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A French startup that has developed an instrument that uses infrared light to detect skin cancer won the latest edition of EIT Digital’s Idea Challenge – focusing on Health & Wellbeing – in Eindhoven on 25 November.
Ten startups from across Europe competed and each presented a five minute pitch on their product and business, with the winner taking €40,000, second prize €25,000 and third prize €15,000.
The startup, DAMAE Medical, began working on the product two and a half years ago which provides dermatologist a new technique to analyze skin cells. This removes the need to take skin samples via painful and potentially dangerous biopsies, 60 per cent of which show benign results, they said during their pitch.
“We didn’t expect to win today,” said David Siret, Chief Technology Officer of DAMAE Medical, “because there were very good candidates in the final. So we are very proud to be awarded this prize today.”
He explained that they are really hoping to use EIT Digital’s support to raise the profile of their product: “The first move will be to enter into the EIT Digital family and to meet the network of the eight EIT Digital locations. We are sure that this will bring the project to a new level, a European level. It will also be good for new scientific collaboration and initial partnerships.”
Second place in Eindhoven went to SENSOLUS, a Belgian startup which has created a product called NOAH. This looks to expand the comfort and safety of people who receive informal care by providing insight in daily life patterns. Third place went to 7Mind, an app from a German startup providing mobile mindfulness training.
Jury chairman Patrick Essers said it was a tough discussion between the judges. He explained that the winners were chosen for different reasons including the gap that they have identified and the strength of their product and branding. This year’s competition noticeably featured startups in a more mature phase of their development.
“Last year many of them had a prototype ready, but these startups are all ready to be scaled up,” said Else Embregts, Marketing & Communications Manager of EIT Digital Eindhoven.
Willem Jonker, Chief Executive Officer of EIT Digital, emphasised the importance of helping these young companies to scale up their business: “Of course it’s important to create many things, but if it stays at creating and the startups remain small that’s ultimately not the goal. We want healthy businesses that have a big impact.”
The awarding of the prizes is only the start of EIT Digital’s support to these startups. He added that as an international organisation with branches across Europe and a presence in Silicon valley EIT Digital can help the startups to expand through their international contacts.
He said: “The startups or scale-ups as I prefer to call them that can get the most out of our support are the ones with a clear expansion strategy. Then you can make the most of our network and partners.” Last year’s winner, Tinnitracks, which has developed an app for people suffering from tinnitus (a common problem when people hear ringing or a noise in their ears), started in Germany and with EIT Digital’s help they launched their product in the Netherlands.
“EIT was really helpful with developing the app, translating it and also launching it in the Netherlands and expanding our network within the Netherlands,” said Daniel Zander, Manager Audiology of Tinnitracks.
The event opened with a keynote by techno trend-watcher Rob Creemers.
This set the tone as it explored themes on the growth of technology, sustainability and artificial intelligence. He explained that understanding technology is now one of the core skills of a business leader. EIT Digital’s industrial partners Bosch, NXP, Philips and TomTom also gave presentations on their visions for the future and the event included an innovation fair. Here, members of the public got to know the products and services of various startups, including the finalists and former participants.
EIT Digital is a European open innovation organisation which brings together entrepreneurs from a partnership of over 130 European corporations, SMEs, startups, universities and research institutions. The EIT Digital Idea Challenge is the network’s 8-part contest to reach out, identify and support the best digital startups in Europe.
The remaining events and themes for EIT Digital for the rest of the year are as follows:
– Smart Spaces: Helsinki, December 1
– Internet of Things: Stockholm, December 3
– Cyber Physical Systems: Paris, December 4