The second phase of the Academia Industry Training (AIT) Camp (#AITcamp) took place last week in Lausanne and Zurich. Twenty entrepreneurs from Brazil and India visited Switzerland and joined twenty Swiss entrepreneurs, who visited the two countries in retrospective, earlier, in October 2016. One of them is Dimitrios Terzis, with his startup project “MeduSoil”, who won the Switzerland-to-India branch of the AIT. We sat down to learn more about this project, which was developed at EPFL.
The Academia Industry Training program aims to support scientists in transforming their high-level applied research into market applications and discovering their entrepreneurial potential. By connecting scientists from top institutions in Switzerland and India/Brazil, the program promotes an international network and enables access to one of the most promising markets and intellectual capitals in applied research. The State Secretariat mandates the AIT for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to EPFL CODEV. It is co organized with venturelab, swissnex India and swissnex Brazil. The recap of this week will follow tomorrow.
Dimitrios Terzis was one of the 38 participants. “We cultivate cement” stands for MeduSoil’s short motto and condenses its unique ability to induce the growth of microbe cement in the subsurface. At the heart of MeduSoil lies a strategy to increase the rigidity and resistance of soils. MeduSoil was “born and raised” in the laboratory for Soil Mechanics of EPFL, to provide solutions for the emerging challenges in the construction field related to weak soils, as well as for implementing foundation repair works. In many areas of the world, soil stabilization becomes necessary and goes hand-in-hand with the conception of foundation solutions, especially in earthquake regions. MeduSoil introduces a flexible and adaptable strategy to target and access specific areas in the subsurface in order to increase their resistance, in a fast and cost-effective way.
Crash-testing your idea
Dimitrios adds that during the AIT camp, he was surprised to receive the overwhelming feedback of architects, who loved the idea of being able to shape construction elements out of earth materials by “letting microbe cement grow”. MeduSoil is currently scaling-up to provide solutions in this direction too.
Terzis looks back on the program: “This has been an extremely insightful and transforming experience. I was given the chance to connect with and learn from inspiring experts and mentors.” The AIT camp has been a great set-up for “crash-testing” his idea and shape new ones by discovering, in the meantime, the challenging Indian market. He continues: “Most importantly, I learnt a lot from the experiences and stories of 37 young entrepreneurs, the participants from India, Brazil and Switzerland, in a very inspiring, dynamic, multi-cultural environment, which pushed every one of us forward.”
The AIT is an ecosystem that offered the participants with a lot of knowledge and energy. This fueled him with more passion and led him adopt new visions of his work. “I am grateful for the support of EPFL_CODEV and the warm welcome of the swissnex India staff in Bangalore as well as for the mentoring and coaching of venturelab, who made all this possible. Personally, I would like to thank my thesis advisor Prof. Lyesse Laloui for his guidance and endless support that pushed me towards exploring the potential that lies in my research”, he says.
Check out Dimitrios Terzis pitching:
Beside the AIT Camps in India and Switzerland, he also took part in the Startup Acceleration Workshops organized by venturelab at EPFL. “No matter what I will do in my life, I will always have these past few weeks as THE reference. They embraced me”. Venturelab brings different startups of different stages together. “It is very important to learn from the experiences of each other, even failures and struggles. In addition, to share these experiences! I do believe a lot in exchanging and learning from each other. The acceleration workshops provided me, continuously, with opportunities to learn and get extremely valuable feedback for my work”
Right now, MeduSoil is performing pilot testing and enclosing the results. “Thanks to the innovation grant of the AIT we can think of ways to demonstrate MeduSoil’s performance and efficiency and subsequently reach our target customers, engineering consulting firms.