It certainly was a (very) tight race, given that no fewer than 35 contributors came over to Munich to present their start-up company, prototype or idea to a worldwide audience. As Jury Manager Clemens Valens put it: “I found the quality very impressive. Not only did I see great engineering, the entries also displayed amazing diversity.”
During the first three days of the electronica 2016 trade show all 35 candidates from 16 countries presented their projects in front of an audience at the Fast Forward Booth (stand EOE 200), powered by Elektor and staged together with the electronica 2016 trade show organisation.
From these 35 entries, the international jury chose nine prize winners, three in each of the three categories 'Start-up', 'Prototype' and 'Idea'. Their names were announced during the last day of the trade show, Friday. Here they come.
In the category 'Idea', the 'baristor' device came in third, a product of the Shustov father and son team from Novosibirsk in Russia. The barrier-resistor element (barrier + resistor = baristor and nothing to do with frothy coffees) is a switch element useful in power and analogue electronics whose electrical 'input-output' resistance changes abruptly from a conducting state to a non-conducting state or vice versa. Jonas Galle from Belgium came in second with a very special Metal 3D Printer, cutting away substrate instead of adding material. The first prize however was awarded to Artem Kuchukov from the company Kewazo in Germany for his scaffolding installation robot. This robot has tremendous potential as a scaffolding installation system for building and construction sites where it wins on both safety and cost grounds.
In the category 'Prototypes' Piorek Wasilewski from Poland picked up third prize for his new method for learning programming skills using... a watch. David Link from Germany came in second with a special solution able to monitor the elderly in need of care and support. First prize in this category went to Mowea from Germany: this company has developed a special way to supplement solar power with wind energy, not on a huge scale, but on the scale of a single household.
In the Category 'Start-up' Sewio from the Czech Republic developed a sophisticated indoor realtime location system. This system has the potential to reduce costs of logistics greatly. This third prize was well-deserved, as was the second for eCozy from Germany. eCozy wants to do away with 'dumb' thermostats, instead making them self-learning. BotFactory from New York however claimed first place with their printer which prints a prototype PCB 'on the spot'. This is such an innovative tool and will prove to be useful where a fast a prototyping turnaround is necessary.
OK, now to round it all up: given the three categories, who is the overall winner? Well, we can now reveal that the small firm Mowea from Germany were not only able to present a very innovative idea, they gave a convincing demonstration of their small wind turbine prototype. Dr. Till Naumann from the company was delighted to pick up the 75,000 euros cheque to be used for PR and marketing. BotFactory with Squink, the PCB printer system, was happy to come in second, and Kewazo (the scaffolding building robot) third, earning them cheques worth 50,000 and 25,000 euros respectively.
Did we give away any special prizes? Well yes, Len Williams from Australia didn't appear in the top three but as Elektor CEO Don Akkermans pointed out during the Fast Forward ceremony, the jury simply could not let him fly back empty handed. Len got the special 'Tech for Good' award for a totally new method for measuring water usage, this was an all digital approach instead of the traditional mechanical method, and way more precise! His award came with a cheque of 5,000 euros, to be spent on PR and marketing.