Flexible and rapid recharging for your electric car, wherever it's parked in the city. That's what the Antwerp-based start-up Uze is offering. The company won the second edition of the VITO4STARTERS competition on the 27th of July, 2023. This competition by VITO aims to give a boost to start-ups working on sustainability.

For the second time, on July 27th, 2023, the festival grounds of Tomorrowland provided the backdrop for the VITO4STARTERS final. This competition, established by VITO in 2022, targets Flemish start-ups with innovative sustainability ideas. At the Love Tomorrow Conference, the six finalists pitched their ideas. The prize? Further support from VITO for the development of their innovations, worth 25,000 euros.

The jury, composed of representatives from imec.istart, Start It@KBC, and of course VITO itself, ultimately selected the Antwerp-based start-up Uze. The company has conceived and developed a flexible charging solution for urban environments. Uze harbours significant ambitions: under the motto 'every parking space is a potential charging spot', the company aims to revolutionise the future of electric charging in cities.

"This year, there were several strong participants in VITO4STARTERS, but we ultimately chose Uze," says Bart Swaelens, head of VITO's tech transfer office and jury member. "Uze has a highly innovative concept that is gaining traction in the market. Additionally, we see a good synergy with VITO: the start-up lacks certain technical elements that we at VITO can provide."

What does Uze's charging solution entail? Customers can order a charging session through an app, after which a mobile fast charger from Uze is dispatched to the parked car. For instance, a part-time student might cycle the fast charger to the parked vehicle. A charging session takes 40 minutes. While this might seem brief, thanks to Uze's fast-charging technology, it's sufficient to drive around two hundred kilometers afterwards. The car owner or user doesn't need to be present during the charging session; the attendant of the mobile fast charger can gain access to the battery. Customers can also opt for automatic charging. If the battery level drops below a certain point, Uze receives a notification to start charging the car.

This charging solution is particularly appealing to car-sharing services. Dieter Schotte from Uze explains, "These firms want to rapidly electrify their large vehicle fleets, but their cars must be able to charge throughout the city. Installing charging stations everywhere is not feasible, and our solution makes that unnecessary too." Currently, Uze's customers for car-sharing services are in Antwerp, and this will soon expand to Brussels. By the end of 2023, private customers in Antwerp will also be able to use the charging solution through a pilot project.

What does Uze hope to achieve with the additional support from VITO? "We aim to further increase the charging speed of our mobile fast chargers, but we also want to reduce the weight and size of the batteries. Furthermore, we want to limit electromagnetic interference (EMI) and heat development, as these factors lead to energy loss, disrupt the charging process, and slow down the charging speed," says Schotte.

At Uze, they are already impressed by the expertise of the battery testing laboratory experts at VITO, with whom the company will collaborate in the coming months. "The laboratory possesses an immense amount of knowledge, not only about battery technology but also about certification, safety requirements, and other regulations."

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