Updated: May 20, 2019
This year, eMerge Americas, which presented itself as ‘a catalyst in order to foster innovation and investment in South Florida and Latin America’, chose the winner of their startup pitch competition – not from Miami, not from Latin America, and not quite what one imagines as a scalable “tech” startup. The Washington-based KnoNap beat out other companies visiting from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and even Miami-based finalists with its … napkins! Not just any napkins, but napkins that can detect two main types of ‘date-rape drugs’.
Not really what you’d expect, right? But, you really just “had to be there.” Danya Sherman’s enthusiastic presentation, vulnerable personal story, and stage confidence blew everyone else’s pitches out of the water.
Kno-Nap is not on sale yet, though it will cost about the same as a regular napkin. Empowering individuals with a simple yet smart protective tool is undoubtedly important to mitigate a drug-facilitated assault. But, besides the individual impact, we thought that social protocols like self-control and ‘never leave drinks unattended’ could be a solution for cocktails drinkers too, in addition to the biotech support.
Now for the firms we're excited about. Let’s have a look at other high-impact technologies that were not presented on the main stage, but that we are choosing as the TOP five socially and/or environmentally conscious startups that could improve business, society and the environment:
1. Environment. Sintecsys, a Brazilian startup, has developed a monitoring system that detects possible fire outbreaks in forests and plantations. The automatic system can also assist ground-firefighting operations, and monitor human activity (95% of all fire outbreaks are caused by humans). Sintecsys accomplishes this using high-resolution cameras and algorithms that identify smoke within a 15 km radius, covering 70,000 hectares, to determine the exact position of the fire outbreak. The system increases the efficiency of fire brigades and has reduced losses caused by wildfires by 90%.
2. Smart City. SOSAFE, a Chilean-based startup, knows how to report an emergency and ask for help in minutes. The team has developed an app that connects people with their neighbors and local governments (!) and gives immediate assistance to resolve problems. Traffic lights and signs that are in poor condition, trash, abandoned vehicles, missing dogs, disturbances, suspicious activity and more. Being able to communicate safely and quickly about all issues is a key priority for smart cities. In the wake of recent school tragedies, natural disasters, and civil unrest, it is especially important to have a tool to respond quickly and communicate clearly when an incident occurs.
3. Business Operations. Aeriu is a Hungarian startup that provides a safe inventory management system that's built on the use of commercial drones. Better usage of forklifts and energy-efficient drones have a significant green effect, and also enable business operations to save up to 20% and increase the productivity of warehouse employees by up to 50%. With a smart flying team, a one-day delivery can be reduced to several hours.
4. E-Learning. Arist has designed and launched the first text message courses. Being in Yemen, its co-founder, Michael Loffe, a Babson College student, realized that digital learning was still extremely inaccessible to many. Specifically, limited access to high-speed internet prevented billions of students from accessing educational videos online. And text messages, the most reliable and widespread digital communication medium on the planet, could be used to bridge that gap, making educational insight from leading professors and thought leaders accessible to the world’s five billion people with cell phones.
5. EdTech. Xennial Digital creates meaningful digital experiences that enrich people’s lives and helps them to enhance their knowledge with a strong focus on VR/AR/MR enterprise and educational solutions. Recently, Xennial Digital announced a partnership with Canvas Learning Management System to access a number of powerful features, including the complete set of STEM/STEAM VR learning experiences and powerful, multi-user VR learning capabilities, where students and teachers can interact in real-time.
Undoubtedly, this list above is not complete. eMerge Americas is expanding. This year, organizers considered about 500 applications to showcase. Those selected received booth space and travel to the show. These are great efforts that will cement Miami as a tech hub, and, as Armando Perez (also known as Pitbull, a founding equity partner of the conference, philanthropist and investor) proclaimed in his closing remarks, a new name for Miami should be ‘30-FI’ as the super-WiFi-connected center of Latin America. We agree.
written by Yulia Strokova
Impact.Edition | Founder and Creative Lead
a tenacious, passionate creative thinker with extensive experience in journalism, corporate communications, brand marketing.
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