Solublion, Fych Technologies, Intelligence Trade and Dropi Development recognised as the most innovative and sustainable projects at the 9th Impulso Awards.
Dropi Development also received the Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Caja Mediterráneo Foundation and the UA Research Chair in Social Responsibility.
Silocomo, which helps those with specific dietary requirements find a restaurant, was awarded as best mobile app.
Pictures: UA President Manuel Palomar alongside recipients of 2020 Impulso Awards (categories A and B) and companies recognised at the event: Hidraqua, Webpositer and Glen Biotech
Alicante. Wednesday 15 July 2020
With strict health measures in place due to COVID-19, the University of Alicante held and video streamed live the 2020 Impulso Gala on 15 July to present the best business initiatives within the university community.
In total, the 9th Impulso Awards, organised every year by the University of Alicante and the Valencia Region’s Alicante Science Park Foundation (FPCA), in the framework of the ua:emprende institutional programme, received 37 innovative entries in all categories: 7 in category A (projects promoted by UA research staff) and 30 in category B (UA students or graduates). Winners are listed below:
With €7,000 funding, plus €3,000 from the Alicante Science Park (PCA) and mentoring services from Ibidem Abogados within the Germà Bernàcer Research Chair, the jury selected Solublion, a project by Daniel Domene López, Ignacio Martín Gullón, Juan Carlos García Quesada and Mercedes García Montalbán. Solublion is a business initiative for developing 100% biodegradable, water-soluble and compostable materials. Based on thermoplastic starch, these materials aim to have no negative impact on the environment at the end of their lifespan, which would solve the problem of spills, both in the countryside and at sea, as they would dissolve and degrade completely, without generating microplastics.
The company’s efforts will focus on designing and marketing alternatives that can replace conventional plastics used in packaging. Additionally, it would like to encourage responsible use of plastics and care for the environment.
Besides, €5,000, plus €3,000 from the Alicante Science Park and mentoring services from Galán y Asociados within the Germà Bernàcer Research Chair, were awarded to Fych Technologies. This project is intended to increase demand for recycled plastics in sectors where they are not currently applicable due to their low quality, which would contribute to reducing the amount of plastic that ends up at dumpsites.
Promoted by Andrea Cabanes, Oksana Horodytska and Andrés Fullana, this innovative technology is based on the elimination of organic compounds adhered to the plastic matrix through steam distillation with minimum energy consumption. To that end, a novel technology has been developed that can eliminate pollutants and odours in recycled plastic without using solvents, thus offering a sustainable solution.
Each of the two award-winning projects in this category received €1,500 from the Office of the Vice President for Students and Employment; services from and membership of the Alicante Science Park (worth more than €2,000); and six months of mentoring and tutoring services within the UA Germà Bernàcer Research Chair, provided respectively by Bufete Sempere Jaén and Audifiel.
The first award-winning project is Intelligence Trade, by Marina Almendros, Ana de Souza Bossler and Úrsula Ramírez. Intelligence Trade is the first software with an interactive control panel that, using artificial intelligence, improves company decision-making when selecting export markets by combining data on international trade and from the exporting company. The main strength of the project is that it can analyse a large amount of data and make recommendations through machine learning, clustering countries with greater export potential and offering personalised recommendations.
The other award went to Dropi Development, by Santiago Sierras and Olga Tonás. Committed to sustainable research and the environment, this new company is devoted to producing sustainable solutions for the hotel sector. Initially, it has offered water-soluble amenities in a single-dose format. This new format is primarily aimed at completely eliminating the plastics of traditional amenities and implementing environmentally friendly and biodegradable packaging systems. Presented in the form of biodegradable single-use capsules whose coating disappears after use, these capsules have no impact on the environment and eliminate waste of any kind. Besides, the content of the products is of natural origin. Dropi coating technology allows for personalised sizes, shapes, colours and printing, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for big hotel chains, transport fleets and multiple companies.
Dropi Development also received the Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Caja Mediterráneo Foundation and the University of Alicante Research Chair in Social Responsibility. Dropi Development will have access to guidance and services for enhancing the project in its social dimension, as well as support for implementing a sustainable economic management model over a six-month period. A workspace offered by the Caja Mediterráneo Foundation will also be available to the Dropi team.
The Office of the Vice President for Campus Facilities and Technology awarded €1,000 to Silocomo for being the most innovative project based on a mobile app. This initiative helps people with allergies, food intolerance or certain eating habits find a restaurant and improves their quality of life. Those who have specific dietary requirements indicate the allergens they must avoid and Silocomo automatically provides the list of establishments where they can go. The app also shows and personalises the menu of each restaurant so that users know exactly which dishes they can have and those than can be adapted. Under EU Regulation 1169/2011, which came into effect in 2014, establishments must declare the allergens in their dishes; thus, Silocomo allows them to manage their menus and automatically tailor them to the needs of each customer. The award was presented to Carlos Romero on behalf of Yaiza Isabel Panizo and Claudia Cambra, promoters of this app.
Finally, the Office of the Vice President for Students and Employment’s Accessibility Award (€1,000) went to Omu, by Óscar Plaza, Óscar Linares Pérez, Germán Fresneda Gomis, Manuel Font Rodríguez and Carlos Díez de Castro. Omu is a service that can translate speech into Spanish sign language through a 3D-modelled interpreter, which can be used in face-to-face interactions, phone and video calls. It aims to make life easier to deaf users, as with this app they will not need an interpreter accompanying them everywhere. This service can be installed on a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone, which gives users full autonomy at work, at the doctor’s or at the bank, among others. The only requirement is having mobile data.
Companies recognised at the event
During the Impulso Gala, the University of Alicante recognised the work of several companies from Alicante. Specifically, the UA’s first spin-off, Glen Biotech, was named Alicante Science Park Company of the Year. Glen Biotech was created in 2010 to market sustainable and effective solutions to agricultural problems. The solutions it can produce on its premises can cover an area of about 10 million hectares.
The Most Cooperative Company in Work Placements and Employment was SEO and Marketing Online Webpositer, an agency with which the UA Employment Centre has worked for more than five years in different activities. Over this period, this Alicante-based online marketing agency, international in scope, has offered work placements for UA students in various disciplines, and several UA graduates have found a job at the company.
Finally, the Most Cooperative Company in R&D was Hidraqua, which has collaborated with the UA for more than 20 years on a variety of research projects related to the environment and water cycle management, as well as sponsorship activities, master’s degrees and expert courses.
After the awards ceremony, UA President Manuel Palomar highlighted that this “atypical” 2020 Impulso Gala, with new measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can teach us a key lesson: “the importance of a research system that works properly and smoothly, scientific infrastructures, innovation and scientific talent that can help address health emergencies like this one. There is no doubt that only research will allow us to solve this situation, and most research in this country is conducted at universities. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to increase and review investment in research, for instance at educational centres and universities that can create more jobs from which scientists can serve the public.” In this regard, the University of Alicante’s Impulso Awards are an example of commitment to public service to promote research, innovation and knowledge transfer.
The main event, the 2020 Impulso Awards ceremony, was preceded by a panel moderated by Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer Rafael Muñoz. Iñaki Berenguer, an entrepreneur from Alicante and CEO of CoverWallet, participated by videoconference, whereas PCA manager Olga Francés and two of the winners of last year’s Impulso Awards (Miguel Ángel Cazorla, promoter of AdaptAI, and Jesús Valencia, founder of Wazime) personally attended the event.
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