-By Valentina De Vincenti
Unicorns exist regardless o skepticism. That is how investors define start-ups valued at over $1 billion. And investors have been seen seeking the next unicorn among the tech avant-garde at the SLUSH Pitching Competition, held in Singapore, last September.
Out of 700 applications spanning from France to the USA, the KAUST-born cutting-edge startup Solutions for Nanotechnology (SONATE) was awarded the best science-centered company award. Making its way all the way through to the final top 6 it secured a $20,000 funding cheque.
SLUSH Singapore is a new hub for next-generation unicorns that gathered startuppers, investors, and media from 10 countries of the Asia Pacific Area. Also defined the "Burning Man of Techs" - this student-driven non-profit movement originating in Finland in 2008 and with more than 35 appointments worldwide, was held in Singapore for the first time mirroring the dynamic entrepreneurship of the region.
It took six consecutive company pitches to convince the pool of judges formed by top-tier venture capitalists nominated among Channel NewsAsia Start-UP, Startup Sauna, and Slush Singapore. Enrique Vilanova Vidal, CTO of SONATE and former postdoctoral fellow of KAUST and Mario Blanco, CEO of SONATE former industry engagement officer at KAUST, were the conductors on SLUSH stage. They presented their scalable production of ceramic nano-membranes for purification of biologics, treatment of water and energy storage.
Their NanoPorex® Aluminum oxide membranes attracted the attention of judges and the public. From a business perspective, the novelty offered by SONATE lies in the efficient and scalable fabrication of high-quality membranes together with customer-oriented solutions.
SONATE originated from the Sensing Magnetism and Microsystems Laboratory of the Computer, Electrical Mathematical Science & Engineering (CEMSE), which is headed by Professor Jurgen Kosel from the Electronic Engineering department.
Thanks to its international success, SONATE gained the industry interest to bring high-quality membranes at industrial scale to advance solutions from research laboratories to real-world applications.