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European Space Agency support Jumpstarts LiveEO’s Product Development and Enables Market Leadership

Around 17 months after the initial proposal to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Business Applications Programme, Earth observation company LiveEO successfully concluded its Demonstration Project, proving the business viability of its solution utilising space technology. ESA’s support to LiveEO throughout the project implementation played a significant role in bringing its product to maturity, lifting its business to the next level and establishing its position as the world leader in satellite augmented infrastructure monitoring.

Demonstration Projects within ESA’s Business Applications Programme have to show clear potential to become sustainable in the post-project phase. To be eligible for funding, proposed projects must include user involvement and contribution, and benefit from the integrated use of one or more space assets. 

LiveEO’s project SIM (Space-Enabled Full-Stack Solution for Infrastructure Monitoring) met these requirements: Utilising satellite data, an infrastructure monitoring platform has been established - in close dialogue with network operators in the verticals electricity, pipeline and railway in the United States and Europe. The solution developed in the course of the project effectively represents LiveEO’s core products on the market today.

Since the implementation’s kick-off, LiveEO’s monitoring solution has brought value to companies both inside and outside the project’s scope. The solution that encompasses vegetation analysis to detect any danger posed by trees to overhead electricity lines and railways, as well as the identification of ground movement and third party influences close to pipelines, has been rolled out to customers around the world.

“There is no question: LiveEO would not fill the market-leading position it has today, had it not been for ESA’s Business Applications Programme,” says Sven Przywarra, Co-Founder of LiveEO, “Aside from the funding, which enabled us to greatly ramp up our engineering team, we found having access to ESA’s network to be invaluable for our business. We are grateful we had the chance to prove how our product can improve people’s lives, using space technology.”

“LiveEO has had an amazing journey throughout the ESA project!  From a small start-up to growing into an established business with a credible service offering, it is well positioned to access the market. This is the result of LiveEO’s technical and business innovation attitude, as well as its truly customer centric approach. It has been a pleasure supporting LiveEO, and I look forward to seeing further developments,”  says Davide Coppola, project manager at ESA Space Solutions. 

 

About LiveEO

LiveEO is bringing Earth observation to enterprise customers starting in the infrastructure sector. LiveEO utilizes satellite technology to monitor large infrastructure networks globally and empowers the operators to save operational expenses by observing dangers from external threats. By using AI the start-up is generating overviews of thousands of kilometres for decisions on the management level as well as information for the worker on the ground via a front-end and mobile app. LiveEO’s goal is to monitor every major infrastructure grid until 2025. The company has around 50 employees and is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. 

About ESA Space Solutions

ESA Space Solutions is the go-to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Its mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life.

The programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Application Ambassadors and the ESA Business Applications programme. We can also support your ideas of transferring space technology into non-space markets or vice versa.

ESA Business Applications is part of ESA Space Solutions that supports the development of sustainable services utilising space assets. It provides funding opportunities and expert support to entrepreneurs.

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Satellites make seas cleaner via pollution detection service

An offshore pollution monitoring solution, based on expert interpretations of satellite imagery, is helping to make our marine environment cleaner. By alerting offshore industries to any unusual slicks or discharges, CGG’s SeaScope, developed with the support of ESA Space Solutions, accelerates response times to minimise risks and potential impact. 

Pollution incidents can present a significant risk to the many industries operating offshore because any resulting impact on the local marine environment can have far-reaching reputational and cost implications. A system that offers early detection and qualification of anomalous pollution beyond normal discharge levels could not only help to ensure a timely response, but also minimise any related exposure and vulnerability.Heatmaps showing slicks over time give operators information about anomalous events that go beyond normal discharge levels; in this case showing occurrences and extents from a subsea leak in the North Sea in 2020 (image courtesy of CGG).

SeaScope meets this need by using satellite Earth observation (EO) data to provide critical intelligence about sea surface slicks. It gives users greater visibility over the interaction between offshore assets, coastal facilities, vessel activity and the local marine environment, which is vitally important for strengthening situational awareness and informing oil spill response activity.

“SeaScope is the latest innovation in our portfolio of environmental monitoring solutions. Its value lies not only in helping offshore industries to respond quickly to events, but also to mitigate risks and support their environmental and operational transparency commitments,” says Peter Whiting, SVP, Geoscience, EAME, CGG.

Combining satellite data for actionable intelligence

Developed by CGG Satellite Mapping with the support of ESA Space Solutions, SeaScope integrates two types of space assets: EO imagery and satellite-derived ship location (AIS) data. EO imagery is interpreted by CGG’s experts to monitor the ocean surface for offshore slicks and determine their extent. The AIS data provides knowledge of ship location and activity, and is used to link slicks with vessels in the area. Combining these technologies generates high-quality, reliable intelligence alerts on anomalous events to offshore infrastructure operators, significantly enhancing their ability to understand the occurrence and evolving behaviour of nearby pollution events. 

Vessel pollution in the Red Sea captured by the ESA Sentinel-1 satellite (contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2021]) (image courtesy of CGG).

SeaScope was developed from 2018 to 2020 as a Demonstration Project as part of the ESA Space Solutions Integrated Applications Promotion (IAP) programme. Over 3020 medium and high-resolution satellite radar scenes were processed and interpreted across infrastructure in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico and South East Asia. The results (10 750 unique events) were either integrated into client systems or made available via an online portal.

Key to the success of the Demonstration Project was the ability to provide standard geospatial data with clear reporting statistics to emergency response teams, who often have responsibility for multiple offshore assets globally. End-users receive targeted information supported by clear visual data showing the location and extent of any slicks within the SeaScope geographic database. A heatmap showing slicks over time quickly informs operators of anomalous events beyond normal discharge levels. The results provide critical, timely intelligence to multiple operational teams.  

Evidence base of responsible operations

SeaScope’s proactive monitoring enables companies with offshore assets to establish production water baselines and provides early detection of anomalous events and third-party pollution incidents, as well as surveillance of natural seeps. It also supports the creation of an evidence base of responsible operations for stakeholders, such as operators, regulators, investors and insurers. 

“SeaScope delivers a highly scalable remote monitoring solution to identify individual offshore pollution events or verify clean activities across global asset portfolios. The CGG team will continue to develop the analytics surrounding the growing SeaScope database to provide further insights for our user clients,” says Whiting.

SeaScope from CGG on Vimeo. SeaScope uses satellite data from a number of providers to deliver information about sea surface slicks, including data that can be used to provide evidence of responsible operations.



ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Munich Re and the ESA Space Solutions Alliance bring risk management expertise to NewSpace start-ups

What are the risks faced during the different stages of a satellite mission? What mitigation actions should be taken when there is a failure and how to prevent failures altogether? How to improve risk mitigation without failure? When to start thinking about risk? As of April 2017, more than 290 break-ups in orbit have been recorded since 1961. Most were explosions of satellites and upper stages – fewer than 10 involved accidental and intentional collisions. More information: http://www.esa.int/debris (image credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO).

These were some of the questions tackled during an interactive seminar collaboratively organised by Munich Re and the ESA Space Solutions Alliance in May 2021. 

Space risk management experts from Munich Re - one of the world's leading reinsurers - shared their insights on risk awareness and mitigation with NewSpace start-ups from across the ESA BIC (ESA Business Incubation Centre) network. Over 20 participants from the ESA BICs in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the UK attended to challenge the experts with current scenarios that they are facing. 

“The Risk Awareness Seminar for NewSpace start-ups organised by the ESA Space Solutions Alliance and Munich Re was very helpful. It provided a comprehensive view of the different risks at each point of the value chain, from manufacturing disruptions, supply chain issues to risks on launch and satellite commissioning.

It provided the grounds for each company to understand its needs and work towards their strategy to prevent and mitigate risks, as well as to ensure adequate cover. I completely recommend it,” said Valentin Canales, Co-founder and Technical and Development Director of B2Space, an ESA BIC UK Alumnus that provides access to Low Earth Orbit for small and micro satellites.  

The seminar considered the underlying risks in each of the different stages of a space mission – manufacturing, transportation, launch, in-orbit operations through relevant examples. Selected loss scenarios, their root causes as well as their impact was shared with participants. 

The participants in return drove the discussion with domain specific points related to space situational awareness, launch services and in-orbit satellites as well as wider points related to business interruption, the pricing of insurance and creating trust. 

Satellite collisions give rise to debris (image credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO).

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Greek ESA BIC opens in a new space era

Greece is the 19th Member State to set up an ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC). Greece is also one of the six countries in Europe with its own operational governmental satellite system and is looking to cooperate with other Member States for the needs of Europe (image credit: Shutterstock)

Greece has been added to the ever-expanding list of ESA BICs, enjoying a novel opening ceremony during an ESA Council meeting in March 2021.

“We are capitalising on the new space era where space actors act as an enabler for digital transformation and entrepreneurship,” Greek Minister of Digital Governance, Mr. Kyriakos Pierrakakis stated boldly to start the meeting. 

Mr. Pierrakakis spoke enthusiastically about Greece’s digital transformation ‘bible’ – or ‘digital transformation plan’ with activities planned for the future based on years of fruitful engagement with ESA in programmes such as ScyLight and SAGA

 “ESA has been supporting Greece in enhancing its capabilities, while offering it’s world-class infrastructure to other Member States. With ESA we have prepared two additional telescopes in order to promote the next generation of secure communications,” he said. 

The Greek ESA BIC is managed by Corallia, a unit of Athena Research and Innovation.  

An important landmark in cooperation

The ESA BIC will undoubtedly help to sustain the long-standing, trusted relationship between ESA and Greece, and was welcomed with equal enthusiasm by Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s recently appointed Director General:

“This is a highlight and a great pleasure for ESA. We are always looking for ways to help industry to remain at the forefront of innovation. ESA BICs play a central role in this respect; especially in commercialisation and propelling European industry forward to make sure it is competitive on the world market.” 

Incubated start-ups must either exploit space technology in a non-space market (spin-offs), become suppliers to other space sectors (spin-ins) or utilise space assets for commercial solutions. Local ESA Space Solutions partners, such as Corallia, provide high-quality business incubation services to their incubatees under established ESA Space Solutions principles. In return incubatees are expected to deliver concrete, demonstrable results for the financial incentive given. 

“ESA BIC Greece will not only support entrepreneurs and start-ups as they develop business ideas to full commercialisation, but will also underpin the creation, growth and strengthening of Greece’s Space cluster,” Josef Aschbacher, Director General, ESA.  

ESA BICs provide support to start-ups in order to develop the business until it is ready to leave the incubation phase. The objective of ESA BIC Greece is to create and strengthen the community of space-related start-ups by supporting 25 incubatees over a period of 5 years.

The newly-established ESA BIC is expected to make a substantial contribution to Greece’s national innovation and space strategies; encourage further uptake of space-based services, support technology transfer from and to the space sector and critically, create jobs and assist economic growth – seen as vital in the context of the current health crisis. 

Elodie Viau, ESA Director of Telecommunication and Integrated Applications, who witnessed the signature, said: “Another key element in the development plan for the Greek Space Industry has been unlocked today. I’m very confident that ESA BIC Greece will generate many start-ups that will prosper and bring the benefits of space and its applications to citizens across Europe and the world. We are very excited that Greece has joined the ESA BIC family”. 

With the setting up of ESA BIC Greece there will be 22 ESA BICs in Europe across 60 locations. Over 1000 start-ups have already benefited from ESA Business Incubation with over 700 million Euro worth of investment. The aim is to have start-ups and SMEs supported through ESA BICs in all member states by the end of 2021. 

The call for applications of ESA BIC Greece is now open.

 

ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Information Day for the launch of the European Space Business Programme

Image credit: European Space Agency

Launch of the European Space Business Programme by the European business schools Rotterdam School of Management, Nova School of Business and Economics, St. Gallen University in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). 

The next generation of space technology will be responsible for delivering global internet, fighting climate change, and taking humanity to Mars. To accomplish such audacious goals, the industry will require talent with diverse skills and backgrounds from every walk of life.

Hence the creation of this unique European Space Business education programme, designed by an alliance of some of Europe’s top renowned business schools together with the European Space Agency. An alliance to help foster new ideas and economic driven solutions, and to promote research around the growth of the space economy and ultimately society.

To support interest in this opportunity ESA Space Solutions is organising a virtual Information Day for potential students in the morning of 2 June 2021. Join on Wednesday 2 June 11:00 CEST to hear the leaders panel with representatives of RSM, NovaSBE, St.Gallen and ESA on the launch of this new European Space Business Programme. 

This webinar will showcase the importance of this programme for Europe, why now, its core ingredients and experience, its target, timeline and much more. 

Please see the draft agenda below: 

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME 

11.00 – 11.10 CEST

THE EUROPEAN SPACE BUSINESS PROGRAM – PANEL SESSION  

11.10 – 11.40 CEST

Speakers: 

Moderator: 

QUESTIONS 

11.40 – 12.00  CEST

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How to reduce CO2 and make aerospace more eco-friendly with space data

The Aeroficial Founding Members (image credit: Christian Jungwirth)

The number of people using air transport has reached four billion. This means that every second person on Earth takes at least one flight each year. Harmful emissions from air travel account for about 2% of CO2, but the number of passengers will strongly increase in the next 15 years. As a result, the demand for fuel and the absolute fuel consumption in the air transport sector will rise strongly; and with the higher total fuel consumption, greenhouse gases (CO2, NOx) will also increase in the near future.

Innovative solutions using space data provided by the European Satellite Navigation System Galileo spur the reduction of CO2 emissions and help to reach sustainable development goals. The Austrian start-up Aeroficial Intelligence offers a solution to analyse air and ground traffic at major airports. A Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) database of flight trajectories is used in combination with Artificial Intelligence to improve future aircraft movements during or before landing and take-off so that airports are more efficient and fuel can be saved which in turn will help reduce CO2 emissions and noise pollution. 

The main sources of pollution at an airport are the airplanes that perform take-off and landing operations, upon taxiing, and airport ground transport. Aeroficial Intelligence plans to create transparency and to provide information in advance as to exactly when a flight will arrive. An aircraft can take off non-stop from the gate and also taxi non-stop to the gate during landing without any unnecessary delays or stopping. This will decrease the extra waiting time when aircraft roll away with engaged engines, which is the major cost to fuel and the environment.

Aeroficial was incubated at the ESA BIC Austria, the start-up incubation centre of the European Space Agency. “It has been an immense pleasure to support the Aeroficial Intelligence team on the journey from idea to customer acquisition”, says Martin Mössler and Inês Plácido, Managers of ESA Space Solutions Centre Austria, where Aeroficial was incubated. “We are extremely happy that space data can help in making air traffic more environmentally-friendly and at the same time enable a sustainable business case for a start-up”, says Susanne Katzler Fuchs from Brimatech, the Technology Broker for ESA Space Solutions in Austria which regularly supports the application of space technology on Earth.

This is only one example of new approaches to make the aerospace industry as a whole more efficient and to reduce the negative impact of airports on the environment. This includes decreasing air traffic jams and taxiing time on the ground when planes are stationary, reducing emissions of planes, and improving the general efficiency of the airports. Making these changes could, for example, allow Vienna Airport to make better use of available space rather than constructing a third runway. 

Forecasts at the beginning of 2020 still showed an increase in the period from 2025 to 2030 for congestion at airports while the numbers of passengers who will not be able to buy tickets because of excessive demand were expected to double. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on the aviation industry. Travel restrictions and the fear of being infected on-board a fully-packed plane or while waiting at the airport cause a steep decrease in demand among travelers. The consequences are massively reduced revenues for airlines and airports, as well as airline manufacturers having to lay off employees. 

Aeroficial intelligence is using space data to help improve aircraft efficiency and reduce emissions.  (Image credit: J.M. Image Factory/Shutterstock)

Such circumstances can easily lead to the death of a newly established start-up. However, the alumni of the Business Incubation Centre Austria of the European Space Agency (ESA BIC) sees themselves well prepared. “We are in a lucky position,” says Julian Jank from Aeroficial Intelligence. “Even during the lock-down in spring, we acquired the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) as a customer for the ‘Performance Cockpit’”. The “Performance Cockpit” shows the results of the data acquisition and the aviation analytic logistics, tailored to customer demands. 

It is connected by an API to the backend data repository. Customers can also connect to the backend and pick up data to incorporate into their systems. The QCAA uses the system in the area of surveillance data analytics and artificial intelligence to increase air traffic efficiency and capacity of Qatar’s airspace and Hamad International Airport to accommodate the anticipated increase in operations and aircraft in the forthcoming period. 

Furthermore, it is a declared goal of the “Performance Cockpit” to handle aircraft movements in Qatar as efficiently as possible and to avoid inefficiencies (idle times, stops, etc.) on the ground when taxiing at the airport. Additionally, Qatar will host the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022, which is expected to result in significantly increased air traffic. For this purpose, an innovative solution from Aeroficial Intelligence will be used to ensure optimal flight operations and reduce the number of exhaust emissions.

Choosing the right technology and developing partnerships is not an easy task for airports. A modern airport must become a responsive and flexible organism that reacts quickly, lives in constant contact with airlines and passengers, and introduces advanced technologies as efficiently as possible. The task is not easy, but there is always a way out.

ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Staying Healthy with Space

Image credit: European Space Agency

The COVID-19 global pandemic reminds us daily of the importance of monitoring health and well-being. In the past decade, ESA has supported space innovations and technology to prioritise humans' and animals' health.

Zuzanna Osika and Elia Montanari from ESA Space Solutions have produced several case studies through the analysis of projects showing promising correlation to the UN Sustainable Development Goal [SDGs] indicators that are also good business opportunities. Here, we focus on three case studies related to various health challenges humans face, which were implemented in countries all around the world. 

CASE STUDY: TEMPUS

TEMPUS is a dual-use physiological monitoring product offering both conventional monitoring of key vital parameters and remote diagnostics (telemedicine) capabilities for use in different segments (Intensive Care Units, Ambulances and Emergency Health Services, commercial & business aviation, Yachting, military etc.). 

The initial target envisaged users were military and energy companies where staff may be operating in remote locations without easy access to in-person medical care. TEMPUS allows health professionals to monitor employees' health located elsewhere.

Since its launch, TEMPUS has achieved interest in other markets predominantly in pre-hospital care applications:  the potential for satellite-based communications and other new features enable users to do more with less equipment.

RDT Ltd. (Remote Diagnostic Technologies), the company developing TEMPUS, is today part of the Phillips group of companies. TEMPUS is part of Philips' catalogue of therapeutic healthcare products and is becoming one of the world's leading medical monitors.

TEMPUS was initially deployed in the USA, Norway, Australia and the UK (treatment group). To mimic the experimental research design, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Slovenia and Belgium were included in the study as a control group.  The impact of the tool's introduction was statistically significant on the SDG indicator 8 “Decent work and economic growth” in particular the INDICATOR 8.8.1 “Fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers”.

Case study: TEMOS

Thanks to funded Research and Development, TEMOS innovated by establishing a global competence network. The network is open for all interested hospitals and medical institutions who agree to accept and apply the TEMOS quality criteria. As a result of the project, TEMOS initiated a recognisable healthcare certification. The benefit of the network is that it improved the health systems' quality in developing and developed countries.

The TEMOS space powered network was launched in Germany, France, Greece, Jordan, Turkey, Brazil (treatment group) and the countries with a similar trend in the SDG indicator, but which did not take part in the TEMOS initiative were Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy (control group). The launch of TEMOS correlates positively to the reduction of “Mortality rate attributed to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease” - SDG INDICATOR 3.4.1. 

Case study: VGTropics

In many African countries, livestock farming is an essential source of revenue that improves the quality of life and strengthens the economy's development. Animal health not only has an impact on animal production and its economic consequences, but zoonoses, or animal diseases, may also have a meaningful impact on public health. Real-time surveillance and prompt actions are paramount in diminishing the effects of epizootics on livestock. For this reason, early detection and shortening the time between detection, reporting and providing measures to contain an outbreak is crucial. VGTropics tackles these issues by offering tools and services, which substantially improve animal health recording in developing countries.

VGTropics was developed by Belgian company AVIA-GIS, the innovation’s impact was measured with the Livestock Production Index, which impacts SDG 2's target to double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers.  Zambia, Senegal, Uganda and Niger were included in the study as a treatment group and Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia as a control group. The study results showed statistically significant impact on production of the livestock in the countries, in which the VGTropics platform was introduced. 

TARGET 2.3 By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers.

Conclusions

These three case studies, which are a subset from the hundreds of health-related projects run by the European Space Agency, show how ESA has contributed to promoting initiatives related to health in the last decade. They show how space technology can be used to tackle health-related problems and help to achieve sustainable development.

Methodology

In order to assess statistical impact, the two case studies were reviewed against SDGs where sufficient time from deployment of the products and services had elapsed and data was available to perform impact analysis. 

To measure the impact of a programme (or in this case; space application), the Difference in Difference (DID) methodology was used. This is a statistical technique which mimics a Randomised Controlled Trial as shown in figure 1;  the impact of a programme is measured while taking into account a ‘counterfactual’. A counterfactual is defined as the trend we would have observed in case of no intervention. 

This way it is possible to measure the effect of a treatment on a ‘treatment group’. As a counterfactual the team used a ‘control group’, i.e. similar countries with a comparable trend before the start of a programme. 

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KTW delivers the drinks with DLR’s precision valves

Fresh eyes and new collaborations can sometimes elicit solutions to problems that established players simply can’t see. This was the case for a new type of high precision valve that was developed for space applications at DLR, the German Aerospace Centre, and is now being applied to the beverages market by KTW Technology, with support from the ESA Space Solutions network.

The valve concept used by KTW was originally designed several years ago by DLR for space applications, such as manoeuvring satellites using pressurised cold gas.  The new valve design has a number of benefits over traditional designs, including those with springs. Among its advantages are that because it has only one moving part, it has a very long lifecycle.

KTW was founded in 2017 with the aim of finding a better way to fill bottles and cans with flavoured liquids in response to the growing market for energy drinks and flavoured beverages. Having identified the opportunity presented by DLR’s novel valve design, KTW developed it further and created the specification for a matching output stage that, together with the valves, would form a complete high speed dosing system. 

Development of this system was then supported through an ESA Technology Transfer Demonstrator project. KTW is now selling both individual valves and developing standalone filling systems.

“The beverage industry has been looking for an alternative way to fill flavoured drinks for over 10 years,” explains Wolfgang Teichmann, managing director of KTW. “Existing filling systems suffer from the problem that after filling with one flavour, the smell lingers in the pipes and equipment afterwards, despite intensive cleaning. 

“Our aim was to create a solution where fewer, faster dosing valves could be used to deliver the flavours as a concentrate at the beginning or end of the filling process, making systems more flexible and energy-efficient, and significantly reducing both the time lost to cleaning and the waste of flavours.”

KTW found its enabler in the DLR quick reacting, precision valve. The valve is unusual in that it has just one moving part – a ball that sits in a ‘valve seat’, keeping the valve closed until it is moved by a magnetic field to open it. 

From comets to cans

The valve was originally designed several years ago by Dietmar Neuhaus, a physicist at DLR. He identified its potential for manoeuvring satellites using pressurised cold gas and proposed it for the Rosetta comet lander, although eventually an alternative system was used that didn’t need quick- reacting valves.

“This valve design has a number of benefits over traditional designs, including those with springs,” explains Neuhaus. “With only one moving part, it has a very long lifecycle. The direct, stochastic switching function means it is extremely quick to react to the incoming signal and very precise in the dose it delivers.”

The valve offers response times of 1 millisecond or less and can provide incredibly accurate doses from 0.5ml upwards. 

Speed and precision are vital in the beverage industry. KTS’s system can fill 1,000 cans per minute with 2ml of flavouring with just one or two valves.

“In a typical beverage dosing system, you would normally have a carousel with lots of valves – often over 100 – filling the containers with the final liquid, whereas with our solution you only need one or two valves providing microdoses of the concentrate at the beginning or end of the line,” explains Teichmann. “Speed and precision are vital. We can fill 1,000 cans per minute with 2ml of flavouring with just one or two valves.”

“Longevity is also important in the filling industry. Diaphragm valves used in the beverage industry typically have a lifetime of 700,000 switches, whereas our valves, with just one moving part, have been shown to last for over 10 billion doses with low maintenance. When any maintenance is needed, it’s quick, cheap and simple, taking just minutes to do.”

Other elements of KTW’s new filling station also had to be redesigned to match the speed of the valves. KTW is working with a company called Bronkhorst to provide a suitably fast flow meter.

Success from collaboration

The valve’s direct, stochastic switching function means it is extremely quick to react to any incoming signal and very precise in the dose it delivers. The KTW version of the valve offers response times of 1 millisecond or less and can provide incredibly accurate doses from 0.5ml upwards.

Teichmann credits the involvement of EurA, one of ESA’s technology brokers in Germany, as key in getting KTW’s products to their current market-ready status. “They told us about the ESA Demonstration Project, which came with valuable funding of €39,000,” says Teichmann. “We were only a few people, so we couldn’t have got this far this quickly without EurA’s support before and during the Demonstration Project.”

Dietmar Neuhaus at DLR, which holds the patents for the valves, has also been supporting KTW. “Technology transfer should include taking time to make the transfer work. KTW was an ideal partner because they weren’t focussing on optimising the cost and technology of existing designs, but were instead looking for a solution to a specific problem.”

KTW is promoting the valves for additional uses, including compressed air applications. DLR’s Dietmar Neuhaus has other opportunities in mind, including applying chemicals in precision agriculture and for the production of spotted microarrays in biotechnology. He would also still like to see them used for space applications, highlighting their ability to cope with very cold liquids and gases. 

“Entering the beverages industry is a risky venture,” notes Günter Hohmann from EurA. “Projects are often time-consuming and funding can be difficult for SMEs. Our role includes providing support to help them access not just technology but also funding, which in this case enabled them to concentrate on developing their solution. It’s really exciting to now see this project come to fruition.” 

In a typical beverage dosing station, carousels have lots of valves filling containers with the final liquid. The KTW system need just one or two valves providing microdoses of the concentrate at the end of the line. This video gives an example of how fast the KTW precision valves can operate.

ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND PATENT OFFICE

The TTPO's funding for demonstration activities aim at proving the relevance of transferring a given technology or know-how into the non-space context, reducing the technical risk and confirming the market opportunity. An annual open call invites the submission of proposals from industry for Feasibility Studies, Proof of Concepts and Demonstrators. These have been designed as a funnel of activities, de-risking the activities on a step-by-step basis. Please see here for more information. 

ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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From looking for life on Mars to saving lives on Earth

The patch developed by Fourth State Systems to collect blood gases through the skin is tiny, illustrating why it can be used on preterm infants (credit: Anders Persson).

With support from ESA Space Solutions, start-up Fourth State Systems has taken a sensor designed for space and developed a solution that could help save the lives of babies born prematurely around the world. The technology was originally intended for miniaturized instruments for planetary exploration, but its unique ability to handle minute sample amounts also makes it ideal for monitoring blood gases in infants.

At Uppsala University Hospital, Erik Normann, Anette Johansson and Kerstin Segelström (second left to right) show Fourth State Systems’ CEO Anders Persson (far left) an incubator where the company’s sensor technology could be installed (credit: Maria Kruse).

Transcutaneous blood gas monitoring is a method of measuring carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the body through the skin. Such analysis is important in healthcare and vital for modern neonatal care. 

Preterm birth is the primary cause of death for children under 5, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that at least three-quarters of these infants could have been saved. 

”There is an immense need for cheaper, less complex instruments in neonatal care,” says Anders Persson, CEO of Fourth State Systems. ”Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely. One million of them die, but at least 75% could have been saved if they were given adequate care. Today, such care is only available in the advanced neonatal care units of developed countries because modern neonatal care is complex and costly.”, Anders Persson adds.

Solving a neonatal care challenge

Outside the womb, a preterm infant’s lungs are not capable of fully oxygenating their blood, so they are treated in an incubator with an elevated oxygen level. But it is also important to prevent their blood oxygen level becoming too high, so frequent monitoring is important. 

Preterm infants have too little blood for blood sampling to work. However, the skin, particularly of infants, is not completely gas tight, so measurements can be done transcutaneously instead. Unfortunately, today’s monitors are quite slow and may cause burns. Instead, Fourth State Systems’ sensor can perform the measurement quickly and without heating the skin.

The Fourth State Systems prototype unit contains a sensor and all the electronics required to carry out and process the measurements (credit: Karin Berglund).

Promising performance and unique features

The sensor has its roots in a research programme aimed at developing miniaturized instruments for astrobiology at the Ångström Space Technology Centre of Sweden’s Uppsala University. The goal was to study carbon isotope ratios in carbon dioxide. The concept is based on microplasma technology, which was found to exhibit some unique features, including an ability to handle extremely small sample amounts. 

By 2018, the research had matured enough for commercialization to begin. Fourth State Systems was admitted to the incubation programme at ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) in Sweden and also got backing from the Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA and the EU initiative ATTRACT, where it was named a European Breakthrough Technology. 

”During incubation, the positive feedback from doctors and nurses has been the most important thing, since they will one day use this technology. Now we are getting ready for the final steps of completing our journey from looking for life on Mars to saving lives on Earth,” says Anders Persson.

  

 

ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Meet ESA BIC Noordwijk

ESA BIC Noordwijk is the oldest BIC of the Space Solutions network (credits: ESA BIC Noordwijk).

This story is part of our new Story Series: Meet ESA Space Solutions Network. In this new series, we’re going to introduce you to the great teams across our Network that are using space to develop business applied in daily life. Curious about their highlights and advice? Read on.

Who is ESA BIC Noordwijk?  

ESA BIC Noordwijk is the oldest ESA BIC of the ESA Space Solutions Network. It was founded in 2004 and since 2011 SBIC Noordwijk has managed the program. Since the start, we helped over 100 companies build a space-based business. In Noordwijk, we are at the heart of the Dutch space sector, located on the NL Space Campus - near ESA’s ESTEC facility. 

Tell us about the people in your team and what strength/added value do you bring through.

Gerard Hegemans is our CEO and has a background in engineering. He makes sure every start-up in our ESA BIC gets valuable advice on their progress.

ESA BIC Noordwijk is a truly complementary team of flexibility, supportive power, quick responses and endurance (credits: ESA BIC Noordwijk).

Martijn Leinweber is COO and has a background in crossmedia and community management. Martijn also is our program manager and is the go-to guy in Noordwijk.

Rianne van der Poel is our Business Development Manager and she has a background in the travel industry. Next to a great planner, she makes our partner network and community grow.

Lorenz van Gool is Marketing & Communications Manager and he has a background in business journalism. He creates and executes (content focused) marketing campaigns and gets our start-ups in the media.

If you would put us together, you’d get a giant Power Ranger. A truly complementary team of flexibility, supportive power, quick responses and endurance. 

What has inspired you to work in the space industry? 

We all fell in love with the general sense of collaboration in the space industry. Whether it being organising an event for a handful of space entrepreneurs, or building the International Space Station, you can sense everyone's passion, dedication and desire to contribute to something bigger. Needless to say, that creates a strong bond between every kind of stakeholder - something we haven't seen in any industry before. 

Do you look for/have start-ups working to solve big world problems? 

Yes, it’s always best if start-ups work for the greater good. Sustainability and safety are a big plus, and on a meta level, diversity is also celebrated. We have a soft spot for start-ups that want to have impact in the medical world as well. But we want to stress that we also look for ideas that show space tech can be used in daily life, to inspire a bigger audience.  

Please present between 1 and maximum 4 examples with the name of the start-up, website and a short sentence of what are they doing. 

Sustainability
Incubatee: 

  • Sobolt - Using geospatial data & Artificial Intelligence for sustainable solutions in urban areas. 
  • Trabotyx - Creating a weeding robot for organic precision farming. 

Alumnus: 

  • Skytree - Filtering CO2 in closed spaces. 

Safety
Incubatees: 

  • Mapture - Autonomous drone fleets for security and surveillance.
  • Meandair - 4D weather forecasting for pilots, so they have safe flying routes. 

Alumni:

  • OPTNET - Disaster management. 
  • Blackshore - Solving world problems through crowdsourcing, gaming and earth observation. 

Medical
Incubatee: 

  • smartQare - Creating a remote patient monitoring solution. 

Alumni: 

  • AVY - In a consortium right now to test medical drone delivery. 
  • Meds2Go - Device to keep your medicine cool. 
  • Relegs - Helping people fight Restless Legs Syndrome. 

Inspire general audience 
Alumni: 

Would you like to share an interesting/inspiring story from one of your alumni?  

We love all our alumni. But what we’re particularly proud of, is that alumnus SkyfloX recently ‘returned’ as a technical partner to new ESA BIC Noordwijk start-ups. To us, this shows the power of our community - not only during the program, but also after graduation. 

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Don’t let the domain of space intimidate you. It’s serious business, yes, but surprisingly accessible at the same time (credits: Reginar Photography).

Don’t let the domain of space intimidate you. It’s serious business, yes, but surprisingly accessible at the same time. You can do more with “space” than you think, and it has become easier than ever to start a business in this sector. Next to that, at ESA BIC Noordwijk, you will notice that it pays to be open. Sharing experiences and/or resources is the modus operandi here. 

Using one word, how would you describe the ESA Space Solutions community?  

One word? SPACE! (Supportive, Purpose-driven, Ambitious, Curious, Ever-learning).  

How would you solve problems if you were from Mars? 

Invade and colonize Earth of course!  

What is your website link where the readers can find more about you? 

Check sbicnoordwijk.nl for all our news and where to find us all over the web. 

 

 

The European Space Agency Business Incubation Centre in the Netherlands - ESA BIC Noordwijk is managed by SBIC in collaboration with ESA Space Solutions and Netherlands Space Office.

ABOUT ESA SPACE SOLUTIONS

ESA Space Solutions is the go to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life. ESA Space Solutions is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from €50k to €2M and supports everything from technology transfer, business incubation, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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