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Three projects selected for the InnoBooster program

Monday 20th February 2023
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Seprify (formerly Impossible Materials), Ascento and Floating Robotics will each receive CHF 150’000 from the Gebert Rüf Stiftung as part of the InnoBooster Program. The funds and support will enable the early-stage startups to advance their robotics and agritech solutions.

The InnoBooster program supports university-based, high-potential business cases from the Venture Kick program for 1.5 years. In addition to funding, selected teams will additionally get access to experts to support them in achieving the next milestones in their startup journey.

The selected startups are:  

Seprify - sustainable materials
Incorporated in October 2022, Seprify (formerly Impossible Materials) develops and commercialises plant-based, high-performance materials to enable businesses sustainable and safe products. Seprify’s first product is a cellulose-based white pigment to replace titanium dioxide (TiO2). TiO2 dominates the $16bn white pigment market, with applications in food, pharma, cosmetics, printing, paint, and coating industries. These heavy-metal based nanoparticles have recently been classified as potentially cancerogenic. Therefore, TiO2 is being removed by producers and customers through regulation, and there is no high performance alternative available.  Seprify provides a safe and renewable TiO2 replacement using micron-scale-engineered cellulose. Its material delivers outstanding performance and is established in a robust process that is cost- and energy efficient, and scalable. The Innobooster project will allow Seprify to validate first go-to markets by customizing and testing the material for the food and cosmetic sectors, where regulatory pressure and customer perception drives change. 

Floating Robotics - Picking robots for agriculture
Agriculture is largely automated today, yet in many sectors, labor is needed when precision and expertise are required. Using a robotic arm, machine vision, and artificial intelligence, Floating Robotics automates hand-picking tasks and solves farmers' labor shortage problems. The startup’s technology is based on detecting and locating thin objects, such as peduncles, leaf shoots, trunks, ropes, and wires. Given variable lighting conditions and cluttered backgrounds, this is a highly complex vision problem solved with the company’s advanced propriety software. The robotic arm can harvest and de-leaf tomatoes. Starting in glass greenhouses in Switzerland, where it has three interested customers, the startup plans to expand to north EU and America later. A paid pilot starts at Beerstecher this summer to improve performance, build and integrate a tomato boxing system, and interface to existing pipe trolleys to complete rows autonomously. Floating Robotics has already raised around CHF 1M with three full-time Equivalents (FTEs) at ETH.

Ascento - robotics for 24/7 security service
The security industry is currently facing a major challenge with the guard leasing model, which has low profitability (c.a. 3% net profit margin) due to the high cost of guards, and it is harder to recruit and retain guards than before. To solve this problem, Ascento offers a Robotics-as-a-Service Security Solution that performs outdoor patrols on large private premises. This makes security more affordable while providing 24/7 robotic guarding. The Ascento RaaS Security Solution includes three elements; Ascento Robot, to systematically and cost-efficiently patrol and capture data 24/7; Ascento Technical Support Center: to monitor missions and teleoperate the robot for specific incidents and Ascento Security Analytics based on AI and machine learning capabilities to detect security issues and generate reports.  Ascento has already kicked off its first pilot and has letters of intent validating the assumptions from the major Security Providers. 

Photo: Ascento & Floating Robotics solutions 

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