Discovery — Spark Life Contest Finalists: Startups That Are Transforming People’s Lives

Published on October 24, 2017

From Lunches to Sensors, Startup Projects Aim to Boost Quality of Life

Plant-generated electricity, noise-cancelling headphones and luggage-transfer services were among the startup solutions pitched at the Sodexo Quality of Life Conference on October 16-17 in London. 

Seven European startups were finalists in the Spark Life Contest, launched in April 2017 by thecamp – a new European campus dedicated to social innovation and emerging technology – and five partners: AccorHotels, Gares & Connexions SNCF, Le Village by CA, Sodexo and Steelcase. Each winner will receive a EUR 20,000 contract with one of the partners, a one-week pass to thecamp and more.

Making Workplaces Smarter

Who were the seven finalists? They included France’s, which offers workplace management solutions using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and partner services. This solution helps people manage every aspect of their workplace, from regulating air conditioning to interacting with colleagues.  

“By 2020, 25% of organizations will have a catalogue of smart workspaces,” said CEO Thomas Vermersch. “The nature of work will have changed, as well — there will be no more routine, only project-based work, and no possibility for space waste.” Workplace management needs to embrace those changes, he said, and the startup’s solution makes it easy and enjoyable for people to do so.

Convivial Office Lunches 

Germany’s Smunch takes as its slogan, “Happy teams lunch together.” The startup’s solution allows employees to choose their lunches from one restaurant every day. Meals are delivered to the office, and they are very affordable. “The food may cost EUR 12 in a restaurant,” said CEO Shivram Ayyagari, “but thanks to Smunch working with the payroll systems, we bring the price down to EUR 4.90.” 

The solution makes employees happy as they have delicious, high-quality meals at work. Employers save on canteen costs while boosting employee morale and interaction. Restaurants are winners, too: they receive large orders in advance and prepare them ahead of busy lunch hours. 

From Plant Electricity to Earphones

The other finalists offer a range of innovations that have the potential to improve our everyday life. Spain’s Bioo has come up with a way to generate electricity from plant photosynthesis. Norway’s Disruptive Technologies offers end-to-end sensor solutions for gathering data on the physical world. Paris-based Eelway collects, stores and transfers luggage between airports, train stations and hotels or rentals. Orosound, also based in Paris, proposes adjustable noise-filtering earphones for open-plan offices. Ween, based in Aix-en-Provence, offers a Plug &Play artificial intelligence solution that allows autonomous, connected objects to improve the comforts of home.