Back in 2008, YouNoodle launched with the claim that it could predict a startup's success using artificial intelligence. Reaction was mixed and six years on, the company's focus has changed considerably. With a fresh round of funding behind it, YouNoodle is now carving out a new brand for itself as a platform for discovering and managing startup competitions.
Over the past twelve months, 28,000 startups from 153 countries have competed in YouNoodle competitions. A small number of the most innovative of these projects pitched today in YouNoodle Live, a virtual demo day pilot that YouNoodle intends to make a repeat event.
Each startup had four minutes to pitch to an audience of investors, entrepreneurs and bloggers, followed by 4 minutes of Q&A. Most of the companies, though interesting, weren't bio-related but here are the three that caught my eye.
Lab4U's premise is that lab equipment incredibly expensive and that as a consequence, many students in Latin America have to do without. Using the sensors that are built into smartphones, Chile-based Lab4U is producing a range of apps that are designed to equip these students with affordable "pocket labs".
An example app from Lab4U is SpectroCell, which hijacks smartphone cameras to turn devices into spectrophotometers.
Lab4U is currently fundraising.
The TychoBio team believes that many of the biochemicals that we use in everyday life are manufactured in unsustainable ways. For example, some are produced from petroleum, which results in significant chemical waste.
TychoBio is producing these biochemicals via moss, which it grows in large bioreactors. As the moss grows, it produces chemicals. By "reprogramming" the moss' biochemical production pathway, the company is able to generate other compounds. TychBio says that this method is cheaper and more efficient than others on the market.
I'm stretching the bio boundaries a bit with Natural Machines, the maker of 3D food-printing device Foodini, as they're really in the business of creating a kitchen appliance. It's food, it's nutrition...
Lynette Kucsma, Natural Machine's Barcelona-based co-founder and CMO, outlines the company's vision as being to revolutionize food preparation, as the microwave did in the 70s. The Foodini appliance takes fresh ingredients and prints them into more complex foods, such as gnocchi or ravioli. Its design appears slick - it would slot into a modern kitchen very easily - and of course it's an internet-connected appliance.
The Foodini is scheduled for early access sales at the end of 2014, with mass market retail to come in mid-2015. The cost will be $1300.