A smart lunchbox to combat child obesity. That solution has won the pitch competition at EIT Digital's Digital Wellbeing Summer School in Eindhoven. The jury was mostly charmed by the combination of a digital solution with a tangible product. Even though only one team could win, almost all the business ideas will be further examined by the companies that submitted them for the summer school.
From 2 August to 29 August, around 400 participants from all over the world deep dive into 50 real-life business cases provided by EIT Digital partners at 14 summer schools across Europe. These summer schools are held completely online. The schools centre around the focus areas: Digital Cities, Industry, Finance, Tech, and Wellbeing. Eindhoven was one of the nine school which ran in the first two weeks of August.
At the summer school in Eindhoven, themed Healthy Lifestyle and Behavioural Change, three Dutch companies each delivered a business case. Combating Child Obesity, GreenHabit and IDRO challenged the learners to come up with innovative solutions to either fight child obesity, trick an addictive brain or use sweat as a proxy for blood analysis. Each business case owner had two teams working separately on a business solution. The pitches were judged by an external jury, among them Professor of Organisation Studies & Innovation, Petra de Weerd, from the University of Twente; Sergio Balassone, Head of Portfolio Delivery, EIT Digital; Johan Kortas, CTO, Co-founder of Alphabeats.
Combating Child Obesity
A business challenge on the EIT Digital Summer School is not just a fun exercise. "It is serious business," says Lars Mulder, venture creation lead at EIT Digital. Mulder is creating a company in collaboration with EIT Health within the innovation activity called Combating Child Obesity. Child Obesity is one of the primary health challenges of the 21st century. The company plans to come up with a minable viable product, a digital eCoach for children with overweight and obesity issues, by the end of 2020.
To Mulder, the summer school business challenge is therefore timely. He asked the summer school participants to surprise him in how to reach kids using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to fight Child obesity. The two teams came up with a different approach. Team Lola pitched a smart lunchbox that was connected to a mobile game. "I like very much combining a tangible product within a digital innovation." Team Obestop focused on a digital network with families giving feedback to each other and professional support on demand. "A buddy system is a proven business model. That could work also for combating child obesity."
Mulder says he will be using elements of the business solutions from both teams in his business. He says. "I am going to rethink my business model based on the ideas I heard here. Both addressed a small piece of my entire business concept. Child obesity is very much about food, awareness and support in society. You have to solve the entire issue and involve the entire ecosystem around child obesity. The summer school brought me valuable input."
Sweat is the key ingredient for the teams that worked on the IDRO Case. IDRO is a new startup that originated as an EIT Digital innovation activity with the Human Motion Data company Kinetic Analysis and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. The startup focuses mainly on sports and planned to examine the health market in 2021. The EIT Digital Summer School offered the chance to research the health opportunity of sweat analysis now. "This is a valuable start for us," explains Maarten Gijssel, founder and managing director of Kinetic Analysis who is also managing partner of IDRO.
Gijssel tasked the students to come up with a business solution that uses sweat analysis as an alternative to blood research. "We gave the students some academic research background for sweat analysis in specific conditions like sepsis and bedsores and let them work out a business case for us." One team chose to deep dive into using sweat analysis for the prevention of sepsis.
That solution impressed Gijssel. "The students collected very useful data for us. They examined the market, the players, and the economic impact of using sweat analysis in sepsis detection. On top of that, they had a business case."
One of the research conclusions was that early detection of sepsis can save lives. The traditional way of measuring lactate via blood is very invasive and time-intensive. Real-time lactate monitoring via smart patch application is less invasive, more effective and faster. Gijssel: "Sepsis is a huge problem in healthcare and there is no solution available yet. When you could use sweat analysis, measuring lactate concentrations you can detect it earlier and treat it."
Gijssel will be discussing the outcome with his management team to decide if they will be entering the healthcare market with this solution. If they do, Gijssel says, he will contact the team members. "The business case is of value to me."
Chantal Linders, CEO and Co-founder of the vitality training company GreenHabit went back to her business inspired as well. Two teams have been working on her task to come up with a digital intervention to trick an addictive brain that fits within her serious game. "People are often alone and do not fancy talking about their cravings. I was looking for a digital intervention to add to the serious game."
Linders got two solutions presented by two different teams. One was a virtual assistant to withstand cravings that includes a community of peers. Both of the pitches inspired her, she says. "They made me think." The other idea she'd like to further research whether it is worth adopting into her product development. This is where the team presented a digital innovation based on a physical green ball. The team figured out that people who fall victim to cravings feel powerless, regret and shame. Their green ball competition game should turn cravers into heroes. The game can only be played with people who also have a green ball. Linders: "I like the offline component very much in this solution. This is a very fancy way of collecting data." Due to the physical component, she needs to investigate resources first. "If the means are there, I will certainly reach out to the team of summer school students."