Green technologies and neuroscience dominate the Entrepreneur XXI Awards

Green technologies and neuroscience dominate the Entrepreneur XXI Awards





  • The startups Pixel Voltaic (Porto) and Virtuleap (Lisbon) won the 5th edition of the Entrepreneur XXI Awards, an initiative promoted by BPI and DayOne, the specialized division of CaixaBank for technology, innovation companies and their investors.
  • Winners receive cash prizes of € 6,000, access to an international training program in Silicon Valley, and expert mentoring.
  • The National Innovation Agency (ANI), partner of PEXXI, has distinguished the startup N9ve (Aveiro), through the Born from Knowledge (BfK) program.



Portuguese startups Pixel Voltaic and Virtuleap have won the 5th edition of the Entrepreneur XXI Awards (PEXXI). The initiative is promoted by BPI and DayOne – the specialized division of CaixaBank for technology, innovation companies and their investors – in partnership with ANI – Agência Nacional de Inovação, and has the institutional support of the Ministry of Economy.
Pixel Voltaic is a spin-off company of the University of Porto – Faculty of Engineering (UPORTO – FEUP) which operates in the field of renewable energy. Pixel Voltaic develops innovative technologies for photovoltaic systems and for hydrogen production, including dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC) and methane reactors, respectively.
Virtuleap operates in the field of digital therapy, which combines neuroscience and virtual reality to address cognitive problems. The company has developed virtual reality applications, created by neuroscientists, that diagnose a set of cognitive skills and make this information available via its business platform. Virtuleap works in partnership with the VA Health Care System and the Pacific Brain Health Center to develop its solution for the effective diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit and cognitive decline.

As part of the partnership with BPI, ANI – through the Born from Knowledge (BfK) program – awarded the special BfK Awards recognition to the startup N9ve, from Aveiro, as the best national finalist “born from scientific and technological knowledge”, with the Trophy “Tree of Knowledge”. N9ve, in collaboration with the University of Aveiro, researches and develops technologies in the area of ​​the removal, concentration and recovery of rare earth elements (REE) from contaminated water and aqueous solutions, using live macroalgae. It is a greener and more efficient alternative to the current mining process.

The award ceremonies took place in person at the Porto Business School and the Cidade do Futebol, in Oeiras.

Awards to the best companies in each territory and sector
The 5th edition of the Entrepreneur XXI Awards received 763 nominations at Iberian level, of which 102 Portuguese: 61 from the North and Center, where the winners Pixel Voltaic and N9ve came from, and 41 from the South and Islands, where Virtuleap is located.

The PEXXIs take place in parallel in Portugal and Spain, in the case of the territorial categories (2 in Portugal and 17 in Spain) and, together, in the sectoral categories (Challenge Awards).
All candidate companies (Portuguese and Spanish) compete for the six highlighted challenges: Cidade XXI (most sustainable, safe, connected and adapted cities), Vive XXI (digitization, new business models and hotel reactivation, catering, tourism and time free), Semente XXI (digital transformation and innovation in the agri-food sector), Planeta XXI (environmental sustainability), Silver XXI (ensuring active aging and long and healthy life through technology), Banca XXI (a new banking model closer to the customer) . The winners will receive a cash prize of 25 thousand euros.

In addition, two special prizes of 15,000 euros each will be awarded to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the initiative in Spain. The Social Impact Award will be awarded to the company with the greatest positive influence on society and the Deep Tech Award for the most disruptive technological innovation.

In addition to the cash prizes, all winners and one finalist for each challenge category will also have access to an international training program. The Moonshot Thinking for Entrepreneurs program is specially designed for startups with high growth potential and is taught by ESADE and Silicon Valley experts. Combine training sessions with the experience of visiting some of the world’s leading innovation centers.

Benchmark awards for the entrepreneurial ecosystem
The Entrepreneur XXI Awards were launched 15 years ago in Spain by CaixaBank, through DayOne, and the initiative has been extended to Portuguese participation, through BPI, since 2017. The awards are aimed at young innovative and technology startups and aim to boost to the most courageous and with the best solutions to meet the challenges of the future, allowing them to accelerate their process of growth and global expansion.

Since its creation in 2007, the program has invested € 6.7 million in prizes, which have already benefited more than 900 companies. In its history, more than 8,900 startups have participated and more than 3,500 professionals have been involved in committees and juries. With the Entrepreneur XXI Awards, CaixaBank and BPI aim to contribute to the development of young and innovative companies with high growth potential. Throughout its trajectory, it has established itself as a benchmark award for startups.




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