According to NeoStove, traditional pans utilize only 25% of the heat from gas stoves, and the rest of the uncaptured heat ends up in the kitchen, making it an uncomfortably hot environment for the kitchen staff. Additionally, these inefficient pans cause high gas and energy bills to the restaurants while increasing the carbon footprint. To solve these issues and to cook more efficiently, NeoStove invented SpacePan – an efficient cooking pan that can revolutionize the way of cooking as it requires only half the gas to cook a meal.
Learning to cook
Founder Surya Prakash grew up in India under his mother’s wing and her fantastic cooking skills. When he moved to Europe for studies, he started cooking himself. He found that cooking pans heat quite inefficiently, taking only a quarter of the heat provided by the gas. The residual heat warms up kitchens, for example, the student kitchen Surya shared. In restaurants, it’s even common for the temperatures to rise above 40 degrees Celsius. So, as an engineer, he was keen on solving that problem and did so using space technology.
Surya created the first prototype of his cooking pan for a course at the TU Delft. Initially designed for a class called Smart Energy Products, the professor was very enthusiastic and even gave him his first investment: some starting money to develop the project further. Decidedly, he put it on his backlog, focusing on finishing his master’s degree first. At Space Expo in Noordwijk, he got the idea to use space technology to develop an even more helpful cooking pan.
Once he graduated, Surya decided to work for another startup first to gain know-how about the ins and outs of running a startup, however, with his cooking pan project at the back of his mind. In 2020, he participated in the “The Hague Innovators Challenge” and won 10,000 euros for his project. Also, NeoStove was admitted to the European Space Agency business incubation center in Noordwijk, which provided the funding to start developing some other prototypes immediately.
“Cooking is something we have been doing since the invention of fire (or so we think!). Food is fundamental to humans but also costs a lot of energy. The SpacePan cooks twice as efficiently and even helps the environment by using fewer resources.”
As with many industries, the sustainability demands within the cooking industry are high. Despite several sub-niches within sustainable cooking, such as water usage or animal welfare, NeoStove focuses on solving the carbon footprint problem. With their SpacePan, they aim to reduce the amount of gas used, lowering the energy bill by 50 percent and reducing gas emissions.
In addition to the incubator in Noordwijk, NeoStove also joined the YES!Delft. Being a solo founder, Surya found the inspiring community of entrepreneurs especially useful. Also, his mentor Angela Pellaupessy via the YES!Delft program helps him with second opinions and some accountability, which is particularly useful for solo founders. NeoStove has an office in the YES!Delft building, from where they are busy testing and adjusting the prototype with the help of restaurants.
“Our SpacePan cooks way faster than the traditional pans. One of the chefs testing the cooking pan said it was so efficient that you could fry eggs using candlelight, so to speak. Restaurants are helping tremendously with testing our product, and I’m delighted with the feedback so far.”
Next steps upcoming 6-12 months
NeoStove is funded by grants and won 25,000 euros from Rabobank earlier this year. Their primary focus is to make the SpacePan a perfect fit for restaurants so they can start selling their product. Although they are already testing their SpacePan with several restaurants, they still want to increase their use base and gather more feedback. So, they are looking for more restaurants that wish to reduce their gas emissions and the temperature in the kitchen, and to cook faster.
As a startup, their goals are fast and ambitious: NeoStove is now focusing on finalizing the design. The next step is to look for manufacturing partners and pilot production. Of course, this also means expanding the team as it requires considerable effort to hit their ambitious goal of selling 10,000 SpacePans in 2024 to restaurants and helping the restaurant industry to become more sustainable and profitable.
Restaurants wanting to try SpacePan can contact Surya directly here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motivated interns and thesis students interested in accelerating sustainable cooking together with NeoStove can send their applications year-round here.
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