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“Future Hub Climate” pilot program concludes but the work continues

"Future Hub Climate" pilot programme, which was established in August by the innovation management company "Helve" with the support of the “Latvian Investment and Development Agency” and the “Riga City Council”, came to an end with a demo day on December 7 as part of the “Baltic Sustainability Awards”.

At the beginning of October, 7 startups started the program - “AlgaePhos4x”, “Bruntor”, “CHUM Tableware”, “Peak Save”, “SUBmerge Baltic” from Latvia, as well as “Biohifas” and “Smart Agrometer” from Lithuania. During pre-acceleration, following a program individually designed for each startup, the teams worked together with experienced mentors on improving business models, financial planning, and creating a go-to-market strategy. As a result, several of the startups have completely changed their original plans, adapting to the current market needs.

However, the biggest added value for startups were the engaged testing partners, as attracting the first customers and validating the product is one of the biggest challenges in the startup world.

"This program helped us to start cooperation with industry partners, with whom we had previously tried to start negotiations ourselves. For startup representatives, without internal contacts, it is difficult to reach the right people, which was handled by the organizers during the program. The mentors' experience in product development and finding price reduction opportunities was also very helpful. Although we have pitched ourselves countless times, we received constructive criticism for improvements from the experts, thus strengthening the growth opportunities and viability of our company" Raimonds Jurģelis, co-founder and CEO of the startup “Bruntor”, shares his experience in the program.

Although the program has officially ended, work and testing of solutions between startups and partners will continue for several months. Still, significant progress has already been achieved in the first two months of cooperation.

“AlgaePhos4x” tested its microalgae solution for the recovery of phosphorus from the wastewater produced in the “Cēsu alus” brewery production processes, which will become a mandatory requirement at the European Union level in the future.

“Biohifas” used BSG (brewers' spent grain), a by-product from the production processes of “Cēsu alus” and “Malduguns” breweries, for mycelial cultivation to obtain protein-rich biomass that could be used for the production of vegan products and/or animal feed.

“Bruntor” together with “Omniva Latvija” tested their electric cargo scooter's suitability for last-mile deliveries. At the same time, with Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital the startup tested its scooter's suitability for indoor use at the hospital's premises to improve existing logistics processes.

“CHUM Tableware”, with the support of “Rimi Baltic”, perfected the production of bran-based disposable tableware with the aim of starting sales in “Rimi” supermarkets in the future.“Peak Save”, in cooperation with “Tet”, is evaluating the creation of a new service that could be offered to individual consumers.

“Smart Agrometer”, together with “Very Berry”, plans to adapt the smart sensor for use in berry cultivation, thus facilitating the monitoring of plant development and replacing the currently necessary laboratory tests.

“SUBmerge Baltic”, together with the State Scientific Institute “BIOR”, is testing the use of an underwater drone in sea trips to survey water quality and underwater infrastructure.

Although the program primarily worked in the interests of startups, the participating testing partner companies also gained an undeniable benefit from the partnership. Cooperation with startups has provided an opportunity to improve existing company processes, test sustainable solutions, start preparing for upcoming changes in the market and legal acts, as well as evaluate the creation of new joint solutions together with startups.

Agita Kārkliņa, Communication Manager at “Cēsu alus”, about the experience in the program: "We are pleased with the opportunity to contribute to scientific research, devoting our specialists' time and knowledge to share their experience with startups. This cooperation not only allows us to support startups in the development of their projects and ideas, but potential research results can also be useful to our specialists. The wastewater treatment project attracted particular attention - we are still waiting for the results of the testing. We also appreciate the successful cooperation with “Helve” - for professional project supervision and coordination."

While the startups of the first program continue the started cooperation, the "Future Hub" pre-accelerator will evaluate the newly acquired knowledge and return in 2024 with an improved program and a new call to give even more start-ups the opportunity to perform product validation with experienced industry companies.

Funding for the implementation of the "Future Hub Climate" pilot program organized by LIAA and "Helve" has been allocated from the "Technology Transfer Program" project of the European Regional Development Fund.

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