In the final phase of the Next Stage Challenge competition 15 start-ups from Northern Greece were selected, presenting innovative business models related to health, sports, agri-food, digital art, industrial production and transport. 

At the final brokerage event to be held at the new facilities of Alexander Innovation Zone in Thessaloniki on 16-17 September 2021, the 15 finalists will compete in the categories “Idea Stage”, “Prototype Stage” & “Stadium” Revenue ” for six prizes worth over 20.000 euros, while a wide network of organizations will select some of the teams to provide additional prizes. The contestants of each category will be evaluated comparatively based on the clarity of their business targeting, the complementarity of their team, the size of the financial perspective and the innovation of the project.

Among the 27 competing start-ups that successfully completed the preparation process of the Next Stage Challenge ( 15 finalists were selected. The preparation lasted 10 weeks and included intensive training and mentoring. Upon completion of the preparation, the 27 teams gained access to the Next Stage Challenge mentor network, consisting of renowned entrepreneurs, company founders and experienced executives. The mentors and the 27 startups of the competition met through a big online event followed by many upcoming personal meetings between the two sides. 

The 15 teams that will compete in the finals in September are:

Idea stage:

  1. METIS – Early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at stages I and II, through a low-cost, fast, non-invasive diagnostic test that detects small molecules in urine samples
  2. aretheart- Sustainability-focused wall art marketplace, offering a curated catalog of print-on-demand artworks from digital artists around the globe
  3. eggxcel- Enabling heavy industries to reduce CO2 emissions using highly efficient, thermally stable, sustainable CO2-capturing sorbents made from waste eggshells
  4. Skωlix: Producing insect-based protein for animal feedstock and other food supplements based on farming of mealworms (Tenebrio Molitor)

Prototype Stage:

  1. Aidplex – Smart wearable for scoliosis treatment that can be retrofitted to any type of back-brace, solving the problem of monitoring and adjusting back-brace usage
  2. ProgHRC- System enabling manufacturing robots to learn new tasks such as packing products in a production line, making traditional robot programming obsolete, through AI
  3. Project Veltio: Smart cooking device for the food industry, enabling standardization of high-quality cooking through patent-protected technology for process control
  4. DeepTraffic: Traffic management software helping traffic authorities and highway operators to introduce intelligence, automation and vehicle connectivity into their operation
  5. Fertilai: Computer vision software helping IVF clinics to improve their performance by analyzing images of embryos and recommending those most likely to lead to pregnancy
  6. Agro-U: An online marketplace that quickly and easily connects farmers with agricultural workers

Initial revenue stage:

  1. SeamX: Online platform helping organizers and sponsors of running events to deliver top-class experiences to runners, by weaving personalization into event management
  2. Mobase: Identification and traceability services helping agrofood and cosmetics companies to prevent fraud and protect their brands, enabled by genetic fingerprinting
  3. Elektronio: Electric cargo kick-scooters enabling sustainable urban delivery with high safety and comfort for riders, through novel engineering and design
  4. AnyGym: Online booking and payment platform making it easier for anyone to find and book a sports facility and for managers of sports venues to get zero-risk bookings
  5. FleetPass: Automated route planning and fleet tracking without hardware for any company with a small fleet of vehicles doing frequent deliveries, pick-ups or service stops

Next Stage Challenge took place for the first time this year, designed and implemented by Ideas Forward. The competition is funded by the Intelligent Cross-Border Accelerator (iCBA) program coordinated by Alexander Innovation Zone with copartners South East European Research Center of CITY College and Technopolis Thessaloniki ICT Business Park. The iCBA program is co-financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and by national resources under the Interreg program.