RESTUBE GmbH, a start-up with roots at KIT, was the first company to avail itself of the opportunity to launch a crowd investing campaign on KITcrowd. The RESTUBE team produces and distributes a safety system for all types of water sports. In critical situations, a floatation device is inflated by a gas cartridge to save the wearer from drowning. Between January and May 2016, the RESTUBE campaign was active on the crowd investing platforms Seedmatch and KITcrowd. As early as 23 days before the end of the funding period, the company reached its funding limit of 600,000 Euros thanks to the support of 640 investors. We interviewed the founder and CEO of the company, Christopher Fuhrhop.
KIT’s Spinoff cubuslab GmbH Offers Manufacture-independent Plug&Play Solution for Automatic Readout and Processing of Laboratory Data in Research and Industry
Many tasks in everyday life and at work are executed with digital support that facilitates life and accelerates workflows. Information technology and automation have become integral parts of these activities. But still, laboratory workplaces exist, where experiments have to be documented and evaluated manually. Reasons may be the variety of manufacturers, devices, and company-specific software, which are not compatible with each other and, hence, aggravate digital networking.
Dr. Dominic Lütjohann knows this problem from own experience in the chemical research sector. At public research institutions in particular, financial means are lacking to equip laboratories with latest information technology. During his Ph.D. phase with Professor Stefan Bräse at the KIT Institute of Toxicology and Genetics (ITG), the bioinformatician therefore started to develop a flexible and affordable solution for laboratory automation. After having defined this purpose of business, he developed the basic idea of a networked laboratory for worldwide exchange of research data in science together with Dr. Nicole Jung. Lütjohann was aware of his idea having even more potential and being suitable for laboratory management.
An event of the venture forum neckar e.V. in cooperation with the Sparkasse Heilbronn on September 30, 2015 was to provide answers to the question of which challenges businesses will be faced with in the future and how they can be tackled. The continuously advancing digitalization of production processes and the increased networking of different production locations via the Internet, two big themes under the umbrella term Industry 4.0, often require rethinking, especially for medium-sized companies.
For startups, it is also important to deal with the topic of Industry 4.0 from the beginning. Many processes must be coordinated from the start in collaboration with customers and cooperation partners. The event offered a platform for recognizing the needs of startups, cooperation partners in industry, and investors/financiers early on in order to address them.
A total of four startup teams/startups from the KIT were exhibitors at the event. Three of them presented themselves in a pitch (12 in total) to the investors/financiers and potential cooperation partners with great success. All in all, the event was well attended by approx. 200 participants and approx. 20 startup teams.
OPASCA has specialized in the development of intelligent, sensor-based systems and solutions for environment detection. On the basis of a diverse and flexible platform concept, customer-tailored solutions are realized in the areas of person and object detection for a large range of applications. The technology is used primarily in the field of radiotherapy. The focus lies on the wellbeing of patients and the support of the professional staff. In an interview, we asked the team of OPASCA about the idea, the startup time, and the future prospects.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) offers prospective founders a number of funding programs for implementing their startup ideas. An important instrument is the EXIST Business Start-up Grant, which supports startup projects from an early stage. The funding is directed toward students, graduates, and scientists from universities and non-university research institutions. Within one year, the teams receive the opportunity to turn their first idea into a concrete business model, including a business plan, and to receive professional assistance in doing so.
Three KIT teams didn’t miss out on this chance and applied for the grant – successfully! The founders of Aquaplot, Curafida, and Selfbits were able to gain support with their innovative and technology-oriented ideas and, thus, received the EXIST Business Start-up Grant. The KIT Innovation Department actively helped in preparing applications. The Aquaplot team develops a software as a service solution for navigating and planning routes for maritime and cargo traffic. The team of Curafida also offers a SaaS application. Their system for health services is intended to bring chronically ill patients and their medical specialist closer together and to improve the flow of information. The third team, Selfbits, is working on a cloud-based service in the field of knowledge management / knowledge acquisition.
During the course of the year-long funding period, the teams can continue advancing their startup plans. In doing so, the prospective founders are supported through seminars and coaching. The goal is to prepare them for market entry through the technical and entrepreneurial realization of the idea. The task of the founders is to improve their business plan – the final business plan is the conclusion of the grant support. We look forward to seeing the development of the three KIT teams and wish them a lot of success!