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StartUp Day 2024: Award-winning projects and innovation figures

The 10th edition of the University event dedicated to young entrepreneurship, which this year involved other universities and research centres in Emilia-Romagna, attracted a significant number of students, investors, professors, startuppers, partners and representatives of the local entrepreneurial system, also thanks to the collaboration with Ecosister

Last Friday, 31 May, 1,700 participants attended StartUp Day, the University's event dedicated to young entrepreneurship, now in its 10th year, a day dedicated to innovation and sustainability at the Multifunctional Urban District - DumBO in Bologna.

'StartUp Day goes green' was the slogan that inspired the entire initiative, which this year saw the participation of other universities and research centres in Emilia-Romagna for the first time, thanks to the collaboration with Ecosister, the project financed by the NRPP to guide the regional ecological transition.

Sustainability was therefore the keyword at the centre of more than 60 scheduled events, including talks, pitches, award ceremonies, workshops and activities, with the participation of 80 speakers from various fields and sectors of green entrepreneurship. The day encouraged discussions between start-ups and spin-offs, entrepreneurs, experts, professors, researchers and students. Guests included Professor Stefano Mancuso and Francesco Oggiano, digital journalist and representative of Will Italia. The former took part in a meeting on innovation and ecological transition, looking for solutions for the future; the latter spoke with green content creator Alice Pomiato about choices and responsibilities in sustainability.

The event gathered more than 1,700 participants who were able to attend 41 entrepreneurial project pitches, listen to 80 speakers, meet 5 partners from the entrepreneurial ecosystem, explore 11 exhibitors (accelerators/incubators/system actors) and discover 27 accredited start-ups and spin-offs from the region.

A total of 9 prizes were awarded, divided as follows. The International Mindset prize from the Ecosister Foundation was awarded to the 'AWGREEN' project, which proposed an innovative water-energy system. The StudENT for Africa prize from Intesa Sanpaolo was awarded to the 'EcoEssentia' project, dedicated to the self-care products sector through sustainable and ethical practices. The Food - Alma Vicoo prize from the University Centre for Cooperation was awarded to the 'Magicfood' project, a device designed for children aged 4 to 9 years aimed at promoting healthy eating habits. The Biomedical Prize from the Maverx Biomedical Futures Foundation was awarded to the 'Lybra' project, which aims to help people suffering from panic attacks by means of an interactive pocket device. The Granarolo Sustainability Prize was awarded to the 'Reviù' project, a user-friendly platform for comparing the quality/price of products. The Energy Innovation prize from Legacoop Romagna was awarded to the 'eTorre - Storage Solutions Elevated' project, which aims to help balance and stabilise the electricity grid during the transition to renewable energy. Almacube's Best Entrepreneurial Project award went to the 'AIP (Artificial Intelligence Processor)' project, for energy saving and computational optimisation; Bugnion's best startup award went to the 'KER-ECO - (Keratin Extraction for Ecological Crop Optimisation)’ project, which offers a natural alternative to chemical products, reducing environmental impact. The Coopstartup Change Makers 2024 award from Legacoop Bologna, Legacoop Imola and Coopfond went to the 'Refresh Academy' project, set up as a social enterprise to provide professional training for people interested in a career in information technology.

Finally, the usual survey on the environmental impact of the event was carried out, asking visitors about the means of transport they used to reach the venue and analysing the consumption and waste produced during the day. "The initiative was an excellent example of sustainability", said Riccardo Farneti, a researcher at the spin-off Turtle - the favourable weather on the day, combined with the LED lighting, minimised the building's energy consumption, while the use of reusable and compostable tableware minimised the waste produced. As with the previous StartUp Day, most visitors arrived on foot and by public transport, discouraging car use. This resulted in a carbon footprint of less than 1 kg of CO2 per visitor.