Winner of HUST TECHSTART competition for student: 'Our products is what the world needs'

Thursday - 28/09/2023 23:17
Winner of HUST TECHSTART competition for student: 'Our products is what the world needs'
Overcoming more than 70 excellent projects, the COFFUEL team with an innovative solution in recycling industrial by-products using coffee grounds aiming towards the energy market has won the highest place in this year's Techstart competition.

Techstart - The Technology Startup Competition is organized by the Youth Union of Hanoi University of Science and Technology in collaboration with many organizations to spread the passion for science and creativity to students studying at universities across the country.

At the event, Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Phong Dien - Vice President of Hanoi University of Science and Technology, affirmed that Techstart is a technology startup incubator, a bridge between students' creative ideas and businesses as well as investment funds. After two dramatic sessions of Product Presentation and Business Case Solving, team Coffuel and team Famifina have excellently crowned the Champion and Runner-up of this year's Techstart competition respectively.

COFFUEL - Innovative solution in recycling industrial by-products to create a sustainable energy supply
The idea started from a field trip to Dak Lak when the team members had the opportunity to witness the coffee growing process firsthand. “I was touched when I saw the diligent farmers growing coffee, wanting to keep the land and keep their jobs. I wanted their efforts to not be wasted in the future”, shared Nguyen Xuan Bao, a student majoring in Food Engineering at the School of Chemistry and Life Sciences and the representative of Coffuel.

The student group from Hanoi University of Science and Technology and Foreign Trade University found that only very little value is retained for consumers in the process of turning coffee fruits into delicious cups of coffee. Many other potentials are abandoned, and coffee grounds become industrial by-products that will be discharged into the environment and scrap yards.

The young students were determined to find a way to deal with a problem that has not been solved for many years.
Coffuel members were on stage waiting for the final result
Coffuel members were on stage waiting for the final results
Coffee is a drink that provides people with energy, and coffee grounds also inherit that property. Applying production line technology that is fine-tuned to suit new materials, Coffuel team launched biomass pellets from coffee grounds to be used as green burning materials, replacing traditional sources of materials such as coal, firewood, gas, etc.     

Using coffee ground pellets helps to reduce the negative impact on the environment and the maintenance costs of the boiler. This solution not only recycles industrial by-products, but also brings green materials to the community and society. The fuel source meets high quality standards, and is sustainable for a long time.

Vietnam is the world's largest producer of Robusta coffee, ranking 2nd in export volume (after Brazil). Coffee-related products are very close to Vietnamese people. “We won our customers from simple stories like that,” the startup team shared about their journey to bring their potential product to market.

Coffuel pioneered in making biomass pellets from coffee grounds. The product has no direct competitors, but indirectly competes with wood pellets, rice husks, etc. Coffuel has 2 main product lines: burning materials for businesses using boiler lines, which are widely applied in chemical, food, textile industries, etc. and consumer products.

Currently, the student group has had the first test orders, and the results are amazing: 120% more efficiency than wood pellets, and 9% less ash compared to conventional fuel sources like coal. The product is recognized for its excellent performance with competitive price, especially when wood pellets are the product with the largest market share nowadays.
Coffuel group introduced about the product at the competition
Coffuel group introduced about the product at the competition
Green technology is the future of the world. According to research from Fortune Business Insights, the green and sustainable technology market is valued at $13.76 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow from $16.5 billion in 2023 to $61.92 billion in 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 20.8% during this period.

“Not as magnificent as rockets or AI software that can write poetry, but I believe this is a product the world needs. Small pellets represent a big change, and customers who trust these products are also people who are looking forward to a more sustainable future,” said Xuan Bao passionately.

Wood is taken from the forest, even biofuel also uses food sources of cassava, corn, wheat, etc. "To me, this is absurd", the student from School of Chemical and Life Sciences shared. “Let the trees be the flesh and blood of the mother earth, the cassava a source of food for the poor. Take advantage of these by-products to create a more sustainable future.”

The student group said that the contest helps participants expand their connections with enthusiastic entrepreneurs and instructors, because starting a business is a long journey with many difficulties. “TECHSTART is an opportunity for us to promote our vision and aspirations. Even ìf you cannot yet trust the product, the community and society still can believe in the brighter future of Vietnam as well as the world”, said a representative of Coffuel.

FAMIFINA - Smart financial management application for children under parental supervision
Inspired by investment legend Warren Buffett as he started his business at the age of 6 and learned financial management at a very early age, Famifina was born with the aim of helping parents accompany their children on the path of financial management from a young age.

Nowadays, the personal financial crisis is getting more and more serious. According to the prestigious newspaper The Guardian, South Korea's total personal debt has exceeded 5% of GDP (gross domestic product), which means that, if an individual saves all the money earned in a year, it is impossible to repay the debt in full. Meanwhile, the number of people with bad debt problems is increasing significantly.

Famifina is a technology application applied in the field of Educational Technology & Financial Technology. With the goal of becoming a pioneer in financial management education for children in Vietnam, Famifina brings positive values to help children form the right financial mindset from an early age, practice independent thinking, and develop financial skills.
3 Famifina received Runner up Award
Famifina received Runner up Award of TECHSTART Competition
Because the app's targeted audience are children, many of the functions in the app use 'gamification', with lots of theoretical and practical educational content. Parents can interact to assign work to their children, observe the spending orientation and guide the children to save money with interest instead of the traditional saving method.

Dang Hoang Tung Linh, the group's representative shared: "We put a lot of effort into designing lessons so that children can approach learning how to spend like playing a game." The content is diverse, widespread and closely connected from spending management, saving to investing, perfecting financial thinking from a young age. This is also the highlight of the application when the current financial applications mainly focus on the payment function or listing spending.
4 Famifina member talked about the software
Famifina member shared about the software at the competition
Until October, young entrepreneurs market the app through an available community for customers to experience and comment on how to improve the product. From October to the end of this year, the team will continue to perfect the product, strengthen the community, and design versions for the smartwatch.

“We attach great importance to market research to take smart and steady approaches. Currently, the team is focusing mainly on Vietnam, but we already have plans to expand to the global market”, a representative of Famifina shared the group's ambitious plan.
With the topic of "Start Your Tech - Growth Your Plan!", this year's contest attracted more than 70 registered projects and continues to affirm itself as a place to incubate creative ideas, where young people demonstrate their ambitions and aspirations on the path of entrepreneurship.

After a journey of more than 4 months with 3 rounds of competition, 2 seminars, more than 50 mentoring sessions and 1 startup networking exhibition taking place at the National Innovation Center, this year's competition selected 5 excellent teams from all 3 regions of the North - Central - South to compete at the Final Night held at Hall C2 of Hanoi University of Science and Technology on July 5. In which, 3 teams from Hanoi University of Science and Technology and other Hanoi universities, 1 team from Vinh University and 1 team from Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education participated in the Final Night.
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Reporting by Ha Kim - Translating by Chu Hoang - Editing by Ha Kim
Photo: Duy Thành - HMC

Author: Hà Kim

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