Responsible Minds Against Environmental Crimes

The startup Xylene from the ESA BIC Hessen & Baden-Württemberg won the Galileo.Copernicus Synergy Challenge in 2019. They convinced the jury with their idea to boost trust in timber. The founders' intention was to revolutionise the way wood is offered on the market, based on a transparent documentation of the wood supply chain and the tracking of timber products. The combination of Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation helps them achieving a highly accurate and authentic record of Chain of Custody. In the near future, Xylene want to standardise their product in order to apply it to other raw material industries.
Do you have a great idea which uses Galileo and/or Copernicus technologies as well? Apply now for the Galileo Masters or the Copernicus Masters! cesah is partner of the Hesse Prizes.

Founders: Christopher Edwards, Guiseppe Benenati (right)

Origin of idea

Xylene was conceptualised as a supply chain traceability system, which allows importers and producers to trace their products from the source to the consumer with the help of immutable records through the Blockchain. As an initial case market had to be found, the timber industry was identified as a major beneficiary of such a solution. It is often unknown that still today around 30% of traded timber is of illegal sources. Many cases are detected of tropical timber being found in char coal sold in supermarkets. Lastly, consumer awareness, fuelled by demographic changes seen through demonstrations such as Friday’s for Future, adverse climate events such as a rise in temperatures, and unsustainable and illegal activities of high profile companies, e.g. Volkswagen, has made purchasing decisions increasingly sensitive to products with a proven sustainable and especially legal origin. This includes characteristics such as low carbon footprint, conflict free, sustainable and ethically sourced products.

The team began gathering partners that can support in the achievement of such a solution. While they found a first proof-of-concept partner with whom they started a collaboration in Paraguay to understand the timber purchasing dynamics and see operative facilities, they also managed to gain an understanding of what technologies apart from Blockchain can have a significant benefit to the system. For this, Giuseppe’s experience in the aerospace industry was pivotal. In order to trace products with the help of blockchain, the authenticity had to be guaranteed.

Xylene’s approach matured to incorporate Galileo for geo-location for following the products along their journey. Galileo is capable of a much greater accuracy compared to GPS. Furthermore, combining this with Copernicus Earth Observation data to validate locations and cross-check the output from a specific region. Through this space connection Xylene was able to enter the ESA network and be supported through the ESA Business Incubation Centre Hessen & Baden-Württemberg and relocate to Reutlingen. cesah in Darmstadt is managing company of the ESA BIC, supported by its partners IHK Reutlingen and Airbus Defense & Space in Friedrichshafen.

Added value for customers
Many benefits arouse through the connection of space technology and blockchain. Navigating products through complex supply chains can be a challenge. That’s why Xylene makes it easier to gain insight into required supplier documentation for business establishment and delivery documentation for process audits. Furthermore, allowing easier compliance report generation and submission to governmental agencies and auditing institutions.
How can customers be convinced of responsible products? By visualizing the supply chain, Xylene enhances the internal understanding of provenance and delivery status, while gaining insight into potentially critical risks. Communicating this story directly with customers and consumers will create an added value and a competitive advantage.

Putting an end to businesses being compared to rogue companies with irresponsible sourcing, Xylene allows companies to set themselves apart and provide the trustworthy information capable of proving due diligence efforts.

Xylene was beginning to take shape. Firstly, this innovative approach maps the supply chain to gain an overview of where suppliers are located and where material is sourced from and allows for decisions based on risk assessment. Secondly, physical products are labelled and tracked along the supply chain from the source to the consumer. Information is connected to the product; it is passed between stakeholders using blockchain and its authenticity is validated through satellite data and IoT-devices. Finally, being able to connect the journey of a product to the point of sales leads to added value of the final product. The consumer will also be able to connect to the origin of the product, support sustainable projects, balance its carbon footprint and/or recycle the raw materials present in its product at the end of its life.

Important milestones
In 2019 Xylene achieved a second-round participation at the MyGalileoApp challenge amongst the top 30 development teams applying Galileo to App development. Pursuing these goals Xylene was awarded the winner of the 2019 Galileo.Copernicus Synergy challenge of the Galileo Masters at the Space Week in Helsinki. With this the team is also supported through both the E-GNSS Accelerator and the Copernicus Accelerator for 2020.

Since March 2020 we work with the coffee producer Rainbow Coffee from Germany, which imports Ethiopian wild coffee and produces tasty roasts. Xylene ensures the tracking of the coffee beans from Ethiopia and enables consumers to see the origin through QR codes on the product.

Xylene was selected as Top 10 forest tech start-up to watch in 2020 from EU Startups and as Top 10 ESA start-up of 2020. Xylene is looking to increase the pilot projects in the industries coffee, cocoa, cotton, timber, and minerals. Towards the End of 2020 Xylene is looking for investment to grow the team for the standardisation of the product.

Impact of Galileo and Copernicus
The strength and core of Xylene lies on a highly accurate and authenticated proof of origin and chain of custody records of the raw materials travelling along the supply chain. Xylene combines Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation to achieve a highly accurate and authentic record of Chain of Custody. This is achieved in two steps, certified geo-referencing and timestamping of transaction data are collected through PNT information from Galileo, that are then put into context by Copernicus providing authenticity validation.

About the Team
The team consists of two founders who have complementing backgrounds. Christopher has a background in business administration and a master’s degree in supply chain management. His experience includes consulting and supply chain positions in industry. With his experience, he leads the business development and further brings his knowledge to the product development.

Giuseppe has a double master’s in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. He has managed multiple software design projects at multinational organisations in aerospace and the automotive industry. His knowledge defines the path of Xylene’s product development.

The most recent addition to the team is Florian Model. He studied Design in Germany and Scotland. His in-depth professional experience in user-experience, interface design, and system architecture complements the team to further accurately fine-tune and accelerate the development of Xylene.
Together they have explored the possibilities and challenges in timber, gemstones, coffee, and conflict minerals for the past year and bring together the skill set needed for developing a functioning business.

Inspired? Take your chance and apply now for the Galileo Masters Prize Hesse or the Copernicus Masters Prize Hesse!
Partner aus dem Netzwerk

Dr. Andreas


Dr. Udo Hermenau & Bianca Nöthling

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ESA BIC Management


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PR & Marketing


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