Health technology projects in the spotlight at Entrepreneurship final


In the photo: Dean of NOVA FCT, José Júlio Alferes, presents the first prize to the team that developed the 'Malaria Sense'. Team: Margarida Tomás, Maria Póvoa, Tiago Simões, Priyank Thanki and Bruno Melo.


The big winners of NOVA FCT's Entrepreneurship programme were announced on 23 February, with two innovative solutions for health and a sustainable project in the construction sector.

After five intense weeks of work, during which the programme's more than 1,000 students had access to mentoring sessions, the big winners were finally announced. The Grand Auditorium of NOVA FCT's Caparica Campus was the stage where the programme's 12 finalist teams competed for the three monetary prizes, worth 2,000 euros for 1st place, 1,000 euros for 2nd place and 500 euros for the team that came third on the podium; as well as corporate prizes from partner companies.

The first place winner of the Entrepreneurship Programme was 'Malaria Sense', a rapid diagnostic test for malaria, one of the world's oldest diseases. In 2022 there were 249 million cases and 600,000 deaths. The paper-based test uses aptamer technology which, with just one drop of blood, detects malaria in just a few minutes. The fast and sustainable solution convinced the jury made up of national scientists and entrepreneurs. The team was formed by Margarida Tomás and Maria Póvoa, both Micro and Nanotechnology students, Tiago Simões and Priyank Thanki, from Mechanical Engineering, and Bruno Melo, from Computer Engineering. "We didn't have high hopes because the competition was so strong, but we're very happy. Now we want to see if the idea doesn't stop there," explained Maria Póvoa.

Inês Gonçalves, Mónica Alfaiate and Pedro Franco, from Biomedical Engineering, Alexandre Oliveira and Duarte Vinha, Computer Engeneering and Big Data, are the students from the project that won second place with the proposal 'OperateInSight'. This project presents a vision of what the future of surgery could be: the team of NOVA FCT students suggested a surgical planning platform that allows the useres to create three-dimensional models adapted to each patient and simulate surgeries in virtual reality.

Third prize went to the 'WasteWise Innovations' team, made up of Alexandre Duarte and Tomás Costa, from Civil Engineering, Sofia Carvalho, from Environmental Engineering, Diogo Fonseca, from Industrial Engineering and Management, and Bruno David, from Computer Engineering. The students designed a solution for the circular economy in the construction sector, one of the most important sectors in the Portuguese economy with a considerable waste production footprint. In 2021, the construction sector was identified as the main producer of waste in Europe, according to Eurostat data. This sector was responsible for 34 per cent of the waste generated in the region (the second most polluting sector is the Extractive Industry with 28 per cent). WasteWise Innovations aims to transform construction waste into recycled bricks, creating a sustainable cycle of activity.

"It is a priority at NOVA FCT to contribute to the personal and professional development of our students, and the Curriculum Profile promotes these competences over four years," said Teresa Santos Silva, Deputy Director for Pedagogical Innovation, during her speech at the session.

This 12th edition also featured corporate prizes worth 1,500 euros each, awarded by the programme's sponsoring companies. Asseco honoured the team that presented ScarGraph, a device accompanied by an app that makes it easier to monitor the healing process without coming into contact with the patient.

The Humanitarian Lamp project won the Delloite prize for a technological proposal that uses piezoelectric materials implanted in the knee to generate energy when it is moved. EY awarded the prize to the team that developed an intelligent lumbar belt for everyday use - the SmartLB. This AI-powered device is capable of preventing, detecting and relieving lower back pain, the biggest cause of disability, loss of productivity and absences from work in the world. Jerónimo Martins highlighted the ConsciFridge project, which proposed an application that promotes and helps the user to manage food more sustainably.

The choice of MEXT: Mota-Engil Next fell on the work of the team that presented Geotecn AI, a geotechnical programme that uses AI to facilitate calculations and the creation of databases (public and private). NOS gave the win to the team that developed OperatInSigh, a surgical planning platform that allows you to create 3D models adapted to each patient and simulate surgeries in virtual reality. Finally, NTT DATA honoured the BioSolve Health project, a smart dressing with biosensors associated with an app that allows scar monitoring for post-operative outpatients.

Prizes were also awarded for the three best promotional videos, designed by the WasteWise Innovations, SunShield and ChatGlove teams.

The session also included two inspiring talks. Paula Videira, Professor in the Department of Life Sciences and researcher at UCIBIO, contextualised CellmAbs' journey. Frederico Stock, one of the founders of Glooma, had the opportunity to explain the origins of this company that began as an idea in this entrepreneurship programme.

"I believe that the future of young people in Portugal will depend a lot on what we are able to do in innovation and technology," emphasised António Grilo, President of the National Innovation Agency, who was the coordinator of this course at NOVA FCT for many years. "What they're doing in this programme is the basis for ensuring that young people stay in Portugal," he added.

"We want to encourage our students to be bold and creative, and that's why this course exists," said José Júlio Alferes, Director of NOVA FCT.



Photos of the ceremony are published on NOVA FCT's Facebook page.

NOVA FCT's Entrepreneurship Programme took place under the Recovery and Resilience Plan (