How Do We Get More Space Entrepreneurs?

On May 22-23 the city of Tartu hosted 19th European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISP) - permanent forum for inter-parliamentary co-operation in space between the European national parliaments interested in space policy.

European Interparliamentary Space Conference Workshop 2017

One of the major highlights of the EISP this year was a workshop organised for delegations from national parliaments and space agencies of EISC Full Members and Observers in hackathon-style.

"Hackathons are often sought after in Estonia. They are a big part of our startup culture. Hackathons enable people to design innovative solutions through passion, creativity, hard work and fun" - said Priit Salumaa, Co-Founder of Mooncascade, Garage48 Foundation and MobileMonday Estonia

The aim of the 1.5 hour long hackathon simulation was to give the participants an experience of space technology applications in various fields of work. Divided into 7 teams, worksop attendees occupied Tartu Observatory premises to tackle problems related to Earth observation, big data, tests in space technology labs, virtual observatories, space education and space policy.

Morning part of the workshop served to purpose to inspire the audience with Europe’s achievements in space. Matt Taylor, Rosetta Mission Scientist delivered a keynote on what it takes to land a space probe on the comet.

Matt’s session was followed by vice rector for academic affairs of the University of Tartu and initiator of the Estonian Satellite Project ESTCube Mart Noorma's overview of what skills do we need to master in 22 century skills. According to Noorma, 22 century skills include higher education, smart navigation, connectivity and communication. The slide is followed by the invitation for all participants to take part in the questionnaire. The idea was to collect the most emerging questions related to European space sector.

How do we get more space entrepreneurs?

This was the question, that got up voted the most.
“Our way to get more people working in space industry is to unite people from different backgrounds - researchers and business - under one roof and help them to bring their idea to market.” - said Mart Noorma.

From Tartu Observatory the ESA BIC Estonia working group lead by Andrus Kurvits is moving to SPARK for Space Hackathon Estonia. Space hackathon is a focal point for space entrepreneurs, startups and teams interested in re­using space technology on Earth. At the 24-hours hackathon 6 dedicated teams worked on already existing or new projects with business and marketing development support by experts. The final projects were presented to parliamentarians attending the EISC workshop and the jury headed by Frank Salzgeber, Head of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office. Below is the list of teams participating in the hackathon:

  • Star tracker - star tracker that helps to determine the location of nano satellite in space.

  • Difrotec - measurement device and testing service for space optics.

  • Q-Mind - IT solution for machines growing food in space.

  • Space-it - mission control system software as a service.

  • Amungo logger - satellite navigation “black box” that reconstructs the dynamics of car accidents.

  • Crystal space - portable vacuum chamber cameras.

Space Hackathon Estonia - taking nano satellites to the next level

The 2 winning places were shared between Space-it and Crystal Space, with the latter getting the final prize of 1000 euros. Crystal Space is a Tartu-based company specialising on rapid designing and production of nanosatellite parts. They have developed payloads for satellites, including ESTCube-1, Aalto-1 and ESEO. At the hackathon they presented their brand new solution for satellite monitoring - portable vacuum chamber cameras.

“This victory definately validates our business idea of making a good use of the already developed nanosatellite camera in down on Earth applications. Winning the competition is a good motivator to continue working in that direction to get to new markets.” - commented Pätris Halapuu, co-founder of Crystal Space, and continued, “Next up we continue gathering feedback from the end users, who use vacuum chambers daily, and vacuum chamber manufacturers to fix the final requirements. One very important milestone for us is the ESA BIC that is expected to kickstart in Estonia later this year. That is exctly the place for us to be with this project to incubate and grow faster and bigger."