BBBLS: The company that uses soap bubbles to make horticulture more sustainable

“The Dutch horticulture industry emits five million tons of CO2 every year and we’d be able to cut out about four million tons of that. That’s the impact we can make.” 

As co-founder and managing director of BBBLS, Anton Paardekooper knows what it takes to be a small company with a big mission. He and his team have developed an innovative technology, based on soap bubbles, that provides extra insulation for buildings. Their current focus is on greenhouses, helping their owners decrease energy emissions. 

“The world’s population is growing, and we need to start eating food that is healthy and has an ever-smaller CO2 footprint. We need to start growing climate-neutral fruits and vegetables.” 

Using soap bubbles for better insulation

The concept that BBBLS is built on is not necessarily a new one, but until less than 10 years ago, it was not used even on a semi-industrial scale, Anton says.

“If, between two surfaces, you have air that doesn’t move, you can use it as insulation. The same goes for soap bubbles,” he explains. “In any building with a double wall you can put bubbles. They serve as insulation and help decrease energy loss.” 

Yet, soap bubbles can also have another function. While in the winter, they help keep the warmth in, in the summer when there is a lot of sunlight, they help control how much of it goes through a glass surface. This is particularly useful in greenhouses where climate control and the right amount of light are key. 

Anton and his team have chosen horticulture companies and greenhouses as their main market for a reason: they can help them become more sustainable. About 30% of the expenses of a greenhouse are for energy, he says, and better insulation can really make a difference. 

Learning to build energy-saving greenhouses

Anton joined the company in 2014 and is one of four co-founders. For a few years, they used grants, their own financial resources and first revenues to keep the company running. Their first project was with ReKlima in Norway, who is one of the early adopters of the BBBLS technology. 

“Norway is a bit more advanced in terms of sustainable innovations,” Anton says, “but we are happy to be seeing more of that in other places, including in the Netherlands, now as well.” 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that their prototype greenhouse is in Norway, and it is operating for a third season in a row. “At the moment, we are able to build small greenhouses up to one hectare and it takes us about eight months to have one of those up and running.” In June, the team closed a deal with one of the early adopters in Dutch horticulture to build a large demonstration greenhouse and will be sharing more details in the near future.

For all the projects, BBBLS works with a number of long-term partners responsible for different scopes of the work, including its construction or the climate control it requires. The automation of the BBBLS technology is something the team does almost entirely on their own. 

To date, the company has enjoyed the support of a number of organizations, too, of which YES!Delft has played an important role. “The main benefit of joining YES!Delft has been the access to talent,” Anton says. “We have been able to hire new employees and trainees that have come through their network. When it comes to fundraising, we have also learned a lot, especially in our sparring sessions with Jan Geert van Hall, their Investment Director. Just recently we were awarded a donation from the Rabobank Innovation Fund, solid proof of Rabobank’s “growing a better world together.” 

Over the past years, BBBLS has raised 1.3 million euros and is looking towards a Series A round of 1.0 million euros in the near future. “We are looking for funding both in the Netherlands and abroad, but our experience so far is that it is good to be close to your investors. We are looking for smart money so a good match and proximity to each other would be crucial.”

A successful next round of investment would also mean growing the team and scaling their production processes and technology. There are certainly big plans ahead of the team and they seem to be ready for that next step.

Check out the open vacancy from the YES!Delft startups, and be the next talent to join their team!

Check out the YES!Talents jobs page

VideowindoW: smart technology that transforms windows into screens

The number of buildings and public spaces in cities is increasing, demanding from them to be more sustainable and to create a pleasant environment for the people who use them. Glass buildings and their facades, in particular, pose plenty of opportunities to make our surroundings more appealing. Remco Veenbrink, founder of innovative company VideowindoW – part of the YES!Delft community, saw the potential and made it his mission to turn any glass surface into an amazing video experience. 

‘It all started as an artistic endeavor’ 

The initial idea of VideowindoW was born when Remco passed through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol several years ago. “I walked through the traverse to the parking lot, which has glass-tiled walls. I wondered whether these could work like pixels in a screen, which was the first time I imagined what ultimately became VideowindoW,” he says.

While this may have been just an idea to someone else, for Remco it was all it took to embrace it and turn it into a successful company. As a commercial film director himself and with a background in advertising, he was well equipped to take on this project. And being as determined as he is, he didn’t waste time thinking about it.

Remco started work on a proof of principle, which resulted in 10x10cm liquid crystal mono-cells – or in other words pixels in a transparent screen. He quickly created a render of what he had in mind and went to Schiphol Media to present his idea: a transparent video screen to be used as a branding opportunity and experience for the passengers.

Schiphol Media liked the added experience and branding tool potential, but it needed to make more commercial sense. The resolution basically had to increase to use VideowindoW as a digital signage tool. This first customer validation encouraged Remco to continue developing VideowindoW as a transparent media platform. 

He asked Mark Oudenhoven, a long-time friend with a background in finance, to help further analyze the market potential and develop a business model.

‘Media platform becomes fun, profitable and sustainable glare control’ 

Their business plan soon led to government funding, after which Remco and Mark quit their jobs to officially found VideowindoW.   

They first developed a proof of concept to be able to showcase their solution to potential customers. This led to an innovation partnership with Rotterdam The Hague Airport and in September 2019, they installed a 25m2 VideowindoW in the terminal. The solution contributed to an improved passenger experience and created value for the airport. 

VideowindoW makes a strong case for sustainability, too. “Based on sensors and our algorithm, we constantly adapt the transparency of each individual pixel. Our innovative glare control reduces the need for artificial lighting and results in a more efficient use of climate control. Both help to reduce a building’s carbon footprint up to 30%,” Remco says.

VideowindoW is the first to introduce segmented tintable glass in the industry, and by using pixels it is able to transform an entire glass facade into an integrated media platform.

Besides commercial content, Rotterdam The Hague Airport also leverages VideowindoW by offering it as a platform for cultural and educational content. This generates additional regional support for the airport. For example, museums such as Boijmans van Beuningen and the Kunstmuseum Den Haag show content from their archives to a wider audience. Additionally, Willem de Kooning Academy students create video content for the airport.

Going forward, VideowindoW aims to expand beyond its beachhead market of airports and other public transport hubs, and install its solution in hospitals, offices, libraries and more. The startup wants to increase the sustainability of the build environment with its innovative glare control, while creating memorable video experiences.

Don’t miss out on Startup Stories in the future.


Join the Energy Transition – Shell New Energy Challenge 2019

To support the transition to a low-carbon future, Shell, Rockstart, YES!Delft and Get in the Ring launched the fouurth edition of their signature startup challenge. The New Energy Challenge is designed for European and Israeli startups and scale-ups to tackle the future of energy. Are you ready for a challenge? Deadline for applications is 24th of May!

Clean Tech challenges are myriad, but in essence, Clean Tech is about increasing productivity while decreasing energy use, pollution, the overall impact on the environment and cost. In our tech incubator, we learned from our beginning in 2005 how challenging it is to operate a Clean Tech startup. What it comes down to, is that if a startup wants to have impact on a global scale, they will always encounter large corporates, governments, infrastructure organisations, and more.

The New Energy Challenge is open to young entrepreneurs in Europe and Israel who are developing advanced technologies and disruptive solutions that could be vital to meeting future energy needs worldwide. This is the perfect opportunity to overcome challenges in the roadmap of the CleanTech industry!

“Innovation is key in the energy transition and CleanTech startups play an essential role in transforming the energy business. The Shell New Energy Challenge is a great opportunity for you as a startup to boost your network and collaborate with the industry to create a lasting impact together. You will be able to implement your rapid innovation skills on a global scale and create impact with large industry players. With this program Shell, YES!Delft, Rockstart and Get in the Ring open the doors for you to meet the right people at the right time. This is your chance to make a difference!” – Maureen Gribnau, Innovation Manager, YES!Delft

The winning finalist receives at least €100,000 towards a proof of concept within the Shell GameChanger programme, giving them a quick and cost-effective way to test the technical and commercial viability of their solution.

Last year the New Energy Challenge welcomed 300 applicants from 49 countries. The top ten finalists were invited to Amsterdam. In the aftermovie from last year’s edition, you can hear from the finalists, winners, and runner-ups to inspire you further!


With this program, YES!Delft, Shell & Rockstart open doors to the industry and enable you to meet the right people at the right time. The focus is on startups and scale-ups that offer innovative, low-carbon energy solutions related to the future of mobility, energy management, energy storage, hydrogen, and the retail station of the future.

YES!Delft is involved in Track One, which offers early-stage startups a specially designed Validation Lab. In the intensive program, finalists validate their business plans and exchange ideas with coaches and experts. This is an actual pressure cooker program, a three-day sprint within the Finals Week. The finalists will get access to YES!Delft’s extensive network of coaches and experts, which will help them validate their business proposals, find their product-market fit and prepare to pitch for an expert jury during the Finals Day event.


Apply to the New Energy Challenge

Application deadline: May 24, 2019.

UNIIQ invests in Qlayers

Congratulations to YES!Delft startup QLayers! At the Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag-event 2018, it was announced that investment fund UNIIQ will support the further development of QLayer’s coating print head to the tune of € 300,000.

QLayer’s print head, the Slash100, enables fully the automated and controlled application of paint to large, industrial surfaces, while minimizing paint loss through mist. This makes the Slash100 an efficient and environmentally friendly solution, without compromising the quality of the finished product.

The full press release (in Dutch) can found on the UNIIQ website.

Startup Story: Solar Monkey

The sun is perhaps one of the most consistent and environmentally-friendly sources of energy we have – and with non-renewable energy resources set to decline eventually, it is now the time to embrace technology and make the most out of solar power. Jan Pieter Versluijs and Mels van Hoolwerff had a similar idea, too, when they co-founded Solar Monkey about three years ago. Today, their startup offers software to solar panel installers, which allows them to design solar systems within minutes, and exactly calculate and guarantee the energy output.


The idea for Solar Monkey was born around the time when Mels was graduating from his Master’s in Sustainable Energy Technology – a degree Jan Pieter got as well – where he was working on an algorithm for calculating the exact output of solar panel systems. “It was then that we came to the idea of turning this into a business,” Jan Pieter remembers.

When they looked into the then-existing products on the market, however, Jan Pieter and Mels discovered that many of them had significant flaws. While some of the tools available for calculating energy output involved a lot of modeling, thus being very time-consuming, others did not even have the necessary precision to calculate, let alone guarantee, that output.

“What we wanted to achieve was more security in the solar panel market, so that we shift the paradigm from buying and selling a solar panel system to actually guaranteeing sustainable solar energy output,” Jan Pieter explains.

Today, Solar Monkey’s offering is mainly two-fold: On the one hand, they provide installers with software that makes use of 3D data and already existing aerial images, and allows for the design of solar panel systems remotely and within minutes. On the other hand, the team also offers an output guarantee, which installers can use to (as the name suggests) guarantee the output of their solar panel systems.


With a current team of eleven full-time employees and several interns, Solar Monkey has worked hard to get to where they are now. In the summer of 2015, they were accepted into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program, which seems to have given them a boost of confidence, among many other things.

“YES!Delft has helped us a lot,” says Jan Pieter, emphasizing the ‘a lot’ at the end of the sentence. “What you get there is a tremendous network with other entrepreneurs but also with a lot of businesses. We got a lot of help with legal [and other] advice, and we also got in touch with our investors through YES!Delft.”

Currently, the startup has more than 300 clients of its own and makes between 45.000-55.000 euros in revenues each month. Last year, they also secured a large subsidy for a TKI (Topconsortia voor Kennis en Innovatie) project with a number of partners and are currently raising an investment round of 1.9M to facilitate further growth.


The number-one priority now is to roll out their product even further, until they are able to offer installers a completely automated process for designing solar panel systems. “As soon as we have that,” Jan Pieter explains, “it will have a tremendous value, as installers will be able to design PV systems for whole areas [100.000 buildings or more] within days.” The longer-term goal is to target municipalities and scale up the use of solar energy in the Netherlands.

In terms of growth, Solar Monkey is looking towards increasing revenues and consolidating market share in the Netherlands, whilst continuing growth internationally.

“Currently we are the Dutch market leader in solar software. We are now raising 1.9M to continue our international growth.” It’s like they say: Go big or go home. From the looks of it, team Solar Monkey is focused on the big.


January 2015 – Company founded

January 2016 – Investment from Innovation Quarter and one private investor

March 2016 – STW subsidy secured

August 2015 – Admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program

November 2016 – Subsidy for TKI project secured

December 2017- Became market leader in the Netherlands, serving more than 300 installer clients

September 2018 – International pilot version online


If you want to know more about our programs, you can find more information here. Or contact Emma Kluwen (startup scout) directly via email or phone +31628504045.



Rockstart, YES!Delft, and InnoEnergy join forces to launch EnergyXL

Calling all CleanTech and Smart Energy-focused startups! Together with two other top-rated startup incubation and acceleration programs in the Netherlands, we’re announcing a joint initiative that will allow startups to apply for all three programs at the same time and receive tailor-made funding and support.


Rockstart, YES!Delft, and InnoEnergy will have a joined application and selection process for their CleanTech startup programs in 2018.


“We are on a mission to get the best startups in Smart Energy and CleanTech to join one of the strongest acceleration ecosystems in Europe,” said Evert Jaap Lugt, managing director at YES!Delft. “We’re looking for ambitious entrepreneurs in the fields of energy transition and sustainability.”

The three programs that comprise EnergyXL cater for startups on different growth stages that have sustainability and clean technologies at their core. The main goal of the initiative, first of its kind in the Netherlands, is to provide more value for the best teams working in the energy sector by matching their needs with the respective partner offerings.

“We’ve been running our Smart Energy program since 2015,” said Freerk Bisschop, Smart Energy program director at Rockstart. “Every year, we receive a number of applications from very promising startups, for which the time isn’t right to join our program. EnergyXL is there to solve this mismatch and make sure each team gets the support, guidance, and empowerment they require.”

CleanTech and Smart Energy startups interested in participating can apply until May 3 for any of the programs offered by EnergyXL, but also for all of them at once. Rockstart, InnoEnergy, and YES!Delft will review the applications individually. Every partner will create their invitation shortlist in alignment with the others, after which the best startups will be invited for the Selection Days.

During the Selection Days in late May every partner will choose the startups they want to get in their programs. If there is an overlap, the selected startups will receive combined offers from all interested partners.

Click here for more information on EnergyXL


The partners

Rockstart Smart Energy
runs a proven, high-intensity 180-day accelerator and extended scaling program for seed-stage energy startups using data and digital technologies as a driver or enabler. We help you build, validate and scale your business, find the best product/market fit to grow internationally and get you 100% ready for funding. We help you better understand product design, market fit and business models by enabling you to directly work with relevant suppliers, users, customers, professionals and other stakeholders in the energy sector.

is a trusted partner and smart investor for your innovation journey throughout the energy sector. We boost the success rate of start-ups and power the growth of SME, by opening the door to a trusted ecosystem of key energy players. We tailor our services to suit your needs, and because we’re energy specialists we understand what those needs are. Our uniquely collaborative approach help shorten time to market, mitigate risks, and multiply the value of new technologies. Energy challenges are global and to solve them we need global solutions. Our international perspective is matched by international infrastructure to help your business have global impact and contribute to a more sustainable world.

YES!Delft acceleration program
prepares you to bring your innovative technology to market as soon as possible in your field of business. We run an intensive 3-months program to prepare your tech startup for a launching customer and/or investment. Different workshops, assessments, support & coaching help you to design your pilot product, set up your legal entity, form an entrepreneurial dream team, develop your market and sales funnel and get investment ready.


The masters of airborne wind energy

Wind is all around us and leveraging it as a clean energy source has become increasingly wide-spread in recent years. Especially in a country like the Netherlands, wind turbines are a major part of the landscape. Yet, what if there was another – both innovative and cost-effective – means of generating wind power? Actually, there is. German-born Johannes Peschel, co-founder of Kitepower, and his team have developed a system that uses high-performance kites to leverage the energy of the wind and generate electricity.

For Johannes, laying the foundation of Kitepower was a logical step in both his personal and professional life. “I love kites,” he says. “I love them so much that I decided to make them my profession.”

As a passionate kite surfer himself, Johannes has always been interested in the power of the wind. After he found out that an idea he had – using a kite to generate electricity – was already being researched at TU Delft’s faculty of aerospace engineering, he didn’t waste time moving to the Netherlands.

While the concept of kite power was first researched by Wubbo Ockels, best known as the first Dutch astronaut in space, it is now being carried out by academics at the university as well as Johannes and his team. The Kitepower system came about largely as a result of this research.

As for the system itself, it is certainly an invention of a kind. Johannes points out that it’s compact in size and easy to install and maintain. “We have a generator on the ground, a kite in the air and a kite control unit that controls the kite. The airborne part has a line connected to the generator on the ground,” he explains. “The kite flies in a pattern of eight and pulls out the line, which, in turn, rotates the drum in the ground station and generates electricity.”

Among the advantages of Kitepower’s system is the fact that it uses a lot less material while being twice as efficient as existing technology, Johannes says. What’s more, it is able to leverage high-altitude winds, which are often much stronger and more persistent than the winds closer to the ground.

And these advantages have not gone unnoticed. Today, the team is part of YES!Delft’s Incubation Program, after successfully rounding up the LaunchLab and winning its audience vote.

“The programs at YES!Delft have given us access to a wide network of contacts and to a wide variety of knowledge and expertise from the master classes,” Johannes says. In fact, in the one year (and a few months) since the official company launch, the current core team of five has been able to secure two launching customers and a rather sizable grant of 3.7 million euros.

As a result, the future looks bright for Kitepower. The grant they received was part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative and is going to keep them warm until the end of 2019. The team was last year’s winner of the Dutch Defense Competition 2016, adding another 200,000 euros to their finances.

With these resources, they are developing their system for the commercial market and expect to have it ready for pre-sales in early 2018, and for delivery – at the end of the same year. They now work with the Dutch military to finish the technical details of the product, as well as more locally with projects like the ICOON Afsluitdijk.

“The system is for use in remote locations, where diesel is currently in place,” Johannes says. “We sell this as an add-on to reduce the diesel consumption.”

At the end of the day, their vision is quite ambitious: “We want to make renewable energy affordable for everyone, and when it comes to wind, I believe this is only possible with kite power and airborne wind,” Johannes says passionately. From the looks of it, he and his team know exactly how to get to those heights.

December 2015 – Secured grant of 3.7 million euros
March 2016 – Company founded
September 2016 – Validated business model with two major Diesel generator rental companies: Agrekko and Bredenoord.
November 2016 – Winners of the Dutch Defense Competition 2016
End of 2016 – Sucessfully finished Phase 1 of the Icoon Afsluitdijk project together with Studio Roosegaarde and Rijkswaterstaat
February 2017 – Admission into YES!Delft’s Incubation Program


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.


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


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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