Image: Hello Tomorrow

During mid-October I attended Hello Tomorrow, the conference where more than 500 startup businesses pitch to win the “Hello Tomorrow Challenge”. It’s a boiling pot of the greatest minds in science, technology and entrepreneurship coming together to present, discuss and look to the future. I went along to the Le Centquatre centre in Paris to find out more about the current trends in ‘sci-tech’.

“It’s a good job nature doesn’t have lawyers” Oshiorenoya Agabi, founder of Koniku.

AI, Machine Learning and Big Data were all well represented, but within the ten broad ‘streams’ that were used to group the competition you could also find aeronautics companies (a vertical take-off jet startup won the grand prize in the end) alongside an off-grid hydrogen storage startup, H2GO Power, from Cambridge UK.

One of the businesses that impressed us was Koniku – a California-based startup whose goal is to use biological neurons to work with silicon processors. Applications already beyond theory stage include a drone that can ‘smell’ pollen and fly towards it. What is clear to me is that these types of startup are gradually gaining more traction within the tech space; the line between biology and robotics has begun to fade!

Digital Science was there to meet slightly less exotic startups than those listed above, including a number of AI-related companies working in the lab space. It’s obvious there is yet another technological leap coming on a number of fronts, and companies like Koniku (who won the Data and AI stream in the end) are at the forefront of it.

Twice a year we run the Catalyst Grant, an altruistic initiative where we fund and support innovative research software ideas. During our last submission, we were so impressed by the quality of the startups that submitted, we awarded funding to a total of three new companies aiming to disrupt the academic space: Etalia, Simiary and Writefull. Our next submission deadline is the 31st of December and I sincerely hope to see a wide range of talent and original ideas from around the world, so please submit!


Watch Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com, give the keynote ‘What Makes a Successful Startup?’ at our recent Catalyst Grant event: