Smart prostheses and vertical garden-beds: winners of the Moscow Innovator Award about their projects

July 11

To grow vegetables in the Far North, make safe household chemicals or teach prostheses to better understand users is possible thanks to developments of Moscow inventors. Two years ago, the Moscow Innovator Award was established for them. It involves the most ambitious projects in medicine, transport, information technologies and others that change everyday life. About the innovations that received the award this year — in the material at

"The main task of the Moscow Innovator Award is to support talented Moscow inventors and help them implement new technologies and developments. And innovators are really interested in such support. This year, 740 applications were submitted for the competition, — it is 1.5 times more than in 2020," said Alexey Fursin, Head of the Moscow Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development.

Vertical farm: from the garden to the counter

iFarm, one of the vertical urban farm technology creators, was once developing a mobile farm simulator game. Then the company found like-minded people and opened in Novosibirsk a small bio-vegetarium — a closed cycle climatic greenhouse. The first farm was opened in Novosibirsk, the second — in Moscow in 2020 (in the Vnukovo district).

"The system is of closed-cycle type and does not depend on climatic conditions. This farm can be built and operated both in Norilsk and in the Emirates. The urban greenhouse production model is valuable because the greens and vegetables are supplied directly consumers. Unlike products of traditional agricultural complexes, our harvest is ripe and does not require treatment both during growing or transportation and storage, " explains Oleg Kostenko, one of the project developers.

Олег Костенко, разработчик проекта вертикальных городских ферм iFarm

Vertical farms use LED lighting hence the harvest does not depend on weather. Nutrition comes to plants with water where solution machine mixes micro- and macronutrients for plants development and growth. Water not absorbed by plants would pass through and is resupplied to a closed loop. Thus, costs are reduced tenfold compared to greenhouses. Another advantage is maximum automation of processes and reduction of manual labor.

Today, mainly salads and greens are grown in vertical farms, and these products bring the greatest profit. But such conditions make it possible to grow hundreds of plant species, including flowers, strawberries, tomatoes, eggplant and many other vegetables.

"Our farm is useful for those who do not understand much about agriculture. That is, you buy hardware and subscribe to monthly payments for software. It controls your farm and "looks after” it. We are participating in the process by testing technologies and equipment, optimizing cultivation plans, and selecting optimal climate conditions. Each of our clients automatically receives the latest updates of software algorithms. The application help clients make overall plans: from planting seeds to selling products," Oleg Kostenko explains.

Soon, shops and restaurants will place orders for vegetables on a united cloud platform of farms. And farms owners will grow them in the right amount and by a certain date, knowing exactly who, when and for what price will buy their product.

Detergents... made of vegetables and fruits

This year, the eco-friendly detergents of the Wonder Lab project was recognized as one of innovation leaders. The company developers applied an entirely new technology: they make their products based on biomicrogels. And the latter is obtained from natural components: cellulose, pectin, starch, fructose, sucrose, agricultural and woodworking waste, such as apple pulp, corn, sugar beet, and sunflower meal.

Initially, microgels were used in pharmaceuticals and medicine. They would encapsulate a medication and deliver it to the right place in the body, and then the shell is completely dissolved. Russian scientists managed to use this technology on a large scale by having invented a method for the biomicrogels production from plant components.

"Biomicrogels can encapsulate particles of dirt and wash them off the surface. Herewith, 98 percent of the substance would entirely decompose during the day. After cleaning, microgels stay harmless to humans, animals, or the environment," CEO Igor Klimkin says.

Игорь Климкин, генеральный директор компании Wonder Lab

The main advantage of the development is high washability of agents. The laboratory staff examined under microscope surface of dishes washed with eco-detergents as well as fibers of washed fabrics and found no films on them, using spectrometers. The product successfully passed environmental tests including hypoallergenic study. Now the entire product range of the company is undergoing the international Ecolabel eco-certification.

"There have been no fundamentally new solutions in household chemicals for the last 30-50 years. They are produced from a certain list of components mixed in various proportions. We invented and patented an innovative technology and proved its effectiveness at different levels, " Igor Klimkin says.

Traditionally, the household chemicals would contain phosphates and phosphonates to wash off dirt well. But they negatively affect the state of the environment, disrupt the ecosystem of reservoirs. "We do not use such substances, but employment of microgels in our products show high efficiency and ensures perfect wash off of dirt," Igor Klimkin explains.

After learning that microgel-based products are entirely washed off with water, pet groomers contacted the developers. "They wanted to get a shampoo that would not harm animals. Cats and dogs, no matter how you wipe them off after washing, wold lick themselves. Detergents remaining on the skin, enter the body and cause disorders and allergic reactions. Therefore, we developed shampoos that are safe for animals, " the company's CEO says.

According to Igor Klimkin, the victory in the Moscow Innovator contest contributed to the confidence in his project and opportunity to speak about the company's achievements. "We shall use the funds received to obtain the international environmental certification and registration, for starting export sales," he notes.

Prostheses from the future

Developers of the Mio-Interface project have set a goal to make arm prostheses smarter, faster and more convenient. Today, a growing number of bionic prostheses is created along with cosmetic and mechanical ones. But so far they are very far from those shown in science fiction movies.

"Such a prosthesis can not, for example, change an arm for a drill, it will not help break through walls or climb trees and buildings. Bionic prostheses are expensive, fragile and difficult to repair, so they are often taken care of more than healthy arms, "says Bulat Aitbayev, project manager.

Булат Айтбаев, руководитель проекта «Мио-интерфейс»

Herewith, most of these prostheses are weak: they do not even allow you to carry a bag with purchases from the shop, and also have a delay in recognizing signals — they ‘freeze’, irritating the users greatly. "Try to inject novocaine into a healthy hand, take pliers and get something out of your pocket with them. Similar feelings are often experienced by people with prostheses — they do not feel their fingers and can only work with a prosthesis in their field of vision. Feedback is usually completely absent," the developer says.

The development of Moscow's innovators, who created an electronic control system — the "brains" of the prosthesis, is trying to solve these problems. Its peculiarity is that the electrodes are connected not to the surface of the skin, as it was practicable before, but directly to the nerve endings through the skin or bone. "The technology significantly increases the speed of signal recognition. When a person takes an object, pressure sensors installed on the prostheses will transmit a signal to a special stimulator. It sends small electrical impulses to the nerve, simulating tactile sensations from the fingers," the representative of the project notes. According to him, the system can be configured individually for each person, and his brain will gradually learn to respond correctly to the signals of the device.

Similar studies are being conducted abroad, and the idea of the Mio-Interface project is to create a solution that can be reproduced at Russian manufacturing facilities. With minimal costs and maximum efficiency.

According to Bulat Aitbayev, they plan to complete research with laboratory animals in the near future. And scientists hope to prepare a prototype of a control system for prostheses within three years — such terms are partly caused by strict regulations for medical equipment.

The authors of 18 projects became winners of the Moscow Innovator Award.  The amount of monetary remuneration for them varies from 500 thousand to 1.5 million rubles. The authors of 18 project-finalists were awarded incentive prizes.

The prize is awarded in three categories: Project of the Future — for inventions that have a formalized innovative idea or a security document certifying authorship or exclusive right to it; Reality Changers — for developments that already have a business model with market analysis and an assessment of market attractiveness; Innovation Leaders — for projects that have repeatedly received revenue. 


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