From 24 to 26 August, the University of Tartu sports hall hosts the business festival sTARTUp Day. This year, this University of Tartu-bred festival focuses on research-intensive innovation. During the three-day programme, dozens of inspiring speakers get on stage and more than 100 business ideas will be presented to entrepreneurs and investors. Participants can see the largest demo area in the festival's history, take part in practical seminars and enjoy several side events.
The University of Tartu's strong research is a fertile breeding ground for smart business. At the festival, the university showcases its spin-offs and cooperation opportunities for research-intensive enterprises but also student projects in which future technologies are tested. Fruitful discussions with experts and first-hand emotions from the festival will be mediated by the studio of the University of Tartu School of Economics and Business Administration.
In the festival's demo area, several UT spin-offs providing solutions to societal problems through cutting-edge research will be present. For example, Silklytics is developing a test to determine the micronutrient content of soil and plants, SoftRobot is developing a soft robotics-based educational tool for training midwives, Murrifier produces solutions for air and surface disinfection, and RedoxNRG turns carbon dioxide into fuel.
Silklytics is developing a novel microfluidic technology based on porous materials that enables affordable chemical analyses. The company plans to apply its technology to both agriculture and laboratory medicine. Measuring micronutrients in plants and soil helps farmers know which and how much fertilisers to use. In the field of medicine, the technology is applicable to measuring the amount of biotin (vitamin B7) in people's blood, as its high concentration interferes with many laboratory-based analytical methods. In the sTARTUp Day demo area, Silklytics will present the prototypes of its analysis chip and reader, which do not require the user to have complicated instruments, additional infrastructure or specific knowledge.
Today's health and medical professionals are increasingly trained in simulated environments, but from a robotics perspective, the existing equipment is 20 years out of date. For the simulation training of midwives, SoftRobot uses soft robotics to design an artificial cervix with dynamic properties comparable to the real organ. At the sTARTUp Day, SoftRobot will present the results of its work.
Murrifier offers smart devices that protect us against viruses and have been tested in the laboratories of the University of Tartu. For example, a tiny spray bottle with an ozone generator turns tap water into a disinfectant, and a CO2 sensor based on semiconductor technology can be used to assess the quality of the ventilated air and the risk of viral infection. Visitors of the sTARTUp Day can see the products sold at the UT Gift Shop as well as the prototypes of new products.
RedoxNRG uses renewable energy to electrochemically capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, thus contributing to circular economy and climate neutrality. The captured CO2 is used to make formic acid, which is used in many areas of life. For example, it is a convenient and safe hydrogen energy storage device, it is used in cosmetics and the food and textile industries, as well as in RedoxNRG's own work.
In the demo area, visitors can also see Solaride, a solar car that has grown out of a University of Tartu student project. The UT Tartu Observatory will present a prototype of a forest planting robot developed in collaboration with Milrem and a model of the ESTCube-2 satellite from the ESTCube student project.
The University of Tartu School of Economics and Business Administration will set up a studio in the demo area to broadcast videos of festival life. The studio will host fascinating conversations with studio guests on the topics of research-intensive entrepreneurship and make a live broadcast from the main stage, where the launch of the international business accelerator programme CDL-Estonia (Creative Destruction Lab) will be officially announced on 25 August at 11. Estonia is the third European country in which the programme is launched.
Lightcode Photonics, which recently won the top prize at the prestigious MIT Enterprise Forum CEE in Greece, is a deep-tech start-up that grew out of a research project at the University of Tartu. It is developing novel lidar cameras, the underlying technology of which is becoming the new standard for 3D imaging.
GScan, a consortium of top Estonian physicists and engineers, is developing a scanner based on natural atmospheric radiation that will help to detect prohibited and dangerous items and substances in luggage, for example, when crossing borders. This technology would make it possible to replace the existing screening equipment at airports and customs checkpoints emitting harmful X-rays with safe ones.
The University of Tartu spin-off Blueray offers virtual time travel, bringing the past to life with the help of virtual reality glasses. Blueray's ambition is to deliver meaningful experiences through modern technology, which is why they are working with the University of Tartu to develop virtual reality applications for the cultural heritage and tourism sectors and to explore their user experience.
Alongside soaring entrepreneurial ideas, the sTARTUp Day will also take a closer look at the services the university can offer to research-intensive companies. Researchers of the UT Institute of Physics speak about the Center of Nanomaterials Technologies and Research NAMUR+. Collaboration opportunities related to the synchrotron beamline FinEstBeAMS to support materials and atmospheric research will also be discussed.
Before the festival, on 24 August, the University of Tartu Institute of Computer Science organises two side events in the framework of the sTARTUp Day. On Wednesday from 13–14, the demo day of the Autonomous Driving Lab takes place in front of the University of Tartu Delta Centre. From 14–17, the design thinking workshop takes place in the DELTA Sandbox environment for digital products and services.
On Thursday, 25 August, from 13:20–14:05, the University of Tartu organises a seminar entitled "Mobility for Liveable Cities: Investment Opportunities From EIT Urban Mobility". The urban mobility innovation community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT Urban Mobility) focuses on testing sustainable, diverse and innovative mobility options in cities, including through artificial intelligence and new energy solutions. EIT Urban Mobility supports cutting-edge start-ups and expanding businesses whose ultimate goal is creating sustainable and liveable cities. The seminar will discuss how to grow ideas and business through the innovation community, funding measures and special programmes.
From 15:50–16:50, a joint seminar of the University of Tartu and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology's innovative manufacturing technologies network (EIT Manufacturing) entitled "Robots: from Vision to Action" takes place. Associate Professor of Robotics Engineering of the University of Tartu Karl Kruusamäe and Kaitlin McGovern and Pavel Kopylov from the EIT collaboration network discuss where the robotics industry is heading and how start-ups in this sector can get support and funding.
The sTARTUp Day is the biggest business festival in the Baltics and takes place for the sixth time this year. The event brings together start-ups and other entrepreneurs, investors and students. The author of the idea of the festival is Andres Kuusik, Professor of Marketing at the University of Tartu, and the university is one of the largest co-organisers of the festival.