High hopes for the European Space Agency’s incubator in Latvia / Article / Eng.lsm.lv

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The commercialization science platform Commercialization Reactor and the Riga Technical University (RTU) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to set up the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Business Incubation Center in Riga. Nikolajs Adamovičs, director of the commercialization reactor, said on February 19.

“In this way we will create a platform that combines the experience of the commercialization reactor in commercializing scientific discoveries and the scientific and technological base of RTU. In this way we will also encourage the growth of the space industry and the development of businesses so that the Latvian and international community can benefit as much as possible, ”said Adamovičs.

According to him, the incubator will help attract additional funding for the development of startups, including from ESA.

It is planned that 5-10 space technology start-ups will join the ESA Business Incubation Center in Riga every year. In addition to training and available technologies and laboratories, companies can receive development funding of at least EUR 50,000 per year – 50% is provided by the ESA, and an additional 50% of the co-funding is drawn by the incubator – from state, municipal and other sources.

Nikolai Adamovich

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However, the establishment of the ESA Business Incubation Center in Riga will take at least a year, as several requirements must be met. First, Latvia as a country must join ESA’s ARTES program, second, it must attract co-funding sources and third, it must submit a formal application to ESA.

In this cooperation project, the commercialization reactor, under whose patronage Eventech, one of the most famous space companies in Latvia, was born and developed, will be the leading partner.

The RTU will make a significant contribution to the operation of the center and motivate scientists and students to participate in space technology start-ups, to provide technological and technical support as well as cooperation rooms, according to a press release.

“We see space technologies as pioneers of innovation – solutions designed for the space industry, encourage innovation in various sectors of the economy and make people’s daily lives easier. We hope that setting up the proposed incubator could also facilitate the development of technologies like this would make it possible to promote space and related industries and to benefit society, ”said Tālis Juhna, Vice Rector for Research at Riga Technical University.

Juhna added that RTU has research experience in the space field. For example, satellite production technologies are being developed that increase the safety of satellites and make it possible to reduce production and operating costs in future missions. RTU also has experience in organizing hackathons related to the space industry or the use of satellite data.

“By working with the Commercialization Reactor and combining our competencies in developing scientifically sound business ideas and innovations, we have the opportunity to build businesses with high added value in Latvia, to promote technological development and knowledge transfer,” said Juhna.

There are currently 20 such ESA Business Incubation Centers in Europe, including one in the Baltic States – in Tartu, Estonia. More than 180 start-ups are currently being developed in these business centers, of which over 700 have already been established.

“When we talk about space technology, we usually associate it with various missions to other planets or stars, which has no direct impact on people’s daily lives. However, the entrepreneurs working with ESA Business Incubation Centers have proven otherwise – space technologies solve problems here on earth and stimulate export, ”said Adamovičs.

For example, the ESA Business Incubation Center in Madrid is developing technologies that allow drones to be used for fire fighting, airport calibration and rail testing. Technologies developed to better see objects in space images also help people with visual impairments.

In the meantime, projects in connection with the ESA Business Incubation Center in Portugal have generated sales of more than EUR 11.5 million and created 30 start-ups and around 100 jobs. Space-based solutions create new products and services in the areas of transportation and logistics, healthcare, agriculture and the environment.

“There are many such examples. Science-based start-ups have a longer development path and initially require more financial support than start-ups based on IT solutions. After that, however, the benefits can be much greater and be wider and more positive The task is to use this start-up center specifically as a tool, as a springboard for Latvian scientists and entrepreneurs, ”said Adamovičs.

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