Helmholtz to support two more start-ups

For scientists, starting their own business is fraught with difficulties. Helmholtz therefore launched its Helmholtz Enterprise program and its complementary management module Helmholtz Enterprise Plus. Now two more entrepreneurs will receive valuable support from the program. Their ideas will allow water to be managed more efficiently and a large number of fawns to be saved from mowing machines.

Our scientists often develop very appealing business ideas in the course of their research,” says Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association. “They lack the backing necessary, however, to bring these ideas to market. This is where we would like to provide support for them with our Helmholtz Enterprise program, among other things.” The young companies are thus given the opportunity to translate their years of excellent research into practical application. In addition to this, they often create highly skilled jobs. “I am delighted that we are once again supporting two innovative approaches that can help resolve big everyday problems. I wish the founders every success with their launch to market,” Wiestler adds.

Since 2005, there have been a total of 207 spin-offs from the Helmholtz Centers. Around half of these emerged with the help of Helmholtz Enterprise. Now two new spin-offs are waiting in the wings: Elisa Fagiolini from Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) and Martin Israel from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will receive funding amounting to a total of 226,000 euros. They are given further support through the transfer offices at the Helmholtz Centers, through mentoring, and participation in an accelerator program.

 Managing water resources more efficiently

In the course of the WaMoS (Water Monitoring from Space) project, GFZ researcher Elisa Fagiolini developed computer software that can help regions exposed to climate extremes prepare more effectively for crisis events such as droughts or flooding. With the help of the hydrogravimetry software, changes in water resources in specific regions around the world can be analyzed using satellite data from the GRACE and GRACE-FO missions run by the GFZ and NASA. The software is able to differentiate between individual components of the overall water supply. WaMoS software could provide an essential tool for water providers, agricultural enterprises, or insurance companies, for example, who have to make long-term plans in those regions.

In the first year after launching the business, the team headed by the GFZ mathematician received intensive support from the GFZ technology transfer office and was provided with funding. In the meantime, the team has recruited a Business Developer via the Helmholtz Enterprise Plus program to take care of the further development of the business area in the Latin-American market. The entrepreneur already has her first customer in Australia, and further talks are underway, including negotiations with an NGO. “I like developing innovative products and services that make a contribution to society, such as improving water management,” says Elisa Fagiolini.

Contact: Elisa.Fagiolini(at)gfz-potsdam.de


Rescuing fawns

In contrast, the idea developed by Martin Israel at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) could be effective in some areas much closer to home: In the late spring, when farmers are mowing their fields and harvesting their crops, 100,000 fawns perish every year in Germany alone, because they are hiding from predators in the long grass and are not visible to the mowing machine operators. The “Fliegende Wildretter” (Flying Wildlife Finder) developed by the DLR team is intended to solve this problem and has already proved its effectiveness in numerous field tests. The DLR drone, which is equipped with sensors, automatically flies over the field before it is harvested and records high resolution thermal images and their position data at one-second intervals. Special software analyzes these data after the flight. The locations where animals were found are geo-referenced and can be transferred to a GPS device, which points the farmer or game tenant to where they are.

One advantage of the Flying Wildlife Finder is that the technology detects the hidden fawns even when the sun is shining. Martin Israel’s team is now developing a business model within the framework of the Helmholtz funding program and is looking for a suitable partner with business development competence. “It’s a relatively small market, but it is a matter of preventing a lot of suffering caused to deer and other affected animals when mowing fields and meadows,” says Martin Israel.

Contact: Martin.Israel(at)dlr.de


Helmholtz contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six Research Fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, and Aeronautics, Space, and Transport. With more than 40,000 employees at 19 Research Centers and an annual budget of around 4.7 billion euros, Helmholtz is the largest scientific organization in Germany. Its work is rooted in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821–1894).

July 03, 2019


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