In the spring of last year, Insai moved into DTU Science Park to prepare to apply for participation in the Danish Tech Challenge, Denmark’s largest hardware acceleration program. The two founders, Mark Yousef and Max Kristensen work closely with DTU on product development, research and testing, not least due to the latter’s past as a student at the university, which is why DTU Science Park is really well suited for the startup.
But the corona shutdown quickly put an end to the new life in the entrepreneurial environment in Futurebox and sent Insai off course, as it did with so many other Danish companies.
“We were particularly affected by the opportunities for research and development of our hardware. This was mainly due to the fact that DTU closed down completely, so we lost access to research labs and electronic equipment to test and develop our device, ”says Mark Yousef, CEO and co-founder of Insai.
The idea behind the startup is a headband that can simultaneously monitor and stimulate cognitive functions in the brain, including working memory and ability to concentrate, using small magnetic fields and electric currents. That is, Insai can measure activity around the brain, and stimulate activity in specific areas.
“We sell our product to research labs, which use the headband and the associated software for studies that are both long-term and remote. This means that you can easily test people who are sitting far away, because the headband is easy to use yourself and data is returned directly through the software. In addition, there is also a market in esports and motorsport, where you can use the headband to improve the athletes’ cognitive performance,” explains Mark Yousef.
“The corona shutdown gave us some big challenges, but on the other hand we were also forced to shift focus and that meant we could concentrate more on our software and the possibilities of doing remote research.”
While they obviously would have liked to have been in addition, Mark Yousef does not believe the cost of the shutdown has surpassed the new skills they have learned in the team.
“We have become much better at working remotely. Today, the majority of our team actually works remotely, while sticking to our hardware and R&D locally here at Futurebox. It has given us a completely different flexibility and access to talent than we thought we had before.”
International breakthrough on the mind
Although Mark Yousef and Insai have less than two years behind them, they are already eyeing an international breakthrough for their performance headband. The first step on the road is – hopefully – the Danish Tech Challenge.
“We have applied for admission to the Danish Tech Challenge this year because it is an ambitious program where we can have the opportunity to prepare our company for go-to-market strategy and financing. At the same time, we will work with 19 other of the strongest and most promising hardware startups in Denmark, which we can spar with and learn from for half a year. Remote work provides valuable flexibility for a company like ours, but physical interaction with like-minded people can be something else and more that we do not want to be without, ”says Mark Yousef.
Futurebox opens its doors for the 7th edition of the Danish Tech Challenge in August, where 20 hardware startups will have a unique opportunity to develop their business.
The collaboration between companies and with DTU is a bit higher among startups and scaleups, which typically take place in Lyngby. In DTU Science Park’s annual survey among companies, Deep Tech Insights, it is seen this year that 58 percent of the companies collaborate with one or more other companies in the Research Park. For Lyngby, this applies to 62 percent of the companies.
“We are going to roll out our headbands for testing in Futurebox, and then we have a couple of research labs and esport teams that use our software. In the coming time, we must focus our strategy, iterate on our product and obtain financing for the next stages, and in the slightly longer term we see ourselves as an international company with both pioneering research and consumer products, ”concludes Mark Yousef.
At the beginning of June, it will be revealed who the 20 selected startups for this year’s Danish Tech Challenge are. All companies are presented at dtusciencepark.dk/danish-tech-challenge.
If you want to become part of the Science Park’s strong development environment for deep tech, you can both contact DTU Science Park and hear more about what it takes to get your company into the good company. Read more at dtusciencepark.dk/lejemaal.