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Ground-breaking cancer treatments, cognitive soccer training and a climate-neutral heat battery. The brand-new winners of the Gerard & Anton Awards were just announced during the LEVEL UP event at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. Each year, the award is presented to the 10 most promising start-ups from the Brainport region. This year Aristotle Technologies was added as the 11th winner to the list in the Young Talent category.

“Keep a close eye on these start-ups in the near future, folks,” jury member Bert-Jan Woertman states with a sense of pride. Once again, it was no easy task this year to select the top 10 ( +1 this year). The winners were handpicked by an independent jury from a shortlist of more than 50 nominations. “All of them are fantastic companies that are moving society forward,” Woertman noted.

One of this year’s winners is Ambagon Therepeutics, which is in the process of developing an innovative cancer drug derived from benign proteins. “Last year I asked a room full of 60 people here in Eindhoven who was familiar with the company, and no one raised their hand. And you should see what they are achieving now. Just recently they managed to raise 85 million euros. Or how about InnoSIGN, which raised eight million euros to continue developing their mRNA-based tests to detect cancer and immune cells. That’s incredibly wonderful news, right? With these awards, we provide a platform for all these innovative companies. The world needs to know that they exist.”

A magic potion
How come such a huge number of promising new start-ups can be found in the Brainport region every year? “That’s a question I ask myself year after year. It seems like the region is some kind of magic potion for tech start-ups,” Woertman goes on to say. Several ingredients help make the breeding ground here so fertile. “Start-ups have the opportunity here to network with such major companies as NXP, Philips and ASML. Moreover, the university, where many tech spin-offs spring from, also retains close contacts with the business community. This means that start-ups, tech giants and investors know how to find each other very easily.”

Start-ups are the future
Woertman has every confidence that start-ups from this eighth edition of the Gerard & Anton Awards will go on to grow just as successfully as the 70 predecessors. “And I am terribly proud that we have been able to provide a platform for eight years now to the companies that deserve it. The world is faced with great challenges. And even though they start out small, innovative start-ups are coming up with solutions that can help us in the future. After all, ASML once started out small too.”

This was the eighth edition of the Gerard & Anton Awards, which is organized by Innovation Origins. A total of 80 winners have so far been announced.

Axelera AI
The world is in need of AI solutions that are affordable and energy efficient. Axelera AI is developing an innovative hardware and software platform specifically for AI: a high-performance chip for IoT devices. The chip is capable of extremely high levels of performance, is energy efficient and can support multiple networks.

Autoscriber develops AI-enabled speech recognition software that can be used to record and summarize conversations between healthcare professionals and their patients. The software is capable of recording and transcribing medical matters discussed during consultations. This facilitates their inclusion in the electronic health record and it supports diagnostics and personalized care approaches.

VBTI is developing a software platform for companies active in the agricultural sector which is predicated on Deep Learning (DL) solutions. DL technology offers companies an opportunity to automate their processes and production, for example, by making their robots and machines become more intelligent. But it is a difficult technology to put to use in practice without having the right expertise on hand. VBTI AutoDL enables customers to integrate DL technology into their applications without them having to be experts themselves. The solution is already in use in such applications as robots and cameras.

Ambagon Therapeutics
Biotech company Ambagon Therapeutics is focused on the development of new cancer treatments. Pathogenic proteins play a role in the cause of several types of cancer. Ambagon is developing molecules that enable so-called ‘good’ proteins to access pathogenic proteins, which subsequently stalls tumor growth. The molecule binds the two proteins together, creating a kind of molecular glue’. The goal is to continue developing the glue into a fully-fledged drug.

InPhocal uses a unique laser beam technology that is currently revolutionizing laser processing. This technology was originally developed at CERN, the particle research institute in Switzerland. Among other industries, the chip industry is benefiting from the use of this technology. For example, when cutting wafers, by focusing light on a smaller area, the area affected can be narrowed down much more precisely. After all, if a surface area that is being heated starts getting bigger, chips can be damaged. InPhocal is counteracting this issue with their new innovation.

At present, our main source of heating in the Netherlands comes from gas. Cellcius wants to change that, by means of a heat battery that harnesses heat fro industrial waste. Millions of homes can be heated this way, without producing any extra CO2 emissions or requiring more wind turbines or solar fields. The Cellcius Heat Battery technology works on the basis of two simple and safe ingredients: salt and water.

Eindhoven-based LionVolt is going to launch solid-state batteries on the market. This should raise the safety level of batteries significantly, e.g., when used in aircraft and cars, given that flammable liquids are still being used at present. Apart from that, solid-state batteries also offer other advantages. They can be recharged faster than present-day lithium-ion batteries. 

With its Iron Fuel Technology™, RIFT is enabling companies to cut down on their CO2 emissions. This is a clean technology that utilizes iron as a circular fuel. Iron fuel is a good alternative to gas. RIFT’s goal is to move energy-intensive industries, heat grids and power plants around the world away from fossil fuels.

Pharmihas developed a pharmacy platform called MedicijnWijs. The app offers users information and guidance on the proper use of medication. The app contains text, videos and animations that inform users on such things as how a drug works and common side effects. In addition, Pharmi is also focusing on developing a chatbot that works based on artificial intelligence to facilitate medicinal care.  

InnoSIGN specializes in precision medicine and is developing OncoSIGNal: mRNA-based tests that measure the activity of signal transduction pathways in cancer and immune cells. The goal is to use it to predict how patients will respond to specific drugs. The technology will initially be used in oncology, and then eventually for other autoimmune and infectious diseases.

Aristotle Technologies: Winner Young Talent Award
Aristotle Technologies is developing a cognitive training tool for soccer players to help them stay focused when their brains become overstimulated. The software from Aristotle features scientifically based cognitive tasks. Players use a handheld controller to respond to exercises. This helps sports scientists train individual players to react, make decisions and act faster on the field. Aristotle recently signed a contract with the Dutch soccer club PSV for a long-term partnership.