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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-12-2015 | Award Amount: 4.38M | Year: 2016

SoftFIRE\ partners are aiming at Research and Innovation actions pursuing the integration of existing experimental facilities, testbeds and laboratories into FIRE\. The project focuses on new technologies like SDN and NFV in order to create a reliable, secure, interoperable and programmable experimental network infrastructure within the FIRE\ initiative. The Consortium will federate existing experimental testbeds in order to create an infrastructure that Third Parties can use to develop new services and applications. The federation is a step towards the creation of a new network experimental infrastructure that could be used as an initial 5G oriented platform. The SoftFIRE\ testbed will offer the possibility to assess and improve programmable solutions. In this environment there are three key elements to consider: programmability, interoperability and security. These properties have to be assessed in terms of efficiency, functional responsiveness and in general terms E2E QoS. The main objective of this project is to demonstrate and assess the level of maturity of adopted solutions and to show how they can support the full potential of these properties in a real world infrastructure by creating, nurturing and supporting an ecosystem of Third parties able to make use of the SoftFIRE\ testbed and to functionally extend it. The project aims at creating a broad ecosystem of companies engaged with the evolution of the SoftFIRE\ testbed. In order to achieve this goal, the project will spend a considerable part of its effort and budget for involving Third parties in the usage and consolidation of the platform. The mechanisms envisaged for this are: Open Calls and specific events (like Hackathon, Plug-tests and Challenges). The federated infrastructure will be used in order to a) develop new services and applications from Third parties, and b) develop new platform functionalities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: FI.ICT-2013.1.9 | Award Amount: 36.30M | Year: 2014

FI-WARE has started to materialize as a powerful foundation for the Future Internet. FI-WARE is an innovative, open cloud-based infrastructure for cost-effective creation and delivery of services, at a scale not seen before. FI-WARE is now well under way to successfully achieve its goals of boosting the effectiveness of creating new services of high economic and societal value, reinforcing EU competitiveness and bringing opportunities for high-growth entrepreneurs and SME players.\n\nNow, following an intensive period of research, development and experimentation, the FI-Core Consortium aims to complete the FI-WARE vision and support a truly open innovation ecosystem around FI-Lab, a working instance of FI-WARE that is distributed across multiple datacenters in Europe and is effectively operated using the suite of FI-Ops tools. In this project, the FI-Core consortium will deliver a)Technology extensions, introducing new capabilities to the platform, b) means for platform availability, including the launch of operational FI-Ware nodes across Europe with resources and tools to support them, as well as extensive FI-Ware education and training programs for Web entrepreneurs and SMEs plus c) Processes and tools for platform sustainability, dissemination of current and on-going results, namely FI-WARE, FI-Ops and FI-Lab. These will be a globally competitive foundation for Europes economy.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-2011.1.4 | Award Amount: 2.60M | Year: 2012

Trust is an essential prerequisite for connecting people in effective transactions. It builds into the society on elements like security, privacy, transparency, accountability and reputation. European strategy must aim at a strong competitive position in producing trustworthy ICT that bring new attractive ways of living and working that are perceived as trustworthy.\nThe Trust in Digital Life (TDL) community consists of more than 30 members, observers and associates. The community developed and agreed on a vision on the transparent payment for trust paradigm shift, Strategic Research and innovation Agenda (SRA), project roadmap and pilot projects to bring tangible trust in digital services faster to the market. This proposal is driven by the industry leaders represented in the TDL executive board.\nThe interventions delineated within the proposal will increase the value of TDL through supporting pragmatic actions e.g. developing and testing of generic trust architectures and integration pilots. ATTPS addresses four pillars, which include business, legal, social and technical challenges.\nThe objectives of ATTPS are:\n1.\tEnforcement of the trust paradigm shift\n2.\tCreate awareness at industry, institutes, governments across member states\n3.\tContribute to interoperability and standardisation at European level on trustworthy ICT\n\nIndustry and government have to start the paradigm shift because law enforcement alone is not sufficient. The paradigm shift requires an environment that enhances simplicity for providers, citizens and government to experiment with solutions that provide trust in real life settings. The paradigm shift will trigger public debates and identify bottlenecks. It leads to a balance between trustworthy ICT offered against affordable prices and ICT that is congruent with public expectation of trustworthiness and the generally accepted principles of privacy. ATTPS supports TDL to implement this environment that will be used as public trust platform.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-17-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 4.94M | Year: 2017

The mission of BDVe is to support the Big Data Value PPP in realizing a vibrant data-driven EU economy or said in other words, BDVe will support the implementation of the PPP to be a SUCCESS. Behind that mission, there are multiple goals to achieve, which should be taken into full consideration when defining the directions of the PPP. Some of the most challenging ones are: (1) achieving a more competitive landscape of European Big Data providers, leading to bigger market share; (2) creating the context for a more competitive EU industry (transport, manufacturing, public sector, agrifood, media, energy) in the advent of a data-driven revolution where many traditional players will have to transform their processes and re-think their business if they want to remain completive or in some cases, just to survive-; (3) ensuring the sustainability of the investments and actions triggered by the PPP. BDVe has broken down those high-level goals into 7 major priorities for the project: Being accurately informed about most important facts in Big Data so that we have a solid basis to support the decision-making process in the PPP Supporting the implementation of the Big Data PPP from an operational point of view Developing a vibrant community around the PPP Supporting the development of a European network of infrastructures and centers of excellence around Big Data Setting-up a professional Communications strategy Setting up a framework that supports the acceleration of data-driven businesses, and Ensuring the sustainability of the investments and actions triggered by the PPP. The BDVe consortium includes a set of partners that have shown commitment and dedication to the success of the PPP for several years. They have already invested and they have committed to invest along the coming years. We believe that this CSA cannot be a neutral action that offers operational support without further commitment.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: FI.ICT-2013.1.9 | Award Amount: 2.01M | Year: 2014

The objective of the Incubating Internet Innovation Hubs (I3H) project is to contribute to the sustainability of FI PPP by creating a European network of Internet Innovation Hubs (IIH), regional or thematic clusters that bring together web entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, students, academia, industry, and public sector innovators to speed up the transformation of FI PPP results to services and applications addressing the needs of European citizens, companies, and society.Our starting point is the initial network of EIT ICT Labs hubs in Budapest, Eindhoven, Helsinki, Madrid, Paris and Trento coinciding with the Nodes of EIT ICT Labs, the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) on information society of the European Institute of Innovations and Technology (EIT). The seed network will grow organically with a robust life-cycle incubation stage gate process for identifying candidate hubs and guiding them through tangible milestones towards full-fledged IIHs with hands-on coaching, resources and support, including knowledge and best practice transfer. We scout the Internet innovation landscape inside and outside FI PPP to recognize at least 60 candidate IIHs and provide incubation stage gate process for the selected hubs. By end of the project, our ambition is to have a network of 20 Internet Innovation Hubs emerge from the process.The second objective of the I3H project is to support the FI PPP initiatives sustainability and the emerging European Internet innovation community through technology and business roadmapping, providing foresight to the entire FI-PPP Phase 3 and guiding the identification of new stakeholders for I3H. Apart from the knowledge and best practices of the FI PPP community, the work will draw insight from a liaison with key industrial stakeholders in Europe as well as with a selected group of web entrepreneurs and SMEs. We will also study the developments in other major markets (USA, Japan, Canada, BRIC countries, emergent markets) linking with EIT ICT Labs own foresight.


News Article | March 12, 2014
Site: www.rudebaguette.com

The EIT CIT Labs, a pan-European initiative specialized in information and communication technologies, announced yesterday at CeBit in Hannover the launch of the first round of the Idea Challenge, a competition for early-stage startups with European and global ambitions. The EIT ICT Labs defines itself as a pan-European ecosystem fuelled by ideas and talent. It brings together a network of startups, universities, bigger companies and VCs across Europe. The Idea Challenge takes place in 8 different cities (London, Eindhoven, Rennes, Trento, Berlin, Munich, Helsinki and Stockholm) around 8 topics. The first round, opening today, is dedicated to startups revolutionizing Health & Wellbeing, Smart Spaces, Cyber-Physical Systems, and Future Cloud. Early-stage startups that have a global ambition can submit their project starting from today and the contest lasts until April 20th. Winners get financial help from €15,000 to €40,000 as well as support from the EIT ICT network: coaching and mentoring from experts, integration in the EIT ICT ecosystem, office space for up to 6 months (in one of the co-location centers of their choice), and integration of the European network. Submissions will be examined by expert business developers from EIT ICT Labs. The 10 best teams will be invited to pitch in front of a jury. This year, France is welcoming the semi-finale in Rennes, where European startups taking care of the future cloud business will pitch during the Future Cloud Symposium in June. EIT ICT Labs is also active in Paris where they have a co-location place close to Place d’Italie, and another “satellite” in Sofia Antipolis. They animate their network locally with several partners such as Institut Mines Telecom, Alcatel Lucent, Thales or Cap Digital. What does “pan-european” mean for startups? Since there is no startup and innovation cluster comparable to the Silicon Valley in Europe, initiatives (in ICT and other industries) remain focused on countries, even though the market is legally unified. Willem Jonker, EIT ICT Labs’ CEO declares: “All countries can benefit from doing more together: it’s about connecting the dots. No single country has the ability to match what the Silicon Valley does in ICT industry. But together, you become suddenly an actor.” Hence the actions of the Labs, all Europe-driven: partnerships with all ecosystem stakeholders (startups, bigger companies, universities, funds, institutions etc.) and a pool of startups located everywhere in Europe and all sharing their experiences and contacts etc. There are even cross-countries projects, for instance, an urban life related project handled by Paris, Trento and Milano is to be exposed  in Expo 2015 in Milan. One could argue that the main difference between the Californian and the European ecosystem is the amount of money available and the willingness of investors to fund startups for large amounts. The EIT ICT initiative is tackling this issue by building networks of investors (VCs, business angels, big companies with mergers and acquisition funds…) around their co-location centres around Europe. They also work together with European Investment Fund to support local funds across Europe. According to Klaus Beetz, Business Director of EIT ICT Labs, “We should no try to copy the Silicon Valley. Silicon valley is driven by money. Culturally, Europe is much more driven by technology.” Learn more about the ecosystem and the competition on EIT ICT Labs‘ and the Idea Challenge’s websites. )


News Article | May 6, 2015
Site: tech.eu

I have to admit I’d never heard about EIT ICT Labs until recently. Or maybe I did, but forgot about it because of its horrendous name. But what the organisation lacks in the creative naming department, it makes up for in terms of usefulness for European tech startups. EIT ICT Labs bills itself as a ‘European open innovation organisation’, but more accurately it is a network that consists of some of Europe‘s leading companies, universities and research institutions in the field of information and communication technologies (Philips, SAP, Nokia, BT, F-Secure etc.). How does that concern you as a startup? Well, perhaps not directly, but you might want to take a very close look at the Idea Challenge the organisation is kicking off today. The Idea Challenge is basically EIT ICT Labs’ contest to reach out, identify and support the best (read: fastest-growing, innovative) digital startups in Europe that are poised to scale up. If that applies to your startup, then consider applying for the pan-European contest – the call for applications opens today and will stay open until 6 July. – Up to €40,000 in cash (no strings attached) – Access to EIT ICT Labs’ 130 partners (perhaps your next partners, customers or investors) – Support for business acceleration in Europe and beyond – Free co- working space (from Stockholm to Brussels to Milan) – Support from EIT ICT Labs’ marketing and communication experts  These are the eight over-arching topics that you can apply for: – Health & Wellbeing – Smart Spaces – Cyber-Physical Systems – Future Cloud – Cyber Security and Privacy – Internet of Things – Urban Life and Mobility – Smart Energy Systems Per topic, 10 finalists will pitch in front of a jury in a series of eight finals, taking place in Autumn 2015. Last year’s edition of the Idea Challenge focused on early-stage startups, but this year EIT ICT Labs is zooming in on so-called ‘scale-ups’, CEO Willem Jonker says: There are a couple of criteria (max. five years in existence, less than €1 million raised, incorporated in one of the EU’s 28 member states, proven traction and more) but you can read about the guidelines upon applying for the contest (which, in 2015, more than 1500 teams did). Stephane Gantchev, a partner at the LAUNCHub seed fund in Bulgaria, is a fan: “Last year, EIT ICT Labs did a call for startups in the CEE/SEE region and it was great for us, as two LAUNCHub portfolio startups were selected and participated in their program. It turned out to be a positive and very valuable experience for both startups. It was a great combination: some cash (always good, a startup needs any breathing room they can get) and advice in the areas of sales and business development – arguably the most difficult to figure out in the early days. EIT ICT Labs has opened doors for both our teams, and they are still in touch with their contacts today.” Previous Idea Challenge laureates include Tinnitracks, Undagrid, Sentryo, ICE Gateway and Guide Me Right. We’ll be highlighting some of them in the near future, but in the meantime you should really check out whether Idea Challenge could be another step to world domination for your startup.


News Article | November 18, 2014
Site: news.siliconallee.com

The trip from Bergamo airport to Trento starts getting interesting once you pass by the bottom end of Lake Garda and swing north. Then the mountains rise up either side of you, towering over the picturesque little Italian towns snuggled at their feet, the effect made all the more dramatic in this instance by the white clouds rolling by their peaks. Trento, one of Italy’s most prosperous cities, lies in the same valley, through which the country’s second longest river – the Adige – flows south from the majority German-speaking South Tyrol region to the Adriatic Sea. An ancient settlement dating back more than 2,000 years, Trento boasts a charming Medieval and Renaissance city centre, while the region’s wines, both red and white, are superb (conclusion arrived at following the appropriate research). But these days, science is just as important as setting and history in giving Trento one of the best standards of living in Italy. The EIT ICT Labs Co-Location Centre, the venue for the cyber-security and privacy (CSP) final of the Idea Challenge, is situated in the Povo scientific and technological cluster, perched on a hill above Trento. A pan-European competition, the Idea Challenge has seen startups and entrepreneurial teams with the drive to found an ICT-driven business compete in eight categories in total, with finals in different European cities which play host to an EIT ICT Labs presence. Three winners are picked from each final, receiving €40,000, €25,000 and €15,000 respectively as well as coaching and mentoring from business development experts, integration into future EIT activities and office space for six months. There is also access to some of the world’s leading universities, research institutes and companies, such as Siemens, SAP, IBM, Intel and Philips. Cyber-security and privacy is certainly an area where there is a great deal of activity in innovation, driven by the high-profile nature of data leaks and successful cyber attacks. Some 67 applications were received in the CSP topic, and the best ten were selected to pitch in Trento last week in front of a jury of experts, both independent and from within EIT ICT Labs. And with the glorious backdrop of the Dolomite mountains, and the city of Trento spreading out beneath, the teams tried to hit the peaks in the pitching contest. They included: BYOD, of course, stands for Bring Your Own Device, a fast-growing policy for companies with 198 million users in 2013, a figure set to double in the next three years. Security with BYOD is crucial, and BYODroid tailors mobile apps to corporate security needs, enforcing policies directly on the applications installed on the device. It verifies whether an app complies with policy, and if not can sanitise it. Mobile health apps are becoming a staple of many people’s smartphones, yet there are significant concerns over the security of the sensitive data they collect. Developing technology that meets ever-stricter privacy laws in this field can be painful, especially for individual and small-team developers. CHINO offers a set of secure APIs with full encryption, backup and auditing, to enable a more efficient app development process. Cleafy addresses a major vulnerability of the Internet – HTML is a publicly readable code and it is easy to write or buy a program that interacts with it in ways that are invisible to existing security products, which try to detect attacks by looking at how they appeared or behaved in the past. Cleafy has reframed the problem, by verifying that the original website has been correctly delivered, rendered and adopted by the client, all in real time. Crip.to is a secure and encrypted platform for the safe exchange of data such as messages, multimedia or documents. The complexity and tech is hidden inside the app, and there is forensic deletion of data with no logs kept. The solution is baed on open source technology and well-proven algorithms and offers a strong and unique level of privacy. This Italian startup has developed a solution to the counterfeiting of documents and products, a problem which will cause losses of up to €1.5 trillion in 2015. There is no current way to check the authenticity of things like printed documents and products sold in physical stores, so Cryptobrand has created a digital seal which can be used to lock the info which users can verify instantly on their smartphones – the seal on the certificate becomes a QR code. Cryptolab is aiming to improve security and privacy in the cloud using secure, fully homomorphic encryption. This not only ensures privacy but also allows for the manipulation of data, which cannot be done with current solutions. It does this by using two encryption engines, which means the data is never actually decrypted. The solution put forward by n-Auth is designed to put authentication back into the hands of the user. Using state-of-the-art cryptography, users connect from a webpage to a server, such as logging in and out, and directly authorise transactions at any computer by using their smartphone and a QR code. The technology eliminates the need for a trusted third party and for storing sensitive information on the server. Today’s embedded systems don’t have enough security to cope with partially successful malware attacks, and it’s hardly likely the world will be bug-free any time soon. REMPLEX’s product D-Fence is a highly secure hypervisor-based platform for communication and automation applications which systematically reduces the attack surface and denies malware across the vulnerable parts of a system. Its first project was to create two different phones in one physical device. Industrial Control Systems (ICS) manage our physical world, whether its controlling energy units, subways or modern factories. There are an increasing number of new and stronger mandatory regulations for ICS from the automation world, and Sentryo ICS CyberVision protects against cyber risks by building a dynamic inventory and automatic map of all the components of a system to improve prevention, as well as monitoring a network continuously and detecting intrusions and abnormal behaviour. Swafety is a cloud-based software testing platform based on symbolic execution, which can effectively detect a wide range of subtle errors and security vulnerabilities. The system sits in the cloud, and whenever there are changes to a code, it is comprehensively tested and the results presented to developers in a way they are familiar with. With the pitches over, the jury made their way to the judging room to come up with a decision, while Davide Sola of the ESCP Business School delivered a keynote. Soon they were back, however, and named CHINO as the overall winner, with Cleafy second and Sentryo third. Jovan Stevovic, CEO of CHINO, told Silicon Allee: “I think they [the jury] realised there is a problem in the market, [and so] there is a huge opportunity here. Even though the idea is quite simple, it’s effective.” He added: “We will make good use of all the resources [that come with winning] because we are early stage. Especially the coaching on the business side, because we are technicians, and we have only just started out.” His namesake Jovan Golic, Cyber-Security Action Line Leader at EIT ICT Labs, said: “[The winners] bring about new and real business ideas and new entrepreneurial spirit, and with such efforts, together with our network of business developers, we could possibly – it’s not easy in cyber-security and privacy – make a difference on the European market.” And as for CHINO, he added: “There are many apps around that do not comply with regulations so this is a very important area, and it’s a very practical solution.” With that it was off to conduct more vital research into the local wine and cuisine together with all the participants. With seven finals done and dusted, there is only one more to go – urban life and mobility in London on November 20.


News Article | September 30, 2014
Site: news.siliconallee.com

Eight cities, eight topics. The Idea Challenge is a truly European competition for entrepreneurs and people with big ideas. But why these topics? What is it about these areas of technology that the organisers, EIT ICT Labs, find interesting? What trends and challenges do these topics contain? We’re taking a closer look at each of the eight topics, which themselves are split into two batches. The second batch of the competition is taking place this autumn, with finals in Trento, London, Berlin and Stockholm. You still just about have time to enter – with prizes of up to €40,000 (as well as coaching, mentoring and office space) up for grabs, applications are only open till midnight tonight, September 30. You can find more information here. For the final topic, we’re staying a little closer to home than before – the smart energy systems final will be held here in the German capital on October 31, as part of the Smart Energy Community event. To explore the topic in more detail we spoke with Heiko Lehmann, research and innovation director for smart energy at T-Labs and EIT ICT Labs’ action line leader in the subject. Energy is, as it has been for centuries, big news. Wars are fought over it and countless billions spent on it. But the world is changing fast, and nowhere is that truer than in Germany. Over the past decade and more, the so-called Energiewende – German for energy transition – has been at the heart of energy policy. This has especially been so since the dramatic fall in popularity of nuclear energy following the Fukushima accident. But in Europe, what is anathema to one country is the opposite next door – France currently has 59 nuclear reactors (and cheap electricity). The point being, that this is a subject which is crying out for innovation, but where there are plenty of barriers in the way, be it the vastly different energy landscapes in individual European countries or the huge amounts of resources needed on an infrastructure level. “Europe has different markets,” said Heiko, “so it might be different from something like health and wellbeing, as an example, where you have a single value proposition and can then adapt the market. With energy systems, you always have to couple to the regulatory framework and to the market.” For example, there is only one distribution system operator (DSO) in the UK. In Germany, there are around 800. “That equates to different conditions for whatever you are doing and whatever you are developing in terms of value proposition.” That doesn’t mean it’s not a topic that startups should be looking at, however. The answer, says Heiko, is in looking to bring together the utility side and the ICT as part of a coupled value proposition. One of the priorities for the EIT ICT Labs smart energy systems action line is to look at decentralised solutions – physically and technically they would be the same anywhere, but they could adapt to different economic conditions. It’s a crucial area, according to Heiko: “If you are not able to decentralise the energy system, then no energy turnaround will happen. If you think that France has 59 nuclear reactors, they will probably have a tendency towards maintaining a centralised system, whereas in Germany where we have solar and wind power, the tendency is to decentralisation.” Another area where agile young and innovative companies could prosper in the smart energy space is through increasing efficiency. “That’s a difficult thing to do for end users, for the mass market, because it is very, very hard to persuade people to pay for machinery, for a platform, for whatever, in order to save on energy costs, because they will need many years to break even. But we have reinterpreted that as industrial efficiency – a telco, for example, would be looking at energy efficiency in the transport of data in the system. And I think it is well worth doing.” On top of that, efficiency would be the same whichever country you were in. Europe does have efficiency guidelines which set high standards. As a specific example, take Ebee Smart Solutions, which is a technology provider for the charging infrastructure industry – i.e. charging electric cars. But it is also coupling that with communal projects like a city’s lighting system, and Heiko added: “That’s a good example of what startups could do; it blends usecases, and bundles together different value propositions in a clever way.” But with all the challenges facing potential smart energy system entrepreneurs, is it as a space going to be entrepreneurial? “I think so, yes, because we see a lot of technological development. The challenge is to blend this with an appropriate ICT structure and to find the right place for it. I am not interested in the next battery, or the next way of finding of better prices. There will always be this track of producing that; the point is to integrate it in an efficient way.” If you find a lightbulb going off above your head and you want to apply for the Idea Challenge in the smart energy systems topic (or any of the four in the second batch) then you need to plug in and get your skates on – applications close tonight, September 30, at midnight.


News Article | November 4, 2014
Site: news.siliconallee.com

All things considered, it’s a bit of a trek out to Adlershof, a part of Berlin on the periphery of the city close to the (hopefully) soon-to-be-closed Schönefeld Airport. And you would probably expect it to be as far from the usual tech neighbourhoods of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg metaphorically as it is geographically. But rather than a grey and depressing outskirt still suffering from Communist-era architecture, parts of Adlershof are really quite shiny and modern – and provides proof that the tech revolution sweeping through Germany’s capital city is expanding beyond its original borders. The current tech presence in Adlershof can be traced back to the initial post-Berlin Wall era, when the (East) German Academy of Sciences was shut down and the WISTA Science and Technology Park was established. Over the years, it has developed into a cluster of tech-related activity, including a startup hub – in particular, there are close links with universities and research centres such as the Humboldt’s natural sciences departments, which are located in Adlershof. And just as Adlershof was the setting for a momentous occasion in the history of transport in Germany – the country’s first ever motorised flight took off from the Johannisthal Air Field, which formerly occupied the site – so it now hopes to be at the centre of future technological achievements. All of which made it an interesting place to host the smart energy systems final of the Idea Challenge, a pan-European competition organised by EIT ICT Labs. As mentioned previously, Berlin is a fitting place to look at the future of energy and showcase some of the best ideas in the field. A total of ten teams made the final, out of 62 smart energy systems entries, and pitched in front of an expert crowd as part of the Smart Energy Community Event. The Idea Challenge has seen startups and entrepreneurial teams with the drive to found an ICT-driven business compete in eight categories in total, with finals in different European cities which play host to an EIT ICT Labs presence. Three winners are picked from each final, receiving €40,000, €25,000 and €15,000 respectively as well as coaching and mentoring from business development experts, integration into future EIT activities and office space for six months. There is also access to some of the world’s leading universities, research institutes and companies, such as Siemens, SAP, IBM, Intel and Philips. The hope is that the contest can help break down the barriers to true innovation within Europe a little, especially given that EIT ICT Labs – which is partly financed by the EU – won’t take any equity from the winners and therefore does not measure success in terms of seeing the startups exit for a huge profit, but rather by factors such as job creation. In the first round of the Idea Challenge, 12 startups in the health and wellbeing, cyber-physical systems, smart spaces and future cloud categories won a total of €320,000, and are already working closely with the EIT ICT Labs Business Accelerator to further develop their ideas. Smart energy systems was first up in the second batch, and hopefuls from Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the UK gathered in Adlershof hoping to take home the prize. The finalists had to pitch their ideas in front of a jury consisting of experts from Siemens (including its venture capital branch), Startupbootcamp, the High-Tech Gründerfonds, Vattenfall and EIT ICT Labs itself. The participating teams included: A German startup, Brightup is a smart management system for energy consumers with a focus on usability, which manages devices around you based on the information available. The first product is a smart home lighting system that is compatible with your existing lamps and bulbs. This team from Italy has built an innovative prototype for monitoring and assessing power quality – as pitcher Cosmo di Perna said, one kilowatt hour is not necessarily the same as another. The solution provides different methods of evaluation, and the implementation of custom power solutions. Easy Smart Grid is a company from Germany which is enabling a real-time market for electricity, in doing so increasing the share of renewable energy and lowering the cost to consumers. The startup’s technology reduces infrastructure and operation costs and provides higher resilience and customer data protection. Ecogriddy solves the problem of small renewable energy produces and consumers not being aligned, which leads to a waste of both electricity and money. Its solution is to apply an Internet of Things architecture to mini and micro smart grids, with the expectation that efficiency rates will improve by up to 40 percent compared to present solutions. Next up was another Italian startup, this time offering a novel technology to predict energy consumption patterns based on extensive human behavioural characteristics extracted from mobile network data. The technology was tested in the Trentino province, and provided predictions which were nearly two and a half times more accurate than existing solutions. Housahedron is a simple solution providing detailed and accurate pictures of a building’s energy performance using real-time 3D visualisations. Data is collected from wireless sensors placed within a building and interpreted into a 3D model of the same structure showing, for example, where heat is being generated or lost. The initial usecase for the British team is data centres, where maintaining a constant temperature is vital. With some 30 percent of street lights in Europe needing replacing, ICE Gateway wants to see its intelligent technology fitted in the new light ballasts being installed. The technology allows for the lamppost to be connected to a secure wireless infrastructure, not only allowing for energy saving and carbon dioxide reduction, but also to provide extra services such as traffic notifications. There is no doubting the scientific credentials of the NNGC team – based in the UK but with an international feel – and its idea takes some explaining. Simply put, NNGC uses a neural network to create better power converters (that is, from AC to DC and vice versa). These smart converters will allow for the oscillation of current solutions – stemming form over-correction in trying to match the flow – to be eliminated, and help the efficient transfer of energy from a wind turbine or renewable generator onto a grid. A French startup, Sereema is looking to improve the efficiency of wind turbines by making them smarter. Its large-scale solution sees the installation of sensors which will detect where turbine output is not being optimised, for example through deviation or drift, and the provision of detailed technical files for specialists to carry out corrective action. Farms can be messy – so what to do with all that agricultural waste? Sprouting With Betta aims to find sustainable and efficient solutions for managing this material, and obtaining as much energy from it as possible. This will be achieved by applying a controlled sub-stoichiometric burning process by means of a spouted bed reactor using agricultural residues as feedstock. And so to the winners… First place went to NNGC, second was ICE Gateway and Easy Smart Grid came in third. For Michael Fairbank, who pitched on behalf of NNGC, it was a major surprise. When asked why he thought their idea had emerged victorious, Michael, who in his day job teaches teenagers at a school in London, told Silicon Allee: “Because it is small. There is nothing airy-fairy about it. It’s a device that does a simple well, so there are few unknowns.” And yes, he would be telling his pupils about his big win. His colleague Eduardo Alonso said: “We only just won and were already introduced to venture capitalists. We’re very happy and hope that we can get more contacts like this in the future through the network.” Udo Bub, the node director of EIT ICT Labs Germany, said: “In order to cover the smart energy field you have to bring four major players together – regulators and politics, big industry, startups and academia. We managed to do that, and the event was a big success. … All the winners are now invited to join our community and work with us more closely towards further maturation and market readiness.” With the fifth Idea Challenge topic complete, the focus now turns to Stockholm for the Internet of Things final and Trento for cyber security and privacy, both of which take place on November 13.

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