Kurs Orbital, an Italian start-up incubated at I3P and part of the ESA BIC Turin programme, won the 2022 edition of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta with its in-orbit support services for spacecraft, which enable satellite life extension and space debris removal missions, allowing to aim for a safer and more sustainable future in space.
Now in its 18th edition, the Business Plan Competition is organized as part of the PNI - Premio Nazionale per l'Innovazione (Italian National Award for Innovation) and promoted by incubators I3P, 2i3T and Enne3 to spread the culture of innovation at local level, promote the economic development in Piedmont and Aosta Valley and support the birth of innovative and knowledge-intensive start-ups in various fields: Life Sciences, ICT, Cleantech & Energy, Industrial, Tourism and the Cultural and Creative Industries.
The winners were chosen from 173 business ideas submitted. As far as Business Plans are concerned, 41% of them belonged the ICT area, namely innovative products and/or services in the field of information technology and new media, such as e-commerce, social media, mobile, gaming, etc. Other popular sectors were Tourism and Cultural and Creative Industries with 19% of projects submitted, followed by Cleantech and Energy and Industrial (both 14%) and Life Sciences (12%). Of the 358 applicants, for the most part in teams, the majority were men (74%) and 43% hold a postgraduate degree, 20% a bachelor's degree, 21% a diploma and 16% a master's or doctorate degree.
Thanks to the endowment made available by the promoters and supporters of the 2022 edition, as well as the support of Regione Piemonte through the European Social Fund, this year's total prize money amounted to more than 65,000 euros, in cash and services. The winners were announced and awarded at an event held in Novara at the University of Eastern Piedmont.
Start-up Kurs Orbital, incubated in I3P and part of the ESA BIC Turin programme, won the first prize of 10,000 euros thanks to its solution for space logistics based on a patented technology. In particular, Kurs Orbital aims to offer services for the inspection and maintenance of satellites by supporting their life extension.
In second place, winning a 7,500 euros prize, is Mespac, a Turin-based start-up incubated at I3P that, through the use of space assets and the application of AI, aims to provide services that support Blue Economy operators in the various phases during the life cycle of offshore marine energy plants.
Third place and winner of the 5,000 euros prize was the AgreeNet project, supported by I3P, which proposes a compostable and edible coating created to protect fresh fruit that spoils quickly, in order to extend its shelf life and reduce food waste.
In fourth, fifth and sixth place are: Impavid, a project supported by 2i3T, which proposes a bio-artificial patch, which is applied to the heart during bypass surgery after a heart attack and is able to repair infrastructural damage, protect the heart from damage caused by reperfusion and/or fibrosis, and regenerate cardiac tissue by stimulating the growth of new cells; Relax4Ti, supported by 2i3T, with an innovative methodology that, through magnetic resonance or low magnetic field measurements, detects the presence of residual tumor cells in tissue samples at the edge of surgical restriction within minutes; the e-CO2Synth project, supported by I3P, which aims to develop scalable electrodes for the electrochemical conversion of CO2 into ethylene and ethanol.
The top six projects will also receive a prize of 1,000 euros each to compete in the 20th edition of the PNI - Premio Nazionale per l'Innovazione 2022, "Champions Cup" of the winning business projects of the regional Start Cups to be held in L'Aquila, organized by Start Cup Abruzzo and the University of L'Aquila (on December 1st and 2nd).
Special prizes were also awarded by the sponsors of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta 2022, who are interested in a concrete contribution to the development of innovation.
- Regione Autonoma Valle d'Aosta, which is committed to business development in the region, has awarded the Valle d'Aosta Prize of 7,500 euros for the establishment of a company in the Pépinières d'Entreprises of Aosta or Pont Saint Martin, to SYL (Save Your Life), an innovative device that allows a missing person to be tracked down if they are in a state of severe physical distress or have suffered a fatal outcome.
- Cuneo Prize of 7,500 euros, for the best Business Plan that establishes the company in the Province of Cuneo, sponsored by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, went to M.O.D.O. by Synchropal, a start-up incubated at I3P, which has developed an innovative system for the synchronization of time and frequency, through a miniaturized optical oscillator, tolerant to spoofing, jamming and meaconing.
- Jacobacci & Partners has allocated two awards worth a total of 7,000 euros, delivered in the form of consultancy services: the Jacobacci Gold Award of 5,000 euros to Alchelators, a project supported by Enne3, which deals with the synthesis, conjugation and purification of diagnostic and theranostic probes for molecular imaging and targeted therapy applications, and the Jacobacci Silver Award of 2,000 euros to Kurs Orbital, a start-up incubated at I3P.
- Distretto Aerospaziale Piemonte has awarded the Space Economy Prize of 7,500 euros to the best business plan based on space technologies to CLiRA, a project supported by I3P that focuses on agricultural insurance with innovative solutions that use satellite technologies to estimate climate risks, monitor potential critical issues and minimize the likelihood of crop damage.
- Fondazione LINKS offered the City of the Future and Sustainability Prize of 7,500 euros, in cash and in the form of technical services, for the best Business Plan proposing innovative products and/or services linked to sustainability. The winner was Dedalo AI, a project supported by I3P that has developed a tool to measure CO2 emissions from websites on users' devices that is reliable, cost-effective, fast and completely energy efficient.
- The Unicredit Start Lab Award offered by Unicredit, which consists of a mentorship session during which it will be possible to assess the suitability of the project to be admitted to targeted content of the Start Lab programme, went to Mespac, a start-up incubated in I3P and part of the ESA BIC Turin program.
Five special mentions were also awarded.
- Polhyrnatech, supported by I3P, has been awarded the mention "Covid-19", for the best project that offers solutions in case of health crises: the start-up proposes two innovative kits for the preparation of hybrid polymer nanoparticles, encapsulating RNA molecules, with non-specific or selective action towards target cells. The solution is suitable for studies aimed at finding cures for age-related diseases, rare genetic diseases and bacterial and viral infections.
- The mention "Open Innovation /Industrial Spin Off", for the best project concerning innovative products and/or services coming from a joint research activity between a company and a university in Piemonte, went to the heart patch created by Impavid, supported by 2i3T.
- Relax4Ti, a project supported by 2i3T, with its technique to detect the presence of residual tumor cells, has been awarded the "Equal Opportunities" mention as the best project aimed at promoting both equal opportunities and female entrepreneurship.
- The "Social Innovation" mention, designed for initiatives aimed at developing and implementing new ideas to meet social needs, went to Paperbox Health, with its innovative solutions to make the identification and treatment of specific learning disorders (SLD) in school and pre-school children accessible.
- The "Climate Change" mention was won by Wave, a project supported by Enne3, which developed an IoT valve for water flow management that can reduce water and energy consumption.
The other sponsors have also confirmed their participation in the initiative and support for the Start Cup organization: the City of Turin and Fondazione Michelin Sviluppo, both committed to promote the socio-economic development of the area and the creation of jobs.
The role of start-ups
"The projects presented in this latest edition respond to problems concerning the medical field, digital infrastructures, and the climate crisis: all issues that have an important socio-economic impact on everyday life," commented the Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta organizing committee, made up of the incubators I3P, 2i3T ed Enne3. "Many start-ups focusing on space technologies also stand out, showing how it is becoming increasingly necessary to consolidate a national ecosystem that allows new businesses related to the space economy to grow".
"Once again this year, the 18th edition of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta offers us a positive snapshot of the startup ecosystem in Piemonte. A healthy ecosystem, which sees a strengthening of the network of incubators and accelerators that allow start-ups to grow and develop", stated Elena Chiorino, Regional Councillor for Economic Development, Training and Labour, Piedmont Region. "Secondly, it sees new start-ups entering the scene in key fields for our economy, such as digital transformation, aerospace, green tech and life sciences. All this is possible because in Piemonte we have succeeded in creating a network of players - universities, research centers, investors, incubation centers, companies - that collaborate and share a vision of the future, based on research and innovation. A strategy that focuses on enhancing the talents that are the main development force in this ecosystem".
"Start-ups have always been an opportunity for growth and evolution of our entrepreneurial system, an embodiment of the unique ability to seize new opportunities common to all Italians, experimenting and promoting ideas to increase competitiveness and development", said Andrea Tronzano, Councillor for Development of Productive Activities, Piedmont Region. "I am particularly pleased to see that among the award-winning companies there are some in the aerospace field, one of the sectors in which Regione Piemonte is investing and which undoubtedly represents one of the future development assets of our region. To all participants, and there were many, I wish them to continue to be eager for novelty and to work to make their dreams come true for all of us"