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ESA welcomes Seraphim Space Camp start-ups

On 16th of October, ESA hosted a presentation & workshop session for the ten start-ups that are part of the Space Camp’s Second Accelerator programme. 

Seraphim Space Camp’s second cohort of start-ups at ECSAT – ESA’s facility in the UK. Picture credit: Claudia Mendzil


Backed by the world’s only SpaceTech Venture Fund, Seraphim Capital’s Space Camp programme is dedicated to the rapidly growing SpaceTech start-up sector. Following a first successful cohort, ten new start-ups were chosen for the nine-week intensive programme, to accelerate the commercial viability of their project and validate their technology readiness.

With a focus on preparing their final pitches, the companies spent last Tuesday visiting ESA and the Satellite Applications Catapult at Harwell Campus. The day was kicked off by Jason Maroothynaden, Business Broker at ESA, and was followed by talks from key speakers from ESA and UK Space Agency covering such topics as:   

  • ESA’s role in bringing space technology down to Earth; the current state of the Space Industry; future trends in space; ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES); and
  • How to collaborate with the UK Space Agency.

The day continued with 1:1 sessions where the start-ups got the chance to speak in-depth about how they might be able to work with, and be supported by, ESA and the UK Space Agency.

In the afternoon, the companies made their way across the campus to the Satellite Applications Catapult where they had the opportunity of seeing demonstrations of the kind of applications that the organisation supports, followed by further sessions delving into potential collaborations with the Catapult. 

What’s next? 

On 20th of November 2018, the Space Camp start-ups have been invited to Inmarsat’s Headquarters in London for their Investor Day, to mark the end of the nine-week programme. The pitching sessions will be a great opportunity to connect with a wider network of investors and corporate partners including ESA, Dentons, Rolls-Royce, Cyient, Inmarsat, Airbus, SSTL, Telespazio, UK Space Agency, Capital Enterprise and the Satellite Applications Catapult. 

If you are a Space Camp Partner, a potential investor or a member of the press and would like to register for the event, click here

About Seraphim Capital

Seraphim Space is a £70m venture fund launched in 2016 focused on the fusion of terrestrial technology and space applications. It is backed by smart capital from leading space companies, with support from ESA and the UK Space Agency.

The fund invests in both downstream & upstream opportunities, along with technologies that rely on satellite data such as drones and the Internet of Things, or which have potential space applications such as artificial intelligence, robotics and nanomaterials. 

About ESA Business Applications

As part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, ESA Business Applications empowers new commercial service developments through zero-equity funding and support to businesses, in the areas of technology, project management, partnership building and investment readiness.

Since the programme’s inception in 2008, ESA Business Applications has invested more than €200M in over 500 business ideas, addressing markets in industries worldwide. Funding typically ranges from 60kEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from early stage feasibility studies to large-scale demonstration projects. 

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ESA's 2nd Investor Forum takes place in Milan

Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA Business Applications with a panel of Investors
The European Space Agency’s commercial arm, ESA Business Applications, and ELITE,  business support and capital raising programme of the London Stock Exchange Group, have joined forces again for our 2nd Investor forum. This time we held the event in Milan at the historic location of Palazzo Mezzanotte - Borsa Italiana on October 5th 2018.
For this event, we selected ten of the most promising businesses within our portfolio to pitch to our group of fifteen investors. It is our aim to help these companies skyrocket their growth both during and after their mentoring by ESA Business Applications.
Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA Business Applications said: “A digital transformation is underway across the whole of society - and space based systems have become an integral part of this revolution. New commercial businesses are using these systems in an amazing variety of ways, creating a multitude of  opportunities for private investment growth. The European Space Agency supports the best of these businesses at an early stage and we welcome the opportunity to partner with ELITE, to help them reach their full potential in the market.”
Luca Peyrano, CEO, ELITE said: "We are proud to partner with ESA to support dynamic, highly innovative companies to accelerate their growth and to access capital. We were delighted to host the second Investor Forum in Milan with an impressive line-up of ambitious entrepreneurs presenting cutting edge solutions with limitless potential to scale. With interest in space exploration reaching new heights, it has never been more important for these companies to have access to appropriate funding. Today ELITE is proud to support over 900 companies from across 32 countries and 34 sectors."

About ESA Business Applications

At ESA Business Applications our mission is to prove that space is open for business and has the power to improve everyday life.
We aim to empower new commercial service developments. To do this we offer zero-equity funding and support to businesses, in the areas of technology, project management,  partnership building and investment readiness. Often businesses also benefit from the credibility of being associated with ESA, which can help to reassure investors and customers that their technology is sound and that their solutions have been tested in the field.  Our supported services target any sector where space delivers value (satellite navigation , earth observation imagery, satellite telecommunication, space weather, space technologies and other tools). Businesses can either apply to our periodically announced thematic opportunities, or submit a speculative application to develop a new solution for any market they are interested in.      
Since our programme’s inception in 2008, ESA Business Applications has invested more than €200M in over 500 business ideas, addressing markets in industries worldwide. Funding typically ranges from 60kEuro to 2MEuro and supports everything from early stage feasibility studies to large-scale demonstration projects.

Get in touch with us via email at

About the European Space Agency

ESA is an Inter-governmental organisation with 22 member states. Canada is an associate member and several other European countries have cooperation agreements. Whilst ESA only funds industry from member states, players from other countries can participate in projects at their own expense; and as boosting exports is a prime goal, many of the projects serve user communities in non-ESA countries.


ELITE offers businesses a full programme to help them grow, including education, business support and direct contact with Europe’s financial and advisory community. In the UK, Imperial College Business School helps deliver the programme. Management teams are guided on how best to fast-track their development and capital raising processes, how to access the most suitable funding for their needs, whether private equity, venture capital or the bond or equity markets, and given advice on building their profile and reach.
ELITE also allows its vibrant international advisor and investor community the opportunity to engage with a pool of high quality, dynamic companies and entrepreneurs, all of whom are open to the advice, opportunities and connections that the programme offers.
There are over 800 businesses from across 34 countries in the ELITE community. They are generating over €61 billion in combined revenues and employ over 290,000 across Europe and internationally.
For further information on the programme, companies and the full list of partners, please go to:
Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA Business Applications

Alexandru Gliga, CEO of Box2M
Steve Bennour, Co- Founder & COO of eOdyn
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Grant Helps European Enterprise Tackle Global Pests

Belgian company Avia-GIS NV, is about to scale up its commercial activities and introduce its award-winning VECMAP® pest control software to the European market.

A Public Health entomologist checks for Aedes mosquito breeding sites in an urban area in Guadeloupe;  part of a dengue prevention program coordinated using VECMAP. Photograph: Aiva-GIS NV

The success of VECMAP®, developed with the support of ESA’s Business Applications programme, has now secured the company an ‘SME Instrument’ grant. The 1.6 million grant represents a real boost for the business, based near Antwerp, which looks set to become a global commercial market leader.

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 per cent of all diseases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The VECMAP® software suite, winner of three innovation awards, is radically changing the way in which this problem is tackled. Vectors are the factors that transmit the infectious disease from one organism to another. In humans typical vectors are mosquitoes or ticks; resulting in malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and even plague. 

Vector-borne plant and animal diseases can devastate agricultural productivity and compromise ecosystems globally. As a public health issue they cause more than one million deaths annually of which over 600,000 are due to malaria (WHO). 

What’s worse is that vector-borne diseases are on the increase, now appearing in countries which were previously unaffected. This trend is a result of globalisation, increased interconnectivity and growing transport networks – with pests travelling the world in containers and aeroplanes providing the perfect way of carrying pathogens from place to place. As the risks spread, so do the substantial economic, ecological and public health implications. 

Traditional methods to monitor/control are resource-intensive, often using harsh chemicals in  ‘carpet bombing’ scenarios.  In 2014, however, the EU stipulated that member states should use proactive prevention, applying Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles that combine a variety of methods to attack the entire lifecycle of the pests. 

State-of-the-art proactive prevention

VECMAP® software is a ‘one-stop-shop’ enabling state-of-the-art proactive prevention. Earth Observation imagery is combined through statistical models to provide vector disease risk maps and other value added services which help to identify the main habitat of the pests. GNSS enabled smartphones provide geo-localised data to the VECMAP system – which can be used to position traps and other IoT devices as required. ‘Smart’ data-driven control measures then dramatically reduce the use of insecticides. 

Left image: A smartphone app used by field teams pinpoints pests and transfers data to a central database. Right image: Maps show the presence of pests; tracking them and the risks they pose. Photograph: Aiva-GIS NV

“ESA Business Applications offered us the unique opportunity necessary to reach our goal which is to develop and commercialise tools that bridge the gap between research and decision-making, ” says CEO of Avia-GIS, Guy Hendrickx.

The software is available for researchers and decision makers and the grant enables the development of a version for pest-control operators. It is aimed at 3,200 SME pest controllers in Europe, and will help them make the shift to IPM strategies.

Davide Coppola, European Space Agency says: “ESA Business Applications help stakeholders to address commercial and technical risks throughout the application development lifecycle. This  transforms promising concepts into applications that are ready to go to market. VECMAP® is an excellent example of how ESA can help businesses to develop innovative and profitable space-based services, that are ready for commercialisation at scale.”

About Avia-GIS

Avia-GIS was established in 2001 and as an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) has grown 17 per cent per year, steadily  building public authority trust. Avia-GIS employs 13 highly-specialised staff and has an annual turnover of 2M€. 


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Ascend XYZ flying high

Ascend XYZ completed AMMO Project in May 2017 as part of ESA Business Applications programme, since then Ascend XYZ has grown its customer base and revenue by 200%. Ascend XYZ provides innovative software solutions for airport safety management around the globe and it is powered by Space.



Aalborg Airport is the third largest airport in Denmark and managed lower bird strikes by 50% while gainfully protecting wildlife (Wildlife Recording App). They have been the first customer of Ascend XYZ during AMMO Project with. Airport Quality Manager Thomas Hugo Møller says in his blogpost: "By using data to understand wildlife behaviour and implementing new active measures Aalborg Airport (Denmark) has reduced bird strikes by one half in one year. Aalborg Airport is a growing civil and military airport in the northern part of Denmark. Situated close to the water, with large meadows and huge areas with flooded pastures in the immediate surroundings managing wildlife is a challenge. Add a rapidly growing Barnacle goose population and you have a problem.

So, what were we to do? 

We started by implementing a strict digital recording of all wildlife movements in the area. This lead to a better understanding of the bird behaviour. Due to the digital recording, we were able to map where and when our high-risk species were present, and to track their local migration patterns."

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South Africa implements Water Auditing Application to reduce irrigated water use

August 2018. The Department of Water and Sanitation of South Africa has signed a long-term contract with HydroNET and eLEAF to rollout a Water Auditing Application to support compliance monitoring of irrigated water use.

The recent droughts in South Africa have put an enormous pressure on the available water resources. 63% of the available water is used for irrigation. To regulate water use, a water licensing system has been introduced in the National Water Act of South Africa. Water resources managers have a major challenge to monitor compliance, since water meters are not available for most farms.  The South African Inkomati Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA), HydroNET and eLEAF have joined forces to design and develop the Water Auditing Application: a low-cost compliance monitoring solution to identify farms that use more water for irrigation than allowed. This information enables water managers to warn and raise awareness among farmers by showing them their water use compared to others.Since the implementation of the Water Auditing Application for the IUCMA, irrigated water use has been significantly reduced. Because of this success, the Department of Water and Sanitation has now decided to roll out the Water Auditing Application throughout South Africa.


The Water Auditing application is based on eLEAF’s PiMapping® technology to calculate the volume of water used per irrigated field. This volume is automatically compared with the permitted volumes, flagging non-compliance. For water resource managers the application offers easy access and insight into the irrigated water use per field, farm, catchment, district or any other management area. It highlights areas with excessive water use, supporting water managers to optimize their permit enforcement strategies. All this information is available via online dashboards through the HydroNET platform, an award-winning decision support system for water managers. The combination of eLEAF’s PiMapping technology and HydroNET Software as a Service (SAAS) solution ensures that technically speaking the Water Auditing application is available for implementation by the relevant authorities anywhere in the world.

The development of the Water Auditing Application has been supported by the ‘Business Applications’ programme of the European Space Agency (ESA) in the frame of the OWASIS Demonstration Project,  with the backing of  the Netherlands Space Agency (NSO). The Water Auditing Application makes use of Earth observation data to obtain the required precipitation forecasts, soil moisture contents and evapotranspiration information. It was presented at the “African Spatial Delight” session at the Stockholm Water Week on August 29.

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Meet Britain’s Willy Wonka powered by Space

Small-scale creators are vital to the UK's economy and some of Britain’s Willy Wonkas are concocting their recipes in London.

At Entocycle, black soldier flies are bred on spent grain from local breweries to turn them into a high-protein meal for salmon – a possible replacement for the far more land-intensive soya beans.

People might be surprised to learn that Entocycle is "powered by space", as it uses assets like robotic automation, big data analysis, life support systems and scheduling protocols that have all been derived from the space industry.

Growing ground

Entocycle is seeking to transform the $150 billion animal feed industry with an innovative technology that converts waste treatment costs into new revenue streams.

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Growthbusters: TCarta and the Bathymetry Data Portal

How can satellites be utilised to collect water depth data?


Who are TCarta?

To fully understand why we support TCarta and their vision, you need to know a little bit about who they are.

So, what do they do?

TCarta are a geographical information systems company, constantly working to improve geospatial data availability. They provide map data in places where it’s not currently available.

The company began with providing seafloor mapping data for marine applications. But, more recently, they offer onshore and offshore geospatial solutions. Therefore, it’s little wonder they’re a leading provider of Earth observation analysis services.

For TCarta, data is central to innovation.

The Measurement of Water Depth

While TCarta work in a number of different sectors, one of their key areas of focus is bathymetry.

Bathymetry is depth mapping of water, in oceans, seas or lakes. Unsurprisingly, this can be an extremely difficult task. However, it’s a necessary one.

How can collecting this data be made more efficient?

The Bathymetry Data Portal

The latest development and application of technology for TCarta is the creation of the Bathymetry Data Portal, which focuses on the coastal marine environment for the global market.

The portal collects all the bathymetry information in one place, allowing it to be easily obtained by those who need it.

Having all this information accessible in one portal is somewhat of a revolution, as it’s the first time this data has been available in this way.

This instant access is ground-breaking, and the data can be used across a wide spectrum of sectors:

  • Energy and renewables
  • Environment
  • Engineering and construction
  • Maritime
  • Energy
  • Government

These different sectors utilise this data in a number of ways. For example, tsunami modelling benefits from the more accurate and detailed data about shallow water areas.

How Does this Relate to Space?

So, what does any of this have to do with space?

You may assume collecting deep sea data requires a boat. However, satellite technology has made remote connection possible.

In terms of distance, you can’t get much further apart than the bottom of the sea floor and space. So, to some, it’s surprising that the data is derived this way.

But, distance isn’t a concern. Data is collected by taking a multispectral satellite image. This measures reflected energy within several specific sections of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Overcoming Challenges

Despite advancements in technology, global coverage remains a challenge.

However, TCarta have found a solution for this. Instead of trying to cover the globe, they only choose areas of highest value, which are suitable for producing this type of data.

How Have ESA-BA Helped?

The European Space Agency Business Applications have played a pivotal role in the creation of the Bathymetry Data Portal.

To create a sustainable business, you need support and funding. This is exactly what ESA-BA has provided, offering:

  • Co-equity funding
  • Technical and commercial guidance
  • Network and partners
  • Brand credibility

All of these factors combined have provided the necessary ingredients to make the Bathymetry Data Portal accessible to all.

How Can ESA-BA Help You?

We have worked with a number of innovative and ground-breaking businesses, and have many success stories as a result. TCarta is just one of these!

Our globally recognised innovation programme offers funding, support and credibility to your company.

This is available to any business which intends to use space to develop commercial services. From satellite navigation to space weather, we work with a broad spectrum of innovative ideas.

You can find out more about our funding opportunities here. Alternatively, subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with the latest technologies bringing us closer to the stars.

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3INSAT Delivers

3INSAT, an ESA Business Applications funded project led by Ansaldo STS in Italy, recently helped to run the worlds first long-haul automated cargo train.

The fully-loaded autonomous train carried 28,000 tonnes of ore over 280 km between the Tom Price mine and the port of Cape Lambert in Western Australia, with Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre more than 1,500 km away in Perth mointoring the three locamotives used to drive the train, using satellite capabilities.

Each of the three locamotives was equipped with an onboard module relaying the trains position, speed and direction of travel back to the Rio Tinto Operations Centre via using satellite communication technology. Public areas and crossings were also fitted with cameras and monitors to allow continual monitoring of this historic journey.

Rio Tinto is using the 3INSAT inspired technology to automate much of the acitivty on the 1,700km jounrey between mines and ports in the Pilbara region. More than 200 locamotives use this route with an average journey of 800km taking 40hrs from loading to unloading.

This journey, as the world's first long-haul cargo train to be automated, signals the start of a new era of automated long-haul cargo train networks, which suit the remote areas of Western Australia.

3InSat innovations contributed to the rollout of the European’s first satellite applications on train control systems generating over 100 M€ revenues, raising some 20 M€ in R&D investments and to gave birth to ERSAT – a joint initiative between Ansaldo STS and RFI for adopting satellite applications on the local and regional lines. 

An unprecedented collaboration between industry, researchers and space agencies has generated new jobs and is at the core of a roadmap to exploit satellite applications on daily railway operations, improving the safety and the quality of the services for millions of passengers travelling on trains.





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Earth Observation Challenge: The Three Winners

Sponsored by DigitalGlobe and the European Space Agency (ESA) Business Applications, the Earth Observation Challenge launched in April 2018, calling on developers, geoscientists, and innovative minds across Europe to submit tactical solutions using advanced geospatial technology for one of two challenges:

  1. Identifying water bodies or water changes
  2. Change characterization in urban areas

Participants received on demand access to the DigitalGlobe 18-year image library and ESA Sentinel-2 data via our cloud-based Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX), which empowered them to develop and run algorithms at scale.

We are excited to announce our three winners:

Reservoir Monitor – Global, timely, and accurate monitoring of water resources is an essential component to improve management in water-scarce regions. Gennadii Donchyts, a data scientist, created a solution based on a fusion of medium and high-resolution, multi-temporal satellite imagery that estimates high-frequency surface water area changes in any reservoir on Earth. The use of a discriminative-generative method allows accurate detection of surface water extent even in satellite imagery.

Urban.MonitorRapid growth – without data, facts and efforts to ensure resilience – is exposing cities around the world to huge risks as a result of change that has not been prepared for.. We are committed to accurately mapping urban change using combined high and very-high satellite imagery. A team consisting of Konstantinos Karantzalos, Maria Papadomanolaki, and Maria Vakalopoulou created a deep learning framework that trains, predicts, and detects naturally occurring and man-made objects and their change to better understand the scale, pace and impact to the surrounding environment anywhere in the world.

Topolytics – Three people from Topolytics, a data and analytics business, are making industrial and commercial waste materials visible, verifiable, and valuable via two solutions: WasteMap is a geospatially-enabled big data platform for managing, visualizing and analyzing waste material flows, which leverages timely Earth observation (EO) data. WasteTrack combines live data from sensors and other sources to verify the movement of inbound and outbound waste and raw materials. Together, WasteMap and WasteTrack will enable stakeholders in the waste industry to better understand and optimize their processes and generate better commercial, environmental and investment decisions by maximizing the value and utility of secondary raw materials.

This challenge was designed to empower data scientists, businesses, academia and start-ups to build solutions and transform EO imagery into meaningful, geospatial context for business growth and global development purposes with GBDX Notebooks – and each submission delivered a brilliant idea. Congratulations to all the finalists, and thank you to all our participants for your incredible work!


The winners receive a cash prize, 90 days access to GBDX Notebooks, and access to ESA’s incubation network and business development resources.

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