CHF 130’000 awarded to medtech and cleantech startups

20.12.2017 16:45
symbolic picture: Optician

Venture Kick has celebrated the last awards-handover of this year in Lausanne. Two startups, RetinAI and Skypull have each been awarded with CHF 130,000. RetinAI designs an automatic solution to detect eye pathologies and sources of blindness using Artificial Intelligence. Skypull develops a drone to gather high altitude winds, boosting the efficiency of wind power. Both companies will use Venture Kick money to expand their operations.

The two winners are focusing on two different fields but both have similar goals: to bring innovative solutions that tackle today’s challenging problems.

Early detection is key for appropriate and effective treatment to reduce or reverse the onset of blindness. The medtech startup RetinAI aims to improve preventive medicine using Artificial Intelligence to support eye care professionals and patients throughout medical examination procedures. Using the latest advances in medical imaging analysis, ophthalmology and machine learning, RetinAI has developed a unique processing software for eye care professionals. Easy to use and able to deliver faster results, the system assists doctors with the evaluation of Optical Coherence Tomography and Fundus Image Photography. Learning from the provided data, it automatically identifies pathological biomarkers, which the doctor can then use for diagnosis.

After acquiring CHF 300,000 in seed money mid-2017, RetinAI was part of the venture leaders Life Science program in June 2017 and has been actively collaborating with hospitals and universities to. Now with the Venture Kick funds, RetinAI will start focusing on obtaining clinical validation for its software and growing its staff.

Carlos Ciller, RetinAI’s CEO, explained, “Getting the three kicks has helped us through a continuous validation process with experts and investors, and having the means to address potential partners and customers in the very competitive ophthalmic industry.”

Skypull SA
By the end of October 2017, 24.6% of the EU’s electricity was powered by wind, which shows great market potential for new solutions. Skypull, a cleantech startup has developed an airborne wind energy system, a solution designed to enhance the efficiency of wind power by harvesting the winds at above 200 meters in altitude, which is 3 to 4 times stronger than those at lower altitude where standard wind turbines operate. The system is composed of a drone, a tether and a ground power generator. To capture high altitude winds, the drone, attached to the generator, takes off from the ground and climbs up to above 200m. It turns off its motor and starts gliding like a kite, continuing to climb as it unrolls the cable. Once it reaches its ceiling altitude, the drone descends and restarts its cycle. On the ground, the generator transforms the kinetic energy into electricity. Controlled by an innovative software to allow for autonomous operation and versatility, the system can produce 95% more energy than an average wind turbine with half the cost and a considerably reduced size and weight.

Skypull aims to complete its proof of concept by the end of 2017. Thanks to the obtained funds from Venture Kick, the startup will be able to to boost the realization of a commercially viable prototype – a 5.90m drone with 100kW nominal power for off and mini grid users – by 2020.

Nicola Mona, executive officer of Skypull, shared his thoughts on the program “Venture Kick is both a very challenging and very rewarding journey that makes you stronger and better equipped for the real world. The 11-month long journey from Stage 1 to Stage 3 has been a steep learning curve. Looking back today at where we started makes us realize on how much solidity, drive, credibility and confidence we acquired.”

(Picture: 12019/Pixabay)


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