Three of the 20 selected startups from the 9th Fit 4 Start edition originate from the University of Luxembourg Incubator. A feat that owes nothing to chance. Created two years ago, this laboratory of ideas, reserved for students, researchers and employees of the University has all the ingredients for success.
photo: Olivier Minaire
featured: Himadri Pathak
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Connected public fountains, a system for remote prescription refilling and a solution for greening the streets… Ideas are flying in the corridors of Technoport over the fifth Ideation Camp’s Edition hosted at the Technoport. This 72-hour hackathon, which is enjoying growing success amongst students, was launched by Pranjul Shah and his dynamic team at the University of Luxembourg Incubator.
“We had nearly 110 applications for a maximum of 55 places, which corresponds to the capacity of the room made available to us for the workshops,” explains the former researcher at the Luxembourg Centre for Biomedicine Systems (LCSB). He heads the incubator today. “Five students who were not selected insisted they would stand, so we finally accepted 60 participants.”
“We have young and bright minds who have an enormous appetite for learning and can go very far if they receive the right support.”
The University of Luxembourg Incubator is one of the most recent players in Luxembourg’s startup ecosystem. Created in 2017 within the University in Belval, it currently hosts 20 projects. The conditions for access are to have at least one active co-founder belonging to the University’s ecosystem (students, employees or researchers), to have been in existence for less than 5 years or to have raised less than €1 million. The cost for renting an office: €1 per month.
The model clearly works. The University Incubator was one of the big winners of the 9th edition of Fit 4 Start. Four of its startups were pre-selected to pitch in October and three of them were selected for the main competition: CheckMath, Nium and NutrHuMIX. “Our goal is not to create companies, but entrepreneurs,” says Mr Shah. “We have young and bright minds who have an enormous appetite for learning and can go very far if they receive the right support.”
CheckMath was one the Uni Incubator startups selected by the Fit 4 Start jury. Middle and high school students can use its app to check the validity of their arithmetic reasoning by taking a photo of what they write with their smartphone. The startup was launched by Himadri Pathak, a 24-year-old entrepreneur who arrived in Luxembourg in 2016 for a master’s degree in computer science. Over the past year, she has been a 100% dedicated to this entrepreneurial project.
“The University Incubator has given me confidence and conveys the message that everyone is capable of starting their own business,” she says. “Accessing offices almost free of charge and benefiting from such high quality support and mentors helps a lot in getting started.”
“The University Incubator has given me confidence and conveys the message that everyone is capable of starting their own business.”
Being surrounding by the best
In only two years of existence, the University Incubator has managed to surround itself with high-quality mentors to coach its students. It also creates a community in which everyone can find his or her way. For the 60 students at this year’s Ideation Camp, there were 55 mentors, entrepreneurs and corporates from Luxembourg’s ecosystem including some from prestigious consulting firms.
The structure run by Pranjul Shah organises five major events per year. It has trained nearly 800 students and supported 40 projects, half of which have become companies. An impressive assessment that definitively places this incubator on Luxembourg’s startup map.