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A 3D printer that prints buildings, a system for destroying toxic algae using an electrical current and a method of monitoring employees' health via a device worn on their clothes were among the futuristic industrial startups competing for prizes at the final of the Technostart competition held at the Skolkovo Innovation Centre on Friday.
Maria Dudareva, general director of Alkatek, receiving a prize from OMZ of 150,000 rubles. Photo: Sk.ru.
The annual competition, which was being held for the fourth time, is organised by United Heavy Machinery Plants (OMZ), diamond mining giant Alrosa and the Lider management company in partnership with the Skolkovo Foundation to identify promising industrial startups from around Russia working in areas such as energy efficiency, machine-building and metallurgy and mining equipment.
"Innovations are in the air here, where one of the most innovative competitions, Technostart, meets Russia's most innovative infrastructure: Skolkovo,” said Andrei Sidorin, deputy general director for innovations at OMZ, at the opening of Friday’s final.
The winners were selected by a jury made up of senior management from major industrial corporations including Alrosa, Rostech, Tatneft and NLMK (Novolipetsk Steel).
Three companies were awarded prizes of 150,000 rubles ($2,250) each from OMZ. They were: AlkaTek, a solution for processing bottom ash, Innotek, a system for the utilization of associated petroleum gas, and Ternary, a technology for extracting 3He, a rare isotope, from natural gas.
“I’m very pleased, and didn’t expect this, as most of the competing companies were really strong,” said Maria Dudareva, general director of Alkatek. Her company, with its solution for processing bottom ash, is in the process of becoming a Skolkovo resident, having passed a preliminary assessment by experts and registered as a legal entity.
Nasos Gerakl, a high-volume liquid gas pump-maker, was awarded a prize of 100,000 rubles by Lider. Alrosa's main prize-winner was unable to attend the final, but the diamond miner handed out a certificate for 50,000 rubles.
Three projects were selected by the Skolkovo Foundation to receive grants of 3-5 million rubles ($45,000 to $75,000). The grants come with no co-financing obligations, but the companies do have to become Skolkovo residents and submit a formal grant proposal in order to be able to claim them.
Apis-Cor, the maker of a 3D printer that prints buildings, won a Skolkovo grant of 3 million rubles. Photo: Sk.ru.
Apis-Cor, the maker of the 3D building printer, won a grant of 3 million rubles, pump-maker Nasos Geralkl won 4 million rubles, and the first Skolkovo prize of 5 million rubles was given to Irbis Tek, which makes equipment to clean gas-turbine engines using dry ice granules.
In addition, Turbosphera. which is already a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation, was awarded a free stall at the Startup Bazaar, a chance to showcase its system for utilizing energy produced in the pressurization of gas, at the upcoming Startup Village.
This year, a total of 475 projects were submitted at the initial stage, in which companies from 125 cities around Russia sent in presentations of their projects, said Dmitry Stepkin, director for development of innovative projects at OMZ. Eighty projects went through to the semifinal, and their authors then presented them to a panel of mentors, experts and jury members online. The 20 finalists were then selected and further mentored before Friday's final at Skolkovo's Hypercube.
Several other companies, including prizewinners Ternary and Innotek, were awarded free consultations on legal issues and intellectual property rights, along with Apis-Cor, the maker of the 3D construction printers.
Oleg Pertsovsky, operational director of Skolkovo’s energy cluster, advised all the companies present to apply for Skolkovo residency status. “We saw a lot of really varied and interesting projects today, which were really difficult to choose between,” he said.
Skolkovo resident Nanoserv, a system for cleaning heating systems and industrial equipment using modified fermented bacteria, was a winner of last year’s Technostart, and won a contract with Alrosa as a result of taking part in the competition, its general director Elena Levina told this year’s participants.
"Machine-building is one of the most important areas of industry, and the creation and introduction of new technologies into it gives a significant impulse to the development of all other areas of industry and to the economy as a whole,” said Nikolai Grachev, head of Skolkovo’s energy cluster.
“A competition of innovative projects in machine-building enables us to find new technical solutions, which together we can see through the difficult path from an idea to a competitive market product."