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Twelve companies made it to the final in the Hesse-wide start-up competition. Voting is in full swing – anyone who wants can choose their favorites online

Contributions to climate protection, therapies for previously incurable diseases, help for young people with mental problems: the nine start-ups that are competing for first place in the Hessian start-up awards offer answers to major challenges. Three other teams are vying for victory in the sustainable succession category. The winners will be announced next Friday in Darmstadt. The evaluation also includes the results of an online vote, in which everyone can choose their personal favorites.

Akribion ​​Genomics from Zwingenberg has developed a new type of genetic scissors that are intended to eliminate cancer cells. “We have found a way to precisely and specifically identify and destroy cancer cells without damaging healthy tissue,” says Lukas Linnig, one of the two managing directors of Akribion. The genetic scissors were first tested on cell cultures in a Petri dish. The team around Linnig and co-managing director Michael Krohn is now looking for investors to finance further experiments.

CO2BioClean fights against environmental problems
Too much plastic waste in the ocean and too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are two of the biggest environmental problems. The start-up CO2BioClean wants to tackle both at the same time. The founders Fabiana Fantinel and Alessandro Carfagnini have developed a process with which climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) can be converted into plastic granules. The products made from it are compostable. After successful laboratory tests, a research facility is now being built in the Höchst Industrial Park to test production on a larger scale.

The Curerare team from Michelstadt wants to advance the development of drugs against rare diseases by networking researchers and patient organizations. This is the name given to diseases that occur in a maximum of five out of 10,000 people. Curerare founder Claudio Cinquemani knows from his own experience how difficult it is for those affected to find expert therapists: his son suffers from a rare metabolic disease that affects the central nervous system. After founding a self-help organization and initiating research projects, Cinquemani founded Curerare with a college friend and a scientist. The company organizes workshops and helps with applying for funding.

The Drum Station in Maintal is a nationally known address for drummers and percussionists. “When it comes to these instruments, we are, so to speak, the provider of sports cars and vintage cars,” says owner Joachim Schmidt confidently. Schmidt got to know the business himself as a customer. In 2020, he said to its founder Reiner Lendel “in jest”: “When you retire, I’ll take over the store,” reports Schmidt. Lendel took him at his word – Schmidt has been running the business with his wife since mid-2021.

Study for final exams while having fun
Edutecs from Fulda is active in a completely different field : It offers trainees an app for preparing for final exams. It is very important to founder Senouci Allam that learning is fun. The lessons are therefore designed as quizzes that can also be played in study groups. The app is free for trainees, but Edutecs also offers paid exam preparation courses and further training measures.

As is well known, a key difficulty in using renewable energies is that the supply depends on the weather. Hopes from Darmstadt wants to cushion the fluctuations by storing energy in salt water. For example, if a wind turbine produces too much electricity, a pump is activated that pushes salt water through a membrane, splitting it into fresh water and a highly concentrated salt solution. Both liquids are temporarily stored in tanks. When there is a lull, they flow back into the container with chambers separated by a membrane. Now the principle of osmosis takes effect: Because liquids of different concentrations strive to balance, the pure water flows through the membrane into the chamber with the salt solution. This creates pressure that drives a turbine and generates electricity.

Illu therm, a start-up that, like Hopes, was founded by scientists at the Technical University of Darmstadt, is also committed to climate protection . During experiments for his doctoral thesis, Lukas Porz discovered quite by chance that ceramics could be produced in record time using blue light and black light. The material is heated to more than 1000 degrees Celsius and is ready within around ten seconds. In traditional fossil kilns, the process takes several hours, sometimes even days.

Encourage reading in a playful way
The efficient use of energy is also the focus at Landwehr + Schultz Trafo from Kassel-Calden. The company has been building transformers and power supplies since 1976, especially for medical technology applications. At the beginning of 2022, Daniel Peplau took over the helm after the previous owner died. The succession was not regulated and getting started was quite difficult, says Peplau in a video statement for the Founder’s Prize competition.

The Frankfurt start-up Maple Tales promises a playful method of promoting reading . The educational scientist Marlene Damm and the economist Timur Zorlu have developed an app for elementary school students that presents stories interactively: As the story progresses, the children can choose between different sequels. Font size and hyphenation can be adjusted. Sabris also has an indirect connection with readers – the family business from Bad Camberg operates a logistics platform for newspaper publishers. At the beginning of this year, the brothers Benjamin and Timo Trespe took over the business from their father Karl Friedrich Trespe.

The non-profit company Tomoni Mental Health is committed to the early detection of mental illnesses in young people . It was founded by the Frankfurt couple Alix and Oliver Puhl, who lost their son Emil to suicide in 2020. “One in seven young people suffers from a mental illness,” says Alix Puhl. As a first step, Tomoni has set up a digital training program for schools that sensitizes teachers about warning signs and how to deal with affected young people.

Finally, Wianco Ott Robotics , based in Seeheim-Jugenheim, has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) that can take on numerous office tasks. The AI ​​named Emma is installed on the computer and can operate text programs or give orders to AI colleagues such as ChatGPT. There is only one limit: “Processes that I cannot explain to other people myself cannot be automated with Emma,” says company founder Michael Wilczynska.

Participation in the online voting for the Hessian Founder’s Prize is still possible until Wednesday at

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