Universiteit Leiden

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Marc de Haan

Looking for the gap in the market: student entrepreneurs present promising plans

A highly refined drone camera that inspects the grape harvest or new microtechnology that can make painful biopsies redundant. Enthusiastic entrepreneurs presented their promising plans on 30 June in the HUBspot start-up centre.

This summer they are going to do their own Tour de France. A tour of vineyards that are interested in the technology that allows you to check from the air whether your grapes are ripe for harvesting. Max Wijsman (astronomy student) and Dennis van der Wiel (biology) are the owners of Polariks, a Leiden start-up that aims to develop all kinds of applications for hyper special imaging, a photographic technique that lets you see more than with the naked eye. The technology is ideal for grape farmers who currently have to inspect each grape to determine whether it's the time for the harvest. Soon a camera on a drone will be able to do the inspection instead.  

Alejandra Sambonino, founder of emotional guidance guru

Lugus

Wijsman pitched Polariks on 30 June in HUBspot, Leiden's start-up centre, during a meeting of student entrepreneurs' association Lugus. This partnership of Leiden University, the Leiden Hogeschool and the municipality of Leiden has some 150 members, half of whom have their own company. After graduating, students can rent work space there and receive mentoring and advice. Wijsman expects that hyper special imaging, developed by ESA, will not go unnoticed. There are many  possible applications, such as in mobile phones and security cameras. 'Every day is a surprise,' Wijsman says. He expects to graduate this summer and in the meantime he gives life as an entrepreneur 'a ten'!  

Botboys

Vincent Ulmer has now outgrown Lugus. His company Botboys has joined the selective club of start-ups that are receiving support and guidance from Rockstart. Botboys helps companies communicate with clients via bots or chatbots. Visitors to a fun park (a new client of Botboys) can in future, for example, ask all kinds of questions via the mobile phone: What do the fries cost, is it going to rain today? Vincent Ulmer and co-founder Felix Paulusma wanted to start something up for themselves after graduating in Japanese. 'We weren't good at applying for jobs. I was too headstrong and Felix too shy.' Now there are six of them in the company. 'You have to make something that somebody wants. That's lesson number 1.' 

Vincent Ulmer from Botboys

The right chemotherapy

Other Lugus members also pitched their companies. One of these was Idris Oncology, that aims to ensure that doctors can monitor the development of all cancer cells continuously via the blood. At the moment, the only way to do this is via painful biopsies - something that you can't keep on repeating. The company expects that, with the new microtechnology, patients will always receive the right chemotherapy. 

Emotion app

The emotional guidance guru also presented her business. This start-up has developed an app to make people more aware of their emotions, and consequently make them happier.  Easyfiets recycles  bikes, which they then lease. Their turnover quadrupled last year. Behind the Bio Science Park, Easyfiets is building ‘the biggest bike recycling factory in the Netherlands.' 

Underdog award

Willebrand Technologies, that aims to ensure that there will never be a shortage of blood platelets, was given the Underdog award, the prize for the Lugus company that is 'really good behind the scenes even though it lacks visibility.'  

(JvD/photos Marc de Haan)

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