Six Innobooster projects up for the next step

During 1.5 years, the Gebert Rüf Foundation will support six projects in reaching the next level as part of the InnoBooster program. Four projects focus on sustainable and energy-efficient communication devices and materials, and two on bio-engineered cardiovascular implants and cooling solutions. Each project will receive CHF 150’000.

Gebert Rüf Foundation’s (GRF) InnoBooster program helps accelerate the time-to-market of university-based, high-potential projects from the Venture Kick programme. During 1.5 years, selected teams receive support and CHF 150’000 to reach the next step. The number of projects submitted in the recent call was remarkably high such that the programme’s committee chose six projects to benefit from the offer.

The new Innobooster beneficiaries are:

Versics | Marc Reig Escalé
The exchange of data in the human-machine and the machine-machine channels currently consumes around 9% of the global energy with an impactful 20-30% annual growth. The deployment of data-centres, earth- and space-based communication networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) is rising, and their energy footprint will significantly contribute to the global climate crisis. Versics’ innovative communication devices are three times more energy-efficient and operate at >70 GHz, breaking the current speed limit of 50 GHz in communication links. The project’s data transmitter with plug & play connectors, currently available as a minimum viable product (MVP), will be placed at the core of every communication network. The InnoBooster funding will enable Versics to certify the MVP and manufacture the first series of 30 units – of which 20 will be deployed with strategic partners.

NaturLoop | Daniel Dinizo
NaturLoop aims to boost the availability of sustainable furniture and construction materials with the development of Cocoboard. The biocomposite is made from coconut husk and bio-based adhesive and produced using an innovative production concept that transforms agricultural waste into high-performance panels. Cocoboard has superior mechanical properties to commercially available panels due to its 100% bio-based composition, high resistance to wood-decaying insects (termites) and zero formaldehyde emissions (comparable to solid wood). Active engagement with rural farming communities in the value chain increases coconut farmers’ wellbeing. NaturLoop plans to launch a production facility in the Philippines to validate the production technology and product demand to service local and export markets.

Groam | Zuzana Sediva
Widely used foams are in the automotive, construction, protective packaging, furniture and fashion sectors are polystyrenes or polyurethane foams based on fossil fuels and toxic additives. Waste foams end up in landfills or the ocean, which is highly detrimental to the environment. Food waste is also a major contaminant of arable land and oceans, creating effluent. Swiss startup Groam seeks to revolutionise the polymer form industry with sustainable foam solutions based on agricultural waste for fast disposables. The team achieved this by combining raw materials and waste streams with its patented foaming technology to develop environmentally friendly foams. The two biodegradable and bio-based products contain valorised waste streams from the agricultural industry. The foams are applicable across sectors, but the team first focuses on plant substrates, protective packaging and later fashion.

CondenZero | Denys Sutter
Many modern science disciplines require cold temperatures close to the “absolute zero point” at -273°C, for applications such as superconductivity in medical scanning devices or quantum computing. Cryo-TEM (transmission electron microscopy), a Nobel-prize winning research tool to study molecules/proteins (drug development) and materials, can sustain this coldness for only 15 minutes. With this restriction, scientists in the cryo-TEM space are slowed down in creating high-throughput scientific results. condenZero has invented a cooling technology to enable cryo-experiments to last 24 hours instead of 15 minutes. The Innobooster program will allow the team to develop new features for its standard product to help ground-breaking science in the field of quantum matter and novel magnetic materials for next-generation electronic devices.

LifeMatrix | Robin Müller
Aiming to overcome the significant limitations of existing implants, LifeMatix, a Zurich-based med-tech startup, developed a unique bio-engineering technology to grow human replacement tissues at an industrial scale as next-generation implants to treat cardiovascular diseases. The patented LifeMatrix tissues can be manufactured as heart valves, blood vessels and other cardiovascular structures. When implanted, the patient’s cells will vitalise and transform the LifeMatrix tissue into living heart valves and blood vessels that can grow and regenerate. With the support of the InnoBooster LifeMatrix aims to make biomimetic cardiovascular implants available to children in need of growing implants. The team will use the funds to conduct in vivo validation studies to prove the clinical-grade performance, safety and efficacy of the LifeMatrix Vascular Graft in a range of different indications.

Luya Foods AG | Tobias Kistler
Using Okara, a by-product of tofu and soy milk that often lands in the waste, Luya Foods is developing new meat alternatives that do not require excessive processing, binders or protein isolates and do not come with a long ingredient list. The company combines a structuring process to form a porous scaffold, followed by solid-state fermentation with Rhizopus oligosporus (the Indonesian tempeh mould) to transform the paste-like substrate mass into a solid product. The Luya team will use the Innobooster program to change its small-scale fermentation know-how into a profitable industrial-scale concept for a sustainable food system.