Berlin Sparkasse Entrepreneur Award Goes to Nocturne

The Award-Winning Company Developed Retinal Imaging Technology to Help Diagnose and Treat Neurological Diseases

No 163/2019 from Jun 07, 2019

The start-up company Nocturne, which grew out of support from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, has won the Berlin Sparkasse Entrepreneur Award. Dr. Ella Maria Kadas, Dr. Sunil Kumar Yadav, and Dr. Alexander Brandt use the eye as a window to the brain. Their artificial intelligence software analyzes images of the eye’s retina. The findings can then be used to diagnose and treat neurological diseases. The award comes with a cash prize of 4000 euros.

The award was presented on Thursday evening before some 130 guests at the summer party hosted by NFUSION (the Entrepreneurs Network Freie Universität Berlin), Berlin Sparkasse, and Profund Innovation. The president of Freie Universität, Professor Günter M. Ziegler, and the head of Berlin Sparkasse’s office for start-up investments, Dr. Christian Segal, presented the award. Spin-off companies from Freie Universität Berlin or affiliated institutions are eligible to apply for the award. This is the seventh time the prize has been awarded.

An expert jury initially selected three finalists to present their companies at the summer party. Nocturne won the popular vote and thereby sealed their victory. The two other finalists, Quadcover GmbH and Partum GmbH, each received 500 euros prize money.

Nocturne has developed technology that uses images of the retina taken through optical coherence tomography to diagnose, treat, and monitor neurological diseases and their development. It is a cost-effective, quick, and non-invasive procedure. The images can be uploaded directly from a doctor’s office to a simple web service. A certified retinal diagnosis is immediately available. Dr. Ella Maria Kadas, Dr. Sunil Kumar Yadav, and Dr. Alexander Brandt worked together in the NeuroCure Clinical Research Center of Excellence Cluster NeuroCure at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Their start-up project received funding in 2018 through the EXIST Transfer of Research program.

The finalist Quadcover has created geometry meshing software based on highly complex mathematical processes. These meshes are used in computer aided engineering (CAE), numerical simulations, as well as in architecture for design and statistical calculations. Quadcover’s algorithms help reduce the manual tasks that users usually have to perform. Founders Dr. Matthias Nieser and Thomas Jablonski got their start with an EXIST Business Start-up Grant at Freie Universität Berlin in 2017.

The other finalist company, Partum, supports digitization efforts among small and medium-sized enterprises in the construction sector. Based on AI technology, Leonhard Jeub and Fabian Müller developed a project management software called "construyo." The software helps businesses save time and money. The team received a Berlin Start-up Grant in 2018 to get the project going at Freie Universität Berlin.

The Entrepreneur Award is part of a cooperation between Berlin Sparkasse and Freie Universität Berlin. The cooperation further supports the entrepreneurial interests of university members looking to start their own business.

The NFUSION Entrepreneurs Network connects entrepreneurs from Freie Universität Berlin and other partner institutions like Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung). Young start-up founders can connect with successful business leaders and experts and benefit from their experience and knowledge.