Startup Story: IMSystems

Machines and, in particular, robots are increasingly aiding – if not even substituting – people with their work. Yet, those machines often lack the strength and precision necessary to create real impact. Or at least that was the case until IMSystems came around.

Led by scientist Jack Schorsch, a team of four Co-Founders – including Matthew Corvers, Thibaud Verschoor and Rory Deen – are working on the Archimedes Drive, an invention in mechanical power transmission that can make any electrical engine simultaneously stronger, more precise and more efficient than anything currently on the market.

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA

The idea behind the Archimedes Drive had been evolving in Jack’s mind for years, during which he did research in the fields of prosthetics and exoskeleton design. In his work, he often faced the challenge of making those wearables small, lightweight and easy to use.

The Archimedes drive is a compact gearbox that uses traction instead of gear teeth, allowing it to make electrical engines – and the machines they power – lighter, more precise, stronger and faster than ever before.

“We took part in a course [aimed at] turning technology into a business,” Matthew recalls, where they were given a patent by a TU Delft researcher, without knowing the exact application of the invention. “We had to brainstorm it ourselves, because inventions can often be used for much more than their original application.”

A few brief months later, Jack’s Archimedes drive had proven to have a market fit, and so the team set out to launch IMSystems.

THROUGH YES!DELFT

IMSystems’ product is the first drive to use friction instead of gear teeth as a means of powering electrical engines – and it seems to come with a list of advantages. “We can get to about half the size and a quarter of the weight [of our competitors’ drives],” Matthew explains. “What’s more, we are not limited by the gear ratios and how strong we can make an electrical engine.”

With multiple subsidies and a loan already secured, IMSystems has been able to develop its first metal prototype with a gear ratio of 10.000:1, which is about 25 times more than what most drives on the market can currently achieve. A relieve for robotic companies that are waiting for decades for this kind of precision. Other than this great achievement, IMSystems developed transmissions for multiple pilot projects. E-Bikes, prosthetics and robotics are one of the few we have designed and tested so far.

The team’s progress so far, however, hasn’t been without the help of YES!Delft and their Incubation Program, which Matthew describes as fantastic. “You’re here with about 80 other companies; there are always people who have been at the point where you are, so you can just walk up to their office and discuss how they did things. Having this network is very useful.”

In 2018, IMSystems did get the opportunity to move to the incubator of RoboValley. At this point, IMSystems has a team of 12 fte and expect to grow to over 20 fte by the end of this year using the Series-A investment they are currently working on.

Apply to the Complex Tech Validation Lab

NEXT STEPS

From this point on, IMSystems is looking forward to growing. They have already signed with multiple clients, and are working towards adding more to their portfolio. Focussing mainly on robotics. Expanding the team is, thus, certainly among their next steps if they want to be able to deliver timely and quality results. By the beginning of 2020, IMSystems wants to deliver their first of the shelf R&D products to different clients. A great possibility for companies who want to try out this latest technology for reduced costs.

One thing is for certain: We will sure be hearing more from IMSystems in the future.

Milestones:

January 2015 – The team came together for the Master’s course (turning technology into a business)

February 2016 – Admission to YES!Delft’s Incubation Program

June 2016 – Founded company

August 2016 – First client signed

Q1 2017 – Pilot projects prosthetic elbow and an E-bike

September 2017 – Technical milestone: Archimede Drive had 10 million input cycles

Q1 and Q2 2018 –  € 300,000 UNIIQ investment. Pilot project with industrial robot giant started and moved to RoboValley

Q3 and Q4 2018 – € 600,000,- Lucros and Innovation Quarter investment. Pilot project with second robotic tech giant started

Q2 2019 – Launch of our first Archimedes Drive development kit

Q3 2019 – Series-A investment

Apply to the Accelerator Program

Mars lander with a local touch

You hardly could have missed it – last night the NASA InSight lander touched down on the surface of Mars. We are especially excited, as YES!Delft startup T-Minus Engineering has been involved with the mission.

InSight’s objective is to study the ‘inner space’ on Mars. More precisely, to gain an understanding of the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets and determine the planet’s tectonic activity.

Since 2013, T-Minus Engineering has been part of the project as a subcontractor of DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt). They were specifically involved with the HP3 payload, which is central to the mission’s objective. The payload consists of a mechanical “Mole” that can penetrate the surface up to 5 meters.

T-Minus Engineering was involved via DLR Bremen in the Assembly Integration and Testing (AIT) work on prototypes, proto-flight and flight models of the Mole. Moreover, they worked on the development- and qualification testing activities, in terms of test design, preparation, execution, and reporting.

 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Shape the future of retail

Exciting news! Ahold Delhaize announced today that it is partnering with the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), RoboValley and YES!Delft for the first expansion of its AI for Retail (AIR)Lab. This industry-academic collaboration set up to conduct research into artificial intelligence and algorithms and developing state-of-the-art innovations for the retail industry.

Utilizing our 13 years of expertise and experience as a technology incubator, YES!Delft will scout the best and brightest students, startups and partners to take on the Ahold Delhaize’s business challenges. Through the unique YES!Delft Validation Lab program, cutting-edge ideas and innovations will be put to the test for full commercial validation and made market ready. Practical testing of the prototypes and robotic solutions will take place at the brand new test site constructed by Ahold Delhaize and the TU Delft, which will start operations in early 2019. The partnership helps pave the way for new corporate venture opportunities for YES!Delft startups with Ahold Delhaize and brands in the Netherlands and the rest of the world.

Evert Jaap Lugt, managing director at YES!Delft, stated: “We aim to create the best possible conditions for success, and this partnership will be an exciting and extraordinary opportunity and challenge for startups. The potential impact is enormous.”

ABOUT AIRLAB

 

AIRLab is part of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence, an open research platform that unites universities and businesses and serves as an engine for AI talent in the Netherlands. In AIRLab’s research center in Amsterdam, scientists conduct research into responsible algorithms that can be used to make recommendations to consumers, and into transparent AI technology for managing goods flows, for example by improving availability by taking into account local weather conditions. The research is taking place at Albert Heijn and bol.com, brands of Ahold Delhaize and can be applied in other brands in the U.S. and Europe.

Frans Muller, President & CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said: “The rapid advancements in AI and robotics provide us with significant opportunities to make everyday shopping an even easier experience for our customers – not only in our stores and warehouses but also in domains like last-mile delivery and in our interactions with customers. Working together with academic partners such as TU Delft will enable Ahold Delhaize and AIRLab to shape a technology-driven world in a responsible way. It helps us become a frontrunner in AI research and development and ultimately build capabilities that are scalable for the group.”

YES!Delft at Slush 2017

Our Startup Scout, Emma Kluwen, attended Slush in Helsinki.

Read her experience here!

“Together with the YES!Delft student board, I represented YES!Delft at Slush Helsinki. With an amazing light and sound show, the first keynote of Slush 2017 in Helsinki was given by Al Gore. He talked about the great contributions of all the tech start-ups at the event to the world’s sustainability. After the opening, the 20.000 attendees moved towards the different stages of the venue (start-up square, founders stage etc.) where the event could begin. A dynamic mix of founders pitching their ideas, investors showing interest in start-ups and people exchanging business cards.

The main purpose to join Slush for me was to find out where the Robotic Hubs are based in Europe. YES!Delft and RoboValley are going to start the first European Robotics Accelerator in May 2018. I talked to a lot of different people about this topic and went home with some valuable feedback.

At Slush, you also have the possibility to book meeting places for 30 minutes. A great way to escape the hectic Slush floor and have intakes with potential candidates, which I did.

Slush is the perfect place to get inspired, connect and build your start-up further.”

FD article featuring YES!Delft’s presence at Slush 2017, including the interview with Emma.

Are you interested in learning more about our new Robotics Accelerator? Get in touch with Emma Kluwen, our Startup Scout, for more information about the program and the selection procedure.

E-trailer

The SMART, electrical caravan providing you with real-time information

Whereas 10 years back towing a caravan wasn’t much of a hassle, things are quite different today. Cars are smaller, lighter, and more sustainable than ever before. Great news, without a doubt, except for the fact that many of them are unable to tow a proper caravan.

To solve that problem, the team behind E-Trailer is on a mission: to create an electrical caravan that helps the car in pulling it. On the road to making that a reality, they have found ways to roll out other innovative solutions, too.

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
Founders Boy Trip and Rick Lenssen met over a year ago to find out that they had very similar entrepreneurial ambitions: “We both wanted to start a company, and we both had the same vision,” Boy remembers. While he had been gaining business experience as part of YES!Delft’s students board, among others, Rick was working on his (electrical) engineering skills as a member of the Nuon Solar Team. When they put their heads together, they saw the appeal of assisting cars and their owners by developing an electrically propelled caravan.

A course on the basics of starting up helped them identify a potential target market and develop a business plan. Yet, that was only the beginning. The duo soon found out that developing the technology, and even more so implementing, is nothing short of a challenge. “Developing an electric trailer is very difficult and comes with certain restraints. According to the law, a caravan is a towed, non-propelled vehicle. We need to create a new regulation to get the electrically propelled trailer road legal. This will take a while, so building a full-fledged electric trailer is a goal of the distant future.”

THROUGH YES!DELFT
In the meantime Boy, Rick and their team have channelled their energy towards developing individual components of the potential electric trailer into marketable products.

They already have a working prototype of, what they call, the SMART Trailer – a system that connects the users’ smartphone or tablet to their caravan and provides real-time information about the condition of the caravan, including levelling, tyre pressure and brake temperature. To date, they have pre-sold 550 pieces of the system, and are planning to start delivering them in March 2017.

Coming this far in the little time since founding their company in November 2015, hasn’t been without the help of YES!Delft, they say. “The main reason we joined the incubator is because of its coaching program: you get a coach who is experienced in starting companies and [all things] entrepreneurial”. The knowledge that they can derive from the program is, thus, considered invaluable. In addition, Boy emphasizes the benefit of working alongside other entrepreneurs as they can all learn from each other’s mistakes and successes.

NEXT STEPS
In the months to come, the team of E-Trailer has a lot to look forward to. Their number one priority is to deliver the 550 presold pieces of the SMART Trailer system: “It’s the biggest thing we’re working on.” In addition, they have also finalized a proof of concept for their E-Brake product, which will aim to replace the mechanical braking systems of caravans, bringing advantages such as shorter braking distance and reduced swaying motion, among others. And last but certainly not least, E-Trailer will be seeking new funding opportunities to add to their existing portfolio of subsidies and awards.

From the looks of it, things are only going to speed up for team E-Trailer in the year to come.

Milestones
November 2015 – Company founded
September 2016
– SMART Trailer proof of concept ready
– Admission to YES!Delft’s Incubation Program
October 2016 – E-Brake proof of concept ready
March 2017 – SMART Trailer prototype ready

Somnox

Why you will be sleeping with a robot soon

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 Somnox.

Imagine a robot that can help you sleep better and wake up more energized. Now, imagine this was a reality. As a matter of fact, it soon will be. Julian Jagtenberg, founder of Somnox, and his team of fellow engineers-turned-entrepreneurs have developed a soft robotic that makes sure users end each day with a good night’s sleep.

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

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
It all started in September 2015 when Julian and his co-founders, Job Engel, Stijn Antonisse and Wouter Kooyman van Guldener, got together to work on a class project with the goal to develop a robot: “We wanted to create a soft robotic – not the archetype robot that you would expect but one that would be cute and caring… We knew we wanted to build a robot that actually matters.”

The team started out by identifying the problem they could tackle, and after talking to people around them, including relatives, they came to realize that insomnia was the issue to focus on. “We’re all engineers, we’re kind of geeky, and since there was no proper solution out there, we decided to create a robot that can help people fall asleep and solve their insomnia problems,” Julian explains.

After considering their own experiences and reading up on pages and pages of academic literature, the team came to the conclusion that a slow and steady breathing rhythm is the key to people feeling peaceful at night. The main feature of their robot, thus, became its ability to register users’ breathing patterns and help them regulate those for a good night’s sleep.

THROUGH EIT HEALTH’S LAUNCHLAB
For Julian and his teammates, developing the robot was initially just course work within the Robotics Institute of the TU Delft. They were unaware of their idea’s business potential until, after presenting their prototype at an open university event, they were featured in a local newspaper as one of the highlights of the day. “After that newspaper, a lot of other newspapers, even radio and TV, started talking about us.”

The coverage resulted in tens of emails from potential users who wanted to test the Somnox robot. It was this “surprising validation”, as Julian calls it, that encouraged the team of four to take some time off after finishing their Bachelors studies in the summer of 2016, and focus full time on starting a business.

They joined EIT Health’s LaunchLab, a program created by YES!Delft and EIT Health, where they spent several months developing their product and exploring the European market. “The EIT Health LaunchLab helped us transition from being engineers to being engineers and entrepreneurs at the same time,” Julian recalls.

They also got to meet relevant stakeholders from around Europe and see that there really was a market for their offering. “We got to speak to sleep disorder experts, [among others], and were able to define our customer base, value proposition and business model,” Julian says.

TO A GROWING COMPANY
Since the LaunchLab, a lot has changed for Somnox. To start with, they are now a team of 12, including interns, graduates, part-timers and, of course, the original four co-founders. And the increase in manpower is certainly showing results.

Today, they have an official partnership with Dutch company Auping, which produces circular mattresses and beds of the highest quality, and in doing so, sells comfort and a good night’s sleep to its customers. Without a doubt, a perfect match for Somnox.

In addition, a 50.000-euro financing round from Rabobank’s Innovation Fund has supported the team in making iterations to their original prototypes and produce more for potential customers. In the past months, they have conducted tests with over 25 people, and especially for those with a stressful day-to-day, the Somnox robot has helped decrease their anxiety levels at night.

As a result, Julian and his team are planning a Kickstarter campaign for the end of the year, by which time they expect to have their manufacturing and distribution processes all set up. The goal for the first half of 2018 is 2,000 Somnox robots sold, which is both ambitious and sure to keep them busy.

As long as they get a good night’s sleep, though, staying busy should not really be a problem.

MILESTONES
February 2016 – First working prototype ready
June 2016 – Team decides to commit full-time to developing Somnox
July 2016 – Admission to EIT Health LaunchLab and YES!Delft
October 2016 – Admission to Incubation Program of YES!Delft
February 2017 – Launched partnership with mattress producer Auping

IMSystems

Revolutionizing the robotics industry

Machines and in particular robots are increasingly aiding – if not even substituting – people with their work. Yet, those machines often lack the strength and precision necessary to create real impact. Or at least that was the case until IMSystems came around.

Led by scientist Jack Schorsch, a team of four – including Matthew Corvers, Thibaud Verschoor and Rory Deen – are working on the Archimedes drive: an invention in mechanical power transmission that can make any electrical engine simultaneously stronger, more precise and more efficient than anything currently on the market.

FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
The idea behind the Archimedes drive had been evolving in Jack’s mind for years, during which he did research in the fields of prosthetics and exoskeleton design. In his work, he often faced the challenge of making those wearables small, lightweight and easy to use.

The Archimedes drive is a compact gearbox that uses friction instead of gear teeth, allowing it to make electrical engines – and the machines they power – lighter, stronger and faster than ever before. Yet, it wasn’t until Matthew and a team of fellow TU Delft students took part in a Master’s course, that Jack’s invention came on the radar as a business case.

“We took part in a course aimed at turning technology into a business,” Matthew recalls, where they were given a patent by a TU Delft researcher, without knowing the exact application of the invention. “We had to brainstorm it ourselves, because inventions can often be used for much more than their original application.”

A few brief months later, Jack’s Archimedes drive had proven to have a market fit, and so the team set out to launch IMSystems.

THROUGH YES!DELFT
IMSystems’ product is the first drive to use friction instead of gear teeth as a means of powering electrical engines – and it seems to come with a list of advantages. “We can get to about half the size and a quarter of the weight of our competitors’ drives,” Matthew explains. “What’s more, we are not limited by the gear ratios and how strong we can make an electrical engine.”

With multiple subsidies and a loan already secured, IMSystems has been able to develop their first metal prototype with a gear ratio of 500:1, which is about three times more than what most drives on the market can currently achieve.

The team’s progress, they say, hasn’t been without the help of YES!Delft and the Incubation Program, which Matthew describes as fantastic. “You’re here with about 80 other companies; there are always people who have been at the point where you are, so you can just walk up to their office and discuss how they did things. Having this network is very useful.”

NEXT STEPS
From this point on, IMSystems is looking forward to growing. They have already signed their first two clients, and are working towards adding more to their portfolio. Expanding the team is, thus, certainly among their next steps to be able to deliver timely and quality results.

One thing is for certain: We will sure be hearing more from IMSystems in the future.

Milestones:
January 2015 – The team came together for the Master’s course (turning technology into a business)
February 2016 – Admission to YES!Delft’s Incubation Program
June 2016 – Founded company
August 2016 – First client signed

HARDT

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.

FROM AN INSPIRING IDEA
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.

THROUGH THE HYPERLOOP COMPETITION AND YES!DELFT
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.”

TOWARDS NEW HEIGHTS

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.

Milestones
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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