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TU/e spin-off Sponsh best chemical start-up of 2018

Sponsh, a TU/e spin-off that develops a temperature-sensitive textile which produces water from the air, has been voted the best chemical start-up of 2018. It is the third consecutive year that a TU/e start-up has won this prize. Moreover, this year the other two nominees, Vertoro and Lusoco, were also TU/e initiatives.

photo NWO

Yesterday, founders Catarina Esteves and Lourens Bout of Sponsh received the Golden KIEM 2018 from NWO, the Top Sector Chemistry and InnovationLink. The prize consists of 25,000 euros and a sculpture. The announcement was made last night at the CHAINS Chemistry Congress.

The jury was impressed by the enthusiasm and innovative ideas of all three nominated start-ups, awarding the Gouden KIEM to the company in which the jury saw the strongest combination between a product with social impact, a good team with complementary expertise and good opportunities for further growth.

During the CHAINS chemistry conference the winner of the Holland Chemistry Student Competition was also announced, and here too there was a TU/e winner. Student Roel Borgers and Sophie de Lange of Wageningen University & Research (participating together as team Beads vs Beads) won the check for thousand euros for the 'metafoam' they had developed, a material that ensures a better and more efficient insulation of low-frequency noise.

Read on below the photo.

After TUSTI in 2017 and FreshStrips in 2016, Sponsh is the third TU/e spin-off in a row to win the Gouden Kiem. The temperature-sensitive textiles developed by researcher Catarina Esteves five years ago can provide a solution to the shortage of clean water in hot, dry areas. The technology draws its inspiration from the Namibian desert beetle which has hydrophilic (attracting water) and hydrophobic (repelling water) areas on its skin to collect water. 

At night, Sponsh has a highly absorbent character and extracts water from the cool, misty air, while during the day, at warmer temperatures, it releases precisely the water collected at night. The material can produce up to three times its own weight in water. A square meter of this special cotton can produce more than one liter of water per night. The expectation is that the first Sponsh products will appear on the market in 2020.

Artistic glass

The other nominated startups were Lusoco and Vertoro. Lusoco develops inks and components for printing artistic glass that produces energy during the day and emits light at night for use in information signs and architecture. Lusoco is an initiative of postdoc Jeroen ter Schiphorst and Teun Wagenmakers. Vertoro aims to be a platform for lignin-based crude oil, a substance extracted from biomass. This lignin oil can - just like crude oil - not only serve as fuel, but also as a raw material for (bio)plastics and chemicals. The people behind Vertoro B.V. are professor Emiel Hensen, PhD student Panos Kouris and Michael Boot.

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