On June 15-16, the fifth Vernadsky Challenge held their grand finals. The engineering startup competition took place in Kiev, within the “Aviasvit – XXI” International Aviation and Space Salon. The contest has been held since 2015, and is a Noosphere initiative.
- from 2015 to 2020, event coordinators received 781 contest applications;
- in 2016, the Noosphere instigator Max Polyakov increased the prize fund up to 2 000 000 hryvnias;
- to keep pace with global trends, the competition focussed on two areas, starting 2019: space technology and active bioelectronics.
Vernadsky Challenge 2021 accepted 132 applications: 74 for “active bioelectronics” and 58 for “space technologies”. 43 startups from Ukraine joined the competition. Overall, the event garnered inventors from 36 countries.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2021 winners.
The Slovak company BOROSPACE showcased an innovative solution for efficient use and disposal of CubeSats and NanoSats.
These small satellites are becoming a global space exploration trend due to their compact and budget-friendly features.
According to the researchers’ forecasts, more than 2,500 CubeSats will be launched over the next 6 years. As the popularity of these satellites grows, so does the amount of orbital debris they generate after decommissioning.
According to NASA, one in five CubeSats launched between 2003 and 2014 does not meet the international recommendations for de-orbiting satellites. CubeSat onboard systems are not optimized for end-of-life maneuvers, which results in a lengthy and hazardous decommissioning process.
BOROSPACE is proposing an innovative design for a lithium-ion battery that will convert to a hybrid rocket fuel once its main duty cycle of energy storage is complete. This allows the CubeSats to quickly, predictably, and safely leave orbit after the mission is complete.
According to the development team, the design is lightweight, compact, and reliable thanks to the minimal mechanical parts.
BOROSPACE plans to assemble and test the first prototype, RoHLiSk 1, by the end of 2021. Subsequent versions- RoHLiСk 2 and 3 for larger CubeSats – are scheduled for release from 2023 to 2025.
The solution proposed by BOROSPACE will enable an increase in the number of research satellites in the near future without the danger of critical orbital pollution.
2nd place was taken by a project from Ukraine. The Provizio team presented a device for measuring intraocular pressure at home.
The main advantage of this innovative device is its efficiency and real-time communication with the doctor.
In their presentation, Provizio noted that people with chronic vision disorders, especially glaucoma, visit their doctor about once every six months. In between visits, many people do not regularly monitor their intraocular pressure. However, critical readings can lead to ultra-rapid vision loss. Every spike in pressure can have an impact, so constant monitoring is essential.
The Provizio device:
- Easy to use, no need for anesthesia
- immediately informs both the doctor and the patient about changes in pressure;
- predicts the possible disease progression and offers treatment options.
Provizio is planning to conduct clinical trials in Ukraine starting in September 2021.
Fun fact: according to Provizio project manager Pavel Tkachenko, the team’s first improvised workspace was in an ordinary garage. So, they started out the same way as so many famous rock bands.
Innovation in medical procedures for both patients and doctors was also the theme for the 1st place team.
Medicsen, a team from Spain, won first place with the development of an intelligent patch for non-invasive injections.
Using ultrasound waves, the compact device injects large-molecule medicines through the micropores of the skin. The entire procedure lasts about 1 minute. It is safe, pain free and with no damage to the skin.
This invention is especially relevant for people who need regular doses of medication like insulin.
The device can be operated via a smartphone, where a special application displays injection statistics. Additionally, the device is reusable and designed for 30,000 000 uses. So, thanks to its compactness, ease of use, and durability, the smart patch is particularly useful, for example, in space missions.
In 2023, Medicsen plans to conduct the first human tests on a group of 500 people in Spain. They will reach 10,000 users in Europe and the U.S. by 2025.
“Whatever we know, we know because of the dreams of dreamers, fantasizerі and scientist-poets.”– Volodymyr Vernadsky
Therefore, history is made by dreamers and champions with a common idea and an unrestrained desire to act. Every year at the Vernadsky Challenge, true scientific rock ‘n’ roll is made. To be continued.