Now at the end of its 19th edition, Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta is a yearly business plan competition for young entrepreneurial teams and innovative projects. The initiative is organized as part of the PNI - Italian National Innovation Award and promoted by the I3P, 2i3T and Enne3 incubators to spread the culture of innovation, promote the economic development of the Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta regions, and support the emergence of knowledge-intensive start-ups in the Cleantech & Energy, Industrial, ICT, Life Sciences, Tourism and Creative Cultural Industry fields.
The finalists of the 2023 edition of the competition were selected from over 150 submitted business ideas. The winners were announced and awarded at the event held on the morning of November 9th, 2023 at the University of Turin. Thanks to the endowment made available by the promoting and supporting entities and by European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) resources, this year's total prize pool was more than 65,000 euros, disbursed in cash and services. Among the awarded teams, there were two space start-ups from the community of ESA BIC Turin: Focoos AI and Nabu.
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Computer Vision applications on low-power devices such as satellites or drones presents significant challenges for aerospace companies. Traditional AI models are often oversized, requiring substantial computational resources and energy.
Focoos AI's value proposition is to simplify and accelerate AI adoption for aerospace companies and make AI easily accessible on a wide range of devices like satellites or drones, eliminating the need for complex hardware infrastructure. The goal is to help clients expedite their AI implementation time-to-market while reducing costs related to hardware expenses and energy consumption.
The project presented by Focoos AI to the Jury of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta 2023 was awarded with the overall fourth place of the competition and a prize of €1,000 for entry into the 21st edition of the PNI - Premio Nazionale per l'Innovazione, the "champions cup" among the winning business projects of the regional Start Cups, which will be held in Milan on November 30th and December 1st, co-organized jointly by the Milano-Bicocca University, Politecnico di Milano, Bocconi University and Università Statale di Milano.
The innovative technology developed by Focoos AI, founded in 2023 and incubated in I3P, also won a Special Prize, offered by one of the sponsors and partners of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta 2023: Jacobacci & Partners, among the leading European agencies in the protection of intellectual property, awarded the start-up with the Jacobacci Gold Prize, worth €5,000 in services.
In the world, 70% of water consumption accounts to agriculture. Nabu develops Internet of Things (IoT) and data analysis solutions to improve sustainability and efficiency in water management, aiming to introduce a holistic approach to IoT in agriculture, especially for irrigation. Founded in 2022 and incubated in I3P, in 2023 the start-up was selected to join "Space IT Up", the first Aerospace Vertical Acceleration Program organized by the Houston Office of the Italian Trade Agency.
The name Nabu comes from the ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the rational arts, scribes, and wisdom. The start-up brings four fundamental functions on a single platform: information technology, through on-field sensors; operational technology, to control and monitor the irrigation systems; remote sensing, combining satellite and sensor data; assistance tools, such as field sensor placement and field analysis to detect irrigation issues.
During the Awards Ceremony of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta 2023, Nabu was awarded by LINKS Foundation with the City of the Future and Sustainability Prize, worth a total of €7,500 in cash and services, for the best project with an impact on sustainability.
Start Cup Piemonte Valle d’Aosta 2023 also awarded three other entrepreneurial teams with innovative projects in the space sector, which may start a development path with ESA BIC Turin in the future.
Winning the overall third prize of the competition, worth €2,500, was the Spaice project: supported by the I3P incubator after winning the second prize of the #T-Tec 2022 contest by Leonardo and Telespazio, Spaice addresses the aerospace domain by developing advanced and robust artificial intelligence software, using Generative AI, for perception, autonomous navigation in space and robotic operations, as well as control, in order to enable In-Orbit Servicing for debris removal and satellite life extension. As one of the top six projects of Start Cup Piemonte Valle d'Aosta 2023, Spaice will compete at national level for the PNI 2023 awards.
The Piedmont Aerospace Cluster has awarded the Space Sustainability Prize of €7,500 to the best business plan that considers the theme of sustainability in aeronautics or space, thus choosing the ORiS team: supported by I3P, its project aims to build an in-orbit infrastructure for the transmission of wireless energy toward the lunar surface, through a constellation of satellites positioned in nearly stable lunar orbits, which store energy during their orbital period using photovoltaic panels and batteries, and then transmit it toward the lunar surface through a laser beam.
One of the three 5G & Emerging Tech prizes offered as part of the City of Turin's CTE NEXT project for the best 5G-related entrepreneurial projects was awarded to Starview, supported by I3P, which has devised a real-time image processing service designed for satellites, telescopes and military aircraft to maximize the accuracy of clear information from space data.