ITMO Accelerator helps young entrepreneurs take their startups through all stages of development – from raw ideas to first sales. The program features business strategy and marketing lectures, mentor support, and networking with investors. It has supported over 190 startups within the past three years of its operation.

For the second year running, the project has been partnering with Yandex Cloud Boost (an acceleration program for IT companies and developers – Ed.), which offers the accelerator’s top developers financial support in the amount of 400,000 rubles over the course of six months and discounts on Yandex services such as Toloka, Yandex Tracker, Yandex Plus, Yandex 360, and others.

In 2023, Demo Day featured 18 startups, four of which were selected by Yandex Cloud Boost, while another five were honored by the Accelerator’s own committee and provided a workspace at ITMO’s Center for Technological Entrepreneurship for the next three months.

Demo Day at ITMO Accelerator. Photo by Maria Bakina / ITMO Mediaportal

Demo Day at ITMO Accelerator. Photo by Maria Bakina / ITMO Mediaportal

This year’s winners are TakeIt! (an equipment testing service), AIR (a marketplace for neural networks), Арукей (Arukey) (a plant pot-shaped air purifier), Sparkly (computer vision solutions for offline businesses) KBD Republic (custom mechanical keyboards), DQL Wear (a hemp-based clothing brand), and FlyFlat (a smart assistant for AI-aided design projects). 

For more details on this season’s winning projects, watch the video (in Russian) below; keep reading for an insight into some of the top projects of Demo Day 2023. 

Equipment testing service

With TakeIt!, users can get a feel of a tech product – a smartphone, laptop, TV, or camera – before they commit to purchasing one. By the end of a one-week trial, the users get to decide whether they want to buy the device (minus the price of the rental) or return it, paying exclusively for the service. 

According to the developers, the service will be beneficial for both buyers and consumers. It will let the first be confident in their decisions, whereas the latter will be able to boost their sales, primarily at marketplaces. 

Initially envisioned as a rental aggregator, the project was revamp during the accelerator program following a target audience analysis. 

“Our first idea was a product of our heart and soul. We often had been in a situation when we wished we could rent equipment, rather than outright buy it. But then we realized that the market isn’t quite ready for such an idea. We ran a few more studies and found a niche that would let us meet the needs of our customers and make profit for us and tech stores – while still keeping fire in us. We already have a couple of partners, including chain stores and large wholesale suppliers who are interested in scaling our retail business,” shares Natalia Lonkina, a co-founder of the startup. 

Neural network software

AIR (The Artificial Intelligence Radar) is a neural network marketplace for entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers, and anyone who works with text, sound, and video. Unlike other such platforms, AIR is home to a collection of popular networks that can be used with texts, as well as audio and video content. A single subscription provides access to all features, as well as new releases. Another advantage of the program is that you don’t need to be well-versed in neural networks to use one. Better still, it offers customer support and services for the integration of AI into business. The project has already debuted at Credit Bank of Moscow, Raiffeisenbank, MTS, and OKKAM. 

AIR. Photo courtesy of the developers

AIR. Photo courtesy of the developers

AI assistant

AiGenda is described by its creators as a personal assistant that interprets audio and video materials, converts speech into text, and, most importantly, highlights key points in a summary. The service is primarily aimed at work tasks, eliminating the need for users to watch a full recording of an online meeting from beginning to end and take notes in the process. Instead, the client receives a summary of the content with a list of topics and agenda. AiGenda is an excellent tool for lectures, classes, and other study-related materials, say the developers. 

The service is available as a Telegram bot. All you need to do is upload an audio or a video (a YouTube link works, too) and within up to 10 minutes, the bot will send you back a PDF file with a table of contents, timelines, and a detailed transcript.

AiGenda offers both free and paid options. Within the free membership, there’s a limit of 150 files, while with a paid subscription you can process as many as 1,200 records, enjoy priority in the queue, and gain access to a 24/7 support service. There is also a special business plan, which is developed on an individual basis and includes an analysis of meeting performance. 

Although AI transcription tools aren’t new to the market, the developers of AiGenda are confident that no existing platforms perform well with the Russian language. Apart from Russian, the platform also supports English, German, French, Ukrainian, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish.

AiGenda. Photo courtesy of the developers

AiGenda. Photo courtesy of the developers

Green air purifier

According to the Accelerator team, one of the best was the project Арукей (Arukey) – a hanging plant pot with a built-in air purifier. The team believes that their product differs from its alternatives not only visually but also in terms of efficiency. In particular, the device can process some gasses that most purifiers cannot. The team tested their product on carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NO and NO2), ammonia, and formaldehydes. The tests were conducted in three licensed laboratories at Lomonosov Moscow State University. The sorbent used contains artificial soil and microorganisms, making it biodegradable and eco-friendly.

The project is headed by Anastasia Rychagova, a graduate of the Faculty of Biology of Lomonosov Moscow State University, who shared that her thesis became the starting point for this startup. Before that, Anastasia Rychagova worked on a soil cover for landfills that would reduce the emission of toxic gasses. However, once she defended her project, she decided to switch to sorbents for air purification in apartments and crowded spaces, such as offices, gyms, restaurants, and industrial sites.

As noted by Anastasia, the idea behind her work is to benefit society, which is why she came up with a useful tool for everyday needs. Since its launch, the startup has raised 370,000 rubles and has already accrued pre-orders from over 40 individual clients and four major companies. 

Learn more about ITMO Accelerator and other initiatives for startups here.