European Space Agency to support additional Czech start-ups with up to fifty thousand euros
World from Space, OctoGEO, Spacemanic and Skymaps – these are the four start-ups that succeeded in the last two calls of the ESA BIC Brno programme of the European Space Agency. These successful companies share a desire to find a way of using space technologies in daily life. Other companies now have a chance to follow in their footsteps. ESA BIC Brno has opened another round of the call in which start-ups can win up to 50 thousand euros for their projects. Companies can register for the programme until 27 September 2019 at www.jic.cz/esa-bic-brno.
Since 2003, the European Space Agency has supported over seven hundred start-ups in 17 European countries. They include a total of 21 companies supported through incubators in the Czech Republic. The Brno-based branch of ESA BIC was established a year ago, and since then it has supported four start-ups. “By 2021 we plan to involve five additional companies in the programme. Besides financial aid amounting to 50,000 euros, they will also be provided with consultation and advisory services. We’ll also help them with the search for strategic partners and possible investors,” says Markéta Filipenská of JIC, who is the ESA BIC Brno Project Manager.
“South Moravia is an ideal location for space start-ups. Here they can find a lot of opportunities for cooperation with science and research centres, the specialised institutes of Brno universities, not forgetting well-established companies and multinational corporations,” says Jan Vitula, Vice President of the South Moravian Region. The South Moravian Region and ESA BIC each fund the programme with an identical sum of 300 thousand euros. The Czech Republic’s ESA BIC network, to which the branch in Brno is a member, is operated by the agency CzechInvest.
How to use satellite data for the good of the humankind?
Two of the four companies that have already received support use freely available data from satellites in their business. Roman Bohovic’s and Jan Labohý’s successful start-up World from Space provides towns, regions and companies with comprehensible information from satellite data. It evaluates the impacts of new buildings on thermal comfort in towns, the quantity and distribution of vegetation, or air pollution trends. “By means of satellites, we monitor and quantify changes that are invisible to the human eye. For example, we help people who need to have continuous information about the intensity of vegetation drying or soil humidity,” says Jan Labohý, describing some of the capabilities of World from Space. He also mentions that the company’s participation on the ESA BIC programme helps as a reference in business negotiations. “Not every company can say that it’s cooperated with ESA BIC,” says Labohý.
The second start-up that has received support from ESA BIC Brno also uses European Space Agency data. OctoGEO has developed algorithms for colour toning satellite images as part of its MapTiler project. Last year the company was even presented with a “Space Oscar”, awarded to the project in the Copernicus Masters competition. MapTiler makes it possible to create seamless maps and software for processing enormous volumes of data. Experts from ESA BIC Brno helped the company streamline its internal processes and protect its intellectual property.
Two additional start-ups are just about to sign the agreement. Skymaps uses land surveying by pilotless planes to facilitate the accurate dosing of pesticides and nutrients according to the individual needs of plants. Slovakia’s Spacemanic has been developing small satellites called “cubesats”, on which experts from the Brno Observatory and Planetarium will be working together with the company. A turning point in the development of the company was the launch of the first Slovak satellite skCUBE, which has been in orbit since 2017.