ESA BIC incubator has been helping #brnoregion startups grow for 5+years

12. December 2023
The European Space Agency's business incubator ESA BIC has been supporting Czech startups working with space technologies since 2016. Two years later, this opportunity was offered to emerging companies from the #brnoregion, thanks to the opening of a ESA BIC Brno branch by the innovation agency JIC. In Brno, it has already helped 16 projects develop their first prototype or show the way to market entry. Not surprisingly, this is one the examples of the implementation of a successful strategy to promote entrepreneurship, for which the South Moravian Region and the City of Brno have been awarded the title of European Entrepreneurial Region 2024.
ESA BIC incubator has been helping #brnoregion startups grow for 5+years

Among the awarded cities and regions supporting sustainable, resilient and digital growth, #brnoregion was also praised for increasing the number of dynamically growing start-ups. Companies focusing on space technology don't necessarily have to be rocket or satellite-related. It is also about using satellite data in various fields, such as agriculture, urban planning, the arts, aviation, fisheries or tourism. 

 

"We can divide the projects supported within the ESA BIC incubator into those that use space technologies on Earth and those that, on the contrary, go from Earth to space," says incubator coordinator Veronika Mašínová from the Brno JIC.

 
Otevření byznysového inkubátoru ESA BIC

Veronika accompanies representatives of space-themed projects from the region from the first contact with the programme - she consults with them on the application and guides them through the whole process. "Selected applicants are entitled to financial support of 50,000 euros. The JIC, with the financial support of the South Moravian Region, facilitates an incubation package that includes consulting and advisory services in the technological and entrepreneurial fields. Startups also have access to marketing support or assistance with finding partners and potential investors," the coordinator summarises the role of the JIC.

 

Successful incubated startups from the #brnoregion include:

 
  • GroundCom.Space is developing ground stations for satellite communication stations and a platform to enable their rental to space mission operators. 
  • Zaitra focuses on artificial intelligence for processing data from space on Earth and in orbit. 
  • Vrgineers has developed a VR solution for real-time visualisation. Train pilots, rocket or shuttle operators use their technology for training or satellite teleoperation. 
  • Maptiler enables integrating global digital maps into customer solutions such as rail navigation systems. 
  • Spacerace offers standardised electromechanical parts for satellites and their tests. It develops release actuators that can be used more than once in tests, thus significantly reducing their cost. 
  • Betrian has developed a navigation system that avoids collisions on the railway, and they are working on autonomous train control technologies, etc. 
  • Spacemanic produces low-cost cubesats. They have supplied components for the VZLUSAT-2 satellite or collaborated on the BDsat nanosatellite. The Slovakia-based startup relocated to Brno in 2019. It provides design, manufacturing and testing, integration, ground services and on-orbit measures.  
  • Entrant is a MUNI spin-off that has developed a stress measurement device and focuses its research on stress in demanding occupations or extreme conditions, such as in space. 
  • 3L Robotics has developed a helipad for drones on buildings. This technology should enable the delivery of parcels. 
  • FlyinDiamonds focuses on light shows made up of a swarm of drones. It is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to traditional fireworks displays. The company is developing its synchronised drone swarms, flight route planning software and subsequent control.
Drony FlyinDiamonds

How can ESA BIC help your startup?

Jiří Janoušek, one of the three founders of FlyinDiamonds, evaluates the involvement in the ESA BIC business incubator and the support of JIC:

 

"Thanks to going through the ESA BIC incubator, we are in the first implementation phase with a new product, expanding our team and developing. The program has helped us with funding the drones and the company's founding. We have benefited from consulting and mentoring, created a business plan and navigated employment law issues. One of the biggest implementations to date was a drone show at the Rock for People festival, and other events include Světlo Valmez, Music from FEKT and various advertising collaborations."

"Our immediate goal is to expand the swarm from the current 100 to twice that number. In the long term, we then want to use our software know-how based on satellite reception used to organise drone swarms and transfer it to other industries, such as delivery or to focus on security-related industries."

 

At the Faculty of Electronics and Communication Technologies of the BUT, Jiří Janoušek is working in the Laboratory of Unmanned Aircraft and Sensors on broader research, including developing drone prototypes for the Czech army.

 
Firma FylinDiamonds z Brna

 

The ESA BIC is an international network of incubators in 20 European countries operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). In the Czech Republic, ESA opened its first incubator in 2016 in Prague, run by CzechInvest. In March 2018, JIC opened a branch in Brno. The call is open all year round.

 

The programme aims to support the competitiveness of the space industry in Europe by focusing on the commercialisation of projects. In the #brnoregion, a functional ecosystem including successful companies, connectors such as the Brno Space Cluster, an active community and education in the field (e.g. the Space Applications study programme at the Brno University of Technology) contributes to this.

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