Meet 2 startups from The Kitchen: NorFalk and Cystotech

May 17, 2022

BY Nina Lyhne

This article is made in collaboration with TechSavvy Media for the magaszine Grow Aarhus 2022.

The old hospital kitchen near Aarhus University has been turned into a vibrant startup hub which transforms research into business. Here you can meet two of the startups from the community.

A wealth of new entrepreneurs and businesses has been blooming since The Kitchen opened the doors to its new entrepreneurial space aimed at students and researchers from Aarhus Univerity. Currently, 170 business is associated with The Kitchen. Here you get the chance to meet two of the newcomers: NorFalk and Cystotech.

Norfalk: Sustainable chemistry for the cosmetics industry

The two fellow students Nicklas and Kasper wanted to use their master thesis as civil engineers in chemistry as a springboard to start a business. After a small detour, it has now turned into the startup Norfalk, which develops and produces sustainable chemistry for the cosmetics industry – so-called surfactants, which, for example, make it possible to mix water and oil.

“Instead of using ingredients from palm oil or fossil products, we have developed a technology that makes it possible to use local, renewable, biological sources,” Nicklas Nørgaard, CTO of the company, explains.

The somewhat cryptic description is due to the fact that their method is in the process of being patented. However, the founder states that the technology provides radical innovation that has the potential to pull the industry in a more sustainable direction.

“We have proven our solution in the laboratory and are in the process of upscaling the technology. We can reduce CO2 emissions significantly with our process, and the more traction we get, the more reduction we provide,” Nørgaard says.

Newfound business understanding

When the two entrepreneurs came to The Kitchen two years ago, it was actually with a different idea targeted at the textile industry. But as the potential was explored and their understanding of the business grew, they ended up pivoting to the cosmetics industry.

“At the initial level, it was like a new education. We are engineers in chemistry and have a chemist on the team, but none of us have any business experience. So when we came to The Kitchen two years ago, we got a lot of workshops and courses in simple canvas models and validation of the business model – which has been insanely valuable for us,” Nørgaard says.

Norfalk’s office is located in The Kitchen today, where they still actively use the network.

Cystotech: Artificial intelligence supporting the diagnosis of bladder cancer

The startup Cystotech is working to develop an AI assistant who, during outpatient and surgical procedures, guides and supports clinicians around the world to optimize the examination and control of bladder cancer.

“We are developing a support tool that visually shows the doctor suspicious changes in the bladder in real time. We hope that using this tool can target treatment in relation to the individual patient. The vision is to support early and targeted treatment for the benefit of patients living with changes in the bladder,” Anna Nielsen, COO at Cystotech, says.

The solution allows patients to receive faster treatment and avoid side effects related to unnecessary surgery. The effect will be early diagnosis and safer treatment with major health economic savings as a result.

“Buzzing with entrepreneurship”

Cystotech’s founding team is rooted in stong, medical competencies and even before the company was established in the autumn of 2021, a research project showed the potential of their technology.

In the process from research project to spin-out companies, The Kitchen has provided valuable advice which has accelerated the process.

“The Kitchen is buzzing with entrepreneurship, and we come from a completely different world, so it has been valuable to gain insight into that whole startup game. It has been of great importance to us that we have been able to brainstorm with our adviser from The Kitchen,” Nielsen says and continues:

“At the same time, we have expanded the circle of founders with strong, local competencies within entrepreneurship, which have qualified our financial and operational strategy.”