NITRO STORY: Healthy Road, your reliable driving companion
Many of us have already been there. You are driving along linear roads or in the middle of the night and suddenly feel very tired. The most common solutions to tackle this problem is to drive carrying a talkative companion, listening to some loud music or, if the tiredness is prevailing, to stop somewhere safe and take a nap. These solutions could be soon out of fashion.
A startup from Portugal is now proposing a new technology to address this issue. Healthy Road is developing AI facial biometric tech for driver monitoring (DMS).
How does it work? The software’s main goal is to monitor the driver’s behavior and state in order to alert him in case of danger. The system can in fact recognize if the driver is able to take over the vehicle control after the autonomous driving mode and to alert the driver in case he is adopting a dangerous driving behavior. All in all, the Healthy Road technology provide a better user experience and support other sensors in the vehicle to take action if necessary.
The facial biometric software can process in fact in real time the stream from one single camera, in order to get facial features. Healthy Road aims to use this technology in vehicles in order to reduce accidents due to distraction and drowsiness.
The features of the software are already very promising and allow detecting different state of the driver. Using face movement detection and eye gaze, the software can detect a distraction or a loss of focus. Through eye analysis techniques, it is able to recognize drowsiness and using the blinking analysis the fatigue level of the driver. However, Healthy Road promises to do even more by recognizing emotions using face expression analysis and even stress through the measurement of the heart rate.
Healthy Road is one of the successful startup who took part to the 2nd Nitro Event in Sophia Antipolis (France) on the 1st and 2nd December 2016. The CEO and Co-Founder André Azevedo summarizes in this way the most recent achievement of his company: “We reached recently 90% accuracy in two main features – drowsiness and distraction detection – that allow us to open some closed doors and to have two new business deals for 2017”.
The startup has already received several recognitions and has additionally been chosen as one of the ten startups selected worldwide to the Rockstart’s Accelerator Program. By participating to Nitro they were looking for some focused advice to further growth their company and were eager to meet investors.
“Nitro meant for us two days to look at your startup results and find how you can improve them and plan the next step” – says the Co-Founder Azevedo.Having had the chance to meet several investors at Nitro, they understood one crucial thing: “Most investors are not interested to invest in product development,they want to invest their money on sales, so also the pitch deck should be changed accordingly”.
The call for Nitro 3 taking place in Lisbon on the 4th and 5th May 2017 is now online! If you wish to join amazing startups, be coached by experienced consultants and pitch in front of investors apply till the 15th March 2017 here http://epluseurope.eu/blog-entry/open-call-announcement-nitro-3-extreme-acceleration-event
Startup Europe Projects’ Impact and Results
Interview with Peteris Zilgavis, Head of Startups and Innovation and at the EC.
What is your background?
I’m a barrister, with my J.D. from University of Southern California, and a B.A. in political science from UCLA. I started addressing international law issues in several Latvian ministries (environment, foreign affairs) then moved to private law and then to the World Bank, the Council of Europe and finally the European Commission, working in areas of new technologies, policy and the law.
Is it a logical progression to what you do now?
Yes it is. The Digital Single Market and entrepreneurship in this area follow on my work on how policy and regulatory frameworks can adopt and adapt to innovative solutions rapidly while upholding principles of respect for the environment and our citizens’ interests.
What are you working on now? What are your plans for 2017?
Several important initiatives are implementing the European Commission Communication on the Startups and Scaleups Initiative (innovation procurement, regulatory sandboxes, Startup Europe and ICT standards), and Co-Chairing the European Commission’s Task Force on Financial Technology – FinTech.
What will you be talking about at RVS? / Why are you attending?
I’ll be talking about how Startup Europe aims at mission-based networking between Europe’s Startup ecosystems. We don’t have a single Silicon Valley dominating Europe but different cities that are strong in artificial intelligence, Deep Tech, gaming, FinTech, Insurtech etc. As policymakers, we also are conscious of needing to address societal challenges. The aim is to enable Europe’s entrepreneurs and tech to be part of the solution on the basis of an innovation and investment-friendly business climate.
It was a great year for me because I moved to the Startups and Innovation dossier, which I am very motivated by, but it was a year in which we saw that many voters in the World were dissatisfied with the status quo and were looking for answers. I believe that innovation and entrepreneurship can provide some of the opportunities that have been missing so I’m glad to be working with Europe’s startup communities to ensure that the next scaleups come from the EU and that jobs and growth are generated.
Which influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?
Too many to make a choice here (and to show favouritism). Always glad to hear about new sources of info.
How can people find out more about what you are working on?
The Startup Europe websites and social media, the European Commission websites and social media and my own Twitter account ( @PZilgalvis ).
Peteris Zilgalvis, J.D.
Head of Unit, Startups and Innovation
Digital Single Market Directorate
Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology
Co-Chair, FinTech Task Force
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
I’m looking forward to a great event in beautiful Riga, Latvia, where I’m always glad to be!
ePlus Ecosystem – a retrospective
ePlus connects three local ecosystems (Lisbon, Nice/Côte D’Azur, Baden-Württemberg) to prepare European businesses and potential entrepreneurs for the changing global digital market, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to offer new products and services by digital means, to compete, thrive, and to create new jobs. This is achieved via a unique combination of talents, tools and services of a European scale, in all key elements: team, concept, technology and capital.
In this past 2 years, ePlus has been offering tailored serviced to startups, including mentoring, meet-up with relevant investors, training, networking or funding support for attending relevant events.
Ultimately it is about supporting web entrepreneurs go global. Through a combination of the partnership own experience with external experts, a successful experience is offered to startups helping them reach higher.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2017
ePlus work will continue to offer its services until June 2017 to support the startup ecosystem:
Nitro acceleration programme:tailored and high level training for startups this time taking place in Lisbon during May! Applications will be available soon.
Micro-grants: financial support for startups to participate in events that are useful for their growth strategy. Final round is now open – http://epluseurope.eu/blog-entry/open-call-announcement-mg-round-4
eMentoring: an on-going process to match mentors with startups – join-in now – http://epluseurope.eu/basic-page/ementoring
eTalent:want to grow your business through direct knowledge transfer from a researcher? Join this on-going service http://epluseurope.eu/basic-page/etalent
MY-WAY Two years to help students fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams!
When the MY-WAY project was funded in 2014, the European landscape of youth entrepreneurship washighly fragmented: although many support initiatives existed, they did not coordinate their efforts,information was lacking and young European prospective entrepreneurs were necessarily limited totheir local options when searching for information and support.
The idea of MY-WAY came from talksand confidence boosting speeches on how young adults should start and develop their businesses. Listening to young people’schallenges, it became clear that connecting the stakeholders of the web entrepreneurship ecosystem(mentors, accelerators, VCs, incubators etc.) with the student networks; connecting the students withbusiness people and connecting the available platforms and initiatives across Europe had the potentialof providing all actors with an added value and increase the effectiveness of the web entrepreneurshipecosystem.
From early 2015 until the end of 2016, ten organisations from eight European countries worked as a tight-knit team to bring student organisations supporting prospective entrepreneurs back into the centre stage of the ecosystem.
Our Israeli partner, Bar Ilan University, outlined a mapping methodology to lay out the most relevant actors for a young person wishing to launch a new business. By checking the MY-WAY map, you will be able to really understand the entrepreneurship environment not only around you, but throughout Europe, and you may find the missing piece of your business and directly contact a certain organisation, such as a co-working space, an accelerator, an investor, and alike.
Later on, our partners AEGEE (the European Students’ Forum) and NACUE (the National Association of College Universities Entrepreneurs) worked together to develop, carry out and later analyse online surveys and face-to-face interviews to young prospective entrepreneurs and student support centres. Through this endeavour, partners realised that students need to have closer contact and support from support centres, which should fill the gaps between the main actors in the field of entrepreneurship, including the ones providing information and guidance and encouraging young people to develop their ideas and support the fulfilment of their dreams. On the other hand, student support centres and student networks often face financial challenges and lack of proper working space, and have fragmented relationships with each other.
All partners then scouted their own ecosystem to find successful innovative collaboration agreements between a wide range of initiatives offering support to prospective entrepreneurs.Our Set of Best Practices showed that student networks can position themselves as key actors within the web entrepreneurship ecosystem if they are connected with other actors within the ecosystem, such as entrepreneurship networks, entrepreneurship centres, universities and organisations that provide financial support.
In order to facilitate novel connections and to give voice to the other side of the equation, AEGEE and Europa Media further organised two Stakeholder Meetings in Brussels, bringing together 30-40 people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities working in the entrepreneurship field: mentors, accelerators, student networks, incubators, investors, student support centres, and much more.
As a good number of recommendations and novel ideas was shortlisted, it became high time to give back to the students: MY-WAY managed to reach out to more than 750 students in the occasion of 5 Student Enterprise Conferences organised in London (by NACUE and Capital Enterprise), Budapest (by YES and Europa Media), Lisbon (H-Farm and Europa Media), Tel Aviv (Bar Ilan University) and Treviso (H-Farm and Europa Media).
Through the participation of our rock-star mentor and coach David Trayford, of all our partners and city-specific organisations acting in the entrepreneurial field, the events were a unique opportunity for students to discuss varioustopics related to how to make their business idea become real, learn more about ongoing funding programmes and initiatives, to change the mindset of those who may lack confidence and overall to make entrepreneurship a more appealing career option.
As the project comes to an end, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved and reflect on how to continue this satisfactory work. It is fair to say that partners have worked hard and in harmony for two years, driven by a unique enthusiasm and passion for helping students with their business ideas.
Being part of the Startup Europe club has further increased our outreach potential: we have established new connections with ongoing projects and initiatives, created new collaboration agreements and programmes, raised awareness on the entrepreneurial lifestyle, trained students on crucial skills and boosted their self-confidence.
KATANA Accelerator: €1.2 million investment fund calls for innovative ideas in agrifood
The EU-funded business accelerator KATANA will distribute in total 1.2 million euros to European entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMES. KATANA aims to support innovative ideas inthe development of application solutions in agribusiness. Applicationis open from 1 December to 28 February.
As of 1 December 2016, the EU-funded accelerator KATANA is searching for ambitious entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEswith a great vision for the future of agribusiness. Addressing agrifood, ICT and emerging industries (eco-industries, mobile services and personalized health), the best 100 applicants will receive 2,000 euros funding while the best 10 teams in terms of market attractiveness and performance will be granted 100,000 euros each. KATANA relies on an innovative selection and funding scheme based on peer to peer selection and crowdfunding.
“One great thing about KATANA is that it is not us who decides which teams get to be part of the programme. It’s the community itself”,explains Alexandra Rudl from bwcon GmbH, project coordinator and German representative of the project team. Using a specific algorithm, pitch videos will be evaluated and ranked according to their expertise, their understanding of the agrifood value chain and their vision for the sector. For Rudl, this is key to produce solutions that are not only nice to have but tailored to the market’s needs. “We expect highly innovative ideas to be brought to life thanks to KATANA. Based on previous experiences from projects like FRACTALS, we are sure that we will see a wide range of application solutions for ICT in agrifood.”
The purpose of KATANA is to identify those ideas with the greatest potential in agro and ICT sectors focusing on trends such as GPS, Internet of Things or Big Data. In addition to financial support the accelerator provides selected beneficiaries with business services worth 20,000 euros. “We believe that funding alone cannot guarantee the success of a venture. This is why our teams will be supported by dedicated KATANA coaches and have access to tailor-madecoaching materials such as webinars and online courses”, says Rudl. KATANA services also include 14 pan-European matchmaking events, a three days onsite Bootcamp as well as an international Investment Forum where participants get the chance to pitch their ideas in front of investors.
Building onentrepreneurship methods like Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Effectuation, KATANA will provide access to knowledge, technology, capital and markets with the overall aim of enabling competitiveness on a global scale by fostering cross-border and cross-sector cooperation.
For more information on KATANA visit the project website www.katanaproject.eu or find us on Facebook (@H2020_KaTaNa) and Twitter (@H2020_KATANA).
Latvia Passes Innovative Startup Law
On the 23rd of November, the Latvian parliament approved a new law to create a tax regime, one not matched anywhere else in Europe, that will effectively double venture capital investors’ money in young Latvian startups. This law is seen as part of a wider push to make Latvia an attractive base for startups. The law was passed with almost unanimous support in parliament and will enter into force from 1 January 2017.
“When investors decide to risk money backing a startup in Latvia, almost half of their money goes to pay social and personal income taxes, even if the founders and early employees are paying meagre salaries because their shares and options are the financial upside they hope for,” said Andris K. Berzins, board member and co-founder at the Latvian Startup Association, one of the key organizations behind the proposal. “This is because in most startups there are few other costs aside from salaries. So together with the Ministry of Economics, we decided to tackle this cost directly and the result is this new tax regime.”
The law foresees two tax plans: a special flat tax regime, currently 252 euros/mo per employee, regardless of salary paid, for minimal social benefits. Or for more highly qualified employees with a doctors or masters degree or 5+ years of experience, a regime where all their social and personal taxes are covered by the state, and they receive full social benefits. “As it stands, if the total tax burden on those employees is almost equivalent to their net salary cost, then this tax regime will have the effect of almost doubling the runway that a startup has, for the same amount of investment money, meaning that they are more likely to survive to the next round of funding (or revenues) and be successful in the long term,” said Andris.
To qualify, a startup would need to meet some basic criteria such as being less than 5 years old, have earned less than 200k in revenues during the first two years since registration, not be paying dividends, and have produced an innovative product or service. But the startups are also required to have secured 30,000 Euros or more in early-stage venture capital funding. “The venture capital funding serves as gatekeeper mechanism to focus the benefit on those startups that really have potential, as evidenced by their ability to attract outside funding,” emphasizes Andris K. Berzins. “A mechanism to also include business angels as qualifying funding is already planned for the next revision of this law.”
The Minister of Economics Arvils Aseradens has said Latvia needs to be the first choice base for startups in the Baltics, and the law is “a first step” in a wider push towards supporting innovative technology companies. The government has made no secret of its plan to compete for the status of the main regional startup hub; more initiatives to support startups in Latvia are in the pipeline for the near future, such as a startup visa to ease the process of hiring talented employees from outside the region. A law to legalize ridesharing is currently also in motion, and enjoys the support of all coalition parties, expected to be passed next year.
Latvia already has a lot going on to support the claim of a growing startup ecosystem, and a great place for startup development. There is no shortage of educated and talented people from the region and CIS countries, the living costs are low, the internet infrastructure is well above the European average and almost 95% of the population speak a foreign language. The community is also growing fast; Baltic conference TechChill is expected to grow from 500 to 1000 participants in one year alone, another example of growing interest in Riga. During the event, Baltic founders and policy makers will also meet at the second Riga Venture Summit next year- the first one resulted in founding Latvian Startup association and the Startup Law.
Retrieved from: TechHub Riga
Survey on Business Angels Funding in Research and Innovation
Within the context of the European Commission Study “Understanding the Nature and Impact of Business Angels Funding in Research and Innovation”, a survey on Business Angel funding landscape was recently published.
We would like to invite you to take part in a survey, and ask you to further disseminate this invitation to other Business Angels Investors.
Completing the survey takes about 20 minutes and is available both in English and in French. The survey aims to collect information and input about the Business Angels activity in the EU Members States and Associated Countries.
>To participate, GO TO SURVEY!
>To disseminate, share this post with other European Business Angel Investors!
They survey aims at providing a more complete picture of the Business Angel funding landscape with the final purpose of elaborating policy recommendation on the support to Business Angels investment. All responses will be treated in total confidentiality. The survey will be available online until 25 November 2016.
Should you be interested in the next steps of this study (i.e. being interviewed, being informed about the study results), please include your relevant contact information in the last page of the survey.
If you have any questions or wish to have further information on this survey, please do not hesitate to contact Chiara Frencia (Chiara.firstname.lastname@example.org).
Post-event blog: Startup Europe at Web Summit!
In case you didn’t know, Web Summit, Europe’s largest technology summit, was happening this week in Lisbon, Portugal. Startup Europe was there with the Startup Europe projects to talk to people about our events, activities and open calls!
Web Summit has become “Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace”, a crossroads where over 50,000 of the world’s most disruptive technological innovators meet in one place.
On 7th- 10th November 2016, CEOs, cultural icons, key global leaders from the EU and national governments, startups, investors, leading academics and the world’s most iconic companies all gathered together in one single place: Lisbon.
In fact, Lisbon was chosen as the location of this immense event due to its booming entrepreneurial tech scene, which has experienced exponential grassroots growth in recent years.
This year’s summit was held at the MEO Arena and its 3 connecting pavillions.
The Startup Europe stand was in Pavillion 3, which was a prime location next to the summit’s second biggest stage and open networking areas. Here we had a collection of Startup Europe leaflets and flyers for each of the Startup Europe projects: Welcome, MY-WAY, Twist, Startup Scaleup and ePlus!
Members of these Startup Europe projects, and their partners, were at the stand to explain their projects and get people involved in their activities!
With more than 20 stages and workshop areas, there were numerous talks and discussions to listen to, many involving key public EU figures such as:
- José Manuel Barroso (President of the EU from 2004-2014)
- Carlos Moedas (European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, European Union)
- Ann Mettler (Head of European Political Strategy Centre, European Commission)
- Andrus Ansip (Vice-President, Digital Single Market, European Commission), and
- Marta Nagy-Rothengass (Head of Data Policy and Innovation Unit, DG CONNECT , European Commission
In addition, we had a special visit from Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, at the stand, who discussed the concept of creating a Single Startup Market across Europe.
The viability of this idea was discussed at the Startup Europe stand, and it was agreed that a first proposal would be drawn up, with the possibility of starting this concept in Italy and Portugal.
We also had a special visit by Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, who also came to the Startup Europe stand at South Summit in Madrid.
Overall, it was a great opportunity to speak to many people from all over the world who were interested in taking part in Startup Europe events, activities and programmes. We look forward to seeing you next year!