Boston Start-Ups Make their Pitch at PTC’s Oktoberfest
Boston is quickly proving itself as a budding center for technology innovation. The city known as a premiere hub for academic institutions and life sciences is quickly embracing the opportunity presented by the digital revolution. But for an ecosystem of innovation to truly thrive and drive success, there needs to be a balance of established technology leaders and a consistent flow of start-ups and investment.
Organizations such as Mass Challenge help these ecosystems succeed by unifying the industry around the common goal of driving economic growth and innovation locally. As a featured sponsor of Mass Challenge, PTC hosted its second annual Oktoberfest to celebrate innovation in Needham on September 15.
The day kicked off with Kiki Mills Johnston, managing director of Mass Challenge, introducing a series of local start-ups to PTC executives to deliver their company pitches ‘Shark Tank’ style. Among the execs were PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann, CFO Andy Miller, and other seasoned leaders from a diverse set of technology-focused backgrounds. The objective was to provide mentorship and advice on their pitches to help them succeed as they battle their way for funding and success in their competitive spaces. Six start-ups presented their solutions, addressing some of the world’s toughest and most unique challenges:
Developing nations like Brazil manage their water supply in rain-collecting tanks on the rooftops. These tanks are a breeding ground for disease-spreading mosquitos carrying zika virus and other deadly illness. Today, these tanks are treated with a granulated larvicide by hand once a month, burdening the government with high labor costs. Amelior’s LAD is a smart device that automates this process by sensing water depth and dispensing the larvicide as needed. What started out as a winning idea in CAMtech’s Hack-a-thon is quickly positioning itself to help prevent disease and reduce costs for developing nations around the globe.
Building applications is a long, expensive, and often manual process, yet increasingly we live in a software defined world. Developing and implementing a new piece of code or customer-facing application interface can be a risky move and many companies struggle to compete with the increasingly slick user interfaces of their competitors. Cloudboost aims to help companies address these challenges by using their analytics engines to learn the features and functions of the most successful applications in the market and automate the development and optimization of future applications for their customers.
In the food industry, there are over 2,000 production facilities in the US and Mexico. These factories are becoming increasingly automated and efficient, yet one of the most important processes – cleaning and sanitation – still follows archaic practices involving high water use, lots of chemicals, and major downtime. At up to $20k/hr downtime, Clevot is positioned to save the food industry some serious cash! The Phoenix is an automated steam cleaning system that is fixed to factory conveyor belts and cleans and sanitizes them in real time. The results speak for themselves: Phoenix users save up to 95% of the water used in traditional methods and with no chemicals they’re not only streamlining operations, they’re helping the environment in the process.
Medical technology and tools are revolutionizing how we treat illness, yet they are also creating a unique new challenge for health providers. With all of the new data and systems in place, doctors more than ever need to move their attention off the patient and onto a screen or information system. By leveraging augmented reality (AR) to superimpose this data on the patient in real time, zImaging’s Kratos solves this challenge with visualization and guidance to improve the quality of patient outcomes. In their proof of concept studies, doctors were able to perform procedures 3x faster and 6x more accurately with AR.
Many of us know how unpleasant the dentist can be, but few can appreciate the challenges from the other side of the drill. Biting, spit, and small spaces are just a few of the challenges dentists face when working with patients. Purple Dental’s Tori is a unique new tool designed to provide dentists with a clean and clear workspace in the mouth, spreading the tongue and cheek to expose the teeth while keeping the patient comfortable. With over 120m pediatric visits per year alone, the market is eager for a new solution to cotton balls and suction tips. Purple Dental’s 3D printed medical device may be exactly what Dentists and patients everywhere have been waiting for.
For many connected device manufacturers and users, security is a topic in desperate need of innovation. From attacks on the power grid, to robotics and autonomous cars, these devices must be secure for the world to experience the true power of the IoT. At Neuromesh, they’ve combined the strengths of botnets (traditionally a tool of the bad guys), blockchain technology, and machine learning to create intelligent security services. The solution resides on the device and threat detection and monitoring are provided as a cloud service. With Neuromesh, their per-device per-year business model is ready to grow at the speed of the IoT, which by Gartner’s latest numbers will breach 20 billion devices by 2020.
After the pitches, the day continued with Oktoberfest, Boston-tech style, featuring demos from the startups as well as AR experiences to transform guests into authentic lederhosen-clad beer connoisseurs. Libations were provided by Jack’s Abbey and The Sausage Guy rolled his cart out of Fenway Park and onto the PTC patio to serve up hot and sweet Italian sausages, adding a Boston twist to the event. Over beer and Bavarian-style soft pretzels, PTC employees and Mass Challenge members networked to reflect on the day’s events, check out the start-ups solutions at demo booths, and form connections that will continue to strengthen the bonds of the Boston Innovation ecosystem. Prost to that!
Jonathan Lang is Principal Analyst for PTC’s Thought Leadership group. He is an accomplished technology market analyst, providing advisory to the full ecosystem - investors, enterprises, and vendors - on the impact of emerging technologies and digital transformation. Jonathan enjoys the outdoors and spends his weekends backpacking, rock climbing, and gardening.