Despite the lockdown, the Startup in Residence participants are still very busy working on their prototypes and solutions. But what have they been up to exactly and how have they been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Time for an update!
SecGroep is a technical and legal consultancy, with a focus on public space and urban development. The startup also participated last year, developing ground sensors to help maintain and prevent damage to city parks. This year, they’re going to sustainably tackle weeds growing near or on public roads, which are notoriously hard to get rid of.
“We’ve now entered the testing phase and, together with a supplier, we’re currently testing a pesticide on location in Nuis in the Groningen province”, Ruben Deddens explains. “There are two testing locations and we’re busy analyzing whether or not this product has a negative impact on the soil and groundwater. We’ve done a baseline test and in the coming weeks, we’ll try to determine the viability through research and analysis and if we can get authorization to use it.”
Ocean Grazer is a startup making it possible to deliver upon the society’s raising demand for renewable energy. Green energy depends on weather conditions, so the key is to make it possible to temporarily store the generated energy. Ocean Grazer developed Ocean Battery, a promising energy storage system to store renewable energy at sea, by using hydrostatic pressure. Through the Startup in Residence Program, Ocean Grazer is working on a prototype test in the Eemshaven.
“We are on schedule with the construction of our prototype. The design of the prototype is finished and is now being assembled. Currently, we are planning all the logistics, licenses and procedures, to be able to test it in September this year. During the test we will install the prototype in the Eemshaven to expose it to realistic circumstances. Originally, we planned to make this test a demonstration event. However, due to Covid-19 all events are postponed, providing us with a challenge to turn this demonstration event into fantastic online event.”
Urban Mining wants to turn the city’s waste into resources and create a circular stream that also helps the unemployed and schools. “We were off to a great start in January and February, working together with the waste collection facility at the Duinkerkenstraat and Iederz, the City’s social enterprise”, founder Marco Kortland says. “We initially had a validation roadmap from March to June, with a demo of the first 3D printer prototype. But then Iederz was forced to close because of the lockdown, as well as the Hanze University, who were developing the prototype with us. All in all, we now have a 3 to 5 month delay.”
Biketogo was developed by Kevin Qualm and Erwin Kenter and solves incidental problems of sharing concepts, like inefficiency, safety and littering. The platform will allow the City’s employees to grab and return bikes at any of the office locations, using an app and QR code.
“We ran into COVID-19 problems very early on, because some of the parts and supplies we ordered were produced in China. But we finally managed to get them in late March”, founder Erwin Kenter says. “In the meantime, we’ve been developing sharing software and did some testing. Through trial and error, we’ve recently been able to install the smart locks on the first batch of shared bicycles. The only problem is we haven’t been able to really test it, because people are working from home. But we’re positive and hopeful to make the first group of users happy somewhere in May or June. We’re hoping to find more interested parties to help us scale up the number of shared bikes, so if anyone is interested, feel free to contact us.”
VLNTR signed up to reduce the shortage of volunteers and help long term unemployed people develop the right job and social skills to make the transition back into the labor force easier. Since the start of the crisis, founder Mark Goos has been actively working with volunteer organizations to help out and now has more than 945 volunteers using the platform. “Really anything from doing groceries, writing postcards or just striking up a virtual conversation with people feeling lonely.”