TECHNOLOGIES LINKED TO THE ENVIRONMENT, CYBERSECURITY AND INCLUSION ARE KNOW HUB IGNITION WINNERS
Know Hub Chile and University of California Riverside second-generation support programme for technology-based startups had 14 participating teams. Four were the winners (two of them led by women): MOV from the University of Talca, GCKey, from Andrés Bello University, Photio from Fractal startup and EcoFuels.
After a 15-week hard work period, four technology-based startups were the winners of Know Hub Ignition 2nd generation, programme led by Know Hub Chile and University of California Riverside (UC Riveside), which seeks to support the creation, maturity and internationalization of this kind of startups.
The winners were Fractal, with their Photio technology, nanotechnology paint additive which promotes the degradation of polluting gases; MOV, sonar field sensory band for blind people; GCKey, technology combining cybersecurity and DNA, thus creating a complex physical barrier outside hackers’ domain; and EcoFuels, portable equipment turning plastic waste into fuel.
During the award ceremony, Head of Technological Capabilities at Corfo Fernando Hentzschel, remarked “the winners relevance, highly connected with current issues related to people and the environment”. And added: “These are the first fruits of this long-term public policy, of a very high impact, though. Technology-based startups are undoubtedly the ones in charge of transforming our Economy”.
The four winning teams are travelling to a one-week immersion in California, when the health emergency allows it. Besides, they will start a work plan with Know Hub Chile to support them on their arrival to the market. In fact, this is what is going on with surface and food disinfectant Dacetix, one of the winners of 2019 Know Hub Ignition. Know Hub managed an agreement with Excell Chile, a cleaning products company, which will start commercializing this eco-friendly disinfectant within the next few months. Meanwhile, another 2019 winner will be incubated in California: PriMe Technologies startup, which prints drugs, such as insulin, in easy-to-administer oral platforms, making it possible to eliminate injections.
“We are deeply grateful for the amazing response we have had from participating teams; the progress shown throughout the programme fills us with pride and reinforces us to go on collaborating with the ecosystem to transform science into innovation”, commented Know Hub Chile Executive Director, Javier Ramírez.
Know Hub Ignition 2nd Generation was composed of 54 entrepreneurs organized in 14 teams, six of them led by women (two of them among the winners) and one coming from Colombia. The 15-week work was divided into two phases.
First phase involved five weeks of levelling (an initiative incorporated this year), focused on providing basic knowledge on management and technology valorization, team generation and intellectual property.
During the second ten-week phase, two processes were carried out in parallel. On one hand, the company setup, which allowed to materialize key issues for the development of any technology-based startup: corporate and tax legal structure, team formation and Intellectual Property strategy.
On the other hand, the teams had weekly lessons on UC Riverside entrepreneurship programme based on iCorps (created by the National Science Foundation, NSF, from the USA). This programme focuses on the customer discovery for technology and its value proposal, in order to determine the business model that the startup will have.
“UC Riverside entrepreneurship programme is highly rigorous. There were 216 class hours, mentoring and coaching. While the entrepreneurs performed at least a thousand working hours, including more than 300 interviews to potential customers from 13 countries. This involves great commitment from everyone, even more in the middle of a pandemic”, concluded Rosibel Ochoa, Associate Vice Chancellor of Technology Partnerships at University of California Riverside, and leader of this programme.
The whole Know Hub Ignition process was taken forward by the teams with permanent support of four Know Hub Chile experts. Besides, they met weekly with their national and international mentors, experts in UC Riverside entrepreneurship programme, who shared their knowledge and contact networks. Altogether, Know Hub Ignition had 11 national mentors and 13 international experts.
“Some years ago, we expected to have had more demand from existing companies for innovation, scientific knowledge and technological development. But there hasn’t been that much as we would have liked. That raises the opportunity that perhaps the way to technology-based startup is that Chile must provide a much stronger support on the way to become that economy based on knowledge we are aiming at”, commented Benjamín Maturana, Head of Department of Public Policies at the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation.
The winner’s election was based on three ratings of equal weight: final pitch before a panel of experts, levelling and company setup, and UC Riverside entrepreneurship programme.
About the winners
Photio, from Fractal startup
Nanotechnology paint additive promoting degradation of polluting gases through a photochemical process triggered by solar radiation. “What we do is to transform house or building walls into air purifiers four times more efficient than the natural photosynthesis process”, explains team leader Matias Moya.
And then he adds, “Throughout Know Hub Ignition we have learned a great deal. For instance, we learned how to overcome fear and approach customers to carry out interviews. Thanks to that, we succeeded in building up four pilots with companies which will be able to validate Photio in their products”.
MOV Design- University of Talca
Sonar field sensory band for spatial orientation of the visually impaired. The technology works through ultrasonic sensors which perform a space mapping to locate objects and other events. This information reaches a microcontroller that responds generating vibrations in a proportional way: the nearer the object, the longer the vibration perceived by the users in their heads.
“Thanks to Know Hub Ignition, we realized our technology has a very powerful social impact which can improve life quality. Given the fact that MOV leaves the use of hands free, unlike canes, it’s really important for visually impaired people to be able to hug and develop haptic abilities (related to touch)”, states Silvana Herrera, MOV Design Director and University of Talca academic.
GCKey – Andrés Bello University
As well as the encryption codes used in cybersecurity to protect data, living beings also possess a code with encrypted instructions: DNA. GCKey is a technology combining these two worlds, cybersecurity and DNA, to create a complex physical barrier outside hackers’ domain.
“We have evolved a lot thanks to Know Hub Ignition, our ideas are very different from where we started. We got to understand that our customers were not inside a laboratory. We also learned about investors, market and ecosystem, about the value of intellectual property and clearly, that ideas do not sell themselves”, remarks María Cecilia Opazo, GCKey CEO and Andrés Bello University academic.
EcoFuels is a portable equipment which transforms plastic waste into fuel. Its purpose is increasing recycling capacity (by using separate or mixed plastics, clean or dirty), without leaving water footprint, as it doesn’t use water (recycling a kilo of plastic requires 5,3 litres of water on average). EcoFuels is focused on reducing the costs of institutions which must comply with the Law of the Producer’s Extended Responsibility and Recycling Promotion of 2016.
“We are trying to bring Academy to real life, and what encourages us the most is to try to change the current really negative perspective related to plastic waste”, comments Ariel Crespo, EcoFuels CEO. And he adds, “The most essential thing we learned at Know Hub Ignition was probably one of the most difficult tasks, which is communicating ideas better, and not to believe that the idea presented is final, that we need to listen to customers”.