ESA Helps Start-ups Reach for the Stars

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PARIS (ESA PR) — Four entrepreneurial small companies have won the chance to learn from senior figures at ESA and satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space, following an ESA-backed competition.

ESA is boosting the commercialisation of space by helping entrepreneurs to gain access to large manufacturers and to share expertise.

Representatives from nine start-up companies pitched their space-based ideas to the manufacturer during a recent event. They received one-to-one expert feedback on becoming a partner, supplier or client to Thales Alenia Space.

The companies had all been nurtured in one of ESA’s 22 business incubation centres located in countries across Europe, where they received support and business advice to bring their ideas to market

Their visionary pitches ranged from innovative spacecraft propulsion to global water monitoring enabled by infrared-sensing microsatellites to avoid crop damage.

The four winners were today named as: Lumiphase, a Swiss-based start-up that is building optical communications chips for use in space; Magdrive, a UK-based start-up that is developing a thruster to send small satellites into low-Earth orbit; Porkchop, a Swedish-based start-up that is developing the infrastructure needed for an interplanetary economy; and Neuron Soundware, a Czech-based start-up that is developing innovative audio diagnostics for use in space.

Lukas Czornomaz of Lumiphase said: “ESA has helped us understand how to position ourselves in the European space industry. The pitching event gave us a better understanding of the visions of ESA and Thales Alenia Space, as well as connections to the relevant people. We will now engage with the teams and start an exciting collaboration.”

All nine companies at the event heard from Clarence Duflocq, Vice-President for Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, Innovation and New Business Initiatives at Thales Alenia Space, and Christophe Valorge, its Chief Technical Officer, as well as ESA’s Geraldine Naja, Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Procurement and Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications.

Clarence Duflocq said: “Working with start-ups has become one of Thales Alenia Space’s top priorities. I would like to thank ESA for organising with us such a stunning event, allowing us to meet promising European start-ups to identify our potential future partners.”

Christophe Valorge said: “Thales Alenia Space has leveraged on its longstanding legacy to address new markets such as Kinéis for the Internet of Things, together with agile start-ups such as Exotrail, SwissTo12, AIKO and many more. Cooperating with start-ups will accelerate innovation to enable future common successes for the European space ecosystem.”

Geraldine Naja said: “ESA is supporting start-ups to develop new technologies and business models, giving them access to a wide network of space partners and investors. At the same time, we at ESA are keen to learn from start-ups, particularly their fast innovation, with the aim of synergising our processes, technologies and partnership networks.”

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