Eindhoven University of Technology: New crop of innovative student teams at the TU/e Contest

A cascade of prizes during the seventh edition of the TU/e Contest. In addition to cash prizes and extra coaching for companies, there are two wild cards for the finals of the 4TU Impact Challenge.

TU/e students can faithfully stick to their study program, but those who want to get a little more out of their course can also take part in the TU/e Contest. Provided they have a good idea, of course. With this contest, Innovation Space wants to challenge enterprising students to turn their ideas into actual products. From a total of 65 entries, 20 finalists remained who tried to digitally convince the jury. Over the past five months, the finalists of this innovation contest developed their idea into products or solutions that are ( almost) ready to be used. And okay, it is still early, but who knows, maybe the next Dutch unicorn or Lightyear will be among them.

The teams did not have to do it al by themselves. Dozens of companies from the Brainport region in the Netherlands helped the students on their way. They received workshops, coaching and advice to further develop their idea. Finally, three different juries chose the winners in three categories. These winners will receive a cash prize of 5,000 euros and support through the Innovation Space network.

But it’s not limited to these awards, the TU/e Contest is a veritable treasure trove of prizes. Chip machine manufacturer ASML also handed out a cash prize of 2,500 euros as well as coaching from their in-house experts. Then there is the Impact & Talent Award, a cash prize of 5,000 euros awarded by Steunfonds Duurzaamheid (the Dutch Foundation for Sustainability) and Technology for Global Development. Then there is the Twice Award, offering a sum of 1,000 euros and six months of free office space on the TU/e campus. Ilionx is also making a contribution by providing mentorship to a team that is making an impact in healthcare technology. And if all of this is not enough, two teams will also receive a wild card for the 4TUChallenge.

AND THE WINNER IS..
In the category Ideation the jury looked at teams with the best fleshed out idea which have a lot of potential. The winner in this category is: Voltgoed. This team is working on a way to connect heat pumps to the electricity grid to better synchronize supply and demand of green energy.
In the category Prototyping: teams that are busy working on a promising prototype. The winner in this category is: Mouscle. These students are working on a special mouse to tackle RSI. Instead of a static mouse, their mouse changes shape very subtly to alleviate the strain on hand muscles.
In the category Student team the jury assesses teams that are already fairly advanced in the development of their product. The winner in this category is: Hart. Hart is working on a way to translate senses into vibrations. They are currently focusing on sound, mainly as an aid for hearing impaired or deaf people. Their ultimate goal is to create a platform where you can download different senses.
The other awards

The ASML Maker Award goes to Reli. Discarded electric vehicle batteries often still contain 80 percent of their original capacity. Yet these batteries are commonly not reused. Reli is giving these batteries a second life with their modular and smart battery management system. According to the students, it is an ideal system for storing surplus energy at home from solar panels.
The Impact & Talent Award goes to Nurdle Soup. That microplastics are floating around everywhere in the water, is something that we all already knew. But we still don’t know exactly how extensive the problem is. Nurdle Soup wants to do something about this. They have made a kind of boat that detects and counts microplastics in rivers. They use a special model to find out the origin of various particles. They want to map out the extent of this problem and urge major manufacturers to take a different approach.
The Twice Award goes to Aristotle Cognitive Training. Top athletes often have to make decisions very quickly under high levels of pressure and in stressful situations. Aristotle training platform helps players do this. The team currently uses their method in the PSV youth football academy.
The Ilionx Award goes to Living Moments. Video-calling or apping with people who suffer from dementia is not always that simple. The Living Moments team has a solution for this. With an interactive printer the elderly can use to print out messages at home or in a care facility from loved ones as a postcard.
The Wildcards voor de 4TU Impact Challenge goes to Mouscle. Not just one, but two prizes for Mouscle. The team gets to compete in the finals during Slush in Helsinki. “It’s awesome to be able to tell our story in front of such a huge audience. Hopefully it will lead to something,” says team member Katrien van Riet proudly of both prizes. They will use the 5,000 euros awarded to them for winning the TU/e Contest for the further development of the prototype. “We can use it to do more extensive user tests and buy several small parts. That’s expensive stuff.”
The Wildcard goes to Hable. The team at Hable is about to get busy. Last month, they had already won a trip to Silicon Valley. Now they are also headed to Helsinki with this wild card. Hable makes Braille keyboards for smartphones that will soon be on sale.
MULTIDISCIPLINARY COOPERATION
Winning a prize is fun, but in the end, it is not what it is all about. TU/e Innovation Space is using this competition as a way to contribute to the development of the engineer of the future. Actual practice demands engineers who think in terms of solutions and who can work together in multidisciplinary teams. However, these skills are not learned in lectures or during occasional projects with fellow students. By having students from different studies work together on the same problem – preferably something from real life – they do learn these skills. That’s the idea behind it.

Former winner of the contest Lex Hoefsloot also agrees. He co-founded Lightyear with technology that he had developed in the Solar Team. ” As a student team, you get to do everything yourself. From financing to the technology and everything associated with it. That is incredibly instructive. You have to take so many different things into account that you could never learn it all at school. It helps that, as a student team, you can always call on experts or companies from the broad network connected to the university and Innovation Space. Those contacts from back then are still important.”

Finally, another former winner, Buster Franken of Fruitpunch AI, has some tips for today’s winners. “Make sure you plan every step really carefully. This roadmap helps you make good choices to get to the next stage again. And when you’re presenting to investors, tell your plan as if it were six months in the future. Because that’s how long it takes for an investment like that to finally materialize.”

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