ConstellR, startup from the ESA BIC Hessen & Baden-Württemberg, could prevail against a big number of competitors and reached a joint third place. Each startup presented their business proposals to delegates online at ESA’s Industrial Policy Committee meeting on 29 June. ConstellR’s idea is to offer a land surface temperature monitoring service based on a CubeSat constellation and Copernicus data. This way, agriculture shall become more efficient and greener.

“ESA announced us as one of the winners of the first-ever ESA Startup Competition and we can't put into words how much this recognition means to us. Countless working hours and unconditional support from our families and friends made us to one of the startups to be recognised by the institutions we initially set to cooperate with three years ago.”, write ConstellR on their LinkedIn page.

From left: Marius Bierdel, CTO, Dr. Max Gulde, CEO, Christian Williges, COO, Christian Mittermaier, CFO, Source: ConstellR

The four winning startups were selected from a total of 101 applicants. Over a period of two months they were judged on the team, business model, societal impact of the project and usefulness, and quality of the proposal. This process involved Member State Business Incubation Centres, ESA scientific, business and legal experts, and ESA’s Inspector General. All 22 Member State delegates voted unanimously on the final winners. Such was the quality of the entries that third place was shared by two startups, one of them ConstellR.

The winners will receive expert advice through a mentoring grant tailored to their specific needs. ESA also invites the winners to present at the Global Space Congress to be held in Abu Dhabi in May 2021.

With the first demonstrator in orbit next year, ConstellR in Germany will start building its thermal infrared CubeSat constellation which will complement data from the Copernicus programme to provide a high-resolution land surface temperature monitoring service. At 3% of the cost of traditional systems it will monitor the health of crops globally, daily, and on the level of a single field.

This system can help farmers increase crop yield while reducing water and fertiliser usage and supports governments as well as industries in recognising and preparing for the effects of environmental changes.

And what is the team’s dream? They want to become one of ESA's third-party missions. ConstellR’s attempt is to create the most valuable mission concept for the least amount of money. This reflects their unique selling point: “We designed everything to be as small and cost-effective as possible to work together with existing satellite infrastructure.” In 2017 they applied for the Copernicus Masters. Since then, things have gone off the roof. Let’s stay tuned for the next steps of this young and successful startup company.

To learn more about ConstellR, join the opening session of the virtual ESA Industry Space Days on Wednesday 16 September 2020, where the winners of the startup competition will introduce themselves and will be available for virtual appointments with industry and space agency representatives.
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