In the last session of the year to take place in Lausanne, RetinAI and Skypull each earned CHF 130,000 after winning stage 3 of Venture Kick. RetinAI designs an automatic solution to detect eye pathologies and sources of blindness using Artificial Intelligence. Skypull develops a drone to gather high altitude winds, boosting the efficiency of wind power. Both companies will use Venture Kick money to expand their operations.
RetinAI, issued from University of Bern and UNIL– Artificial intelligence in the service of eye care
According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), 253 million people in the world are affected by vision impairment and 36 million are blind. The leading causes of blindness include Age-related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy and Glaucoma . This is where RetinAI steps in. The Swiss medtech startup wants to improve preventive medicine using Artificial Intelligence to support eye care professionals and patients throughout medical examination procedures. Early detection is key for appropriate and effective treatment to reduce or reverse the onset of blindness. However, the patient’s journey to diagnosis is often long and involves many challenges. Examinations may require complex scans that eye care professionals may not have the equipment or the time to perform. Using the latest advances in medical imaging analysis, ophthalmology and machine learning, RetinAI has developed a unique processing software for eye care professionals. Easy to use and able to deliver faster results, the system assists doctors with the evaluation of Optical Coherence Tomography and Fundus Image Photography. Learning from the provided data, it automatically identifies pathological biomarkers, which the doctor can then use for diagnosis.
After acquiring CHF 300,000 in seed money mid-2017, RetinAI was part of the venture leaders Life Science program in June 2017. Since then, the startup has been actively collaborating with hospitals and universities to improve their algorithms and bring ophthalmic care to a new level. Thanks to Venture Kick funds, RetinAI will be able to focus on obtaining clinical validation for its software and growing its staff from four to more than double by the end of 2018. Carlos Ciller, RetinAI’s CEO, explained, “Venture Kick has become a key milestone for startups in the Swiss entrepreneurial ecosystem. Getting the three kicks has helped us through a continuous validation process with experts and investors, and having the means to address potential partners and customers in the very competitive ophthalmic industry “.
Skypull SA, issued by the ETH Zurich – Altitude wind energy system to boost wind power
In October 2017, a new record was broken. Nearly a quarter (24.6%) of the EU’s electricity was powered by wind, showing its incredible potential . Skypull, founded by engineers and entrepreneurs, has developed a solution to boost the efficiency of wind power by harvesting the winds at above 200 meters in altitude, which may often be 3 to 4 times stronger than those at lower altitude where standard wind turbines operate: an airborne wind energy system.
Controlled by an innovative software, the system is composed of a drone, a tether and a ground power generator. To capture high altitude winds, the drone, attached to the generator, takes off from the ground and climbs up to above 200m. It turns off its motor and starts gliding like a kite, continuing to climb as it unrolls the cable. Once it reaches its ceiling altitude, the drone descends and restarts its cycle. On the ground, the generator transforms the kinetic energy into electricity. Autonomous and versatile, the system can produce 95% more energy than an average wind turbine with half the cost and a considerable reduced size and weight.
Skypull’s solution shall weigh about 90-95% less than a power-equivalent wind turbine, and further avoid their visual, noise and environmental impacts.
Skypull started its research in 2014 and developed its first prototype back in 2016. Their objective is have the proof of concept finished by the end of 2017, and to use CHF 130,000 from Venture Kick to boost the realization of a commercially viable prototype by 2020: a 5,90m drone with 100kW nominal power for off and mini grid users. Nicola Mona, executive officer of Skypull, shared his thoughts on the program “Venture Kick is both a very challenging and very rewarding journey that makes you stronger and better equipped for the real world! The 11-month long journey from Stage 1 to Stage 3 has been a steep learning curve. Looking back today at where we started makes us realize on how much solidity, drive, credibility and confidence we acquired.”
Press release Venture Kick