Bayreuth start-up “inContAlert” wins IoT Innovation World Cup
The “inContAlert” product idea developed by Bayreuth researchers Jannik Lockl (business information systems specialist) and Tristan Zürl (engineering scientist) has won the 2020 MEDICA competition IoT Innovation World Cup. inContAlert is a sensor for measuring bladder fullness, and will help incontinence patients to make it to the toilet in time. With this further prize, the young start-up, founded in the vicinity of the University of Bayreuth, has once again taken a leading position among promising international medical technology start-ups.
inContAlert is a sensor system that measures the fullness of the bladder, which is then displayed in an app. A person suffering from incontinence can thus check on their mobile phone when to next seek out a toilet – or be notified in good time before unintentional urination occurs. This means that incontinence patients no longer have to empty their bladders as a preventive measure or wear nappies or other items to protect themselves from the threat of urine loss.
More than five million people in Germany are affected by incontinence, with up to 20 percent of them suffering from a neurogenic bladder. In this particular case, another clinical condition arises. When the bladder fills up to a critical level, it can become cramped, causing urine to back up into the renal pelvis. This can lead to serious health problems. “The loss of face caused by unintentional urination is just one of the reasons why it is very important to us to remedy this problem as quickly as possible”, explains Jannik Lockl. “Paraplegic, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s patients in particular suffer from this danger on a daily basis, which should soon become a thing of the past thanks to inContAlert.”
The Bayreuth founding team with Jannik Lockl and Tristan Zürl
Jannik Lockl (29) completed his studies at the University of Bayreuth with a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering. He is currently in the final stages of his doctorate as a research assistant at the Information Systems Management research group; and at inContAlert he is responsible for the areas of management and business administration. Tristan Zürl (28), electrical engineer and development engineer, has also been with inContAlert from the very beginning. He completed his Master of Science in Engineering at Bayreuth’s Measurement and Control Technology research group, and is responsible for the design of the prototype and for sensory data processing at inContAlert. The third co-founder, Nicolas Ruhland (24), is currently completing his Master of Science in engineering at the same research group. The team of founders also includes Pascal Fechner (25), master’s student in mechanical engineering, and business administration master’s student Till Zwede (26). In addition to their work at the start-up, both are student assistants at Bayreuth’s Information Systems Management research group.
Awards for Bayreuth start-up at international competitions
Jannik Lockl and Tristan Zürl originally developed the inContAlert concept at an international business plan competition, which took place as part of a University of Bayreuth course in Hong Kong in 2017. In 2019, the two were among the winners of the prestigious Medical Valley Award, the prestigious jury recommending inContAlert for the € 250,000 pre-seed funding from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. In 2019, the medical technology start-up was also able to secure third place in the Health-i-Award of Techniker Krankenkasse and Handelsblatt, being judged as one of the best health start-ups in Germany. And now inContAlert has taken first place in this year’s IoT Innovation World Cup. The finals of the Internet of Medical Things Techpreneurs 2020 took place during MEDICA, the world’s largest medical trade fair, where inContAlert was one of two German start-ups to make it into the top 12 – out of more than 140 innovations from around the world. Jannik Lockl presented the sensor system – and the jury, consisting of representatives of international companies, medical and IoT specialists (IoT stands for Internet of Things), chose inContAlert as the Best IoMT Techpreneur 2020. With this award, the young start-up founded in the vicinity of the University of Bayreuth once again confirms its leading position among promising medical technology start-ups from around the world.
Partners and network of the start-up team
Bayreuth professors Torsten Eymann, Gerhard Fischerauer and Maximilian Röglinger are also onboard. Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann is Vice-President for Digitalisation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Bayreuth. Thanks to his mediation, the start-up was able to make contact with numerous stakeholders in the clinical community. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Fischerauer – mentor of Tristan Zürl and Nicolas Ruhland – is Chair of Measurement and Control Technology at the Faculty of Engineering and is the start-up’s advisor on technical issues. Prof. Dr. Maximilian Röglinger – doctoral supervisor of Jannik Lockl – is Deputy Head of the Information Systems Management project group of Fraunhofer FIT and of the core competence centre Finance and Information Management. At inContAlert he is acting as a business mentor. For Röglinger, “the founding of inContAlert is a good example of how entrepreneurship is encouraged and nurtured at the University of Bayreuth, all the way from the generation of ideas to the founding of the company.”