Elythor, AeroSpec and Beyond Scroll receive an Innogrant
The EPFL Startup Launchpad has granted three awards of CHF100,000 each to future EPFL startups Elythor, AeroSpec, and Beyond Scroll. The first startup project has designed a new drone to inspect and monitor long linear structures such as powerlines, bridges, and railways, the second aims to protect human health by analysing the make-up of air pollution, and the third has created a new method to compress hydrogen – a gas which has the potential to be a major factor in slowing down climate change.
The Innogrant selection committee has awarded CHF100,000 to Elythor – a technology project from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) at EPFL who have designed a new drone to inspect and monitor long linear structures such as powerlines, bridges, and railways.
When inspecting linear infrastructure, companies need a solution that is quick, thorough, low-cost, and, most importantly, safe. While in the past, the work was done manually, more recently companies have moved towards using fixed-wing or multirotor drones. While multicopters are highly precise and agile, they have a very limited range and need regular charging. On the other end, fixed-wing drones can travel long distances but don't allow close inspection because of their high operational speeds and long wings.
The team at Elythor has created a new drone which, thanks to an adaptive autopilot, changes its shape depending on its mission. During a flight operation, it can automatically change it’s shape from an efficient aerodynamic shape with extended wings alllowing it to travel long distance, to a smaller configuration with folded wings which allows it to work closer to humans and infrastructure.
The team will use their grant to develop their first minimum viable product and run customer demonstrations. They are looking to work with early adopters by the end of 2023.
Harry Vourtsis - Co-founder
The second Innogrant of CHF100,000 goes to AeroSpec – a technology project from the EPFL Laboratory of Atmospheric Processes and their Impacts (LAPI) which aims to protect human health by analysing the make-up of air pollution. Through their technology, governments and policy makers will better understand the source of pollutants, the impact on health, and how to regulate it.
The World Health Organisation has stated that particulate matter pollution is the world’s largest single environmental risk – causing nearly 7m premature deaths each year. Data shows that almost all of the world’s population (99%) breathes air which exceeds current guideline limits and has high levels of pollutants. Low- and middle-income countries suffer the worst.
It is currently difficult to analyse the source and chemical composition of the pollution – it requires highly skilled technicians, complicated data analysis, and access to expensive devices with limited functionality. The AeroSpec team have developed a technology which replaces a number of different instruments and brings automation to the analysis for a wider range of pollutants.
The team will first target academic circles to support researchers in the aerosol field. They then hope to expand and offer their technology to government and NGO monitoring agencies around the world. They have already received a high number of formal letters of intent and so will use the Innogrant funding to derisk their product, improve their supply chain, and build their team.
Dr. Nikunj Dudani, Researcher
The EPFL Startup Launchpad is pleased to announce they have granted a third award of CHF100,000 to Beyond Scroll, a technology project from the EPFL Laboratory for Applied Mechanical Design (LAMD). The team has created a new method to compress hydrogen – a gas which has the potential to be a major factor in slowing down climate change.
Climate change is one of the world’s biggest threats. The race is on to find a climate-friendly fuel and hydrogen is one of the best candidates. It can be used to store energy and power vehicles without emitting carbon dioxide, only water vapour. However, it needs to be extracted from natural resources and then compressed under high-pressure to be stored. This process is cost-intensive and not efficient enough, which limits the widespread use of this gas.
This is the challenge that Beyond Scroll aims to solve. They are developing a compact, high-speed, oil-free scroll compressor which replaces low-pressure storage tanks and enables efficient production of hydrogen. This component is crucial for the growth of a 'green hydrogen infrastructure' where hydrogen can be produced on-site from renewable sources and safely distributed to end users.
The team will use its Innogrant to develop a minimum viable product and implement the technology in a test site.