Vaira is the Startup of the Week 4: Digitizing the house connection documentation process


Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Simple house connection documentation is a very multi-layered process: customer onboarding, job creation, scheduling, surveying, and all the documentation. Digitization can help bring order and efficiency to this process. This is exactly what our Startup of the Week Vaira is dealing with. With their platform, home connection documentation can be automated and digitized. We spoke with CMO Dennis Bienkowski about Vaira’s solution.

Hello Dennis! Thanks for taking the time for us today. Let’s get right into it: Who are you at Vaira?

We are a team of currently 13 people from Paderborn with different specializations. We transform the processes, documentation. Also, we are surveying work of network operators, municipal utilities, and construction service providers and simplify their work.

How does this work?

Vaira is a software-as-a-service platform consisting of a web application (Vaira Office) and a smartphone app (Android/iOS). In the interaction of these two solutions, we can map all process steps digitally on a central platform, from the household customer to construction documentation and billing.

We designed The Vaira Office for office work. Network operators, public utilities and construction service providers can communicate with each other via chat, create and schedule orders, manage users and keep track of the progress of orders. Using the integrated workflow builder, entire process chains can be designed without extensive programming knowledge, so that later instantiations only have to be triggered, which then run fully automatically. A notification system keeps process participants up to date and informed about the status of their jobs at all times.

In real-time, all data is exchanged between the Vaira Office and the Vaira App. An installer in the field receives a message directly as soon as a new job is assigned to them. They can then select an order from his order list and process it. Besides, they can fill out prefabricated forms completely digitally, carry out surveys using only their smartphone via augmented reality – without any extra hardware such as a GPS antenna -, and much more. All collected data is directly available as digital data sets and is shared with all authorized process participants in a matter of seconds. 

Vaira follows three principles: Modularity, generalization, and user-friendliness. Our platform is built in such a way that process participants only need to use the features they need to complete their jobs. The interface allows Vaira to be flexibly connected to other ERP, SAP, and GIS systems, ensuring a smooth exchange of data. Also, the modularity allows us to easily add more features to Vaira. Instead of an individual software solution for individual players, we give users the opportunity to map their requirements flexibly and easily. We provide a construction kit in which users can intuitively map their own jobs and processes. After all, acceptance of the digital transformation stands and falls with the manageability and user-friendliness of digital solutions.

That sounds like a very comprehensive solution. What features make you stand out from your competitors?

Vaira offers the possibility to skip all process steps that have to do with the transmission of data through real-time synchronicity. Since we collect all data digitally, it also eliminates all process steps that involve scanning, printing, or manually transferring data to in-house ERP, SAP, or GIS systems. This can significantly reduce errors that are common when manually transferring paper into systems. Jobs are searchable and filterable, and process stakeholders can communicate directly through the platform and assign tasks to each other. The progress of jobs can be tracked live and priorities can be communicated quickly, even in the follow-up. Features such as a reporting module generate fully automated reports. 

The innovative surveying component enables fitters to carry out high-quality surveying quickly. That frees them from tedious after-hours office work on the construction site. Automatic plausibility checks and mandatory fields can be stored in the form fields, which drastically increases the quality and completeness of the documentation during the documentation process.

Vaira bypasses superfluous process steps, reduces the probability of errors, raises data quality, and accelerates the process. Less time, fewer costs, more overview.

An important unique selling point of Vaira is our holistic solution. We think of the construction site and its documentation as one process.  The platform does not only serve a single process participant but connects all players and enables a smooth exchange of data and work. In this way, construction site documentation can be carried out consistently digitally for the first time – including an innovative surveying component that enables everyone to carry out high-quality surveying.

How did you build a successful business model from that?

Currently, we are financing ourselves through larger project deals that pay directly into the final product. In addition, there are financed test deployments and the first license customers of the first basic version: Vaira Basic. These then run on the software-as-a-service principle (SaaS for short) – Vaira is therefore not purchased, but you pay for a license to the platform. Depending on the desired scope of features, the prices for orders, process instantiations, and users are automatically adjusted.

Compared to purchased software, the SaaS model also includes support, maintenance, and update services. Unlike purchased programs, Vaira does not become obsolete but is continuously developed further. We constantly add new functions, which can be flexibly implemented in the user’s own license. The user experience is also continuously improved.

You’ve just briefly mentioned potential customers, could you go into more detail about your target audience?

Our target group currently includes network operators, public utilities, and construction service providers, including surveyors, with the use case of the house connection process. In Germany alone, there are around 500,000 new house connections, 700,000 FTTH connections, 150,000 emergency and 25,000 dismantling orders per year. Existing buildings bring in another 100,000 connections. Normally, you need to document and measure all of them in the process. 

In theory, however, Vaira can also be used to map any other process. Public authorities and municipal administrations such as land registry offices, police and fire departments, and forestry have already shown interest in Vaira. Together with the Paderborn cadastral office, we are striving for the implementation of a funding project. By developing a module for splice documentation, we were also able to attract the attention of telecommunications providers in particular. Accordingly, the potential target group for our platform is large. 

Our focus is currently still on the German market. However, we have already been able to establish contacts in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria, and Switzerland via trade fairs. Through partnerships and projects with large international companies, we are also expanding our network beyond national borders. For example, we work together with Veolia and the fittings and piping system manufacturer Georg Fischer.

You are currently selling a basic version of your solution. Where do you want to go with Vaira and what successes have you already had?

Exactly, since last year we have been offering “Vaira Basic” for testing and productive use. With Vaira Basic, the complete documentation can already be carried out on the construction site on an order basis. The basic functions of Vaira Office are also fully usable and are being further developed. 

In the background, we have already been working for some time on a major upgrade for the app and the web application. This update will fully align the logic behind Vaira with process flows. The upgrade will be rolled out seamlessly and at no additional cost to all license customers in the respective app stores – in line with the principle of Software-as-a-Service. Vaira Office is constantly being developed further and all new features can be viewed directly.

We are currently developing Vaira on the basis of a project together with the municipal utility association Thüga, the German subsidiary of the French group Veolia and the municipal utility Braunschweig. This cooperation came about as a result of our participation and victory in the U-Start competition in March 2020. Our cooperation with Georg Fischer allows us to take our application to a new level. Also, since this fall, EWE AG has become a shareholder in Vaira, which gives us better access and insight into the market. In addition, we have been working with a major network operator on a project basis to further expand the platform approach.  

Increasingly, network operators, municipal utilities and construction service providers are also becoming aware of us through recommendations or web searches for digital solutions. Test deployments are being requested and productive uses of Vaira are also already in the pipeline. Especially in this unusual and difficult year, we have noticed that interest in process digitization has increased significantly. The industry is ready to optimize existing processes through far-reaching digital transformation – and we are very happy to help.

 

Dennis, thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you continued success. We are sure that we will hear a lot more from you. 

If you want to learn more about Vaira, you can have a look at theirInnoloft profile here.

MotionMiners is the Startup of the Week 2: Analysis and optimization of manual processes


Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Human flexibility and adaptability continue to play an important role in industrial value creation in the age of digitization. However, the analysis and optimization of manual work steps often proves to be costly and complicated. Our Startup of the Week, MotionMiners GmbH, uses Motion-Mining ® technology to automatically analyze and optimize manual work steps. We spoke with CEO Sascha Feldhorst to learn more about this technology and MotionMiners as a company.

Hello Sascha! Nice to have you here today. Let’s get right into it: What is Motion-Mining?

Motion-Mining ® enables an automatic analysis and optimization of manual work processes with regard to efficiency and ergonomics (e.g. determination of heat maps, travel, waiting and process times as well as unhealthy movement sequences). This all happens with the help of sensor technology and machine learning. As a result, it creates added value on both the employer and employee side.

How does Motion-Mining work?

Motion-Mining ® helps companies automatically analyze the efficiency and ergonomics of manual work processes. Using wearables, beacons (miniature radio sensors) and machine learning, we anonymize and collect process data to reveal hidden optimization potential. This allows process analysis to be performed without the need for a process engineer with a stopwatch and clipboard to document the entire process. Compared to today’s manual analyses (e.g. using REFA), this leads to a reduction in effort and ensures a 40 to 80 times larger data pool. 

If a customer decides to carry out a Motion Mining® project, we equip the work environment with beacons. The employees in the processes get wearables. Following the measurement, we evaluate the collected data using machine learning algorithms. Based on the data, our employees develop individual catalogs of measures and implementation priorities in close cooperation with the customers. In this way, we not only identify ways to make logistics processes more efficient, but also draw up implementation plans that customers can then follow up. If desired, the implementation of the optimization measures can be accompanied by success measurements. 

Motion-Mining ® is marketed in the form of various products and services. In consulting projects, MotionMiners employees analyze and optimize processes with the help of the technology. In addition, a motion Mining-Product solution, Manual Process Intelligence, has also been offered since 2019. The MPI is a combination of a hardware and a software license and enables customers to perform process analyses independently. In addition to fully comprehensive measurement equipment, the offer also includes access to the analysis dashboard. This allows users to create their own measurement scenarios and evaluate data according to selected key figures. They can use the results for their own optimization measures. 

In June 2020, we added the Motion-Mining® Tracing Solution (MMTS) to our portfolio. The MMTS is a combination of an app, micro radio transmitters and an analytics dashboard. While the solution has a lower level of data protection than the federal app, it can realize more accurate location and compliance with hygiene measures. The solution specifically targets business customers. In addition to the contact tracking options in the event of infection, our solution also provides various prevention options.

What is special about motion mining?

In contrast to manual analysis by human observation, where a process engineer manually documents the work processes, process recording using motion mining works automatically. The technology is based on sensors, beacons and a self-developed deep-learning algorithm that converts raw data into process metrics. Currently, multiple activities can be detected and tools and workspaces can also be identified. Our USPs include that measurement technology can be deployed without IT integration and can be set up and taken down with little lead time. In addition, we obtain the KPIs for process efficiency and ergonomics from the same dataset and the anonymity (according to DSGVO) of the employees is maintained at all times.

How have you integrated this form of automated analytics into a business model?

Our main source of revenue is currently still the service/consulting business. In addition, we have been offering our Motion Mining® product solution, Manual Process Intelligence (MPI), since last year. 

We bill the consulting service to customers via a consulting fee. The price varies depending on various factors such as the number of processes, employees, shifts as well as the complexity of the analysis questions. For the product, on the other hand, we charge a basic license fee. However, the license model also includes a usage-based price component. Against the backdrop of the Corona situation, we have also developed a tracing solution, a prevention tool, for use in companies. With the help of an app and additional radio transmitters, users of the Motion-Mining ® Tracing Solution can, among other things, trace infection chains, identify frequently frequented areas, and maintain safety distances and hygiene measures. To support this, the app provides real-time feedback. 

This informs the employee: 

  • If the contact time of 15 minutes is exceeded. 
  • For reminders of regular hand hygiene and ventilation of rooms (through the use of additional sensor technology). 
  • To warn of critical and high-traffic areas for contact reduction 
  • In case of infection to inform further measures

The Motion-Mining® Tracing Solution relieves employees and helps to avoid a company-wide lockdown.

What is your target group?

Our main source of income is currently still the Our current target market consists of various industrial companies. The focus is on companies in the production and logistics sectors. Here, for example, many repackaging, packaging, production and picking activities take place and automation is often not worthwhile due to short contract terms, high business dynamics or low margins. An initial pilot project was recently carried out in collaboration with a hospital. The aim in future is to win more customers from the health care sector. 

Our target group includes the logistics services, e-commerce, wholesale and retail, manufacturing, air freight and healthcare sectors. In addition, our customer base now also includes consulting companies that license the technology and use it as part of their own customer projects. 

At the moment, we are working primarily with companies in Germany. Our goal is to operate more internationally in the next few years. So far, we have sold consulting projects and licenses to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Where do you stand right now with MotionMiners GmbH?

We are in the growth phase and are moving towards the next scaling stage. Among other things, this involves achieving a larger footprint with individual customers and also further professionalizing the production of measurement technology. We can already show more than 20 customer references, which we have gained in more than 40 consulting projects and from our product business. So far we were able to convince 15 customers to license our technology and have grown from 3 founders to a team of 30 without an investor. However, we are not averse to further growth and cooperation with investors.


Sascha, thank you very much for this exciting interview. We wish MotionMiners continued success, especially for 2021. 

If you want to learn more about MotionMiners, you can check out their Innoloft profile.

Ormera is the Startup of the Week 45: Automated energy billing with blockchain


Energy Efficiency and Environment, Energy Market & Trading, Energy Supply, IT & ICT

The energy transition is still in full swing. With the trend towards tenant electricity and smart buildings, there is a large amount of administrative work to be done. This includes, for example, the entire billing process. Our Startup of the Week Ormera has developed an innovative platform for this. It connects the electricity meter to the account and thus automates the entire billing process with the help of blockchain. Ormera is the optimal meter-to-cash solution for independent administration and electricity billing for the association for own consumption. We met with Ormera’s CEO, Fabian Baerlocher, for an interview to learn more about this exciting approach.

Hello Fabian! Thanks for taking time for us today. For a better start: How do you describe Ormera in one sentence?

Ormera is the leading platform for the billing of IoT devices in smart buildings until 2026.

The whole thing works for you with the help of Blockchain, right? Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Right. The Ormera platform automates the entire billing process – from reading the IoT device to the account statement – via block chain. In an intuitive online portal, the users keep track of the produced and purchased electricity, heat and water consumption as well as the charged tariffs. With this solution, Ormera helps self-producers, energy companies and property management companies to overcome the administrative hurdles of energy and IoT billing, thus contributing to the energy turnaround. 

In general, the platform is capable of monetizing data from any IoT device. In other words, wherever measured values need to be converted into tariffs subject to certain conditions, Ormera offers a simple solution. This enables Ormera to create the technological basis not only for renewable energies, but in the long term also for highly efficient Smart Cities and all interoperable systems. It is ideally suited for billing newer forms of energy and applications in the future. You can also integrate charging stations for e-vehicles or innovative battery storage systems into a site network, as well as you can integrate smart building or a ZEV (association for own consumption) into the platform.

I see. Where do you see your USP?

Ormera’s solution links intelligent electricity, heat or water meters – so-called smart meters – as components of the Internet of Things with the blockchain and further directly with the bank account. Everything that is measured is deducted from the bank account with minimal administrative effort. By using the blockchain, we can massively increase cybersecurity, end customers have full transparency and the billing process is radically digitalised. This enables significant savings, both in terms of workload and costs.

How do you design the associated business model?

Ormera charges its customers an annual license fee per metering point with a one-time installation fee and/or an annual partner fee. Customers who want to use Ormera can choose between several modules with different requirements. At the same time we receive project fees from technology partners, for co-production of the platform.

At the beginning of the interview you have already named a few potential customers, such as energy companies or property management companies. Which market segments exactly do you address within this target group?

After a successful pilot phase, we launched the platform with various partners in May 2019. Ormera addresses B2B customers such as energy suppliers, real estate managers and planners. We are also working with technology partner ABB to simplify the direct connection between the measurement data and the blockchain. For the development of this comprehensive platform we need the right partners. While Ormera is already widely known in the energy services market, the focus is now on the real estate market. Acquisition talks are being continued and contracts with further partners are being concluded. The start-up thus builds a stable customer base and ensures that the real needs on the market are directly incorporated into the development of the platform.

With market penetration in Switzerland in 2021, Ormera plans to expand its activities to the DACH region, UK and Scandinavia in 2022.

It looks as if you have already established yourselves quite well. What do current developments in your company look like?

20 B2B customers of the 30 largest energy companies, real estate and engineering offices in Switzerland for electricity billing already use the platfrom. We are currently developing an MVP for heat/water billing. Further use cases, such as the billing of e-charging stations or digital contract processing via the platform are in planning. The platform can already read different types of meters. Together with technology partners such as ABB, we are further developing the interfaces.

In addition to product development, the development of the company is a major task. Originating from a project of PostFinance and Energie Wasser Bern, we had an external IT development. In the last few weeks we have redesigned the IT and hired excellent architects and developers to internalize the IT. This includes the establishment of a nearshore team in Portugal. 

We are also very active on a strategic level. We have expanded the energy case, which was originally focused on Switzerland, and are now focusing on expanding our verticals to include the general billing of IoT devices and the European environment. For this we need additional capital. Therefore we are seeking new investors for the next financing round of CHF 2 million in Q1 2021.

 

Fabian, thank you very much for this exciting interview! We wish you continued success and look forward to following Ormera’s developments,

Those who find Ormera interesting can visit their Innoloft profile for more information on the company, product and funding request.

SNAP GmbH is the Startup of the Week 43: Moving people


Health & FoodTech, IT & ICT

You canControlling technical systems with the help of thoughts – for many people this still sounds like science fiction. But it is already reality. Our Startup of the Week SNAP GmbH develops products and services in exactly this area: the interface between the human brain and technical systems. Sinah Grube from SNAP GmbH explained to us in an interview how exactly this works and what SNAP GmbH contributes to the development.

Hello Sinah! Thank you for taking the time for us today. Please explain what SNAP GmbH does.

We at SNAP GmbH, based in the BioMedicineCentre in Bochum, concentrate on the development of products and services in the following areas brain-computer interface (BCI systems), artificial intelligence (AI systems), data hosting, technical assistance systems and motion analysis.

Your vision lies in the field of brain-computer interfaces. How does that work?

The BCI is an interface from the human brain to a technical system, such as a computer or a mobile phone. In electroencephalography (EEG), we place electrodes on the scalp to record the activities of the brain. The neurological data obtained can be used to control technical systems in the environment through the pure thoughts of the human being. The possible applications are immense and offer great potential for the future (e.g. from the entertainment industry to health care). We are currently also part of two funded projects in this area, VAFES and ReXo, which are supported by the State of NRW and the European Union.

At ReXo project workers develop a biomechanically designed, adaptive exoskeleton for the upper extremities. In that project SNAP enables control of the rexoskeleton via the brain. Our goal is the training of a very well-functioning AI solution for a BCI. So SNAP GmbH decided right from the start to evaluate kinematic data for various fields of application. Thus we are not only AI specialists in the field of neurological data, but also in the evaluation of kinematic data. One example of an AI solution is our AI-based motion detection system, which we call AnaKin (analytical kinetics).

For motion analysis, we have developed our own in-house sensors that are attached to the body for data acquisition. The AnaKin records the movements of the wearer and memorises certain movements. Of course, it is also possible to purchase our own portable sensors, so that the movement data can be individually trained with the AnaKin. The trained AI can recognise whether, for example, a person carries out a movement correctly or not. On customer request SNAP GmbH as a service provider also offers pattern recognition and motion analysis on AI basis of already existing data sets recorded with external sensors. In addition to movement tracking, there is also the possibility of pure gesture control with our sensors. Only with a wristband equipped with our described sensors, gesture control becomes reality. With this, smartphones, games, tablets, drones can be controlled by a single wipe with the hand in the air.  

This is really an exciting field. What makes you stand out from your competitors?

In fact, there are very few companies in Germany that develop BCI systems, so we as a company are already extremely interesting for external partners and investors. In addition, we record and analyse neurological data synchronously with kinematic data. This combination is also not always common. 

Our motion analysis with our self-developed sensors offers the user considerable added value, asan inertial sensor transmitted the data wirelessly. Consequently, mobile use is also possible outside a laboratory. You can easily attache the sensor to the body with straps. An app collects and analyses the data. Furthermore, a USP in motion analysis is the connection to our individual AI solution. With regard to our digital assistance system, it can be said that we have the special feature here that our therapy platform is used in telemedical care. For example, doctors and physiotherapists can view the course of movement and training data. 

The trend towards video consultation hours will also increase more and more due to the current Covid-19 situation. Digital and AI-based assistance systems will provide an optimal basis for this. A very noteworthy point is, of course, that all neurological as well as kinematic data will be stored in Bochum and processed in compliance with DSGVO.

In addition to our products and services, the people behind the scenes at SNAP are unique. We are an intercultural, young, dynamic team that works every day with a great technical passion to invent technology that enhances our capabilities, our community and our world.

How do you integrate your solutions into a successful business model?

In the field of brain-computer interfaces we receive many interesting and individual enquiries for the development of new business fields. In the case of specific enquiries, we work together within the framework of development contracts. Furthermore, we are currently being supported in the BCI area by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Union within the framework of two funding projects, VAFES and REXO.

Our business model for processing kinematic data is similar to our BCI. The customer can choose between two options within the first meeting: 

  • The customer buys SNAPs specially developed sensors, which they need for data acquisition of the movements. Subsequently, an AI solution for the motion data is trained with our sensors in a customised service. 
  • The customer does not need any sensors, as data records from external sensors are already available. Therefore, we only train an AI for the existing motion data with the AnaKin individually according to customer requirements. 

We market our digital assistance system, the IRhythmic, as a training device and can be purchased from us on the market including a corresponding app. 

As our focus is on the health industry, we also offer a prevention course from SNAP GmbH for fall and movement prevention. The statutory health insurance companies usually pay for almost the complete prevention course.

An important note to all investors: We are always on the lookout for further investors, as venture capital can greatly accelerate the development of the BCI for the consumer market.

You just mentioned that you focus on the health industry. Are these the only potential clients you are addressing?

We address a very large target group with our products and services. Our focus is on the entire healthcare sector as well as the games industry. In the healthcare sector we can offer a grandiose added value in the area of prevention as well as rehabilitation. In the games industry, on the other hand, we can offer interactions with computer games, for example. We are currently gaining a foothold in the German market. For the future we cannot and do not want to exclude international marketing.

What stage of development are you currently in? And where do you want to go?

Very good question – because there is actually something from every development phase in our company. Our vision is and remains that we will develop a robust, intuitively operable BCI system that recognises and implements commands from the brain – a kind of “Siri” for thoughts. Due to our unique selling points, we have already received several requests for such a BCI system. So far, we can only process relatively simple commands with the BCI and are still bound to the computer. We want to become more precise so that, for example, a paraplegic person can move his hand – or legs – as naturally as possible with the help of an exoskeleton.

The next step is to transfer the AI (for neurological data) to portable devices. On the other hand, we have already successfully launched our sensors for motion analysis with the motion recognition system AnaKin. The same applies to our digital assistance system – the IRhythmic. Here we are in good contact with health insurance companies. End customers, such as hospitals and physiotherapists already use the training device. Our certified prevention course is also already successfully conducted online. Our sponsored projects, ReXo and VAFES, got off to a good start at the beginning of the year and we are on schedule here with our cooperation partners and are thus keeping on course.

 

Sinah, thank you very much for the exciting interview. We will definitely continue to follow SNAP’s developments and wish you continued success!

If you would like to learn more about SNAP GmbH, please visit their Innoloft profile.

Healex is the Startup of the Week 42: Connecting clinical research and clinical care


Health & FoodTech, IT & ICT

Currently, the medical sector has a major information management problem. This has been caused by the increase in knowledge in its scope, but also in the level of detail. The consequences are delays in the transfer of research results to effective therapies and massive cost increases due to increased expenditure. The medical sector definitely needs a solution. Our Startup of the Week, Healex, has developed an exciting platform approach that can help many stakeholders in the healthcare sector. We met Christoph Plamper from Healex for an interview.

Hello Christoph! Thank you for taking time for us today. Please explain shortly what Healex is.

Healex is a software and consulting company based in Cologne and Berlin that develops products and solutions for the efficient planning, control and acceleration of clinical trials, for therapy consulting in patient care and for the management of large volumes of clinical and health data.

You have developed your own platform for this, right? What is the goal of the platform?

Yes, exactly. The “Healex Site Management System” (SMS) brings together sponsors, researchers and investigators on an innovative platform and enables the planning, implementation and collaboration in clinical studies across multiple sites. Clinical studies are thus significantly accelerated and digitally managed. By supporting international medical data standards such as “FHIR” and the “Healex Clinical Hub”, a FHIR-based platform for structured clinical data, the “Healex Site Management System” (SMS) and our other solutions can be seamlessly integrated into existing hospital systems and research infrastructures, enabling the easy integration and use of structured clinical data for research and care.

What is special about this approach?

We bring together sponsors from pharma, clinics, research networks, researchers and investigators on our platforms. With the platforms we provide powerful collaboration tools and solutions for structuring clinical data. Both ensure that personalised therapies can be developed faster. In addition they are more data-driven and thus more cost-effectively in the long term.

Do you only sell your Healex Site Management System?

No. We develop and sell IT solutions in the B2B healthcare market, mainly our own but also partner solutions. This happens usually through multi-year license agreements, both SaaS and on-premise. We focus on platform models as well as product families and individual products. Roughly, we have divided our product and business model into two levels: Our core products are primarily aimed at large hospitals, pharmaceuticals and research organizations and are networked infrastructure solutions. Our Corona web tools are flexible web solutions that many industries can use. The core of our business model is that you can use almost all our solutions independently but also connect them and use them together. Business model is 70% product sales and development and approx. 30% consulting. We do not offer any other services apart from our core products.

Who falls within your target group?

Our target groups are mainly large university hospitals and research networks. Many hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies are customers as well.

What are your successes that you like to look back on?

For more than twelve years we have been supporting research groups and physicians in the integration of clinical care and research. Due to our close cooperation with one of the largest university hospitals in Germany, we have deep experience and proven solutions to critical processes and problems in clinical research and care. For many of these challenges, we have already delivered solutions that thousands of researchers and physicians use every day in numerous multinational clinical trials.

 

Christoph, that brings us to the end of our interview. Thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you continued success and will definitely continue to follow your developments.

If you want to learn more about Healex, you can take a look at the corresponding Innoloft profile.

Semasquare is the Startup of the Week 41: Digitalisation of vehicle cockpits


Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Easy handling, automation of functions and low installation effort – for cockpits in commercial and special vehicles this is desirable, but often not a norm. Our Startup of the Week semasquare GmbH has recognized this gap and developed new approaches to make vehicle cockpits more intuitive and efficient. Today we talked to Moritz Koch, Sales Business Development Manager about their solution.

Hello Moritz! Thanks for taking the time today! Explain to our readers what semasquare does.

We at semasquare offer HMI and software engineering for commercial and special vehicles.

What do your solutions contain?

semasquare GmbH offers expertise on hardware and software up to the cloud. We work in an agile manner and can thus iteratively develop the perfect operating concept for the respective area of application via first mockups using rapid prototyping with customers. After defining the operating concept, we select suitable hardware components together with the customer and develop the software according to his ideas. With our experience in the areas of UI/UX, design decisions are critically discussed to optimize the user experience for the end user.

How does your approach differ from that of other providers?

Previous concepts for operating commercial vehicles often still rely on physical input elements such as buttons and switches that automate vehicle functions only to a limited extent. This makes it difficult to map the complexity of the vehicles. Service providers usually only offer the development of a modern user interface. However, the knowledge required to integrate them into a cloud and thus exploit their full potential is still missing.

So you develop individual concepts and also implement them, right?

That’s right. We offer individual engineering services for commercial vehicle manufacturers. Our goal on the one hand is to make the operation of the vehicles suitably intuitive. On the other hand we want to make the complex tasks manageable. Furthermore, semasquare enables the transfer of the accruing data to servers or the cloud. Thus we help our customers to develop and implement new innovative, data-based business models. A further project, which we adapted to the Covid-19 situation, is a puzzle bot which Escape Rooms or other providers of experiences can use to create and offer individual tours.

Has a new target group developed for you? Or are you still addressing the special vehicle industry?

So far yes. Our previous customers are manufacturers of commercial and special vehicles with complex superstructures from the fields of street sweepers/canal cleaners. In addition, many other applications such as waste collection vehicles, drilling vehicles and fire-fighting vehicles in public road traffic are of interest. Furthermore, commercial vehicles that are not registered for public road traffic, such as construction machines, construction site, forestry and agricultural vehicles are also targeted. Manufacturers of commercial vehicles, users, brokers, rental companies and service providers using commercial vehicles are also interesting customer groups.

You already entered the market. What are your next steps?

Yes, the market entry has already taken place with a pilot project. A second customer is about to place an order. To simplify the entry for these customers, we offered a service for the development of an HMI in the first step.

In addition to cold calling, we use the existing network via the cooperative visibleRuhr, Bochum Wirtschaftsentwicklung, the university and company network ruhrvalley and other friendly companies. Once the pilot projects are completed, we plan to use the experience gained from the projects to develop platforms for HMI and the cloud. The idea is that they will accelerate the processing of further projects. Based on the development, the service should slowly be transferred to products. In the future, the cloud will be used via licenses. This will make the cloud a scalable product. We want to continue to offer services based on the HMI platform. Our intention is to further expand our current partnerships.

We will also work with the Institute for Electric Mobility at Bochum University of Applied Sciences and other partners to promote innovation and progress in the field of electric mobility for commercial vehicles. In addition to the references of the pilot projects, we will thus underpin our innovative strength. We will compensate for the increasing workload by hiring additional full-time employees and working students. Our overriding goal is customer diversification. In this way we want to ensure that one customer accounts for a maximum of 30% of total sales.

Moritz, thank you very much for the exciting interview! We wish you continued success with your goals. We hope to hear a lot more from you.

If you want to learn more about semasquare, please have a look at the corresponding Innoloft profile.

The Business Development Agency of the City of Aachen and Innoloft launch digital innovation platform for EUREGIO Meuse-Rhine


Banking & Finance, Energy & Environment, Health & FoodTech, IT & ICT, Mobility

Digital platform supports Aachen’s companies and startups

With its digital innovation platform (DIP), the Business Development Agency of the City of Aachen supports companies and start-ups: The platform offers the possibility to get new business partners (for example B2B customers). In addition, the innovation platform presents innovative technologies and solutions from the region and thus supports companies in innovation scouting.

Platform solution for business activities

The DIP is available free of charge to all companies in the Aachen region. Thus, numerous features of the platform enable the initiation of business relations between companies and the direct exchange among each other. For this purpose, companies, research institutions and start-ups can register on the platform and enter their own profile. This profile can then be used to post products, services and technologies to communicate them in Aachen and beyond. To enable solution providers and solution seekers to find each other directly on the platform, it is possible to publish customer and cooperation requests in the form of “Requests” on the platform. A matchmaking algorithm helps to find suitable partners and customers automatically.

Contact initiation and networking by digital means

Users have the possibility to get in contact with each other via the built-in chat functions. This facilitates the exchange in times of home office without the opportunity for personal meetings. “The DIP platform can thus take on a sub-task of trade fairs, events and conferences, namely getting to know, networking and initiating business and innovative projects,” says Dieter Begass, Head of Economic Development Aachen. It allows us to overcome spatial distances, because it enables us to exchange with business partners independent of time and location. After Corona, the DIP will continue to be operated for registered users and can provide valuable support to companies, research institutes and start-ups in initiating cooperation and finding innovative solutions.

It is precisely with this in mind that the HYPEREGIO DIP was initiated by the Department of Economics, Science and Europe of the City of Aachen and other players such as AGIT within the framework of the Interregio programme “Hyperegio EarlyTech” and implemented together with Innoloft GmbH. The official launch of the platform will take place on September 7. Interested parties are asked to register for the digital launch event at https://kurzelinks.de/diplaunch. From September 7th, a free registration will be available under the link https://hyperegio-dip.eu.

 

About the DIP Platform

The objective of the “Early Tech Program” is to network innovations from companies and research institutes in the Euregio. Economic added value can be generated by creating synergies and accelerating the market launch of technologies. A large part of the activities for networking and creating transparency in the area of innovation will be bundled digitally. The digital innovation platform (DIP) serves this purpose. It is docked to the constantly growing digital innovation network of Innoloft GmbH and to the Hyperegio platform as user interface. With their presentation on the platform, startups, research institutions and companies can draw attention to projects and their own products, network with each other and enter into new collaborations. In the search for competencies and innovative customer solutions, DIP helps with innovation scouting.

About Innoloft GmbH

The Innoloft network promotes innovation by connecting the most innovative players from all technology sectors. The network is designed to break down barriers between companies, investors and start-ups worldwide and open up economic opportunities for them. To this end, specific digital formats are used to identify development partners, new technologies, investment cases or customers and to bring together corresponding players on the B2B platform. Users are thus supported in partner acquisition, innovation scouting and lead generation.

Breeze Technologies is the Startup of the Week 35: Sensors for air quality


Energy & Environment, Energy Efficiency and Environment, IT & ICT

In recent months we have seen the positive effects of the lockdown on our environment. The smog has disappeared and the air was clear again in many places. However, many cities only measure their air quality selectively, leaving large gaps in the data. This is set to change now. We spoke with Robert Heinecke about his startup Breeze Technologies for this mission.

Hello, Robert. Thanks for answering our questions today. Let’s get right to it: what does Breeze Technologies do?

Breeze Technologies provides comprehensive air quality and climate data, generates recommendations for action and thus helps cities and companies to create a more liveable environment.

That sounds very exciting! Could you explain to us exactly how this works?

Gladly! We develop small and cost-effective air quality sensors that detect all common air pollutants in real time. They collect the data thus obtained in a central cloud. In addition, we also integrate other data sources, such as satellite data, in order to obtain the most accurate picture possible of the air quality in our cities. An artificial intelligence system developed by us evaluates this data in real time. It  provides optimal recommendations for action to improve local air quality. These are fed from a catalog of over 3,500 individual measures and range from photocatalytic asphalt in road construction to traffic control based on air quality data, such as that being tested in the city of Cologne as gatekeeper traffic lights.

By using artificial intelligence, your system gives new recommendations depending on the situation, right?

Right. Our system also measures the impact of the measures implemented, which enables us to make even better recommendations in the future. We also provide a similar service for building managers, whom we help to measure and optimise air quality in office environments. You can use our system both indoors and outdoors.

How did you build your business model?

We rent our sensors to companies and cities and charge an annual rental and maintenance fee. In addition to the measures recommended by us for improving air quality, service providers and manufacturers are acquired as partners who pay a commission fee for sales generated through us.

Do you keep your target group quite general?

Yes, we mainly address HSE and facility managers in larger companies and the municipal administration. The industry in which the company is active is not important for the time being.

Two years ago you won the Hamburg Founder’s Prize and you have already started exciting projects. Can you give us a little insight into that?

Sure. We have already achieved many successes with renowned pilot customers such as Deutsche Telekom and Smart City projects in Hamburg and Berlin. We also make some of the data we collect available to the public via a citizens’ platform. Our company has also been named one of the most promising European start-ups in numerous national and international competitions. These include, for example, the Hamburg Founder’s Prize, which you have just mentioned, the EU Top 50, an award from the German President and inclusion in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for social entrepreneurs.

Robert, thank you very much for this exciting interview! We wish you continued success.
If you would like to learn more about Breeze Technologies, please visit their Innoloft profile to find out more about their products and requests.

Hybrid Lidar Systems is the Startup of the Week 34: Smart Sensoring and Automotive


IT & ICT, Mobility, Smart City & Buildings

The mobility sector is facing radical change, as we redifine mobility in terms of safety and sustainability. This is an exciting time in which many organisations develop new solutions that incorporate the latest technology. Today we talk to Ingo Diettele, CEO of Hybrid Lidar Systems. The Startup of the Week has developed exciting solutions to meet the needs of the modern transport system.

Hello Ingo! We’re glad you’re here today. Can you give us an insight into the German transport system and current developments? What role does your startup play in it?

Germany has one of the densest road and rail networks in the world. In this context, safety-relevant requirements of all types of mobility are essential areas of consideration for the industries involved. Among other things, autonomous mobility plays an important role in current discussions.

Mobility and safety have thus entered into an inseparable symbiosis. Sensors that take over the functions of the human eye and our experiential knowledge are indispensable for making autonomous driving possible. Research is increasingly focusing on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors. These sensors are not ready yet to enter the mass market, but due to their characteristics they represent a potential solution for nationwide, fully automated driving that meets safety standards.

Our project focuses on the research and (further) development of LiDAR sensors and their applications, concentrating on a completely new approach. The decisive factor was the invention of an innovative measuring method. This allows data acquisition using novel digital signal processing algorithms with a very low computational effort.

A vehicle optimally equipped for traffic has to meet various industrial requirements. The currently available advanced technology offers partly precise and expensive solutions. With our product LiSSA (LiDAR for Smart Sensing and Automotive) we present a unique approach that meets and even exceeds the requirements. Due to the low computational effort, the innovation can be offered reliably and cost-effectively. With our hybrid process, in addition to high resolution (double VGA), a high degree of accuracy (<1 cm), a guaranteed laser safety class 1 (eye-safe), and a range of more than 200 meters are possible.

The combination of several novel approaches enables better object classification, which is a crucial safety factor for the movement of autonomous vehicles in a dynamic environment.

How exactly do your sensors work?

With our LiSSA Automotive it is possible to generate a high-resolution LiDAR image to detect objects. The software algorithms make it possible to change parameters that were previously firmly anchored in the chip. By using our multiplexing approach it is possible to drastically increase the usable chip area and thus to generate a high-resolution image. In addition, we are currently working on further novel components and can thus optimize the resolution in the future. The goal is to equip every moving object in road traffic with our LiDAR sensor technology so that we can raise traffic to a new level of security!

The high-resolution data that we provide with the help of our sensor is available for further processing both inside and outside the vehicle. LiDAR sensors are indispensable for further linking of the vehicle. Among others in the fields of logistics, consumer electronics (smartphones/tablets), augmented reality or even wind power and drones: Wherever a machine must or should be able to “see”, you need a LiDAR sensor.

You have already presented many unique values of the LiDAR sensor technology, can you go into more detail about the most important USP of your solution?

As already mentioned, we offer a significantly higher resolution with our product: This is done by our signal processing algorithm, which also drastically increases the usable chip area. In addition, an innovative multi-spectral approach is part of the project – this allows several areas of the environment being simultaneously, resulting in a faster and higher resolution environment detection.

Is your innovation already usable?

Not yet. Currently the Hybrid Lidar Systems is mainly in the research and development process. In our laboratory we are manufacturing the first LiDAR sensors in manual work with prototype components. We are active in the field of optoelectronics, as well as hardware and software programming and act as a design center.

Within the next two years we aim to revolutionize autonomous mobility using LiDAR sensors. The long-term, overriding goal is to use our sensor to provide the basis for safe and cost-efficient mobility for the mass market.

I see. In which industries is your product at home? Only the automotive industry?

Not quite. The main target group is the international automotive industry, yes. However, we have also established numerous contacts with other industries that require the advantages of LiDAR sensors. The “seeing” is an elementary property that is needed in many sectors (logistics, industry, wind energy, health care & sports, traffic & mobility) to take products to a new (safety) level.

You mentioned earlier that you are still in the research phase. What is the next big milestone for you?

We have been pursuing our goals since the end of 2018, the founding of the company. At the end of Q4 this year, Q1/2021 we plan to book our first automotive project. Our industrial product LiSSA Industry is already available for order and will be delivered to the first customer in the logistics sector at the end of this year.

Ingo, unfortunately we have already reached the end of the interview. Thank you very much for the exciting insights into the automotive world and your innovative solution. We wish you continued success! 

If you want to learn more about Hybrid Lidar Systems, you can have a look at the Innoloft profile.

Olmatic is the Startup of the Week 32: Efficient energy management solutions


Energy & Environment, Industry 4.0 & Logistics, IT & ICT

Although the addition of “smart” has long been an important aspect in the discussion on energy management systems, concrete implementation approaches are rarely found.  Our Startup of the Week has the same opinion – especially since conventional systems are usually inflexible and platform-bound. One of the co-founders of Olmatic, Christian Olma, therefore introduces us to their solution: The Olmatic Power Tracking.

Hello Christian! Thank you for taking the time. We are looking forward to getting to know Olmatic better. Would you give us a small pitch for that?

Sure! We develop, manufacture and market devices and systems for energy management 4.0 and wireless networking through central control units in the industry 4.0 and IoT area. Our highly innovative Olmatic Power Tracking enables maximum self-sufficiency in the energy sector.

What exactly is the Olmatic Power Tracking about?

The so-called Olmatic Power Tracking (OPT) is an intelligent combination of hardware and software, combined in one product, which deals with the completely self-sufficient supply of electrical consumers via regenerative energy sources without the necessity of a conventional supply network. In order to use the power available from renewable energy sources (solar cells, wind turbines, hydroelectric power plants, etc.) in the most effective way, without losing excess energy in the form of power loss or the like, the OPT offers the appropriate technologies and systems to realize dynamic power distribution and prioritization of energy and consumer sources. This means that with an optimal design it is possible to almost completely dispense with the public supply network and to reduce the energy demand via the conventional supply network to < 1%. Even if the system is used without regenerative energy sources, i.e. directly via the conventional supply network, >30% energy savings can be achieved compared to conventional energy management systems.

The main focus of our energy management system is on the specific treatment of each input source and each consumer output independently of each other. This gives us the possibility to distribute energy to all consumers of a system with the highest efficiency. In combination with a direct integration into the supply line and open interfaces in the communication line, our energy management systems can easily be adapted to or integrated into existing systems. This makes it possible to distribute energy across the boundaries of a specific platform or system.

How does your product perform compared to currently established energy management systems?

In contrast to conventional energy management systems, it is characterized above all by the additional networking of the Smart Grid at the supply level, which enables stepless power regulation (0-100%) and power distribution. Through the specific consideration of all energy consumers and the platform independence of the systems, a highly efficient energy sharing between different energy systems can be operated with maximum efficiency. Conventional systems are platform-bound and can only communicate via the communication interfaces and suffer from higher losses and a lack of dynamics due to static switching on and off based on preconfigured power hysteresis. Especially in safety-relevant systems, the simple shutdown can lead to enormous security gaps or chaos scenarios, which the OPT procedure avoids via intelligent and dynamic power regulation and distribution on the basis of prioritizations. Through customized, individually adaptable designs of the modules, a maximum energy saving can be achieved at low investment costs for the manufacturer/developer, which promise low payback periods. The OPT process is linked to already existing and established energy management modules and central control units of the Olmatic product range and thus realizes the following two core products, which can be used in combination or independently of each other in all AC and DC power-based energy systems, conventional and regenerative generation methods.

You were just talking about customizing your products to suit your customer’s needs. The pricing will certainly be the same, right?

We follow the implementation of two different business models. On the one hand, we sell via direct sales in the B2B area through appropriate acquisition of our sales team and in the course of networking measures, and on the other hand, we have a large cooperation partner named Endrich Bauelemente Vertriebs GmbH, which acts as a middleman for us and actively sells our product range internationally. Since we always offer customer-specific products, the pricing model is variable and calculated according to complexity and effort. As an additional service in the field of Energy Management 4.0 we offer the complete energy consulting as an additional service.

What do you think about the market you are currently addressing? To what extent do you see growth potential, opportunities and risks there?

Placing a product such as Olmatic Power Tracking at the right time in a market that is currently more than ever in the focus of current attention undoubtedly brings with it a huge opportunity to establish the company as a pioneer in a market that will continue to grow steadily in the future. Since the market for electrical consumers will tend to rise in the coming years, while conventional energy resources will tend to decline, it is to be expected that the market in the segment of renewable energy supply will bring secure growth in the coming decades. Timely market entry and the protection of the product against competitors therefore represent a huge opportunity for us to already now sustainably position ourselves for the coming decades. Nevertheless, the market is highly competitive and is already populated by a large number of “big players” who will gladly and directly accept the competition and already have the financial background to become active here in the short term. The big chance is thus at the same time a big risk to lose the competition and thus the market shares already at the beginning, if the strategy and the goals are not pursued with fullest precision. We pursue the international target group.

 

You founded your company in 2016, a lot has happened since then. You have already explained some of the results to us. What are the next steps for the development of Olmatic?

Last year, we developed the existing prototypes to market maturity. The aim was to be able to place them on the market as quickly as possible. In the course of the prototype phase, a new energy management module was developed, which includes the OPT procedure. Three new products have been developed, which are directly communicated to already existing customer networks and distribution channels. The power supply module is the first product of the new Universal 4.0 series and serves in its current version as a power supply module for intelligent supply and energy management according to OPT for consumers in the low voltage range. The wiu, which has been expanded to include the software functionality of the OPT, can be marketed directly as a successor model to the existing plus the additional function of the OPT and will in future serve as a central gateway and control unit for the digital networking of the system.

Christian, many thanks for this exciting and detailed interview. We wish you every success in the further development of Olmatic. If anyone would like to learn more, please take a look at Olmatic’s Innoloft profile.