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14th ESA Investor Forum held virtually in partnership with ELITE

COVID has not slowed down the record setting growth of the space sector! Nearly €500 M of investments were recorded between June and November 2020 across 30 transactions amongst our ESA portfolio.

At ESA, we run the world’s largest space focused venture support network, accounting for over 2,000 businesses where we’ve deployed nearly €400 M.

Five diverse “powered by space” companies were selected to pitch to an exclusive group of investors. For the first time, Downing ventures investment firm showcased successful companies that are making the most of space, showing that even during these unprecedented times “powered by space” ventures successfully garner attention from non-space investors. Participating companies included Unisphere, LiveEO, Lumi Space, Clutch Space Systems and Bifrost AI. ESA Space Solutions programme in partnership with ELITE, the Private Market of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), held the ESA Investor Forum on Monday 30th November.

Catering for the significant amount of interest shown for this event, we are pleased to announce that the next ESA Investor Forum will be held in Q1 2021.

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, ESA: “Our commitment to keep investing in space is fostered by many successful cases that enable the future of a wide range of fields like transport, energy, food, and the environment. That is why we are here today, there is no better moment than now to invest in a field that has so much business potential, is so flexible, innovative and crucial as space and has the ability to impact people, planet and profit, all at once.”

Paola Cuneo, Head of Advisors and Investors, ELITE: “We are delighted to host the ESA Investor Forum, because we strongly believe in the quest to support entrepreneurship, not only those who are already established but those who are starting their journey. We all know that being an entrepreneur requires lots of resilience and loads of support and that’s what we’re aiming to do, to convene all the different ecosystems, all the different players, to make sure that entrepreneurs get the best chance.”

About ESA Space Solutions

ESA Space Solutions is the mark of Europe’s best commercial ventures powered by Space. 

ESA Space Solutions empowers new commercial service developments by offering zero-equity funding and support to businesses in the form of dedicated support to project management, as well as commercial and technical development. Businesses also benefit from ESA’s mark of credibility helping them to grow. Our supported services target any sector where space delivers value (satellite navigation location, earth observation imagery, satellite telecommunication, space weather, space technologies and other tools). Businesses can either apply to our periodically announced predefined thematic opportunities or discuss an open application to develop solutions, for any market they are interested in.     

Get in touch with us via email esainvestorforum@esa.int or visit business.esa.int

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Putting Galileo in the driving seat for autonomous vehicles

Accurate positioning is vital for autonomous vehicles. Now, a new sensor using Galileo’s GNSS signals will provide exactly that, thanks to an international collaboration between Deimos Engenharia and Accurision, fostered by ESA Space Solutions network.

Automated and autonomous driving depend heavily on different sensor technologies incorporated into the vehicle's sensor fusion engine. For positioning, it’s important to have a range of different technologies for redundancy reasons, including Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), which provides absolute positioning based on radio signals to complement visual sensors like cameras. 

A partnership between Portuguese space specialist company Deimos Engenharia and Austrian start-up Accurision has created a highly accurate positioning sensor using Europe’s Galileo GNSS system. Galileo provides world-class navigation, offering a natural solution for terrestrial applications, such as sensors for autonomous driving but moving from an initial idea to a practical solution is a complex process.  

Spotting potential and spreading the news

Gunnar Fleisch with Accurision’s GUIDANCE™ GNSS Sensor, bringing space know-how to autonomous driving (image credit: Markus Gmeiner)

In 2013, Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), ESA Space Solutions Centre in Portugal identified Deimos Engenharia’s GNSS receiver as having exciting potential applications on Earth. Developed specifically for the Galileo GNSS system, it relies on radio signals to better determine a user’s position and time. As a result, the technology was shared across the ESA Technology Broker Network in 16 countries. 

Deimos Engenharia had been studying potential applications of this technology, including in unmanned aerial vehicles, for some time. “We wanted to make the most of the unique features of the Galileo system, which is why we decided to develop our own receiver. We needed to master the receiver technology and have full control at its deepest level to develop the product and integrate it in advanced navigation solutions,” remarks Deimos Engenharia Director Nuno Ávila. 

Around the same time, Brimatech, an ESA Technology Broker in Austrian, met an entrepreneur searching for high precision satellite-based positioning sensors for autonomous driving. 

“Within three weeks of meeting Accurision’s CEO Gunnar Fleisch at a conference, we had eight technology suggestions for him, pre-checked by our ESA network partners. That was impressive!” remembers Brimatech’s Andrea Kurz. 

From the proposed space technologies offered, it was the GNSS receiver from Deimos Engenharia that best suited the application.

From the proposed space technologies offered, it was the Portuguese GNSS receiver from Deimos Engenharia that best suited the application. "Accurision's product approach is to be 'as robust as possible, as accurate as required'," mentions Gunnar Fleisch, Co-founder and CEO of Accurision. 

Accurision is now using the Deimos solution to develop the GUIDANCE™ GNSS Sensor ASIC for autonomous driving. This takes advantage of one of the world’s most advanced civil GNSS signal, Galileo E5 AltBOC, to provide unparalleled robustness while achieving the required precision in dynamic rural and urban environments necessary for autonomous driving. It also features an integrated ionospheric delay estimation engine (IDEE), integrated interference detection and a mitigation engine (IDME) to further improve overall performance. 

Accurision’s key aims with the new sensor are robustness, integrity, accuracy and precision. GUIDANCE will be ready to support the upcoming Galileo E6 High Accuracy Service, which will be available free of charge from late this year. 

 

The complexity of brokering technology transfers 

Making this international cooperation happen involved considerable effort. IPN and Brimatech brokered the first meeting between the two parties and supported them to agree and sign a technology transfer agreement, enabling future downstream technical developments.  

The partnership between Deimos Engenharia and Accurision teams is a clear example of the power of ESA’s ‘behind the scenes’ network and how a united European approach to space is fundamental to fostering the economies and societies through space technology.

“Technology transfer is an elaborate activity,” explains Carlos Cerqueira, IPN’s Innovation Director. “Its cornerstone is the fit between technology and market requirements, but in the end what it takes is an excellent relationship with all parties, the ability to spot a need, find a matching offer and get the timing right. With Deimos, it was no different. It took time, but substantial economic impact is just about to happen.” 

The partnership between Deimos Engenharia and Accurision teams is a clear example of the power of ESA’s ‘behind the scenes’ network and how a united European approach to space is fundamental to fostering the economies and societies through space technology. In future there will be autonomous vehicles relying on Galileo’s GNSS via the GUIDANCE™ GNSS Sensor ASIC, based on a patent jointly owned by the two companies for their Galileo Code Sensor – all thanks to the far-sightedness and hard work of ESA Space Solutions partners network.  To further foster this technology transfer, Accurision received the support of the ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) in Austria, where it was incubated. “It is our mission to support ground-breaking business ideas, building on existing European high-quality space capacity,” says Martin Mössler, Managing Director of Science Park Graz, General Manager of ESA BIC Austria.  

 

 

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. Our programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from 50KEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from space technology transfer, early stage incubation programs, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects. 

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FATMAP – new features for leading outdoor platform

FATMAP allows Sunday afternoon strollers as well as hardened explorers to benefit from 3D maps, trail routes and local info. Now thanks to space data the app has additional live features such as snow-depth and real-time resort info. (Image credit: FATMAP)

Getting out in the fresh air is more ‘in’ than ever this year, and with FATMAP’s adventure platform, activities in the Great Outdoors have never been easier to plan. With the support of ESA Space Solutions, FATMAP have now added some crucial ‘live data’ enhanced features, which take the application to new heights. 

“Better, safer adventures”, FATMAP have boasted since they launched the world's most advanced 3D outdoor map. This adventure platform for web and mobile means hikers, skiers, mountain bikers and trail runners can plan the perfect route, equip themselves like a professional, and then record and share their adventures with the community. 

FATMAP helps the user get to know an area like a local and plan routes in detail with the most advanced 3D outdoor map  •	The user can create and share custom locations / waypoints •	 Locate themselves on the map at any time •	Use peak names, roads, footpaths, rivers and heaps of other map data to quickly orientate and navigate to the next objective  •	Use the map ‘Follow' mode to navigate trails while skiing, riding or hiking

“Whilst explorers of old needed extreme amounts of preparation or often simply strode blindly into the wilderness - at FATMAP we have brought together cutting-edge technologies and local experts to make adventures simpler and safer,” says Marcel Düe, Chief of Staff at FATMAP.

Now with the support of ESA Space Solutions, detailed and contextual live information has been added to the app. 

Live Lift and Piste status, Snow Coverage and WebCam 

“Having up-to-date data in the palm of your hand even if you don’t have Internet connectivity can make a critical difference in enjoying an exhilarating but safe adventure,” says Francesco Feliciani, Head of the Companies-Led Projects Section at ESA. “The team have made use of a range of satellite data to create new features including game-changing real-time snow conditions such as snow depth, fresh snow and snow forecasts as well as live resort status updates including which lifts and pistes are open or closed. 

“I myself am a ski enthusiast and use FATMAP, which has literally saved me a number of times from being stranded at the end of the day in some remote corner of a ski resort I was exploring with my friends.”

The app makes use of data from Earth observation satellites (such as radar-based and high-resolution imagery) to provide the rich digital terrain and surface models producing 3D images as well as the computational mapping overlays including gradient, aspect, flat zones and distance mapping. 

“Knowing in advance the type of terrain and conditions helps beginners as well as experienced individuals to plan – making adventures accessible to those who are not experts in reading traditional maps or in the local geography,” says Düe. “Webcams are an easy way to get a rough idea of current conditions”. 

The mobile platform allows users to preload the heaviest data chunks. This ensures that an adventurer who is already outdoors only has to download a small percentage of the overall dataset in order to have access to the most up-to-date information, displayed in a rich 3D context. 

Challenges and data engineering

Adding these live features was not without hurdles as the team had to obtain access to local data and then harmonise different data sets in coverage in order to update both the cycle and display. “Ultimately the aim was to be able to offer a consistent user experience based on inconsistent and sparse data. Thanks to ESA’s support we have achieved this,” says Düe. 

Future plans for the global FATMAP platform include the incorporation of more data sets with easier ways for users to contribute;  to be rolled out in 2021.  

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Your ideas in orbit! ‘Pressure Cooker’ workshop with international business students hotter than ever

The annual seminar organised between ESA Space Solutions, the Global Alliance in Management Education (CEMS) and the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) has proved as much of a hit as previous years; vaulting over any virtual challenges to provide a unique experience to MSc (BA) students. 

Students see their ideas taking off: “It was amazing what could be achieved in just a couple of days. ESA supported us all the way and certainly inspired many of us to go on an entrepreneurial journey after studying.” MA student, Kristina Wageck (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The 2020 seminar which kicked off this autumn first began 16 years ago, quickly earning its reputation as a ‘pressure cooker’ event owing to the intensity of the brainstorming sessions and out-of-the-box output. 

For one week, highly-motivated international business students from RSM/CEMS were given undiluted access to ‘top-notch’ experts and ESA coaching, with half of the group working directly with start-ups for a mutually beneficial and unique learning experience. Students were inspired and mentored to get ideas sizzling, get pitching, bring new perspectives to the start-ups and ultimately compete to produce winning business plans.

Technology transfer from space to Earth

Students were split between ‘Technology Transfer’ and ‘New Venture’ workshops. Bas-Jan Veldhoen, one of the veteran organisers explains: 

“For the Technology Transfer seminar we put students in the driving seat and challenge them to come up with an idea and incorporate space data and technology into the business plan,” says Veldhoen. “We’re bridging the gap between business minds of the students and the technological providers. It’s high-level, but it’s fun, it’s playful and it appeals to a lot of different disciplines that are keen to contribute. 

“The pace is high, a lot of pressure during the week to make something happen – to cook something!” Bas Jan Veldhoen, Rotterdam School of Management

Dr. Giuseppe Criaco who leads the New Venture side of the seminar says: “I reach out to start-ups and assign students to work for them as junior consultants, helping them addressing ongoing strategic challenges. Students have to write a consultancy report and deliver a presentation with recommendations on how the start-up can address their the specific challenges. This side of the seminar is more business-oriented as we work with real businesses. The assignments typically look at which new customer segments, markets or geographical areas the start-up should enter with its products or services.”

Refining a value proposition

“In this way young people learn how to refine their value proposition. They validate their ideas with a real market,” says Veldhoen. An integral part of the seminar for the tech transfer students is to validate the assumptions upon which they’ve based their value proposition, to ‘get out there’ and find real case users, real customers. 

And the last 16 years have shown that not only is the outside world keen to help students; but that ideas often travel further than the seminar… For example, one project that got follow-up was with Royal FloraHolland - a Dutch conglomerate of florists (one of the largest auction companies in the world) who were inspired by the students to look into the MELiSSA project (closed loop system in the ISS to reuse water) and how its technology could recycle flower waste and use it as fertilisers for florists.

For the students working with start-ups, it’s a key opportunity to gain experience with people at the forefront of their technology. “Students realise that their contribution has important implications for these firms, which is exciting. They come up with breakthrough ideas and we have often seen start-ups implementing their suggestions. It’s an important lesson in how you can create value for nascent businesses,” says Dr. Criaco. “We’ve even had students ending up working for a start-up incubated by a BIC!” 

Outreach and student alumni 

Niels Eldering, Head of Space Solutions at ESA has witnessed how effective the event is in creating a relationship between ESA and the commercial non-space marketplace, as well as actually validating business cases by connecting with young minds, ‘right now’. 

“We also reach out to other corporate partners of CEMS, because the students look around for partners – so students are the glue to put us together. Students also cherish the valuable lessons learned of the seminar and reach out to us years later when they are decision makers in industry.”

“Having young students engaged with space is really the way to integrate space into our society and economy. We are working together with the future of Europe.” Niels Eldering, Space Solutions, ESA

So what did the students think?

 “We learned that getting actual feedback from the target audience was one of the most important steps in setting up and validating a business.” Eliane de Meris

“It allowed me to achieve things that I previously would not have deemed feasible.” Hanna van Velzen 

“I’m now even more inspired than I had been before to found my own start-up. I want to thank everyone involved in this great week and, in particular, our amazing ESA coach, Gonzalo, who shared the very valuable piece of advice that: “The sky is NOT the limit!” Yasmin Bentler

It was the first time I had to deliver such a big project in such a short period of time but I had the opportunity to work with passionate high-tech entrepreneurs. The course helped strengthen my critical thinking skills.” Camille Audrain

 

In recent years, other CEMS academic partners have also been involved in similar engagements with ESA; in particular the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) who are organising the annual seminar with ESA and partners in Sweden.

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ESA and SBIC Noordwijk celebrate new 6-year incubation contract

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Netherlands Space Office have announced a 6-year extension to the contract for SBIC Noordwijk to manage the ESA Noordwijk Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC). The incubation programme for space-based businesses in the Netherlands will continue to be run by SBIC Noordwijk until at least 2026. 

ESA BIC Noordwijk was ESA’s first Business Incubation Centre. Established in 2003, the ESA BIC programme has helped over 120 start-ups in the Netherlands, and over 800 across Europe, to integrate the use of space technology into their businesses. The programme in the Netherlands has been managed by SBIC Noordwijk since 2011. 

ESA BIC Noordwijk is located on the Space Campus Noordwijk in the west of the Netherlands, alongside ESA’s ESTEC R&D centre and other space industry businesses.

Fostering innovation in the space industry 

Matthew Edwards, Business Incubation Officer, ESA Space Solutions, said: “We are very pleased to extend our activities with ESA BIC Noordwijk. By 2026, over 150 space-related start-ups in the Netherlands will have received support through ESA BIC Noordwijk and its partners. This is a fantastic number for a relatively small country and demonstrates the value added to the local and national economy by such programmes.” 

The extension of the contract will see SBIC Noordwijk managing the programme in the Netherlands for a minimum of 15 years in total. 

“We are delighted with the trust and support we get from both the Netherlands Space Office and ESA to continue the all-round support for space-based businesses in the Netherlands,” declared Martijn Leinweber, COO of SBIC Noordwijk. 

“With their help, we can maintain our reputation as the go-to place for start-ups and innovative companies, and be their guide in both the Dutch and international space communities.” 

“With that in mind, our next steps will be to show the greater impact of space business in general, to inspire those seeking a career as an entrepreneur in the world of space, and to create an even stronger Dutch space start-up community.” 

Create impact on Earth 

Established in 2003, ESA BIC Noordwijk was ESA’s first Business Incubation Centre. So far, the programme has helped over 120 start-ups in the Netherlands.

The ESA BIC programme is one of the many ways ESA and local space organisations (in this case, the Netherlands Space Office) have an impact on Earth. By creating businesses through technology transfer, by using an ESA patent, or working with any space-based technologies, such as Earth observation data or satellite navigation, numerous jobs – and an international network of innovative start-ups – have been, and continue to be created.

There are currently 21 ESA BICs in Europe, each managed by a country-specific third party to ensure local needs are met and local skills and experience are identified and fostered. For the Netherlands, SBIC Noordwijk offers businesses support for every stage of their entrepreneurial journey through business programmes, workshops and relevant events. Businesses incubated at ESA BIC Noordwijk benefit from its location on the Space Campus Noordwijk alongside ESA’s ESTEC R&D centre and many other key players from the space industry. 

SBIC Noordwijk offers support to entrepreneurs and space-related businesses in the Netherlands through business programmes and activities including workshops and relevant events.

Niels Eldering, Section Head at ESA Space Solutions, said: “The ESA BIC programme has, through the years, successfully enabled many technology transfers. With the continuation of the programme in Noordwijk, we can once again demonstrate what’s possible when you combine the worlds of space and entrepreneurship. A lot of innovative power on Earth is space based, and we need the world to see that.” 

"There's a massive potential in developing a wide array of new businesses with space technology and satellite data. The development of smallsats for IoT or Earth observation services for monitoring urban green areas are great recent examples of this. We have a lot of creative bright minds in our country who are able to develop new revenue models with this approach", says director of the Netherlands Space Office, Harm van de Wetering. "That's why we want to give start-ups with good ideas the opportunity to further develop their business plan."

 

 

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. Our programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from 50KEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from space technology transfer, early stage incubation programs, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Vaonis raises $2.5 million for affordable smart telescope

A graduate of ESA’s Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) in South France, Vaonis has raised over $2.5 million for its newly-announced hybrid between a smart telescope and a camera. Designed to be the world’s most compact consumer smart telescope and positioned at an entry-level price, Vespera is the start-up’s second commercial product and sees it bidding for a prominent position in the world of amateur astronomy.

Vespera is a smart telescope that works in collaboration with a smartphone or tablet to let users view stars, planets and galaxies. American astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts are among its fans. (Image credit: Vaonis).

During the current health crisis, sales of astronomical instruments have surged due to a combination of people spending more time at home, limitations on travel and a desire for a return to nature. Vaonis, a start-up that specialises in the production of astronomical instruments, has seen orders of its flagship telescope Stellina (Italian for ‘little star’) more than double since the beginning of the first national lockdowns early in 2020, along with similar growth in the number of photos shared by Stellina owners.

The company’s ambition is to revolutionise the world of amateur astronomy by making it accessible to all. Now it has announced its second product, Vespera, which is a miniaturised version of Stellina aimed at a wider audience. “The team at ESA BIC Sud France helped me to turn my idea, a smart consumer telescope/camera hybrid, into a real product that is now used all over the world by hundreds of space lovers. They helped us to finance its initial development and contributed to the geolocation technology that the smart telescope requires to operate properly”, says Cyril Dupuy, founder of Vaonis.

The Vespera telescope uses a smartphone or tablet as its ‘eyepiece’ and controller, letting users choose what they want to view via an app. It also offers educational content and personalised recommendations based on the user’s location and the astronomical calendar. (Image credit: Vaonis).

 

Small, smart and social

Weighing less than 5 kg and measuring 40x20x9 cm, Stellina's little brother Vespera combines high precision optics, electronics and mechanics, plus a patented autonomous image processing algorithm. It is designed to cater for newcomers to stargazing, thanks to its ease of use and mobile app. Once the telescope is set up, users can observe the night sky’s hidden gems, including galaxies and nebulae, on their smartphone screens and then share their photos on social media. 

In addition to being the smallest smart telescope in the world, Vespera is the only such instrument to offer a shared and interactive stargazing experience, with a multi-user mode that supports up to five users. 

 

 

Vaonis’s second telescope, Vespera, has been designed to be even more lightweight and portable than its predecessor, enabling users to easily use it away from home. (Image credit: Vaonis).

Fundraising for future finance

Today, Vaonis has 15 staff and expects a turnover of €1.5 million in 2020 – double that of 2019. Its famous fans include American astronauts Scott Kelly and Terry Virts.Vaonis was founded by Cyril Dupuy in 2016 and hosted at ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) South France for two years. Its initial product was Stellina, which was the first observation station to allow anyone to photograph celestial objects at the touch of a button. This won several awards, including a CES Innovation Award in 2018 and a Red Dot Design Award in 2019. In 2018, Stellina was selected for inclusion in New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s MOMA Design Store. In order to finance the production chain of its new creation, Vaonis opted to use the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform. This raised $2 559 952 from 2163 backers in October 2020, far exceeding its target of $1 million. Deliveries are expected during the Christmas holidays in late 2021.

 

 

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. Our programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from 50KEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from space technology transfer, early stage incubation programs, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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Space projects in Sub-Saharan Africa have impact on more than a dozen Sustainable Development Goals

ESA projects in Sub-Saharan Africa are demonstrating how humankind can benefit from space technology by showing observable impact on a wide range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Case studies show that space projects are having an observable impact on sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa (Image credit: Shutterstock).

Céline Dubron and Elia Montanari from ESA Space Solutions produced several case studies analysing projects which had turned global challenges into business opportunities – with statistically significant SDGs effects.  Here we take a closer look at two out of 17 of the ESA projects implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

CASE STUDY: Sway4Edu

Combining operational and human aspects from the start was key in improving learning processes, boosting the interest of teachers and children developing IT skills. It also facilitated the creation of virtual learning communities among schools in the network. Teachers who were initially apprehensive about using ICT gradually became enthusiastic supporters of e-learning, and were even awarded recognition for their creativity in producing e-based learning material. In order to support e-learning services and internet access in rural schools of developing countries  Sway4edu developed a satellite ICT (Information and Communication Technology) solution, with the necessary tools and methodology to integrate it into daily life. Schools quickly took ownership of the initiative, with the support of the local education authority. 

The application was implemented in South Africa and Mali (the treatment group). The control group was composed of Niger and Namibia – (chosen because they showed similar trends before implementation of the application).

The team found a significant impact on the SDG indicator in the countries receiving the application. 

SDGs Indicator 4.a.1: Proportion of schools with internet access for pedagogical purposes.

CASE STUDY: SatFinAfrica

SatFinAfrica is a project set up to provide reliable and secure financial services in remote/underserved areas in African emerging countries. It enables secure and reliable financial applications such as money transfers, via a satellite-based telecommunication platform. The application has been implemented in a large number of countries: Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia, Guinea, Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya. For statistical relevance, an equally large control group: Egypt, Algeria, Lesotho, Morocco, Mozambique, Comoros, Djibouti, Sudan, Congo was used. 

The data used for this case study was expressed as remittances, received as a percentage of GDP (remittances are funds transferred from migrants to their home country). Significant impact was observed: In the countries receiving this application, personal remittances increased by 0.1 % of GDP. 

SDGs Indicator 17.3.2: Volume of remittances as a proportion of total GDP. 

 

Conclusion

These case studies demonstrate a tangible impact – not only at a grassroots level but also on the SDGs, promoting long-term global sustainability. 

The methodology used for these case studies is explained more fully below. 

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. 

Figure 1: Examples of Randomised Controlled Trial to measure an impact

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Online Portugal Space Summer School Inspires New Entrepreneurs

ESA Space Solutions Portugal hosted the sixth Portugal Space Summer School in partnership with the Geophysics and Astronomic Observatory of the University of Coimbra on 8-11 September 2020. Despite being totally remote for the first time, the event, with its theme of the sun and space weather, was hugely successful and attracted more participants than ever before. 

During the initial session of the 2020 Portugal  Space Summer School, which was fully online, Instituto Pedro Nunes (IPN), which manages ESA BIC Portugal, introduced the event agenda to the participants, mentors and partner organisations.

The Portugal Space Summer School, organised by ESA Space Solutions Portugal, is a national scouting event that has become a regular calendar fixture among space events in Portugal. This year 42 participants, 18 mentors from 10 space companies and four business incubators, plus eight keynote speakers, contributed to the event’s success. Overall, almost 200 people have participated in the event since 2015. 

Promoting space to students, researchers and entrepreneurs

The Summer School is designed to attract students, researchers and entrepreneurs to explore space as a business enabler. Activities are planned with the aim of creating awareness about space opportunpities, sharing knowledge, promoting entrepreneurship and debating strategic and current themes with key people from the sector. 

Every participant is involved in a team, who work together on a joint business idea based on the use of space assets within the event’s specific challenges. Teams receive mentoring from space companies and incubated start-ups or from space-related business incubators in order to improve their business ideas and help them prepare their final pitch. 

This year, 40 of the participants came from cities across Portugal as well as elsewhere in the EU, while two were from Brazil. Their backgrounds were mainly technical and engineering, with many from aerospace and aeronautics disciplines, along with physics or other engineering fields (chemical, civil, electrotechnical, telecommunications, mechanics and IT). However, as seen in previous years, the event also attracted attendees from beyond the obvious space-related fields, with participants from medicine, geology, archaeology, marketing, communication, design, management and law. 

This year edition with the theme of the sun and space weather attracted more participants than ever before.

Although most participants were still students (at Bachelor, Masters and PhD levels), there were also some who were already working in space start-ups and others who were solo entrepreneurs aiming to create their own space start-ups. As a result, Portugal Space Summer School not only plays an important awareness-raising role, but is also a scouting tool for ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC) in Portugal. 

Enhancing learning through taking on real-life challenges 

The other two challenges were to develop a business based on space washing machines or to propose a business idea that could be submitted to ESA BIC Portugal. Eight teams worked on these five challenges.Due to the partnership with the Geophysics and Astronomic Observatory of the University of Coimbra, the Summer School this year had as its main theme the sun and space weather. Three out of five of the challenges of the business ideas competition were around this theme: mitigation of solar radiation effects; exploration of the potential of solar sails; and prevention of solar catastrophes. To support the teams in these challenges, a researcher from the Observatory gave a technical talk about solar activity and the Observatory staff were on hand to support the teams. 

Third place was awarded to the Sky-Tomatoes project, with a solution based on using real-time satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery combined with drones/UAV/SmallSats or light planes to monitor tomato plantations and give information about soil conditions and crops. 

Portugal Space Summer School participants learned more about ESA through a webinar with Cornelis Eldering, Head of ESA Space Solutions section, entitles ‘We all need more space’

In second place was SkyShield, a cosmetic cream enriched with selonomelanin designed to act as shield against harmful radiation from space for aviation crews, private jet owners and frequent passengers.

The winning team was Ad-Astra, who designed an eco-friendly washing machine that does not use water or aggressive chemical agents and consumes 70% less energy while quickly and effectively decontaminating clothes, which is particularly important in the context of the current pandemic. 

Understanding space opportunities by learning from leaders

In addition to the business ideas competition, during Portugal Space Summer School two webinars were live-streamed on social media channels. Luca Rossettini, the CEO and 

founder of D-Orbit, gave an inspiring keynote talk about his ‘journey to space’, which was followed by a presentation from Cornelis Eldering, Head of ESA Space Solutions section, about ESA and entrepreneurship.

Carlos Cerqueira, IPN’s Head of Innovation and ESA Space Solutions Portugal Coordinator, addressed the Portugal Space Summer School audience in the final session of the hugely successful Space Summer School, which attracted more attendees than ever before.

The Portugal Space Summer School 2020 had a very diverse agenda and range of activities, as always. The biggest challenge in 2020 was to organise it remotely, merging several online tools. Yet, possibly because of the opportunity to participate remotely, this year the Summer School enjoyed its biggest level of participation ever and the overall feedback was extremely positive. The final session of the event was dedicated to the pitch presentations and keynote speeches: one from Vera Pinto Gomes, Policy & Equality Coordinator from EU Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS), on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the space sector, and the other from Chiara Manfletti, former President of the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space, on the ‘Great challenges in space for Portugal’. 

“We are living in a new era with this pandemic and adapting to this paradigm is demanding. But our efforts are starting to have positive indicators. We shall keep adapting to better serve our national space ecosystem,” concludes Carlos Cerqueira, ESA Space Solutions Portugal Coordinator. It was four days full of space!

 

 

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. Our programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from 50KEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from space technology transfer, early stage incubation programs, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects. 

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Why children make the best entrepreneurs

The world needs entrepreneurs. Without them, our lives would be very different – imagine where we would be without people like Thomas Edison, Carl Benz and Steve Jobs! Yet many of the attributes of successful entrepreneurs, like curiosity and playfulness, are seen far more widely in children than in adults. 

 

Just like entrepreneurs, children are naturally curious – they’re fascinated with everything and will keep asking questions and pushing to find out more.

 

Why is that? Does that mean we are losing potential entrepreneurs somewhere along the road to adulthood? And what can we learn from this, both in the way we bring up children and how we support potential entrepreneurs as they enter the world of business?

Many of the features that distinguish entrepreneurs from the rest of us mirror the differences between children and adults. For a start, just like entrepreneurs, children are naturally curious – they’re fascinated with everything and won’t be fobbed off with a simple answer. Instead, they’ll keep asking questions and pushing to find out more. And they combine this love of exploration with fantasy that enables them to imagine novel ideas and solutions where adults typically do not. 

Unlike most adults, children are not obsessed with time and timespans and routine. They don’t rush through life completing everything in a linear fashion and they don’t put boundaries around what they can achieve by considering how long they have to complete it. When they’re absorbed in something creative, such as building a castle out of Lego or Minecraft, nothing else matters. And when they start a game, they don’t plan everything ahead – instead, they’re happy to simply see what happens. 

That’s because children don’t mind making mistakes. What they do fear is being made to feel bad for making mistakes through being chastised by parents or teachers. Instead, they want our trust and forgiveness. And when you give someone that, they will perform better next time.

 

There’s a saying that “The person who never makes a mistake will never make anything”. Children learn a lot from failure, whether it’s a house of wooden blocks toppling over or falling off their bicycle or skateboard. Ever wondered why kids are so quick at learning how to ski? It’s because they aren’t afraid to fail – they simply get up and try again, because they can see the exciting opportunity ahead.

“Kids are amazing! They connect curiosity and fantasy. We need to enable potential entrepreneurs to do this too – to see solutions where other people do not and to create products where others don’t expect something to emerge.” Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Innovation and Ventures Office, ESA.

This combination of innate curiosity, exploration and focussed pursuit of a dream is also what we find in entrepreneurs but few adults retain this from childhood. I believe that’s because we are trained out of this approach through the way we are taught at school and the way our exam systems work, which doesn’t teach us to seek out alternative paths or solutions. Although that changes at university, where students are encouraged to take a more creative approach, by then for many it is too late. Adults also tend to exploit rather than explore, in that they seek to make existing things quicker, faster and lighter. But without exploration alongside exploitation, nothing truly new emerges.

 

Kids are amazing! Everyone that has one knows this. I am father of twins, Lucas and Johannes and they remind me every day what connecting curiosity and fantasy means. We need to allow potential entrepreneurs to do this too – to see solutions where other people do not and to create products where others don’t expect something to emerge. I think this is something we all have inside us, but we need to find our own way to let it happen. In the meantime, we need to foster it in others – just as parents can encourage it in their children – whether they are in our own businesses or in the businesses we support through schemes such as incubation. 

Simply providing money is not enough. We also need to provide a nurturing environment that allows mistakes to happen, with space for creativity and exploration. This has always been our approach through ESA Space Solutions and our incubation programme, where we look at the people applying, not just at the solutions they are proposing to develop. There are no KPIs for creativity and curiosity, but in the same way as with children, entrepreneurs need to continue to be curious and creative, as this is where truly revolutionary new services and products will come from. 

Frank M. Salzgeber, Head of Innovation and Ventures Office, ESA

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. Our programme is designed to provide multiple entry points such as ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs), ESA Technology Broker Network, and ESA Business Applications programme. Funding typically ranges from 50KEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from space technology transfer, early stage incubation programs, Feasibility Studies to large-scale Demonstration Projects.

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