IIT Business Showcase
On the 12th of September, seven different teams gathered in the IIT Central Research Lab of Genova Morego in order to share their projects in front of an audience where sat, among all the others, Antonio Leone, President of Italian Angels for Growth and Massimo Vanzi, Senior Member and Technology Wizard at Italian Angels for Growth. The aim is to promote IIT-born business ideas and to learn something new.
This is the third edition of the event, organized by the Technology Transfer Directorate, aimed to offer a stage to wannabe entrepreneurs in order to test the validity of their ideas as well as the potential interest on today’s competitive market.
For all the participants, it is also a direct and effective way to test their communication skills. Business proposals, in fact, often need to be presented to non-scientific audiences and being able to turn complicated specific ideas into simple concepts might, sometimes, make the difference between getting or not the partnership or funding for the project.
Each single team had 10 minutes to present their project, followed by a short Q&A session. In addition to this, an evaluation forms were distributed to the audience after each presentation, so that everyone could contribute with a feedback about the business ideas, the way they were presented and the teams.
The seven projects presented were the following.
Presented by: Stefano Toxiri - Advanced Robotics Lab in Genova
The first idea comes from XoLab, the exoskeleton group of Advanced Robotics (ADVR) at IIT Genova.
The team presents Proteso, a wearable robotic device designed to physically assist workers who repeatedly handle heavy loads.
As many as 43% of the EU workers suffers from back pain and injury, which represents a big social cost due to the many sick leaves and medical treatments that this condition causes.
Proteso provides a solution that protects the lower back, resulting in reduced physical strain during activities such as manual material handling.
The exoskeleton consists of an ergonomic backpack-like structure anchored on the upper legs. The onboard computer interprets the user's movements and correspondingly activates the electric motors, which work in combination with a system of springs.
The team consists of researchers and engineers with multiple years of experience in this project.
They are currently looking for investments to turn this project into a commercial product.
APSURG (Abdominal Positioning Surgical system)
This project springs from the need to increase the awareness of the surgical scene in order to reduce surgical complications and improve the outcome of the surgery. According to WHO (World health Organization) study, up to 25% of every year surgical treatments, end up with complications. From 3% to 22% of these complications are major - and preventable - ones.
The idea behind this project aims to guide, enhance and support the surgical gesture in minimally invasive surgery.
Nowadays, despite the technological advances, the success of an operation still heavily depends on the ability of the surgeon. The only visual feedback available comes from the endoscope, which can only offer a limited visual and is not as adaptable to investigate the human body as the software designed by the APSurg team.
The project consists in a surgical navigation system, a sort of GPS to navigate the internal part of the patient-specific abdomen intra-operatively. There are other competitors on the market, developing this kind of technology, however there is a gap in what concerns the abdominal area, as most competitors mainly focus on neurosurgery, orthopedics or on the ear-nose-throat area.
Main advantages of such a device would be the levelling of surgeons’ knowledge, support for surgeons’ decisions and higher awareness of surgical procedures.
Emilio Parisini and his team’s idea is to engineer artificial enzymes.
Enzymes are proteins that accelerate chemical reactions and, for this reason, have a variety of industrial applications. Target clients would be companies that use enzymes in their production cycle such as biopharmaceutical groups, the food industry or the chemical sector.
According to the team, the enzyme market is a big area to tap into. With their spin-off project, they intend to engineer enzymes for specific different needs, according to the section of the market the request is coming from. By taking a combined computational and experimental approach, which is considerably faster and cheaper compared to other more traditional methods, they can quickly design and produce enzymes that are more thermally stable than the natural ones.
Their roadmap is at the very early stages and they are looking for strategic partnerships.
The project aims to the specific detection of single particles.
Among the principal applications, there is the monitoring of cancer treatments, which might require a high level of precision in the analysis of treated areas, as well as any other disease healing control.
Moreover, the idea applies to early cancer detection, which could significantly impact on cancer mortality by a factor of about 15-25% on registered cases.
GREEN ENERGY EVERYWHERE
Presented by: Marco Cassinelli from CNST Milano
This new idea comes from the Milano Centre for Nanoscience and Technology (CNST IIT@PoliMi) and it is about converting thermal energy into electrical energy. It mainly addresses the large audience of portable device users that, with its 2,3 billions of smartphone users only, is a big market.
They aim to develop flexible organic thermoelectric generators to extend the lifetime of batteries and also to supply low-power devices, such as in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) market.
All they need to generate power is a gradient of temperature between the two ends of the generator. In this way, you can produce energy everywhere through a pollution-free process, without any mechanical moving parts; thus the name of the project.
There are many competitors already roaming the market with similar products. However, the uniqueness of this project springs from the fact that Green Energy Everywhere would produce devices by printing technique using only organic materials, making them more appealing for wearing applications than the others competitors who still use heavy toxic metals.
This business idea springs from the need for better in vitro screening methods on cardiac cells. They aim to the drug discovery and preclinical research market.
By assessing the electrophysiological activity of cardiac cells, they can determine how the heart reacts to specific drugs and how those affects its functionalities. Several drugs already on the market are later withdrawn due to side effects that were not detected during drug discovery or pre-clinical studies, with cardiovascular diseases as major reason for their withdrawal. Thus the need to reduce these risks.
The project consists of a next generation electrophysiology platform to be ideally sold B2B, with a new paradigm where they intend to combine pulsed laser technology with existing electrophysiology systems.
Noble intent of this business idea is to ease conditions of locked-in people affected by SLA by allowing a better level of communication with the outside world.
As it is well known, subjects suffering from SLA might be severely paralised and, therefore, cut off the world as they are not able to reach out to their family or friends.
The solution, in this case, comes from a low-cost wearable headset that translates brain signals in order to connect the user to social media platforms or any other communication software. This can be personalized from patient to patient and has potential application in gaming and research fields too.
They are developing both the hardware and the software and they aim to be able to provide future customers with full customer assistance for customization.
by Sylvia Mondinelli
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