7 rising European tech stars coming to Ireland for MIT innovators event

12 Apr 2022

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These innovators will be coming to Donegal next month for the annual MIT festival that brings together Europe’s best young tech minds.

Gaoth Dobhair in Co Donegal may be known as a small, Irish-speaking community in the corner of Ireland. But come May, it will host some of Europe’s brightest young entrepreneurs and innovators as they showcase their ideas and meet other like-minded individuals shaping the future through tech.

For the first time, Ireland will host the MIT Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival, where European and global leaders in innovation will speak about the transformative power of tech for the world. The festival has been rebooted after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.

“During the pandemic we have learnt that, with modern connectivity, great innovation can happen from wherever people are based,” said Connla McCann, director of MIT Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival.

“By bringing Europe’s Innovators Under 35 to the Atlantic edge, we are signalling that tech can blossom on the road less-travelled.”

This year’s Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival is sponsored by Údarás na Gaeltachta, Derry City Council, Strabane District Council, Donegal County Council, NUI Galway, Catalyst, Open University, Unosquare and Atlantic Technological University.

Since its creation, MIT Technology Review has been publishing an annual list of Innovators Under 35. Dr Conor McGinn of Trinity College Dublin and Akara Robotics was on the 2019 list of European innovators.

Here is the first shortlist of European innovators who will travel to Donegal next month to showcase their achievements across AI, nanotech and more.

Becca Hume, founder and CEO of TapSOS

TapSOS is an app that lets users communicate with emergency services without needing to verbally speak. Hume, who studied multi-disciplinary design at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, got the idea behind the start-up while studying how people with disabilities interact with their surroundings, services and each other.

Founded in 2016, TapSOS is now developing technology to help victims of domestic abuse, or those who find themselves in high-risk environments where they can’t speak aloud, to contact emergency services with just a few taps. Hume is also looking to make the app accessible to blind people.

Lubomila Jordanova, co-founder and CEO of Plan A

Berlin-based Plan A is developing a platform that uses machine learning to help businesses manage and improve their ESG performance. Founded by Jordanova in 2017, Plan A has developed an algorithm that analyses more than 300,000 data points to allow companies to monitor and reduce their environmental footprint.

A graduate of Aston University in the UK and Esade Business School in Barcelona, Jordanova is also the co-founder of the Greentech Alliance that supports more than 1,000 start-ups by connecting them to 500 advisers. She is currently part of the six-month Obama Foundation Leaders Europe programme for 2022, which connects emerging leaders in the region promoting common good.

Valerio Magliulo, founder of Abatable

Abatable is looking to help companies meet their net-zero goals by offering a carbon procurement programme that connects carbon project developers with sources of capital for financing. Its platform gives companies easier access to voluntary carbon markets where they can purchase credits to offset their emissions.

A former employee of Facebook and Uber, Magliulo is passionate about climate action and co-founded Abatable last year. He is a graduate of HEC Paris and Bocconi University in Milan.

Mulundu Sichone, founder and CEO of Pydro

The preservation of water has become a top priority as awareness of the impacts of the climate crisis grows, and this start-up founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Sichone is trying to help.

Pydro has developed plug-and-play sensors that detect water waste from pipe networks and help water utilities save money by eliminating the problem of undetected pipe bursts. The technology could be useful in both the EU – where billions are pumped into the pipeline (literally) to develop water infrastructure – and in developing countries affected by water scarcity. Sichone has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Rostock in Germany.

Hannah Thomson, founder and CEO of The Joy Club

The Joy Club is an online activity community that leverages social media technology to tackle isolation and illness among older people. Motivated by the death of her grandmother who had dementia, Thomson decided to found The Joy Club in 2019 to help keep older people intellectually stimulated, physically active and socially connected through live online events.

The technology is even more relevant in the context of Covid-19, which has left many older people feeling more isolated and unable to form or maintain social connections. With its mix of classes and activities, Thomson hopes The Joy Club can be a lifeline for users. She is a graduate of Exeter College and the London School of Economics.

Somdip Dey, co-founder and CEO of Nosh Technologies

This AI-based food management app is looking to tackle the problem of household waste that contributes significantly to global carbon emissions. Nosh helps consumers manage their food inventory while giving them up-to-date information on healthy eating. The app also helps vendors sell food products that are close to expiry to consumers at a discounted price. As of last month, the app has more than 17,000 downloads on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Dey is a graduate of St Xavier’s College in Kolkata, India, and holds a PhD from the University of Essex in the UK, where he is now a lecturer. There, he is also currently developing a blockchain-based machine learning framework to prevent food waste.

Guglielmo Mazza, co-founder of ReFuse

An idea born in a refugee camp in Lebanon, ReFuse is a social enterprise platform that aims to help the environment and people in distress at the same time by recycling used items and providing income to people collecting refuse.

Through an initiative called Cash4Trash, the ReFuse team is looking to support communities in poverty-stricken regions and refugee camps by helping raise awareness about the benefits of a pollution-free environment and remunerating people for helping in the cause. The start-up was co-founded by Mazza, who holds a master’s degree in international cooperation from the University of Trento in Italy.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic