have done a pilot project with French electric utility company Engie.

With a current team of 11, EarTex has grown quickly in just over a year, and they are looking to do so in the months to come as well. “Our next big goal is to scale up our manufacturing,” David says. “The idea is that as soon as one of our potential customers turns into a big one, with purchase orders in the hundreds or thousands, we want to be ready to execute and deliver quickly.”

Getting a big order is what David believes will push EarTex away from being a startup and closer to being an established player on the market. Based on their current growth, that may well happen sooner rather than later.

November 2015 – Company founded
May 2016 – First round of seed funding raised
July 2016 – Start of EIT Health LaunchLab
August 2016 – First prototype ready
December 2016 – First purchase from launching customer Van Oord


Harnessing the power of wind

Wind is one of the cleanest sources of energy around us, but learning to harness its power is no easy task. Sander and Eline Mertens know all about it. They say the key is to really understand how wind works. As founders of Windchallenge, they’re developing innovative wind energy solutions – among which a wind turbine called The Windleaf – for customers in the Netherlands and abroad.

For Sander, wind has always been somewhat of a special interest. Already in his early school years, he designed and built his very own wind turbine. At university, he studied Physics and Aerospace Engineering, eventually earning a PhD in Wind Energy in the Built Environment. Today – together with Eline, his partner in business and in life – he runs Windchallenge and makes sure that wind energy is harnessed as efficiently as possible.

Sander and Eline’s joint journey towards Windchallenge started back in 2007 when they founded Ingreenious, a consultancy focused on helping organizations reduce their carbon footprint.

“We weren’t the youngest of entrepreneurs when we started out,” Eline laughs. “We already had kids and a house, so we needed to make sure we had a steady source of income.” The consultancy was a stepping stone towards launching their own social venture.

Windchallenge Holland officially came into existence in May 2013, after Sander and Eline spent nearly four years researching and designing a state-of-the-art wind turbine. The Windleaf, currently their core product, is innovative in that it is stormproof, as well as easy to mount on anything from building rooftops to street light poles.

As of late 2016, the technology behind it has been patented in both Europe and the U.S. “The patent is for the pitching system of the wind turbine,” Eline explains. The idea is that with high wind speeds, the blades are able to adjust their position to optimize performance and avoid possible damage.

The years leading up to the creation of Windchallenge were years of hard work and preparations to introduce a full-blown product onto the market. “We started with our design, but didn’t communicate any of our progress until we were ready for sales,” Eline remembers. “We didn’t want to lose our focus.”

Getting to the point where they were sales-ready, however, wasn’t without the help of experts and the business support of YES!Delft, they say. Sander and Eline joined the incubator at a very early stage of their idea’s development, and they see that as a good thing.

“YES!Delft was a very nice environment for us,” Eline says, referring in particular to the fact that they were working side by side with other innovative companies. Apart from having a dedicated working space for assembling their wind turbine, they were also able to install it on YES!Delft’s rooftop. “We used that opportunity for testing our product, but also as a showroom experience for our customers.”

Since then, a lot has changed for Windchallenge. With a long-term investor onboard and a team of more than 10 people, the company now operates out of its office in Rotterdam and is looking towards a year of international expansion. After securing multiple customers in the Netherlands, Windchallenge is currently looking towards Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

And they don’t plan to stop there. In five years time, they want to be international market leaders.

What is perhaps even more important, though, is that offering customers an innovative product is not the only thing that Sander, Eline and their team want to achieve. They want to make people increasingly aware of the advantages of green energy, and help contribute to a more self-aware future.

For a team with such a strong connection to nature, that shouldn’t really be a problem.

2009 – Admission into YES!Delft
May 2013 – Founded Windchallenge Holland
August 2015 – Moved to new office in Rotterdam
October 2015 – New investor onboard
November 2016 – Kick-off of redesigned wind turbine
Q4 2016 – Secured wind turbine patent for Europe and the U.S.

Introducing Evert Jaap Lugt

We have a new Managing Director! As per 1 June 2017, Evert Jaap Lugt, will join the YES!Delft team full-time.

Evert Jaap Lugt, or EJ, is a successful serial entrepreneur. He founded Nimbuzz in 2006, raised 50 million in capital and eventually sold the company to the British internet company New Call Telecom for 137 million euros. One of the largests tech exits in the Dutch startup scene to date. This 57-old Rotterdam native brings in years of entrepreneurial experience having founded various successful companies including NGTI and @Media (sold to Dutch Public Broadcast – NOS). Currently he’s active as a Partner at Business Openers, counseling companies on innovation strategy.

Here’s what EJ has to say about his new role: ‘’I’m very motivated to bring YES!Delft to the next level. This incubator has big ambitions and a strong track record in building tech startups. YES!Delft, together with TU Delft and TNO, is an important player in the realization of the Next Economy in the Netherlands. With my experience as an entrepreneur I can further grow the network of YES!Delft and make sure we become the best incubator in Europe by 2020.”

He is very involved in the startup scene giving lectures in innovation management at Nyenrode Business University and is active in the European startup scene as board advisor, investor and co-founder.

As of June, 2017 you will meet Evert Jaap in the incubator and externally at events and meetups throughout the Netherlands.

Daan Domhof, our current Managing Director (a.i.) will resume his role as Incubation & Growth Manager.

We are very excited to work with EJ!


Lighting the future

For Chintan, not wasting energy is not just in his genes anymore. Today, it is also part of his entrepreneurial endeavor that goes by the name of Tvilight – a Netherlands based company that provides cities with intelligent lighting solutions in order to optimize energy use and cut down on light pollution. In short: Chintan is working towards the future of Smart Cities.

As a former engineer for an oil and gas company Chintan used to spend hours and hours on flights across Europe. The idea for Tvilight was born exactly on one of his evening flights. A look out the window made him notice “this amazing number of lights […] From above you can see whether there are people in the streets, which made me wonder how come so many lights are burning even when no one’s around.” Some initial research presented him with a number of curious findings. “There are over 300 million street lights around the world resulting in street light infrastructure costs of over 10 billion euros. And that’s only the cost of energy, maintenance excluded.”

This is the point where I thought we should do something about this. I understand that, for safety purposes, we need light, but we only need it when there are people around. So then I had the idea: to develop sensors, which would regulate the light intensity based on human presence.” The result would be up to 80% of energy saved.

His next move was to go to his alma mater, TU Delft, where a professor was quick to believe in the potential of his idea. The experience was eye-opening: “People are willing to help you if they see a passion in you. They are ready to open a door for you, if you ask for it – and in my case, that’s all I needed. The rest was up to me.”

Via the university, Chintan received first financing for his project as well as the help of eight students from different TU Delft faculties. They launched a pilot version of the connected lighting system on campus in 2011 and were able to prove that it saves up to 80% of energy.

The success of this initial project attracted media attention, leading Chintan to receive customer requests from several municipalities in the Netherlands. Three of them agreed to give him a year to develop a commercial version of the system. Discussions with investors, banks and subsidy providers, in turn, helped him secure much-needed financing that gave him the stability and confidence to found Tvilight in early 2012.

In the spirit of working with professionals willing to help each other, Tvilight applied for – and got accepted into – YES!Delft’s Incubation Program in 2013. “In this entrepreneurial environment, I have been able to find like-minded people to work and exchange ideas with, as well as to help and learn from. Entrepreneurs constantly face challenges with technology, with finding resources, with financing. [At YES!Delft], we’re all in the same boat – and although our paths are different, the destination is similar, because we all want to fulfill our dream.”

In addition to being in direct contact with fellow entrepreneurs, Chintan has also taken plenty away from YES!Delft’s close ties to the university. Access to the labs and the right kind of talent has been an invaluable contribution to the development of Tvilight.

Today, Tvilight has a team of 35, and the company wants to expand globally in the years to come. So far, the team runs more than 100 projects in over 10 countries, including a large one on the Dutch island of Texel. What’s more, with a recent investment by lighting industry giant OSRAM, Tvilight is looking to scale exponentially.

“I think this is the beginning of a new journey. It’s the beginning of Tvilight 2.0, where we want to make a product that will last long [and will go] beyond lighting.”

The company already offers several Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) applications like traffic heat maps, among others. For Chintan, the future of Tvilight is to continue on that path, yet on a much bigger, more prominent scale.

Q2 2011 – First demo ready
Q4 2011 – Arranged first angel investments
End of 2011 – First paying customers interested in Tvilight
January 2012 – Company founded
April 2013 – Series A investment secured
November 2016 – Osram invests in Tvilight

YES!Delft and Rabobank prolong partnership during Meet the Startups

DELFT, 20 april 2017 – Rabobank and YES!Delft are close partners ever since the start of our incubator in 2005. Both parties announced to prolong their partnership for an undetermined period during the first edition of Meet the Startups – YES!Delft’s new version of LaunchDay. On Thursday the startups of both LaunchLab and the Incubation Program presented themselves to the big audience.

“Rabobank believes in sustainable relations, that is why we were involved with YES!Delft from the start and why we decided to prolong our partnership”, says Fabian van der Horst of Rabobank. “Rabobank wants to empower the economy and is partner in many national and regional initiatives. Being a partner in innovation allows us to help entrepreneurs realise their dreams. That’s what really matters!”

YES!Delft partners are leading firms that help the companies of the future to grow. “Rabobank is one of our oldest and most loyal partners”, Nils Beers of YES!Delft states. “The experts of the bank help our startups by offering knowledge and practical advice, both in the incubator as well as in interesting workshops or courses. This way they really help entrepreneurs move forward.”

Meet the Startups
On April 20 YES!Delft hosted the very first edition of Meet the Startups: a day full of showcasing new ideas, services and products with a strong focus on connecting startups with potential investors and partners.

Last January 9 promising teams of YES!Delft LaunchLab started their startup-journey, in search of the best business models and launching customers. During Meet the Startups all teams presented their first results to the audience. The teams of the YES!Delft Incubation programme also showed their progress. Think: big data solutions for global shipping, sleeping robots and a sun shading system that integrates daylight and solar energy. To facilitate connections even more, startups and investors or partners engaged in four rounds of speed dates where they got the chance to talk business.

On May 31 a new batch of LaunchLab teams will start their journey of validating business models and finding customers. They will present their progress during the second edition of Meet the Startups in August, 2017.

Why corporate startups can never be truly disruptive and successful

As Commercial Director at YES!Delft I speak to a lot of big national and international corporations about their ambitions to innovate. Almost all corporates claim to have set up corporate startups, but none of them seem to grow out to be truly disruptive and successful – doing things radically different from their mother company.

By corporate startup, I mean an internal startup that is set up by a corporate, which is different from a spin-out because a spin-out becomes a separate entity. A corporate startup remains within the walls of the mother company.

Give me one example of a corporate startup that does things radically different, and is successful in the process? I have asked dozens of innovation managers and directors this same question. None of them can mention examples however.

Pretty weird when knowing 15 out of 20 corporations have set up those time- and money-consuming startups. But also logical when knowing that doing things radically different is practically impossible within the boundaries of a corporate environment.

I’ll tell you why. Corporations all make the same basic mistakes when setting up corporate startups. First, they take the wrong examples. Which innovative companies are exemplary for your own innovation models? – I ask those corporates next.

Airbnb, Uber, Google, Nest, Facebook, Tesla…corporations either feel threatened by these kind of companies or want to do something similarly disruptive. Which is both noble and understandable, but also the wrong way to go.

Practically all of the examples mentioned weren’t even close to being profitable in the first five years of their existence. Uber alone reported losses of more than $3bn over 2016. And no corporate innovation manager is allowed to lose that much money, year after year.

I haven’t found an innovation manager yet that is able to get enough support internally, as well as the financial means to set up the next Uber or Tesla. And I don’t think I will. It simply takes too much time and money to get it done and it yields too little profit in the short term.

There is another problem, preventing corporate startups from having a totally different business model from their parent and being successful. Large corporate environments usually lack the right startup-DNA, involving a 100 percent focus and the willingness to fail over and over again.

This DNA requires dedicated founders with the need to be successful, because a pay check isn’t guaranteed at the end of the month. Employees with a monthly paycheck and mortgage to pay for might have the willingness to succeed. The urgency for success is missing, because there are different powers at play in a corporate environment.

Now what? Should corporates choose not to look at disruptive companies in order to be successful? Yes they can, but they should also make fundamental choices when setting up corporate startups. Most important: ask yourself why you are doing this.

Do you want to start the next Uber, or do you have different reasons, such as researching a new technique? Both require a totally different plan of action. If you’re going for a business model that is truly different from the existing company – the only right option is to set up a spin-out.

This might be a scary option for some, because it feels like you’re giving up ownership over a great idea or plan, as you can only be a shareholder in the concept. But it also allows you to create the right fundamentals for success.

Last resort
Spin-out companies require an own management that becomes dependant on the success of the company, allowing them to do everything necessary to actually be successful – like getting funded and reaching the market ASAP. This makes the chance for the new technology to grow into a leading company a lot bigger, as compared to when it’s developed internally.

Stopping is a very last resort when spinning out, whilst innovation that is carried out internally is halted all the time – resulting in only a small report that is never read again – and a large loss of knowledge and money. A spin-out therefore is a much better insurance against failure.

I know this because I see it happening at YES!Delft every day, where hard-working entrepreneurs track down every little option of the market in order to be successful, pivoting more than once if necessary. Turning every stone and taking all the advice and help offered within the incubator to reach their goals. Even if this means they are eating bread and peanut butter only for months!

There is more money spend on corporate innovation, invested in corporate startups, than ever before whilst the returns decline. To all innovation managers I therefore say: have the guts to spin-out! You’re awarded with a much bigger chance of success, and a smaller chance of losing corporate innovation money.

And if you’re still doubting after this plea, I’d be happy to talk to you in person and give you a tour through YES!Delft – where successful examples are all around.

Nils Beers,

Commercial Director of YES!Delft


A new horizon in fuel efficiency for ships

In this day and age, where we are conscious about our natural resources and aware of our carbon footprint, we are using everything within our brainpower to make cargo vessels more fuel efficient, right? Well, guess again. It’s an industry of lucky assumptions when it comes to – even the knowledge of – fuel consumption. Start-up We4Sea is the first to develop the tools to generate the substantiated data and provide the simulations you would expect to monitor and adapt fuel efficiency. And, considering the size of the industry, it’s bound to have a huge impact.

Dan and Michiel are about a decade older than the average start-up founder at YES!Delft. Prior to founding We4Sea they had steady careers at research institute TNO. Although they worked in different departments, Dan and Michiel were both awakened by a particular calculation tool TNO developed in the nineties to design a fully electric powered ship. The report was literally put in a drawer, but Dan and Michiel saw potential in the methodology for use in the commercial cargo vessel industry. They had the opportunity to pitch their envisioned tool in the TNO VentureScan (an internal program of TNO for employees with ideas). They won and a ticket to YES!Delft’s Launch Lab / Port Innovation Lab came with the price.

Dan and Michiel could enrol in LaunchLab the day after their winning pitch. It was also the moment where ‘hey, maybe we are onto something’ first crossed their minds. In their case having ‘a day off work’ to completely focus on the idea was exactly what they needed. “There was a healthy competition between start-ups on who was able to speak with the most potential clients. Those conversations have been vital for us to test our assumptions. In over 40 meetings we confirmed that fuel efficiency is a problem and companies have no idea on how to work on this”. Dan and Michiel learned to position their tool within the market and who their clients are. After winning LaunchLab they knew they were definitely onto something. The next step was almost inevitable. They both resigned from TNO and enrolled in YES!Delft’s incubator program fulltime to redevelop and market the tool from scratch. They enjoy the cooperative culture at YES!Delft. “We have secretly become an IT company and at YES!Delft there are so many bright minds from fellow start-ups around that are eager help us. And whenever someone that could be important to We4Sea, like an executive from the Port of Rotterdam is visiting YES!Delft we get the memo.”

By 2019, We4Sea aims to monitor over 500 vessels to help to save over 100 million ton of CO2 annually. And they are well on their way. All anchors aweigh, as a captain would say.

August 2015: winner of TNO’s VentureScan
December 2015: winner of YES!Delft’s Launch Lab
March 2016: enrolling in YES!Delft incubator
April 2016: demo ready
May 2016: first data from launching customer Flinter


Serial entrepreneurs in the heavy industries

When MOCS was founded in the early days of 2012, Peter Madlener and Wouter Riedijk were determined to hit the market with their signature joining technique for large composite structures. Soon, however, they found out that the technique would take some years to develop, but that they did the right thing by starting a company. By doing engineering projects, they started building a team and analyzing the market’s greatest needs. MOCS became the entity to launch new products in the heavy industries, three of which are now realized: FWD, CODURE and Viktor.

Peter’s idea to create the signature joining technique behind MOCS came about in the early days of 2012. With a background in Maritime Engineering, a degree both Peter and Wouter earned at the TU Delft, the two entrepreneurs were determined to make composite structures more lightweight and durable, and their production — more affordable.

It was an innovative concept, yet, making it happen turned out to be a time-consuming task. “Soon after we started, we found out that our original idea was very fundamental, and it wasn’t ready to go to market straight away,” Wouter remembers.

While the two founders continued to develop the concept in the background, they focused on offering a wider variety of products and services. On the one hand, they provided customers with engineering services, which are, to date, an important source of revenues. On the other, they developed and launched a completely new product, FWD (as in Forward), making bridges out of fibre-reinforced plastic. It was their first spin-off, and it was a successful one. In early 2016, they managed to sell it, and with the money, launched two new projects: Viktor and CODURE.

Viktor, a web-based software program, evolved out of the need of clients to automate various engineering processes. CODURE, in turn, was created to continue the development of the entrepreneurs’ original idea. “After five years, our initial concept is finally finished,” Wouter says. “It is a beautiful niche product with a worldwide market, and now we can start selling it!”

Since its early beginnings, the company has not only grown its product base, but also its team. With 12 full-time employees and a number of part-timers and freelancers, there are now more than 20 people working on the MOCS mission.

Yet, achieving this growth hasn’t been without the help of experts: Soon after founding the company, Wouter and Peter joined YES!Delft’s Incubation Program.

“YES!Delft’s network has contributed greatly to our development,” Wouter says. “That is both the network with other entrepreneurs in the building as well as the network around the incubator — including investors, experts and potential new clients.”

And the results are there: As of March 2017, Wouter and the team are happy to announce a successful funding round from Innovation Quarter.

With a number of milestones already checked off, the team behind MOCS is now ready for new heights. The fresh capital provided by Innovation Quarter, in particular, will play an important role in bringing the two spin-offs, Viktor and CODURE, onto the international market.

“Both projects are currently focused on the market in the Netherlands, but we want to start selling worldwide,” Wouter says. “This money will help us get to a stage where we can start our international scale-up.”

In the meantime, a part of the team will continue to work on its existing engineering projects. “These are critical for building relationships and learning more about the market. What’s more, they provide a basic income.” For MOCS, it has always been important that the company is self-sufficient and not necessarily dependent on grants or any other outside funding.

With the progress they have achieved in just over five years, it’s fair to say that has been a mission accomplished. As for the first mission that is.

January 2012 – Company founded and first engineering client secured
August 2012 – Admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program
June 2013 – Winners of New Venture 2013
August 2014 – First composite bridge project (Later FWD)
February 2015 – Founding of FWD
May 2015 – First commercial automation project (Later Viktor)
August 2015 – First pilot-project of Joining Technique (Later CODURE)
March 2016 – Sale of first spin-off FWD
June 2016 – Founding of CODURE
March 2017 – Funding from Innovation Quarter secured

YES!Delft Meet the VCs

Pitches, speed dates and an investment for MOCS

YES!Delft facilitated another successful edition of the annual Meet the VCs event on Tuesday. 20 selected startups got a chance to pitch and speed date with over 75 investors from national and international VC-firms. To cap it all: MOCS spin-outs CODURE and Viktor secured an investment from InnovationQuarter.

Meet the VCs is YES!Delft’s annual matchmaking event for investor-ready startups and investors. Working together with NVP and Innovation Quarter and hosted by Patrick Polak (Newion Investments), we bring together investor-ready YES!Delft companies and innovation-minded venture capitalists to fuel success. This is done through both pitch sessions on stage and one-on-one speed dates.

Meet the VCs is a unique matchmaking event, and one of the biggest in the Netherlands in this field”, Sagar Boers, Marketing Manager of YES!Delft says. “We aim for long-term connections that are not only valuable today, but also in the future.

On the pitch stage this year were aQysta, Laevo, Scoozy, SD-Insights, Gerrard Street, Carice Cars, Fly Aeolus, Hardt, Eartex, Kinegizer, Atmos UAV, Intespring, Vibes Technology, Loqed, Xinaps, Bolt Mobility, Solar Monkey, Goodhout and Adjuvo Motion. All companies are ready for capital, having a clear vision and strategy to grow. Find all companies here.

A special announcement…
A special announcement was made by MOCS. This YES!Delft company secured an investment from InnovationQuarter to further expand its business. No one less than alderman Ferrie Förster of Delft announced this great news on Tuesday.

This is a solid and profitable sector and a company led by entrepreneurs with a great track record in product development”, Francis Quint of InnovationQuarter said about the investment.

MOCS is specialized in modernising the production process of composite structures. To do so, several innovative methods are developed – resulting in spin-outs such as software company Viktor and hardware solution CODURE. Both of these got an investment from IQ to make sure these innovations reach the market.

By making composite structures affordable, MOCS helps other companies to take advantage of the great characteristics of this material: it’s light, strong, sustainable and has total freedom of shape.


The future masters of high-speed travel

Amsterdam and Paris are more than 500 kilometers away from each other, and it’s certainly a few-hour time investment to get from one city to the other. But what if we told you that, somewhere in the future, you could make it in no more than 35 minutes? Really.

The team behind this ambitious project goes by the name of Hardt. They’re developing a travel capsule that combines the speed of a plane with the comfort and convenience of a train.

The roots of this grand idea go back to mid-2013 when none other than Elon Musk himself released a white paper on a new kind of high-speed ground transport system called the Hyperloop. Essentially, it would enable capsules to travel in high speeds inside of a large tube.

For Tim Houter, Team Captain of Hardt, the potential of such a system is great: “Our ultimate goal is to realize Hyperloop networks all around the world and diminish our environmental impact.”

While such a goal would take years, even decades, to fulfill, it is nothing short of realistic. Since June 2015, Tim and his team of 30 TU Delft students have been part of the Hyperloop Pod Competition initiated by Musk’s SpaceX company. And they’re already enjoying successes along the way.

The competition started out with about 2000 applicants which formed 360 official teams, Tim explains. The first round was focused on developing a preliminary design, and just a few months after the start of the competition, teams had to face the first cut: Only 124 of them were selected for the next round. Guess who was one of them.

In the months that followed, teams continued to work on their design and presented a finalized version of it in Texas. Here, Tim and his team were awarded the prestigious Pod Innovation Award. “That’s something we’re very proud of,” he says. Today, Hardt is among the remaining 20+ teams, and has already developed a physical prototype. Presenting it to the wider public was “the best day of my life”, he adds.

But things didn’t stop here for the Delft-based team.

Since then, they have checked off even more milestones. The founders of Hardt started a company for further development, and got accepted into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program, where they continue to accumulate knowledge every day. “YES!Delft has a very large network of entrepreneurs, who are in a similar stage as us,” Tim says. “It is an opportunity to learn from each other, and not make the mistakes that other people have made before us.”


From this point on, the main priority lying ahead of team Hardt is competing – and winning – the Hyperloop Pod Competition. The final round is planned for the end of January 2017.

“We already did a first test with our prototype in California, and it went really well. We’ll go back there in January for the grand finale,” Tim says. The challenge will be for teams to race their pods on the 1.2-kilometer-long test track, where their prototypes’ performance will be assessed based on speed, safety and efficiency, among others.

Winners or not, the team behind Hardt is determined to stay on track and achieve new heights. “Our goal for the future is to continue creating a full-scale hyperloop system.” The stakes are high, yet so is the startup’s potential.

June 2015 – Accepted into ‘Hyperloop Pod Competition’
January 2015 – Won the ‘Pod Innovation Award’
June 2016 – First prototype ready
September 2016 – Admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program
November 2016 – First tests performed with prototype

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