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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Spoiler – Germany wins again

The fourth round of the EIT ICT Labs ‘Idea Challenge’ was recently held in Rennes, France. Along with nine companies pitching for the competition’s awards over 200 people gathered for a two day symposium on the future of Cloud Computing. Arctic Startup was there to check out the Nordic and Baltic entries, and enjoy some warm summer sunshine.

In the pitching competition Callstats.io from Finland represented the Nordics, and Estonia’s xpressomics was there for the Baltics. Finland was also involved in the symposium with Janne Järvinen, Director of F-Secure, on hand to give a talk on ‘Cloud and Business Transformation’.

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The symposium was a reminder of the growing importance of cloud computing as all the disparate parts of our lives become connected by the computers and mobile devices we use daily. This was reflected in the pitching competition, no two startups pitching were competing in the same field. The judges had a hard time picking winners with direct comparisons between the start ups being nearly impossible.

For example, Callstats.io pitched their service that allows companies to monitor and manage the performance of video calls in web applications. They said that while there are only a small number of companies using video in the browser at the moment, they anticipate that to grow to over 30,000 by 2017. They envisaged video being used in telemedicine, customer services, and to improve productivity. The service is currently in beta and they already have a waiting list of companies who have requested to use it.

Later Hendrik Luuk, pitching for xpressomics, showed just how varied the startups in the competition were. His Estonia startup is tackling a problem that has appeared in research-based universities working with genomic data. It’s too costly for universities to do it all in house, and there simply aren’t enough people who know how to perform bioinformatic analysis. xpressomics believe that moving the process into the cloud and simplifying it enough for any researcher to run tests would massively speed up innovation in genomics.

Along with those entries from Finland and Estonia, there were also pitches from Germany, UK, Austria, Spain and France. They did such things as real-time creation in the cloud using visual design tools, encrypted storage in the cloud with redundant backups, energy recycling in data centres turning the heat generated by servers into power the building can reuse.

However, these weren’t the ideas that took home the prizes, in third place were LeanXcale from Spain who won 15,000€ for their real-time analytics platform. Acronyms flew thick and fast in the pitch, but the judging panel clearly understood enough to see potential in their work.

Second place, and the winner of 25,000€, was another Spanish startup Agroptima. They are developing a cloud service for the agriculture sector that will link together real-time data collected from fields and farm machinery. They believe doing so will allow them to find new ways to make farming even more efficient, and clearly, the judges agreed.

The overall winner was Testfabrik from Germany. They won 40,000€ for their cloud service that allows companies to test their websites on any combination of devices and browsers. They impressed the judges with their ability to offer a service that saves so much money and time. We were told during their pitch that without automated testing companies sometimes have to spend up to 50% of their development costs on testing.

There’s a break now in the Idea Challenge series of events being run by the EIT ICT Labs. They will return after the summer when submissions open on the 1st September in four new areas, Cyber Security and Privacy, Internet of Things, Urban Life and Mobility, and Smart Energy Systems. The prizes on offer will continue to be the same as well, with 80,000€ up for grabs in total prize money, as well as 6 months worth of office space in an EIT ICT Labs co-location centre, plus mentoring and coaching from experts in their business development accelerator.

Note: Callstats.io was acquired by 8×8 in 2020

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