Image credit: Arthur P. Kostadinoff

Hello Tomorrow: Announcing the 2017 Global Startup Challenge Winners

Meet 10 deep tech startups poised to change the world.

At Hello Tomorrow, our mission is to accelerate the transfer of breakthrough technologies to impactful solutions on the market. Over the last two days, we have heard from distinguished speakers and startups from 92 different countries, presenting wide-ranging scientific solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems — from mobility and healthcare to energy and the environment.

The Summit culminated Friday night with the crowning of the winners of the Global Startup Challenge: 10 deep-tech startups who demonstrated brilliance in technological innovation and have the potential for high impact in industry and society at large.

The Global Startup Challenge
Since we first introduced the Global Startup Challenge in 2014, our 20 winners have gone on to raise more than $200 million. This year, the Global Startup Challenge received 3,000 applications from deep-tech startups from over 100 countries, which were reviewed by experts in the fields of science and industry and narrowed down to our TOP500 startups. 75 of them were selected as finalists to pitch their ideas for change to an expert panel of scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and industry representatives.

Saathi wins the Global Challenge and the Hello Tomorrow BNP Paribas Grand Prize
BNP Paribas, Worldwide Partner of Hello Tomorrow, awarded the Startup Challenge Grand Prize to Saathi, who also won in the Wellbeing track, powered by L’Oreal, as well as the Impact Award, powered by Sycomore Asset Management. Saathi received €100,000 in award funds.

Saathi founders Kristin Kagetsu and Tarun Bothra at Hello Tomorrow 2017. Image credit: Arthur P. Kostadinoff

Based in India, Saathi is a social enterprise aiming to create hygiene products that are good for the body, environment, and community. Saathi has developed and manufactured biodegradable sanitary pads made from banana fibre, substantially reducing sanitary towel waste. The fibre processing technology converts banana fibre into a soft super-absorbent, without any use of chemicals. They degrade within 6 months of disposal, 1,200 times faster than current plastic pads, which amounts to saving 60 kg of sanitary waste over each woman’s lifetime. Saathi’s sanitary towels are also subsidized to give women on low-income or from disadvantaged communities access to feminine hygiene, which will transform many women’s lives around the globe.

“We are the Worldwide Partner of Hello Tomorrow because we want to support the technology leaders and entrepreneurs at the forefront of innovation,” said Jacques D’Estais, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Head of International Financial Services, BNP Paribas. “We are proud that our Hello Tomorrow BNP Paribas Prize will help the winning entrepreneur solve real-world issues.”

Ampaire win the Aerospace track, powered by Airbus

Ampaire, a startup from the US, develops high performance electric aircraft, aiming to produce an electric passenger aircraft which can fly from Frankfurt to Paris in an hour within the next seven years! The transition to electric aircraft is supported by significant recent progress in battery and motor technologies. Their innovation is in integrating those emerging technologies to meet mission requirements and enhance aircraft capabilities. Doing so will enable drastic reductions in operating costs, maintenance, noise, greenhouse gasses and other emissions. Increased efficiency in propulsion integration makes electric aircrafts clearly superior to traditional aircraft on short routes.

Mycroft.ai win the Data & AI track, powered by Renault & RCI Bank and Services

Mycroft.ai, a startup from US, is developing the world’s first open source AI-powered voice-assistant. Whereas tech giant like Google and Amazon are developing their voice-assistant technology behind closed doors, Mycroft.ai aims to democratize voice control, making AI available for everyone. Mycroft is currently shipping its first stand-alone device — Mark 1, which consists of a speaker, microphone, and a computer. This device gives users access to information and media along with control of their smart home — all with a natural voice interface. By 2020 the Mycroft open-source voice platform will have expanded to smart devices, desktop computers, and the automobile sector.

Dracula Technologies win the Energy Transition track, powered by Air Liquide

Dracula Technologies, a startup from France, is designing tailor-made energy solutions, a printed technology which generates energy from ambient light. It is expected that there will be more than 50 billion connected objects in 2020 meaning we will need increased energy supply to power these devices. To meet this challenge, Dracula Technologies has developed LAYER®, Light As Your Energetic Response, a technology that is based on trapping light in order to convert it into energy. The technology is based on an OPV cell manufacturing technique using digital printing: in the same way that an office printer uses graphic ink to print, Dracula Technologies print LAYER® modules using conductive ink that they formulated themselves.

Skytree win the Environment track

Skytree, a Dutch startup, is helping to make our planet great again by developing CO2 capture technology to create clean air, water, food and energy for your home. As a spinout of the European Space Agency (ESA), the CO2 re-capture process was originally developed to make longer space missions possible by extracting the CO2 exhaled by astronauts onboard of spacecraft. They are now harnessing the same technology to convert harmful CO2 from the air around us into something useful for our planet.

String Bio win the Food & Agriculture track, powered by Carrefour Group

String Bio, a startup from India, envisions an ecologically sustainable world where everyday products are made of value chains that are circular. They are bringing us one step closer to making that a reality with sustainable, cost-effective and wholesome protein from a novel source. String Bio leverages methane as a source of carbon to manufacture chemicals and animal feed as well as food ingredients. These products address multi-billion dollar markets and they are amongst a handful of companies worldwide, currently the only Asian company, to successfully enable methane based value chain for proteins.

Path Feel win the Healthcare track

Path Feel, a startup from the UK, have developed an active feedback insole that provides vibrational feedback to improve balance, enabling the wearer to walk with confidence. The discreet instrumented insole provides real-time haptic (vibration) feedback to the sole of the foot. The wearer can ‘feel’ the floor better — a sensation that is highly impaired in chronic or neurological conditions — and respond to the vibrational input in real time. Depending on the user’s needs, the insoles are calibrated via an Android application. Path Feel also contains sensors, which can collect gyroscopic, pressure and acceleration data, thereby providing insights into the wearer’s gait. Their product’s capability for gait data collection and analysis offers many future possibilities within healthcare and fitness sectors.

Arculus win the Industry 4.0 track, powered by Airbus

Arculus, a startup from Germany, is revolutionizing industry, replacing Henry Ford’s 100-year-old assembly line with a modular, flexible and self-adaptable new production paradigm. Their technology, Modular Production, is a software and hardware integrated system that makes use of all factory big data and adapts real-time. Arculus is disrupting the framework by removing the transporter belt, and allowing variability in the processes’ sequence by transporting both products and materials on top of smart robots. This new system builds the perfect human-robot cooperation by being responsive to the worker’s capabilities.

NEXT Future Transportation, Inc. win the Mobility track, powered by Group ADP & Michelin

NEXT Future Transportation, Inc. from the US, are revolutionizing the world of mass transportation. Fundamentally, they are solving the most interesting problem in mass transit — how to transport from A to B without having to change to a bus, train or other mode of transit. At the heart of the innovation is an autonomous, modular electric pod, the size of small van, shaped like a segment of a bus. Splitting a bus into 6 units enables the benefits of taxi and a public transportation system. This autonomous unit is a building block of an entire new way of moving people and goods from one place to another.

Sound Bounce win the New Materials track, powered by Solvay

Sound Bounce, is an advanced acoustic material which functions 8 times better and is 33 times thinner than industry standards. The novel patented material, developed in Ireland, provides significantly improved noise attenuation in a smaller package compared to conventional materials. The product is based on fundamentally different principles of physics. Validated by third party and partnered testing, Sound Bounce is especially powerful at low frequencies. In tests Sound Bounce absorbed the same level of sound as a foam which was over 35 times thicker. It will provide users in automotive, chemical, aerospace, construction, and power generation with a market changing competitive advantage.

The future belongs to those who understand it, and together we chose the one we want to build!

Many thanks to all our partners who support our mission to empower science entrepreneurs and bring innovation to our everyday lives.