TOP 10 Startup Success Stories: March

In light of the ongoing pandemic it is very quiet at both our offices, but all our startups are still working hard to keep on building tomorrow’s leading firms from home! To hopefully spread some positive vibes in this ongoing strange and difficult situation, we will share this month’s Top 10 Startup Success Stories with you! Stay healthy, and we hope to see everyone soon again.

Multiple startups are busy with implementing their technologies to fight the corona virus. We already shared a blogpost with you last week, which was dedicated to these startup. But although we mentioned them before, we couldn’t leave them out of the Top 10 Startup Success Stories of this month, because of all the successes they are booking within the current crisis. So we start this months successes off with these startups!

1 VFA Solutions B.V.

It was already a few weeks ago, when Dutch television program Hart van Nederland interviewed Founder of VFA Solutions B.V., Eliane Khoury, who creates devices that destroy all harmful substances in the air, including the corona virus. Since the virus many new customers have come forward. “The corona crisis feels like the last droplet that the market needed to realize the importance of proper air quality and its impact on people’s health,” says Eliane.

2 UV Smart

Oral masks are normally used only once but due to the current shortage UV Smart started to look at different ways to disinfect and safely reuse them. Hospitals started with the disinfection of mouth masks with UV Smarts’ prototype of UV light equipment. This prototype is a derivative of an existing UV-C disinfection device, which just received the official proof that it reduces viruses on oral masks with 99.999%.

3 Somnox

Everybody probably knows that sleep is essential for a good health, but did you also know that sleep is an amazing immune system booster? This made Somnox, the startup that knows all the ins and outs about sleep, decide to make all their sleep-knowledge available for free. They went even further, by making some of their products available to borrow for healthcare employees, so they can get the rest they deserve. To top this off, Somnox started to use their 3D-printers to make ventilation masks out of sports brand Decathlons snorkeling masks. They will deliver these to the hospital, to help them prepare for the expected peak.

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4 Delmic

For patience who need to be examined at the hospital, this startup developed a the DAAD (Diagnose At A Distance) system, which makes it possible for medical staff to examine potential patients without being in direct contact with them. “Our current proposal is not in our core business at all so that has been a big change,” says CEO Sander den Hoedt. Yet a change that he and his team have embraced in order to help minimise the impact of the coronavirus.

5 Innovattic

This startup has been approached by the LUMC (Leiden University Medical Center) to develop is a CoronaBox with a thermometer and an oxygen saturation measurement device. This box makes it possible for potential corona patients to stay at home and do the necessary measurements from there. “That way, they will not infect other people in the hospital and at the same time, the box can help monitor them from their home in case their health deteriorates fast”, says Lauwerens Metz, CEO of Innovattic.

6 Envision

Besides all the corona virus related initiatives, our startups also booked other successes. Like the YES!Delft The Hague based startup, Envision, who launched their pre-ordering campaign. With their new AI-powered smartglasses, Envision empowers the blind and visually impaired to be more independent. Watch the amazing campaign video below!

7 Polytential

This startup made their first sale. Their quality analysis tool, the Virtual Chemist, is at the National Test center for Circular Plastic this month, where it will be used to gain insight in the material composition after plastic packaging has been sorted. In addition, Polytential also received a grant of €50.000, after being one of the winners of the P>Act Challenge.

8 VIBES.technology

This startup joined forces with Dutch tech company Lightyear, who is creating a solar car with a focus on range and efficiency. Within this collaboration, VIBES’ expertise is used to set up a robust sound and engineering process, which is an important step towards further growth and acceptance of electric vehicles.

9 Clevr

The MedTech startup Clevr was part of the television program Nieuwsuur from the NOS, where the increasing popularity of VR glasses in mental health care was discussed. The VR glasses are causing a revolution in the mental health care, because virtual reality is changing therapy from talking to doing. That means practicing in a customized world and applicable for a wide range of complaints.

10 VIKTOR

The construction companies BAM Infra Nederland, Ballast Nedam and Heijmans joined forces to develop applications. The companies have opted for an open collaboration in which they collectively automate on the VIKTOR platform, which enable builders to jointly build their own online applications. The first application has already been launched within three months, and was presented to the entire construction industry.

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YES!Delft startups contribute to solving the corona crisis

There is no doubt that the current COVID-19 developments are changing the way people go about their daily lives and the way they work. For entrepreneurs, in particular, those are times that test their ability to not only adapt to this new situation, but also find creative solutions to contribute positively to it. 

At YES!Delft, we are lucky to have some of the brightest examples of innovation, creativity and technical excellence. From developing new generation air purification and ventilation technologies, to smart solutions for diagnosing and monitoring patients at home, to using UV light to disinfect medical equipment in a matter of seconds, startups are working around the clock to add their value to the current situation. And they’re not the only ones.

Contributing to a cleaner living and working environment

VFA Solutions, in which VFA stands for Virus Free Air, is an expert in the field of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and filtration technologies. Its work focuses on air cleaning and disinfection from hazardous airborne contaminants such as fine particles as well as bio aerosols like bacteria, viruses, spores and fungi, among others. “The corona crisis feels like the last droplet that the market needed to realize the importance of proper air quality and its impact on people’s health,” says founder Eliane Khoury. 

VFA’s ASPRA air purification solutions help purify indoor environments – and at the moment largely healthcare institutions – by removing airborne viruses, pathogens and dust particles. “Inside our device, bio aerosols are guided through an electric field, where the majority are killed or deactivated. The viruses, bacteria and other pathogens are then captured in the collector (the filter) and permanently removed from the air, thus reducing the risk of spreading.”

Because sales volumes are growing for VFA, yet certain components are either not available or have a long delivery time, the team has had to be creative and has decided to simplify the design of their products and outsource production to partners and suppliers. 

UV Smart, another startup in the YES!Delft portfolio, also plays its part in helping hospitals and healthcare centers maintain a clean working environment. Born out of the need to minimise the spread of resistant organisms and viruses, and maintain the highest possible hygiene in  healthcare, the company has developed an innovative solution based on UV light that helps disinfect medical instruments and devices within seconds. 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, a number of hospitals in the Netherlands have approached the team to use their technology in disinfecting face masks so medical personnel can reuse them. “We have been working around the clock on a suitable solution for our customers,” says co-founder Daan Hoek. “The first 20 products with our technology are being delivered to different hospitals in the last week of March. From now on, we have to scale up production as fast as possible to get our devices available for the various hospitals.” 

Daan and his team are also thinking about ways to offer their technology internationally.

Working towards more efficient and risk-free screening

Without question, healthcare professionals are among the people who are most exposed to the risk of contracting the corona virus. Hospitals have taken multiple measures to curb that risk and startups are looking for ways to contribute. 

Innovattic is a company that builds digital solutions for social impact, including apps, websites and serious games. Since the coronavirus has been spreading, the startup has been approached by the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) to develop the CoronaBox, a medical kit that (potential) patients can take home to do a self-check.

“We are making a CoronaBox with a thermometer and an oxygen saturation measurement device so potential corona patients can go home and do the necessary measurements,” says Lauwerens Metz, CEO of Innovattic. “That way, they will not infect other people in the hospital and at the same, the box can help monitor them from their home in case their health deteriorates fast.”

This solution can not only help screen more people, but also allow healthcare personnel to focus on the cases that are most urgent, without losing the overview of everyone else who might need their attention. 

For those patients who do need to be examined at the hospital, though, Delmic has developed a different solution. As a spin-off of the TU Delft and the materials institute AMOLF, the startup makes microscopes for (academic) research in materials and life sciences. “Our current proposal is not in our core business at all so that has been a big change,” says CEO Sander den Hoedt. Yet a change that he and his team have embraced in order to help minimise the impact of the coronavirus. 

What they have developed is called the DAAD system, or the Diagnose At A Distance system, which makes it possible for medical staff to examine potential patients without coming in direct contact with them. 

“This solution allows doctors to screen patients without using personal protection measures, thus reducing the chance of doctors getting infected as well as patients getting infected from their protective gear.” The first system is being rolled out in the last week of March and Sander and his team are looking to scale their solution from there. 

Somnox is a startup that is developing a soft robotic that makes sure users have the best night’s sleep possible. Over the past few weeks, the team has adapted to the current coronavirus developments in several different ways. On the one hand, they have made all their sleep knowledge available for free since “sleep is an amazing immune system booster,” says CEO Julian Jagtenberg. On the other hand, “we are also making some of our products available for healthcare employees to borrow so they can get the rest they deserve for free.” 

In addition to that, Somnox has also taken on a more creative approach to contributing to the current corona developments. With the help of the 3D printers in their office, they are making ventilation masks out of Decathlon snorkeling masks and aim to deliver them to hospitals that are preparing for the peak. Anyone with a 3D printer is encouraged to join. 

In the meantime, Eliane from VFA has also been busy setting up a new, similar initiative to fight the shortage of face masks for healthcare personnel. 

At the end of the day, solving this crisis is about innovation, creativity and working together, and those startups seem to be on the right track. 

Elemental Water Makers: Turning water scarcity into abundance

For a country like The Netherlands where rain is a given and the sea level is often as high as it gets, the topic of water scarcity may not be the first to come to mind. Yet, for entrepreneurs Sid Vollebregt and Reinoud Feenstra, this issue holds a sense of urgency: “Already today, about two thirds of the world population is facing water shortages”. 

As a result, the two of them founded Elemental Water Makers and developed a sustainable desalination technology to provide water scarce areas with fresh water.  

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA

Sid and Reinoud’s idea goes back to their time at the TU Delft when they were doing their graduation project in the field of desalination and renewable energy. “We founded Elemental Water Makers as a result of our research, and with the sole goal of solving fresh water scarcity using only the elements of the sea, sand, earth and wind.”

About two thirds of the world population is facing water scarcity, Sid says, which makes the company’s efforts so much more important. 

While Elemental Water Makers is about making fresh water more accessible to those who need it the most, it is also about achieving that in a sustainable manner. “Desalination processes do exist and they are similar to what we do, but they are powered by fossil fuels – so, conventional electricity. What we can do is offer either a cheaper and/or a sustainable solution,” Sid explains. 

With the smart use of renewable (solar, wind and wave) energy and gravity, Elemental Water Makers’ technology allows for a constant desalination process. 

THROUGH YES!DELFT

Today, the team is focused on implementing its technology on islands with limited access to fresh water. While having completed more than 20 projects to date and being active in over 10 countries, Sid admits that it was customer development that had proven to be one of their main challenges starting out.

“You can use desalination technology to provide fresh water for a wide range of customers – from hospital to resorts, to entire municipalities,” Sid says. “What we wanted to find out was who could benefit the most from our technology.”

To get a better understanding of their target market as well as the ins and outs of running a business, the two entrepreneurs joined the “Ready to start up” course, followed by YES!Delft’s Incubation Program, the former Accelerator Program. “In the early stages of our development, it was very valuable to be among entrepreneurs and to tap into this network of people and advice, especially the financial and legal coaching,” Sid says.

Becoming part of this ecosystem was the initial push both founders needed on their way to success. Perhaps the most intense part of their idea validation process, however, was when they decided to hop on a plane and visit various islands to talk to as many customers, suppliers, regulators and other stakeholders as possible. 

It was then that they secured their first customer, too. 

TO A GROWING COMPANY

With a number of successful commercial projects behind them and more than five team members onboard, Elemental Water Makers is working towards new heights. 

Together with various coastal regions, the team aims to prove that fresh water can be delivered at an affordable price and in a sustainable manner to regions that do not have access to it. Take the African island of Madagascar, for instance. Eleven million on it still do not have to clean water and about 85% of the population lives in remote communities. Efoetsy is one of these communities. 

In 2019, Sid and Reinoud launched the Elemental Water Foundation, a certified NGO with the goal to help people that need it most. Together with its local partner Trans Mad and the support of private sector donations, it successfully raised the funds required for the installation of the solar-powered desalination system. Thanks to this project, the community now has access to 15,000 liters of clean water every day.

To make implementation of the technology easier, Elemental Water Makers has developed a containerized plug-and-play solution that can be deployed quickly and easily to ensure the reliable supply of affordable clean water at any coastal location.

Sid and his team have come a long way since the early days of their company and have, so far, enabled multiple communities across Africa and Central America gain access to fresh water not only in an affordable, but also environmentally-friendly way. 

“Many people are starting to understand the topic of water scarcity and the importance of water,” Sid says. “For us, it’s not just about solving a problem: We’d like to get to the point where we turn water scarcity into abundance.”

Milestones: 

April 2012: Company founded

June 2012: Admission into Climate-KIC Acceleration Program Phase I

September 2012: Admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program

Oct 2012: Climate KIC Acceleration Program Phase II

Dec 2012: STW I grant secured

May 2013: Climate-KIC Acceleration Program Phase III

May 2014: STW II grant secured

July 2015: Official launch of project with first customer

April 2017: Winners of Global Water Award   

2019: Efficient Solution Label received by Solar Impulse Foundation

2019: Finalist Dutch National Icon

Applied Drone Innovations: Leading horticulture into a data-driven future

Drone technology is gaining momentum. While until not long ago, it used to be in the hands of either larger companies or of consumers who would use it for fun, today, drones are accessible to businesses of different sizes and industries.

Agriculture is no exception. With the right tools and data, growers can monitor their crops in near-real time and make sure they remain healthy. To make that possible for horticultural businesses, Applied Drone Innovations (ADI) develops greenhouse monitoring systems, and collects and processes valuable data to increase crop yields and quality.

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA

It was back in 2015 when William Simmonds, Lucien Fesselet and two fellow university students came together during an Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences. As part of an assignment for the horticultural department, they were asked to visit a local plant producer, Bunnik Plants, and find out if there was a problem they could solve for them.

“We went there, spoke to the growers and asked them about the challenges they were experiencing,” William remembers. “We flew our drone around and talked about the opportunities drone technology could offer.”

A single kick-off meeting was enough for William, Lucien and the rest of the team to realize that there was business potential in introducing drones to greenhouses. They started working on a case and quickly attracted interest in their idea, which won them the Wij Inholland Award and a cash prize of 2,000 euros. 

“It was enough to launch a website and print some business cards,” William says. “It was the start we needed.”

What followed was a lot of hard work, long days of research, testing and market validation. In 2017, the team joined a two-year education project of High Precision Greenhouse Farming (HiPerGreen) which gave the idea exposure and the possibility for 60 students to work on it and further develop it. William and Lucien, as the two co-founders, kept busy with that, together with university teaching and work at other startups, while getting ready to lay the foundation of ADI. 

THROUGH YES!DELFT

Less than a year later, ADI was already founded and looking for ways to put their solution on the market. “We applied and got accepted into the YES!Delft Validation Lab and got to learn what it’s like to turn a research project into a business,” William says. 

“We learned how to ask the right questions and find our product-market fit. We understood the importance of having the right contacts and growing our network.”

It was with the help of YES!Delft that the team of ADI got their first pilot projects and later their first paying customers. It was there that they got in touch with Rabobank and secured a 150K startup loan. And it was also there that they learned that their business proposition wasn’t really about the drone itself, but about the data and what growers could do with it. 

TO A GROWING COMPANY

Today, ADI is focused on providing customers with the data collection and analysis tools they need to keep their crops healthy and improve operational efficiency. Together with Beekenkamp Plants, the team is working on a mobile data collection platform that provides the customer with information about germination processes, and uses advanced image analysis to determine the quality of crops. 

ADI has recently delivered a proof of concept of one of its most recent developments, a germination analysis machine.

Since their early startup days, William and Lucien have come a long way. They have grown their team to over 10 members and in less than one year, they have raised half a million euros in grants and funding on top of the initial startup loan. 

The latest milestone is 350K from the MIT R&D grant, in which the company was the lead applicant. “We’re going to use this money for a specific project where we will work closely together with partner Avular, an Eindhoven-based startup focused on enabling mobile robotics,” William says. “We will focus on further developing the data analytics part of our solution, while they will work on making it more user-friendly and suited to operate in greenhouses. 

To date, ADI has three paying customers – two in the orchid industry and one in the young-stage vegetable industry, and several ongoing pilots. And if you ask them about their key goals for 2020, the first one on the list is keeping those customers happy. “To be successful, we need to make sure we do that all the time,” William says. 

ADI would also like to further expand its team and aims to raise 2 million euros in funding within the year in the ambition to become the Google of Agri Data. “At the end of the day, we want to invest more in our core image analysis technology and bridge the gap between image processing and biology.”

Milestones: 

2018

  • Company founded; ADI joins YES!Delft Validation Lab
  • First pilot project
  • 150K startup loan from Rabobank secured

2019

  • ADI joins the YES!Delft Accelerator program
  • First paying customers secured
  • 250K funding from the NWO secured

2020

  • 350K MIT R&D grant secured
  • First big commercial order from Beekenkamp Plants

 

 

TOP 10 Startup Success Stories: February

Starting your own business sounds difficult, and it is. Yet YES!Delft startups keep on celebrating successes by securing investments, funds and loans. In addition, they get nominated or even win awards, they reach partnership agreements, and got mentioned by big media outlets. Read all about it in this month’s Top 10 Startup Success Stories!
1 Smart-Ship

The startup that aims to revolutionize ship control announced its first investment, which is coming from the InnovationQuarter fund UNIIQ. This investment enables them to continue the development of their range of high-end ship controls.

2 Skelex

This startup proves that it is possible to improve the overall utility and comfort of the way humans work in industrial settings.  With their extremely light, easy-to-use, wear, adjust and move in suit, Skelex won the iF DESIGN Award in the Product Category.

3 Qlayers

The startup that automated the coating application method successfully applied for the Rabobank Innovation Loan. With this loan Qlayers is able to run a pilot, enabling the startup to build machines to apply coatings of the future.

 

4 Eave

The MedTech startup announced that they, through their strong relationship with Places for People, started working together with ModularWise to prevent hearing loss with the use of their ear-worn IoT-computer.

5 Applied Drone Innovations

Avular, an industrial drone manufactured located in Eindhoven, and ADI are continuing their successful partnership.  Together they can revolutionize the horticulture industry. Avular enables the startup to collect their data, by using the Curiosity Core, which makes it possible to autonomously navigate a greenhouse via drone.

6 Manometric

Manometric received an investment of ReumaNederland, which ensures that more 3D scanners can be produced and that the 3D printed braces of the startup can be further developed for various rheumatic disorders. With this investment ReumaNederland wants to ensure that more people can get faster access to a personalized brace.

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7 DeWarmte, DeNoize & aQysta

Startups DeWarmte, DeNoize and aQysta all made it to the semifinals of the Blue Tulip Awards. With this year-round program the Blue Tulip Awards aims to build powerful collaborations and drive breakthrough innovations. After the final pitch round, on the 12th of March, we will hear which startups made if to the Finals.

8 Physee & Somnox

With the presence of incubators, accelerator programs, and investment money Dutch magazine Quote states it is easier for a startup to grow. But “which eager entrepreneurs will run tomorrow’s multinationals?”. Quote listed 25 startups who have the biggest potential to make it, and both Physee and Somnox are among these 25 growing companies.

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9 Villari

Villari announced that they reached an agreement on the sale and transfer of their intellectual property rights, concerning the CrackGuard technology with Erik Puik, managing Director of DotDotFactory BV. With this agreement the startup is able to turn their research into a viable, reliable and scalable product.

10 Circularise

Our Digital Hub resident and Blockchain Startup Circularise announced that they selected as one of the Top 4 innovations of EIC Prize by European Commission, in the category of Blockchains for Social Good. The innovators that come up with the most promising Blockchain solutions will be awarded with 5 million euros.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam and YES!Delft launch regional partnership

The Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) will collaborate with YES!Delft in a regional partnership. EUR believes that it can intensify its impact on society by encouraging entrepreneurship. The university’s Executive Board – represented by Rutger Engels – and the board of YES!Delft signed a Letter of Intent on Friday, 21 February, paving the way for EUR’s participation in YES!Delft. YES!Delft’s establishment of a programme in Rotterdam will be one of the initiatives for providing a boost to entrepreneurship among students and staff. This partnership will enhance up-and-running EUR initiatives with YES!Delft’s expertise.

“Het tekenen van de Letter of Intent met YES!Delft is een verdere stap in de realisatie van onze ambities. De EUR brengt op deze manier de eigen expertise vanuit RSM en het Erasmus Center for Entrepreneurship samen met die van YES!Delft en haar netwerk”, aldus Rutger Engels, rector magnificus van de EUR.

“Signing the Letter of Intent with YES!Delft is a further step in achieving our ambitions. It enables us to combine our own expertise at RSM and the Erasmus Center for Entrepreneurship with YES!Delft’s expertise”, says Rutger Engels, Rector magnificus of the EUR.

“Successful start-ups always have a high degree of diversity in their founding teams. This partnership will lead to numerous new enterprises built on a foundation that combines the various talents of Delft University of Technology and EUR”, says Evert Jaap Lugt, managing director of YES!Delft.

Encouraging more entrepreneurship

YES!Delft was established by Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, and the Municipality of Delft. “It’s the most successful incubator in the Netherlands, and its ambitions include further regional expansion. In YES!Delft, we’ve found a robust partner to give an additional boost to entrepreneurship at our university”, says Hans Smits, interim-Chair of EUR’s Executive Board. The partnership will bring the EUR’s Erasmus Center for Entrepreneurship closer to YES!Delft, and their interaction will create opportunities.

Combining business and technology

YES!Delft plays a key role on the Delft University of Technology Campus when it comes to supporting disruptive innovative ecosystems, both locally and at the regional level. “Delft University of Technology is proud of YES!Delft’s success. The university’s spin-offs were able to successfully develop there and over the past few years, multiple companies originating from the Rotterdam region have joined them. Combining our strengths with EUR is a promising next step towards giving entrepreneurship in our region a shot in the arm”, said Executive Board President Tim van der Hagen.

Incorporating entrepreneurship in education and research

The goal is to give shape to a sustainable partnership, one that generates synergy and benefits all the partners. Encouraging entrepreneurship offers EUR opportunities to strengthen ties with local and global stakeholders and contribute to addressing challenges facing society. One facet of this is social entrepreneurship that engages with society. Engels also stresses that “In this context, entrepreneurship is more than just establishing start-ups. It also means that entrepreneurship must be incorporated in education, for example, and ways have to be found to combine it with research. Creating a strong entrepreneurial mindset among our students and staff plays an important role in this process.”

Physee: Making buildings future-proof

Becoming energy-neutral is not just a trend anymore, it is a necessity. It is a necessity across generations, markets and industries, and especially when it comes to people’s day-to-day lives. So then imagine living in a building that absorbs sunlight energy during the day and uses it to keep you warm at night. Or working in an office that aims for the ideal temperature and air quality to make you as productive as you want to be. 

All of this is now possible thanks to Delft-based company Physee and its patented SmartSkin technology, which can autonomously power, sense and regulate a building’s climate.

FROM AN INNOVATIVE IDEA

It all started back in 2014 when Willem Kesteloo and Ferdinand Grapperhaus decided to work together on the Master’s theses degree at the Technical University in Delft (TU Delft) and focused their research on the physics on luminescent materials. 

“We had known each other for some time and we knew we worked well together so it was a great opportunity to join forces on the same research project,” Willem says. What started as a university assignment soon led to some interesting discoveries in the lab, and to the idea of turning them into a business.

But what were those discoveries exactly? While researching the luminescent properties of a specific metal, together with their supervisor Erik van der Kolk, Willem and Ferdinand found that, in certain states, this metal can absorb a very broad spectrum of light, which it subsequently emits in a very sharp peak outside of its absorption spectrum. The novelty of this discovery prompted them to think that there might be business applications to consider, like making buildings more energy-efficient by capturing light and using it to generate energy. 

“I have long had an interest in sustainability and the energy transition, so I was excited at the prospect of developing a new technology to make buildings more energy-efficient,” Willem says. “We spend 90% of our time in buildings, which consume 40% of our global energy demand.” And eventually, a lot of that energy ends up being lost through the facade. 

Willem and Ferdinand knew there had to be a solution to not only use, but also generate and reuse energy inside buildings. Straight after graduation, they decided that there was only one way to find out if their idea had business potential, so they rolled up their sleeves and laid the foundation of Physee.  

THROUGH YES!DELFT

In the first year and a half, it was just the two of them trying to develop a proof of concept and figure out their next steps. As physicists, though, they didn’t know much about business, Willem admits. They didn’t know how to find their product-market fit, how to pitch, raise funds or build a great team. 

“This is where YES!Delft came in,” he says. 

“We first joined the LaunchLab [now Validation Lab] and later continued onto the next program. YES!Delft taught us to get out of the building and find out what’s out there; who are our customers and what can we do for them. Because for us, of course, it was obvious – who wouldn’t want electricity-generating windows?” Willem laughs.

Today, Physee is a team of 45 people, all united around the mission of using smart technologies to make buildings more sustainable and energy-efficient.  

TO A GROWING COMPANY

The SmartSkin technology that they have developed solves challenges on a number of levels for a number of market segments. “In my opinion, facades are still being built in a very low-tech and inefficient manner,” Willem says. “What we do is leverage technology to use light more effectively.”

SmartSkin was developed to tackle various challenges at the same time. On the one hand, there is the software, which essentially makes it possible to create smart windows. It combines sensor data, weather conditions and user settings to reduce buildings’ energy consumption up to 20%.

On the other, there is the hardware component. The company has patented a technology that integrates solar cells into the glass of normal windows and harnesses electricity from the sun. That way, the light – and therefore energy – that would normally be reflected off the facade is now absorbed and put to use.

The third and perhaps most complex element to Physee’s work is the development of glass coatings. “We are working on two types of coatings – one for real estate and one for greenhouses – and we are doing so with some of the biggest glass manufacturers in the world,” Willem says. Finalizing those coatings is on their list of goals for 2020.

As a company aiming to revolutionize how buildings are designed and built, Physee works together with a variety of stakeholders to spread its products and services as widely as possible. And it seems there is a market for each of them: Two of four main global glass manufacturers are mainly interested in the coating developments, while the other two have larger interest in the smart hard- and software components. The real estate industry, in turn, is mostly interested in the software and the ability to create intelligent building facades.

From this point onward, Physee is looking towards expanding its team even further – because “our team is our biggest asset,” as Willem puts it, closing a Series A round of funding and starting its first international projects in Spain, Germany and the UK. 

There are big goals on the horizon for Physee but they are goals that the team can surely take on. 

MILESTONES:

2015 – First round of funding secured

2016 – First pilot project launched

2017 – Winners of Green Challenge

2018 – Second round of funding secured

2019 – First commercial projects launched

AMPELMANN: FROM AN INNOVATIVE IDEA TO INDUSTRY GIANT

“It’s been a fantastic ride so far. Extreme growth. Never a dull moment.”

Jan van der Tempel is the inventor, co-founder and CEO of Ampelmann, the Dutch company operating offshore access systems and services. If there is anybody who knows what it’s like to build a fast-growing business, it has to be him. 

Starting with just an idea in an industry that was, and still is, somewhat conservative, Jan has managed to build a company of more than 400 people, across countries and continents. 

‘OFFSHORE ACCESS AS EASY AS CROSSING THE STREET’

The idea behind Ampelmann was conceived rather spontaneously – during an offshore wind conference in Berlin that Jan and his colleague David Molenaar were attending back in 2002. 

As Ph.D. students at the TU Delft, the two of them were researching the design and controls of wind turbines and the conference prompted them to find out if they could create an offshore access system that could compensate wave motions. 

Years of research and testing showed that it was indeed possible: A flight simulator turned upside down, capable of compensating all six degrees of freedom of a vessel and making transferring offshore much safer.

The project became known under the code name Ampelmann. Just like the initial idea, the name, too, was born during their time in Berlin. Ampelmann is German for “the little man in the traffic light,” says Jan, “and it fits perfectly with our motto: making offshore access as easy as crossing the street.” 

THE ROAD TO LAUNCHING THE COMPANY

The mission of the company was straightforward: create a system that would measure the ship motions and compensate them to provide safe access to offshore platforms. In theory, it all sounded great, but as the founder got to learn, the industry needed to see the concept working before embracing it. 

In the first few years following the idea’s conception, he and his team were solely focused on tackling the technology and speaking to potential customers. After receiving positive – though still slightly skeptical – feedback from the industry, they decided to build a full-scale prototype that could be used on a big ship to transfer people onto offshore platforms. 

They took all of 2007 to do that and managed to finish within a year, contrary to many people’s expectations. “It was intense, but it was a lot of fun,” Jan says. The following year, Ampelmann was officially founded and their first system, the A-type, was put in operation. 

EARLY BEGINNINGS AND EXPONENTIAL GROWTH 

In its early days, the team was drawing support and inspiration from the community of fellow entrepreneurs, mentors and experts at the then brand new incubator YES!Delft. “It was very instructive,” Jan remembers. “We shared a lot of experiences with the other startups, especially when it came to the development of our companies and the struggle of getting initial customers.”

Since then, a lot has changed, mainly because of the rate the company has grown at. “We doubled every year,” Jan says. “We started with five people, then 10, then 20. In the second year, we didn’t double – we tripled. That was the anomaly,” he laughs. 

Growing the team, revenues and customer base so quickly was bound to keep things changing. “The thing I used to say about Ampelmann’s development is that every six months you’d be in a different company,” Jan says. That meant going through changes every half year – a bigger office, new recruits, new goals to set ahead. 

Building a sales team, he adds, has been one of the main challenges along the way. “Especially in the beginning, it’s all very specialist work. You need to have the knowledge of what the system does, how a ship moves, how an offshore operation works and what safety features we have. We were educating the industry about something completely new and something they didn’t yet understand,” Jan says.

Fast forward over a decade, and Ampelmann is the leader in the global offshore access industry with more than 6 million safe people transfers and over 13 million kilograms of cargo transferred. The company has also gone a long way in diversifying its fleet, operating in various industries across the world, and increasingly working on making its solutions more energy-efficient and sustainable. 

There may have been challenges over the years, but nothing Jan and his team weren’t able to overcome. “If there is one thing that I have learned along the way, it’s to follow your passion and never give up,” Jan says. It is certainly a lesson he has learned well. 

 

Milestones:

2007 – First prototype ready; company founded

2008 – First commercial project launched 

2015 – First 1 million transfers completed worldwide

2016 – Ampelmann opens several offices abroad

2018 – OTC Spotlight on New Technology Award won

2019 – Opening more international offices and entering multiple new markets 

2019 – Double milestone: 5 million people and 10 million kg of cargo transferred

Together we celebrate! New Years Drinks 2020!

Last week we had our New Years Drinks. Together with our entire ecosystem of startups, mentors, partners, entrepreneurs in residence and many others we celebrated all our successes of the past year. We took the time to look back at multiple highlight, like Hardt Hyperloop who received a multi-million-euro investment, Physee for winning the KvK Innovation Top 100, and Somnox whose sleep robot is available for sale at Harrods in London. We also stood still by all the startups who outgrew our building, and the new startups who joined.

YES!Delft Awards

In addition, we awarded five of our startups with their hard work in 2019.

The Rookie of the Year Award went to SLAM ortho, because of their commitment and dedication during the Validation Lab, and the remarkable increase of the quality of their company.

The Rising Star Award was handed over to Urbandine, for the commitment to their idea and excellent entrepreneurial skills. We need to keep an eye on this startup in 2020.

The Scaleup of the Year 2019 was without a doubt Nowi. This startup is one of the most successful enterprises within our ecosystem, and they won one of the biggest rounds of investments in the history of YES!Delft.

The award for Best Promo Campaign went to Envision, because this startup went out in the market, talked with their users and understood their needs. They created a targeted campaign that lead this startup to get 15.000 members and 6.000 paying customers.

Out of the 36 hosted Vrijmibo’s there was only one winner, who won the Vrijmibo Party Planner Award because they put together not only an awesome themed party with themed drinks, but also a super creative game that made the whole incubator get to know each other better. The winner was aQysta.

Thank YOU!

And to top this all of, our President of Innovations Wouter tried to break the Guinness Book of World Record for the amount of champagne bottles sabered in one minute.

Thank YOU for being part of our journey, and creating an ecosystem to be proud of! Cheers to everything that will come in the coming years! And would you like to rewatch the recap video we showed during the New Years Drinks? Just press play:

 

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YES!Delft | Vrijdag 31 januari 2020 | © Verkijk.nl

[CLOSED] Vacancy: Community Manager Delft

ARE YOU READY TO BUILD TOMORROW’S LEADING FIRMS? YES!Delft is hiring a Community Manager Delft!

YES!Delft – Building Tomorrow’s Leading Firms

YES!Delft is the start-up incubator that supports entrepreneurs in building and growing technology companies in the Netherlands. Over the last 14 years YES!Delft has become one of the leading incubators in the world! YES!Delft offers guidance and support to graduates, scientists, engineers and professionals in their start-up journey. Our services turn promising technology ideas into solid start-ups and help them grow into successful companies. Entrepreneurs get access to mentors, experts, investors and corporate partners who share their know-how and experience. Basically we train entrepreneurs and connect them to the world!

 

What are we looking for? 

You love to talk to many people with different backgrounds and expertises. You know how to connect entrepreneurs with the right people in the ecosystem and tip the startups for the right events, challenges and trademissions. You get energized by organising community events and strive to make this incubator a vibrant and unique location for startups to grow. You can handle many emails a day, have coffee with entrepreneurs & mentors, and don’t mind having flexible working hours. Are you that central point of contact that people can build on? Apply now for this diverse and unique job as community manager Delft at YES!Delft.

 

Competences:
  • A networker, you are able to make fast connections and introductions;
  • A true multitasker;
  • You are solution-oriented and proactive;
  • You have experience building communities (in non profit environments);
  • You know how to organize large events & build communities;
  • Work structured, organized and well-planned;
  • A love for technology & startups and the possible impact of those on society.
 
Job requirements:
  • You have a completed HBO education (for example in the direction of event management, facility management or community) or have obtained this level through work experience;
  • In addition, you have at least two to five years of relevant work experience;
  • Proficient in both spoken and written Dutch and English.

 

We offer you:

A world-class incubator: an inspiring startup environment where you have the opportunity to develop your network and where you can implement your ideas and improve programs wherever you see fit. You will work with a driven and ambitious team that goes above and beyond to support startups and builds a thriving ecosystem: day in, day out.  YES!Delft offers a truly unique opportunity to contribute, learn and grow in the world of tech entrepreneurship.

 

More information and application procedure:

We look forward to your application. Please send your CV and motivation letter  to: iris@yesdelft.nl to the attention of Iris Visser before Februari 17, 2020. For questions feel free to contact iris@yesdelft.nl or call 0611302236.

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