The brightest ideas on the planet
The entrepreneurial revolution is spreading to nearly every nook and cranny on the planet. Even countries plagued with political strife or in the midst of a deep recession are seeing a surge in start-up activity. These innovators bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare — and can be found far from Silicon Valley, in such outposts as Uganda, Cameroon, the Philippines, Israel, Chile and Ukraine.
This year's Global Entrepreneurship Week includes 160 countries and roughly 10 million people. One of its marquee events is the annual Startup Open competition, held in key cities worldwide, which gives entrepreneurs a stage in which to pitch their ideas. This year, founders from 89 countries submitted more than 800 start-up ideas for consideration. Seventy percent are from outside the U.S.
Here is a sampling of some of the hottest start-ups from around the globe that made the 2015 Startup Open competition's list of 50 top contenders. Ideas range from "cricket protein shakes" to a laundry service for Kenyan university students and a refrigerator magnet to catch malaria.
New York City, USA
AeroAnalytics is developing a software platform that leverages drones to solve the construction industry's toughest problems. Those issues include inaccurate ground-based surveys, expensive aerial mapping and dangerous site inspections. The organization's mission is to enable construction companies to operate more accurately, cheaply and safely.
The organization uses drones to create two-dimensional maps and 3-D models and safely conduct site inspections. The drones provide data and information to complete imaging, mapping, surveys and inspections remotely.
AppleDoc is an application for smartphones and tablets that assesses the social behavior of children with chronic diseases, using art therapy methods. Resembling a digitalized version of a therapy session, AppleDoc provides the service to families who can't afford regular clinic visits or who are unaware of the social and psychological repercussions of chronic conditions in children.
Children can use the program daily, and AppleDoc's tagline is the adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Children using the system complete specific tasks by drawing and answering questions for analysis. The program provides information using art therapy methodology. AppleDoc's algorithm then takes the drawing and provides feedback on the child's specific condition. Parents can have access to this information through a secure portal and can share findings with a health-care provider or start a discussion in a community of other parents sharing common information.
BethClip is a lightweight and easy-to-use software that synchronizes a person's clipboard across multiple devices and programs. BethClip enables someone to have access to the same data on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
Users can also copy and store information to the cloud with a single click, and it integrates shorthand commands like "Ctrl + C" for copying, and "Ctrl + V" for pasting. The program works not only on a variety of devices but also on various operating systems, from Windows to Apple iOS.
Brain.fm is working to cure Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety and insomnia via neuroscience-driven music. The audio sessions are tested and analyzed to provide personalized brainwave training programs.
Brain.fm targets focus, relaxation and sleep. Users listen to issue-specific audio sessions, and the program developers say a person using the system should feel results almost immediately. Personalized sessions also use a small questionnaire to see what a user needs, and tailors the audio experience.
CleanLee Kenya Services offers pickup and drop-off laundry services for clients. The organization uses modern washing technologies that conserve power and water. The machines incorporate new eco-bubble technology and are environmentally friendly.
Target clients include university students within the Ongata Rongai area of Nairobi, Kenya. This target group is made up of more than 8,000 university students, and the larger population of Ongata Rongai is made up of nearly 500,000 people.
Crik Nutrition has developed a protein powder made primarily out of crickets. This particular insect has a high nutritional content and easy sustainability versus other protein sources.
The goal is to use crickets, and potentially other insects, not only because of their nutritional value but because of their minimal eco-footprint. The organization says crickets produce 71 grams of protein per 100 gallons of water versus the 6 grams of protein that beef produces. Currently, Crik Nutrition comes in a vanilla-flavored powder.
Disease Diagnostic Group
Brighton, Massachusetts, USA
What if we told you we could save 1 million lives every year with just refrigerator magnets and a laser pointer?
The Disease Diagnostic Group uses what they call "refrigerator magnets and a laser pointer" to provide a fast diagnosis of malaria. The organization is passionate about this because, though 100 percent curable, malaria claims nearly 1 million lives each year due to what they consider to be slow, inaccurate and costly diagnostics.
The Disease Diagnostic Group is currently working with Argonne National Lab to expand the platform to multiple diseases, such as dengue fever. The mission is to reinvent global health diagnostics.
EuropeOnline is an online language program that helps users achieve a conversational level in a foreign language in just three to six months. Founder Ekaterina Matveeva speaks seven languages and wanted to condense into a more convenient time frame what can take someone years to learn.
The program requires daily lessons and features associative learning administered via a mobile device. EuropeOnline targets young professionals, students and business people.
San Mateo, California, USA
FreeSkies provides autonomous software for drone technology. FreeSkies CoPilot, the organization's flagship software, provides autonomous and manual flight, automated flight paths, simple launch and landing capabilities and flight stability for a user's drone or drones.
The software collects aerial data and pushes the information to a simple mobile application. The data can range from aerial photos and video to visual site information. The FreeSkies developers envision a world in which aerial-data capture will be simple and accessible to everyone.
The Hamwells' e-shower is trying to solve the dilemma for a person wanting to be environmentally conscience and also wanting to enjoy a long, hot shower. The e-shower unit offers a circulation mode that delivers a sustainable wellness experience. It provides up to 30 liters, or eight gallons, of water a minute, while saving nearly 90 percent on water and energy.
The e-shower offers a choice between a classic mode and a circulation mode. The classic mode uses a low-flow shower head and works just like a traditional shower — all water is drained. The circulation mode starts with fresh water. Its rapid refreshment technology constantly filters, replaces and purifies the water.
HOP! is an app that provides a common platform for a child's teachers and parents to connect regarding the student's development. This one-stop solution will help them communicate and collaborate regularly. The HOP! app facilitates regular and personalized feedback regarding the child, involving parents at each milestone or developmental speed bump.
Features like real-time notifications, pictures, attendance, bag-pack, milestone-trackers and bus-tracking give parents a virtual window into their child's day, while helping teachers manage their day-to-day activities on smart devices.
Mill Valley, California, USA
Kindhat's mission is to reduce global consumption, strengthen local communities and increase human happiness. With this in mind, the organization has created an app that enables neighbors to share skills, tools and common household items. For example, a user can enter into the app a tool they need to borrow, and the application will ask nearby friends and neighbors.
The organization markets the app as a cost-effective — and friendly — way to exchange goods and services. Kindhat is a pay-it-forward community, so neighbors have the option to show gratitude by donating a portion of money saved to local nonprofits benefiting the community.
Lishtot products identify changes in water electromagnetic properties resulting from the presence of problematic materials in drinking water. Its TeStraw is a personal water-testing device that will allow anybody, from Manhattan to Kathmandu, to check their water for drinkability.
The organization has developed a mobile product, as well as an on-pipe monitoring device. The technology will give filtration assurance in real-time. The sensing systems show very high sensitivity and measures for heavy metals and problematic bacteria.
Luna Lights is an automated lighting system that utilizes cloud-based data analytics to prevent and detect falls in the older adult population. The organization incorporates a person's safety into an easy-to-use preventive and predictive system.
Luna Lights is a nighttime-fall safety tool that uses a unique bed pad, lights and monitoring system to reduce fall risk, while also connecting family members or caretakers to the information.
Petiole is a mobile-based recommendation system for precision agriculture. It monitors dynamics of plant growth using leaf-area measurement, helping to understand how a plant reacts to different factors (weather, growth promoters, etc.). It is like a smart tracker for plant growth.
Petiole has a mobile app to make leaf-area measurement and data cloud service to collect, process data and show dynamics of growth in an affordable manner. After tweaking this service, the next steps for Petiole are to quantify leaf greenness and make diagnostics of leaf disease.
Kansas City, Kansas, USA
PopBookings is a mobile and Web-based application that automates the hiring process for event-staffing agencies. The organization makes booking and communicating with event staff easy by streamlining every step on one platform.
For agencies, PopBookings helps them manage staffing business needs, from database management and payroll to scheduling.
PriceLizer's Web service, RevaLizer, enables e-commerce merchants to reacquire customers who have abandoned their online shopping carts. RevaLizer accomplishes this by making it possible for the consumer — who is likely discouraged by the product prices online — to set up automatic price-drop alerts.
The alerts will encourage consumers to return to their favorite shops when their price is met.
Kathleen Paige Yu
Rumarocket built a cloud-based, artificial neural network with an attached application programming interface that uses machine learning to help companies hire and manage employee performance more efficiently.
The tool saves up to 30 percent of costs for existing recruitment and human resource costs and improves retention up to 8 percent.
Smart Mobile Farming
Illuminum Greenhouses seeks to address the issue of over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture. By creating a limitless integrated farm automation system with sensors that are solar-powered, the 6 million small-holder farmers in Kenya will be ensured that adequate water is being channeled through the drip lines, thus improving water conservation.
The system is remotely controlled by the farmer by a simple SMS text message from their mobile phone, enabling them to focus on other income-generating activities rather than always being on their farm.
Solar Cold Storage Warehousing
Baridi Stores fights food insecurity in Uganda by reducing the amount of perishable foodstuffs — especially fruits and vegetables — that go to waste before being either sold or consumed.
Baridi Stores sets up solar cold-storage warehouses to keep perishable foodstuffs fresh longer without deteriorating in quality, a measure practical in Uganda's rural areas, which have limited access to electricity. Solar cold storage can be located anywhere with limited, unstable or no access to electricity.