ITMO Business Incubator Team Attends SHIP Festival
From July 11 to 13, the *SHIP startup-festival was held in Kotka (Finland), attended by participants from more than 20 countries. At the festival, ITMO University’s Business Incubator introduced three startups: Laeneco, Statanly Technologies and Coffee Cycle, which are currently accelerated by Future Technologies’ START program. ITMO.NEWS had a chance to talk with members of the three teams who received praise from European experts and signed preliminary contracts with investors.
The international startup festival *SHIP brings together the leading european experts in technology entrepreneurship and gives startupers from different countries an opportunity to acquire some useful connections. The teams of ITMO University’s Business Incubator took part in two tracks at once: the primary one (for students’ projects) and the Growth Track (for more mature projects that were introduced to investors). On the first day, the teams visited mentors’ sessions, after which they had to introduce their projects in a 3-minute pitch format. The next day, the length of the pitch was shortened to two minutes.
ITMO's business incubator's team
The startup’s team is working on a device for lung diagnostics (the project was earlier called Lung Diagnostics; more information can be found here). At the festival, they had the opportunity to expand the scope of application of their project, and the area of insurance turned out to be one of the most promising. Insurance companies are interested in improving the process of supporting their clients while reducing the expenditure. In medical events against which a client has been insured, the company has to pay for each medical visit. To reduce the number of doctor visits, but keep the service on the same level, insurance companies can rent Laeneco’s device to their clients. The clients may then perform health checks on their own, determine the preliminary diagnosis and to send it to their doctor.
The European clientele is very interested in this project, since in Europe people don’t have the opportunity to arrange to visit a doctor straight away. At first they have to talk to a nurse who performs an initial check on the patient and only then can they see a specific doctor. The problem is that there’s a time interval of some couple of days between the nurse’s and the doctor’s consultations. And if the malignant processes in the patient’s organism have begun, the nurse could use the device to control their condition and prevent possible complications.
The project was also noticed by Google’s experts. They were interested in the way the device processes data (it is based on deep sound analysis).
“We got very important feedback from the experts who work in medicine. We were told what is most important for Europe and what steps we need to take to enter the European market. In particular, we realized that we need to make medicine evidential. The European market is over-regulated in what has to do with technology. Technologies develop very fast; however, they’re hard to integrate in the market’s сonditions. Because of that, even with the evident progress in technologies, the methods stay the same. Our startup can change the whole structure of medicine. The specialists say that soon these kind of projects will be in very high demand. However, we still have a long way ahead of us: we need to find a medical or research company that can do more research for our startup. In other words, one that will provide evidence for the results that we сlaim. As soon as we pass the proving part we’ll be able to move forward” - says Ilya Skorobogatov, one of the startup’s developers.
According to experts, this project can’t have a fast start in Europe, so it’s easier for the team to start business in Russia, cooperate with the state institutes and work with Russian customers. And with the experience that the team will get here, they’ll be able to go on to conquer the European market. The team has already signed a contract with the Pavlov First St. Petersburg State Medical University that will test the devices.
Since the start of Future Technologies’ START program, the team has modified the device: a prototype was introduced in mid-May which included only a computer microphone and a part of a stethoscope. The new version consists of a highly sensitive microphone, a sound amplifier unit, a Bluetooth unit, a li-ion battery and LED backlights. The main problem is the absence of a database - the starting base was compiled on the internet, but for machine learning to be effective, it needs to have a larger data set. Now the members of the startup are going to start collecting information. Several prototypes of the product were given to medical staff for data collection.
The startup, based on neural network use, is a service for analysis and visualization of large amounts of data. It aims to facilitate the use of Big Data by corporate clients. As part of the festival, the team met with investors from REOF Capital and San Francisco Oy (a Finnish marketing company).
The managing director of the investment and consulting company REOF Capital which has branches in Puerto-Rico and the US, has shown interest in the project; the parties are currently discussing the possibility of using a partner business model for faster client attraction. Juhani Polkko, founder of San Francisco Oy marketing company, has told the team about the opportunities for advancement of the startup.
Sergei Fedorov, Ilya Skorobogatov and Vladimir Kamilyanov
After exchanging contact information with other participants of the festival, experts and investors, the project got much more popular. The next day after the event the team members received several interesting proposals, for instance, an invitation to GoTech-2017 technological projects’ contest.
In the process of developing the project, the landing page has changed completely. Also, last week the team has launched an English version of their site, and in beginning of July they‘ve released the first version of algorithms that they are going to test now.
“Originally, all algorithms were written by the team members on a by-order basis for each particular client, but when the team understood that there is a demand, we decided to make a universal service, where any company can put its data and analyse it. Right now, the team’s goal is to improve this service so the new algorithms are not worse than the custom-made ones” - says Sergey Fedorov, team member.
This is a startup based on a technology for growing mushrooms using coffee grounds (the original name of project is “Ecology in a box”; learn more about this project here). The mentors recommended the team to draw clients’ attention using the product’s package design. The experts also suggested to not just work in the area of gifts, but also try to do something in the area of education. The team’s members are now working with schools and kindergartens so as to implement their product into the education system. However, in this case they’ll have to add to the packaging a training manual in the form of short lessons to teach the children about environment.
Ship* startup festival. Credit: social networks
According to the experts, this project might also be successful because it works as a less complex counterpart to the tradition of growing vegetables on a window-sill for which many have little time or patience (in general, it takes about 3 months for such plants to grow). The team members say that the mushrooms will grow in the span of ten days.
Right now the team is working on a unique design of the box. They invited a designer for that. The startup has also reached the finals of the Social Impact Award - an international competition of social projects. Last week the team visited an opening ceremony of the acceleration program in which they take part now.
In the near future the team is planning to make a sales model and develop contacts with intermediaries who can integrate the product to their assortment.