The UOC participates with eight entrepreneurial projects at 4 Years From Now
For the fifth year running, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) will have a stand at 4 Years From Now (4YFN), the Mobile World Congress international fair for technology start-ups. Between 25 and 27 February, the University will be promoting eight entrepreneurial initiatives from its community at this global event hosted in Barcelona. The featured subject areas include augmented and virtual reality, learning to read for people with learning difficulties, conflict resolution, the fight against fake news, personalized video games, learning through challenges, and technology monitoring for businesses. All the projects are backed by Hubbik, the UOC’s entrepreneurship support platform, through programmes such as EduTECH Emprèn and #SpinUOC, or by funding from its investment vehicle, Invergy.
Learning through challenges
Promoted by Xavi Pascual, who holds a Master's degree in Education and ICT (E-learning) from the UOC and is also a course instructor at the University, Bechallenge is a start-up that aims to enhance skills such as creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, communication and cooperation between people in both the educational and corporate fields, through the challenge-based learning methodology. According to Pascual, the opportunity to be on the UOC stand at 4YFN “places them in the worldwide innovation showcase”. He went on to add that “the UOC is strongly positioning itself as one of the universities with the greatest initiative in promoting entrepreneurship. It’s a way of committing to its community and strengthening the quality initiatives that can provide value to society and to the organization itself”.
BCN RESOL ODR SOLUTIONS is a company that has developed two ICT solutions to detect, manage and document conflicts that may arise in schools (B-resol) and in the business environment (Co-resol). The UOC invested in this start-up as a demonstration of its commitment to innovative companies that strengthen the bonds between business, knowledge and society. “For us, taking part in 4YFN with the UOC is more than just sharing a physical space, it is another great example of the synergies put in place by the University since it invested in the start-up”, stated CEO Josep Fígols. Its B-resol app was recently awarded the mediation prize by the Government of Catalonia's Ministry of Justice.
Augmented and virtual reality for education, culture, health and tourism
Immersium Studio is a spin-off of the UOC that specializes in the so-called immersive technologies – virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality – and their applications in education, culture, health and tourism. Focused on the development and operation of a skills-based immersive learning platform aimed at students and teachers, it develops immersive learning experiences, from 360° videos and digital environments to augmented reality laboratories. The UOC has committed to Immersium Studio through its investment vehicle, and it receives co-funding from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism's ENISA initiative. "Going with the UOC to 4YFN affords us access to resources and provides us with even greater visibility beyond what we can achieve on our own as a company”, stated Luis Villarejo, manager of Immersium Studio.
Development of Critical Thinking
Minushu is a start-up, with investment from the UOC via Invergy and from ENISA, that creates serialized experiences using augmented and virtual reality to offer international news to children in an entertaining way. The company has developed Nushu in order to bring global issues closer to children through a series of adventures that unfold in comics and augmented reality. The initiative features an extraterrestrial who captures signals from news programmes and compares the information with humans aged between eight and twelve. The aim is to get kids to take part in looking for and disseminating information, and as a result, promote their critical thinking. For Minushu, taking part in 4YFN with the UOC “is important because of the event’s relevance as well as the attendees, who are interested in innovative initiatives”, claimed Eva Domínguez, promoter of the start-up. “One of the main challenges for a start-up is making yourself known. Going with the UOC gives us support and visibility. We also wouldn't be able to be there if it wasn't for the University's work as investors”, she added.
Personalized video games
Monstrid Pathmaker is the first 2D platform video game where, unlike in similar games, the system controls the character through artificial intelligence while it is the player who is responsible for creating the platforms and the setting that they must manoeuvre in order to advance through the levels. It is an innovative proposal in a well-established genre. “Through Kendaigames, I’ve promoted single-player video games at Barcelona Games World. The experience was highly positive, but I think that attending 4YFN with the UOC is an excellent opportunity to meet investors and increase the chance of success”, explained Josep Matamoros, its promoter, who holds both a postgraduate degree in Design and Programming of Applications for Mobile Devices and a Master's degree in Video Game Design and Development from the UOC.
Monitoring technology for companies
Muutech is a start-up that helps reduce line stoppage times and service outages in companies through making prediction that help to reduce response time in light of errors, and the complete monitoring of all business service elements, whether they are related to computing or production. The company provides the necessary technology tools, training and engineering to offer a complete service so that companies do not have to take on the cost of hiring specific staff and can achieve significant savings in reducing service stoppage times. "Taking part in 4YFN is a great opportunity to raise our visibility, promote ourselves, network and explore trends and technologies in similar sectors", stated Óscar González, CMO of Muutech. "Attending 4YFN with the UOC affords us confidence and security with potential customers and partners by being backed by an organization with the stature of the University", he added. Based in Vigo, Muutech is a finalist for the Laconnetwork award for the best start-ups in Galicia.
Overcome difficulties by learning to read
Yo también leo is an app that helps children with Down's syndrome, autism and other types of intellectual disabilities learn to read. It has been designed with their needs in mind so that they can maximize their skills. The aim of the app is to learn to read at different paces and enjoy the learning process in a fun and interactive environment. This entrepreneurial project is promoted by Gemma Fàbregas, who holds a Master's Degree in Multimedia Applications from the UOC, and Marie-Anne Aimée. “4YFN is the ideal platform for contacting investors, partners and collaborators, as well as an excellent showcase for a company with a high social impact like ours. Being on the UOC stand raises our visibility and the trust in our project”, Fàbregas underlined. The Jo també llegeixo app has begun a crowdfunding campaign to fund its development, with the support of the UOC.
Connecting journalists and experts
YouCheck helps journalists find expert sources and experts to gain visibility in the media. The start-up offers solutions for journalists to optimize their work while also enhancing the impact of experts, helping improve the quality of information. One of its promoters is Lorenzo Marini, who holds a postgraduate degree in Digital Journalism from the UOC. "4YFN is an intensive immersion in the start-up ecosystem, an event filled with interesting activities where you can meet investors and entrepreneurs, and also connect with journalists to forge strategic alliances", Marini claimed. "The UOC is the key to accessing this opportunity and creating a networking and business network", he explained.
4YFN in numbers
Over 20,000 visitors at the 2018 edition confirm the international importance of the Mobile World Congress's start-up event. 4YFN will host more than 600 start-ups at the trade fair complex in Barcelona’s Plaça Espanya, a venue covering 18,000 square metres, where, in addition to networking events, there will be nearly 300 speakers and 40 workshops.
The UOC will participate at 4YFN as part of its Knowledge Transfer and Value Creation Strategic Plan (PETER), created to promote knowledge transfer, working with its community and the socio-economic setting, funded by the Government of Catalonia and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).