The Berlin-based “GHOST – feel it” start-up founded by Laura Bücheler and Isabella Hillmer won the 2019 “Idee-Förderpreis” presented by the Hanseatic entrepreneur Albert Darboven on Wednesday (November 27, 2019). The duo beat four other finalists for the top prize of EUR 50,000. The second prize of EUR 10,000 went to the Hamburg-based start-up Pina Tec set up by Katja Werner. The prize has been awarded every year since 1997 and promotes women who create new jobs with their innovations.
Decreasing number of female founders
Dr. Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg, had welcomed the finalists and Albert Darboven to a reception in Hamburg’s City Hall. The motive behind the award for women entrepreneurs only still exists 20 years after its inception, Darboven stressed. Female entrepreneurs still do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. The number of “female founders” has fallen again, which Darboven termed particularly dramatic.
Hamburg-based founder among finalists
The jury, led by Prof. Dr. Rolf Eggert, had selected five finalists from 200 entries based on criteria such as innovation, market potential and job creation. Werner, the brains behind Pina-Tec, conducts research on protein biochemical issues at the DESY campus to improve the user-friendliness and cost-effectiveness of solutions. Sabrina Hellstern from Wannweil in Baden-Württemberg, who has developed an orthopaedic help apparatus for surgeons, won third prize of EUR 5,000.
Interactive seatbelt to calm drivers
“GHOST – feel it” enables companies and individual product developers to integrate a new channel of machine-human interaction into their products. A simple to use development software allows anyone to become a haptic interface designer and to use the sense of touch as a human-machine interface. Instead of visual impressions on a display or audio signals, a “felt” connection between man and computer can be achieved. The winning start-up gave a seatbelt in cars as an example. The belt detects the driver’s emotions using sensors and calms down the driver in stressful situations with vibration. The technology can also help amputees feel their prothesis, create new senses or enhance learning processes.