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acuila enables automated, optimised, dynamic route planning. How did you come up with the idea?
Luis Hopf: It actually started with a different idea. What we wanted to do is optimise patient care. Then we talked with potential customers, who pointed out that mobile nursing services have massive problems when it comes to planning personnel resources and service routes. So we shifted our focus to automated route planning. Our goal is to put mobile nursing services in a position where they can plan and allocate resources in a short amount of time. The technology also makes spontaneous changes visible in real time.
How exactly does your software work and how does it differ from that of other providers?
Luis Hopf: A high-performance algorithm created by Fraunhofer SCAI makes flexible route planning possible. By prioritising the factors involved, the algorithm analyses thousands of possible alternatives within seconds before identifying a globally optimised solution. The challenges involved in package delivery are very similar and a number of solutions are already available that address those challenges. In our case, however, the challenges are a bit more complex as we have to take more variable factors into account, like specific routines.
When did you realise that you needed additional technology and how did you find Fraunhofer?
Luis Hopf: We found TechBridge by Fraunhofer Venture while looking for a partner for our original idea and through the Manage&More program run by UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at TUM. We were hoping to get in touch with a Fraunhofer Institute through the TechBridge networking platform, TandemCamp. At that point we didn’t have the expertise to realise the idea by ourselves. Shortly before the TandemCamp application deadline expired, the TechBridge team put us in touch with Fraunhofer SCAI. Funnily enough, the institute had already been researching exactly that we ended up needing.
How did TechBridge TandemCamp support you in the collaboration?
Luis Hopf: TechBridge put us in touch with our technology partner, Fraunhofer SCAI, who is helping us implement our use case and build an effective solution. We met each other for the first time at the TandemCamp kick-off workshop and together developed a mission, a vision and a roadmap. I particularly felt the workshop was very rewarding. The vision we developed together serves as a point of orientation and continually provides new inspiration for both partners. Because our offices are located so far apart, however, we only met in person again for the final presentation. We addressed two topics that were very distinct from each other. We at acuila dealt with market research and identified customer requirements. We collaborated with nursing services to validate the effectiveness of the technology and then sent the information we had gathered to Fraunhofer SCAI. Fraunhofer SCAI incorporated our requirements into the algorithm and adapted its technology accordingly. At the end of the two-month TandemCamp funding phase, we had a functional prototype that demonstrates how the technology is supposed to work.
What are your plans for acuila? What are the next steps?
Luis Hopf: We are currently still in the process of finalising our prototype. We will be starting a pilot project with the Johanniter aid organisation in November, where we will test it. As soon as we are certain that optimised, flexible routes can be planned at the touch of a button, we will work on convincing nursing services providers of the effectiveness of our automated personnel and route planning software.
If that works out, we will try to obtain a EXIST business start-up grant to further expand our team and scale the business. We are currently also in discussions with Vincentz, a large publishing house in the nursing field, which organises the largest nursing fair in Germany. In addition to mobile nursing services, we are also looking into an additional application for inpatient care and are in talks with Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich.
What do you feel are the most important factors for successful collaboration?
Luis Hopf: I think it is essential to communicate openly and honestly with each other right from the start and not try to conceal anything. That way you can identify problems early on. We didn’t have any of those types of problems whatsoever during our collaboration. Our continued cooperation with Fraunhofer SCAI also shows that both sides are happy and see the project’s value and potential. I also think it’s important for partners to occasionally meet on-site, face-to-face. There is definitely a difference between communicating via skype and sitting together at one table.
Mr. Hopf, thank you very much for your time. We wish all the best for acuila!
60% of people are unhappy with the indoor climate at their workplace! Poorly cleaned air-conditioning systems can spread germs, cause draughts and stir up dust. Interpanel GmbH, a subsidiary of Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, offers modular air-conditioning panels as an integrated, ready-to-install solution for new and stock buildings. The panels cool the air based on thermal radiation, a particularly hygienic and efficient technology that provides quiet, draught-free heating and air-conditioning. One aspect that makes the technology so special is the fact that the panels are the very first to enable cooling without condensation forming.
The company, which was founded in 2017, creates a healthy indoor environment via modular panels that combine cooling, heating, lighting and acoustics all in a single, ready-to-install panel. An excellent example is the company’s effective, acoustic temperature light that acts independently of the ambient air dew point temperature. The technology cools the room by absorbing thermal radiation, guaranteeing optimal comfort. The technology also features an optional daylight sensor function and can be used as a diffuse LED light for workstations, providing perfect lighting. The system increases productivity while reducing dust and germs. Because the technology is able to function below dew point, it is the first of its kind to also be effective in tropical climates and public spaces.
The technology, which was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, is based on a transparent, translucent polymer structure for thermal radiation (8-12 µm) that is installed onto a temperature-controlled surface. When the surface cools, the moist air surrounding it cannot access the surface while thermal heat exchange remains constant. Comfortable room climate can be set for different zones, making it possible to take the needs of all your employees into consideration. The panels also provide ideal non-glare lighting for workstations. The solution is ready to install and is currently being used in new and stock buildings as well as in the healthcare and industrial sectors. Custom versions of the entire product can be licensed, creating room to scale into other markets and market segments that currently don’t have an alternative to traditional air-conditioning systems.
interpanel GmbH received support during the 12-week acceleration program, FDays®, and the FFE sponsorship program. The two Fraunhofer Venture programs proved particularly helpful during the pre-founding orientation phase and in taking the first steps towards getting the start-up off the ground. The technology was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy through the EXIST program, where its creators got the technology ready for market launch. The start-up has received several awards and prizes, including winner of the Green Tech Challenge 2017, Hospital of the Future - Medical Valley Award, 2nd place, and 1st place in the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Challenge San Francisco 2016 - Green Building.
The Venture Connect project, which is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, assists companies and Fraunhofer Institutes in coming up with joint solutions to effectively identify and apply technologies. Eight outstanding companies were introduced to eleven Fraunhofer Institutes at the first SmartBuilding Day held by Venture Connect on 17 October. Fraunhofer researchers and company representatives worked together to develop application concepts for the buildings of the future. Watch our video to get an impression of the first SmartBuilding Matching Day.
The Venture Connect team helps companies, particularly SMEs, and Fraunhofer Institutes in coming up joint solutions to effectively identify and apply technologies. At our Matching Days events, eight to ten companies are matched with around ten different technologies developed by the Fraunhofer Institutes.
Venture Connect will be holding its second MedTech Matching Days event. Selected companies from the med-tech industry will be classified according to specific topic and technology focal points. On 20 and 27 February interesting companies with potential will be put in touch with innovative Fraunhofer technologies and collaborate with Fraunhofer Institutes to come up with new applications for their technologies. Interested SMEs can apply until 18 December.