We are facing a challenge to make the world a better place, says VodafoneZiggo’s Rene Visser while sitting in the 5G Hub at High Tech Campus Eindhoven (HTCE). A space that looks a lot like a gym with stripes and circles on the floor, the dollars and a grandstand. Everyone can develop applications with 5G with other parties. With the 5G Innovation Challenge, the center gives people the opportunity to come and test their concept and bring it further to market. This year this challenge will be held for the second time, with the theme sustainability† Visser: “Anyone with great solutions for sustainability is welcome.”
“We are looking for compelling examples to help the world move forward. Reduce nitrogen in the agricultural sector, or gas emissions in traffic, or plastic soup. Or to measure the strength of the dikes”, summarizes Visser.
“Drones you use to quickly deliver an AED device to someone having a heart attack. Or to measure biodiversity in a nature reserve,” adds Andy Lürling of the LUMO Labs equity fund. “You can send a ranger there, but he sees much less. With a camera you can zoom in, process the data and send it in real time.”
Lürling is one of the members of the jury. the beauty of such challenge according to him is that you get an idea of what is happening in the world. “And it’s a great opportunity to discover parties that may be of interest to us.” LUMO Labs is an early-stage investment fund and has a two-year startup program for startups focused on AI/data, blockchain, robotics/drones, IoT, and/or VR/AR.
Participants can register until May 1 inclusive. These can be start-ups and student teams, but also large companies, says Visser. “As long as they have ‘something’ tangible. Something that goes beyond a simple idea. It also has nothing to do with 5G. 5G is a technology. For us, it’s all about the apps.”
Everyone who signs up personally calls Visser, or someone else from one of the other participating companies. “To get to know each other and delve a little deeper into the idea they have.” Then there is a selection round. Those selected will go to an information round at the 5G Hub.
There they get to know each other better and receive information about the 5G network. In the next round, each participant presents the solution and receives feedback from a jury. Each participant also goes on a ‘speed date’ with someone from Brainport Development, sustainability consulting organization Sustainalize and Lumolabs, who can take their solution to the ‘next level’.
A number to be determined will then move to the last day, at the end of June. “In the end, there is only one winner,” says Visser. “It has a serious price. We’ll keep it exciting for a while. The winner will get a lot of attention anyway. Also international. But for all the finalists there is attention and prizes like help in marketing or technology”. Participation in the challenge is free.
Last year, the start-up Oddbot won the first edition of the cchallenge† That company has developed a solution for the use of pesticides in horticulture and agriculture. “A fantastic solution with a business model, because in 2026 the European law will ban the use of pesticides.”
Voltgoed won the audience award last year. A startup that has developed a way for heat pumps to make flexible use of green energy. The company is now located in HTCE. Visser: “Initially they had a solution that didn’t immediately involve 5G. But they made it to the final.”
Read more about last year’s challenge here
This year a conscious choice was made for a theme. Registration was completely open last year regarding the theme. Visser: “We all have to work together on the issue of sustainability. At the same time, we cannot just do everything, a solution must be linked to a business model. We want to help with that.”
That is why the jury was expanded with representatives from companies such as LUMO Labs, Sustainalize and ICT Consultancy Bureau Strict. “Companies that can think of the appropriate business models.”
There is also a member of the jury representing the Vodafone Foundation. “The foundation helps with communication in disaster areas. For example, now in Ukraine near the border with Poland. Much work is being done to restore the infrastructure. But the foundation also works in seismic zones”.
In addition, the founding partners of the 5G Hub are part of the jury: Vodafone Ziggo, Ericsson, Brainport and HTCE. Companies such as NXP and Groene Groeiers are also involved, continues Visser. The latter is a network of VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland in which entrepreneurs invest in sustainable solutions.
From the HTCE, Anne van Wijchen, sustainability Manager, jury† †The campus has the ambition to be the most sustainable and innovative campus in Europe by 2025. We also look at climate goals. The campus must also be an attractive place to work. In addition, we want to accelerate our tenants’ innovations. We want to be a living laboratory for startups to test their inventions. Offer people with new ideas growth opportunities. East challenge it is a great opportunity to attract those people. As a member of the jury, therefore, I will primarily look at how innovative and applicable the ideas are.”
The challenge it’s a good prelude to the next level, says Lürling. “It is hard work to get a foothold for a new technology. That’s why it’s good to show what can be done with technology. Then people will understand what 5G is and what makes it possible. Furthermore, it carries challenge to speed up and deepen applications. For example, an idea for a drone that you can use with AEDs, maybe you can also add an insulin syringe to it. Or any other medical application.”
As a member of the jury, Lürling “pays attention not only to whether it is technically possible.” “I pay special attention to the value added for the world and if it is a financially sustainable application.” It is important to Visser that she can feel and see the passion with which the inventors work on their solution. “That passion for a better world is what I’m looking for.”
Learn more about the 5G Hub here and the 5G Innovation Challenge here