Meet the winners of the Valeo Innovation Challenge 2016!
This morning, the Maison de la Recherche in Paris, France was abuzz with the reveal by Valeo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jacques Aschenbroich of this year’s Challenge winners.
The jury, which had seen each team present their solution on Thursday afternoon, gave out the first prize of €100,000 to two teams in the “Technological innovation” category: Team Clear & Clever, from Turkey, and Team DOWS, from France.
Second prizes of €10,000 were awarded to three teams in the “New ways to use cars” category: Team Mahuaz, from the US; Team Globalist, from Japan; and Team Renovate, from Turkey.
“Show your passion”
Berker of Team Clear & Clever is wearing a dazed look occasionally broken by a huge grin. He’s still reeling from the praise he got from the jury his team’s thermal camera solution for autonomous cars. “I woke up thinking ‘What happened yesterday?’ It’s all a lot to take in. I wish my teammate Sila could be here with me!”
He recalls the highs and lows of his journey over 12 months: “There were so many frustrating moments in the lab!” he recounts. “We had to work in clean room conditions, which requires a lot of equipment, and wearing this weird, heavy suit…some days I was just so tired, I didn’t want to go in there and wear that thing again!” He definitely feels lighter now–and excited about future possibilities.
“Winning the first prize is great, but the chance to one day drive a car using my solution…that’s my next goal!” His advice for next year’s contestants? “It has to be about your passion. If you have it, just go for it.” And, grinning again: “And make sure to show it! Passion rules the game.”
The simplicity challenge
The members of Team DOWS are nearly bouncing into each other in celebration. “We’re so tired! And so happy! The demonstration was intimidating at first, but once we got into it we were able to forget the jury and give it our best,” says Philip. The team has come a long way: “We really struggled to keep our solution simple,” says Sofiane. “But at the mockup stage, it became this amazing, fun experience for our team, testing every algorithm and sensor we could think of in real-life conditions.”
On this the team agree: the excitement and stimulation of a challenge became their driving force. “That would be part of our message to next year’s contestants: take the idea you want to make a reality and keep it as simple as possible. It’s a big challenge but you have to keep enjoying yourself!”
What’s next for team DOWS? “We all have different areas of interest and projects we believe in, whether it’s engineering, entrepreneurship…this prize is a means to make even more ideas a reality,” concludes Xiangjun.
“A once-in-a-lifetime experience”
All three Challenge runner-ups in the “New ways to use cars” category are looking to the future with enthusiasm. The jury panel review, says Team Globalist’s Masatoshi, was an incredible experience: “Smartest group of people I ever presented to, hands down. We’re going to take their feedback and dive back into it to keep refining our product.” His teammate Xinli feels like relaxing after such an intense week, but eager to keep going: “There’s so much innovation potential in the automotive industry. This experience really expanded our horizons.”
For Team Mahuaz, the prize is a great visibility boost for their solution to transform the autonomous car’s inside into a gym when stuck in traffic jams. “We gave it our best, and we’re very proud to have made it so far into the Challenge,” says Marco. Huaqing adds: “Now it’s time to start working on applications, on the future of our solution, and how to develop it!”
“The first thing we feel right now is relief,” says Mehmet from team Renovate. “Presenting to the jury was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but what a jury! We’d never met people like this in real life.” The panel’s encouragements and feedback proved a source of motivation. “We believe in our solution, there’s room for improvement, so the adventure continues,” adds Emre. “But not right now!” For Mehmet’s first time outside of Turkey, the duo is taking a well-deserved holiday in Europe.
Today also marks the launch of the 2017 edition of the Valeo Innovation Challenge. Stay tuned!