Startups in emerging markets take a leap into space

25 February 2016: As part of the third edition of the Seedstars World competition, designed to celebrate entrepreneurialism and technology in emerging markets, Seedstars, Inmarsat and AP-Swiss will be presenting a Space Prize at the competition finale, Seedstars Summit on 3 March in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This is the first time, Seedstars, the global organisation focused on impacting people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology has partnered with Inmarsat and AP-Swiss, the joint initiative of the European Space Agency and the Swiss Space Office to promote new satellite applications, with an aim of encouraging space technology startups in emerging markets.

Seven promising startups have been selected to compete for USD 50,000 grant:

  • EnduroSat (Sofia, Bulgaria) designs and engineers smart and affordable spacecraft for business applications and space exploration missions.
  • Evreka (Istanbul, Turkey) is a real time logistics solution for waste management companies that uses IoT and M2M technologies.
  • Juabar (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) is a network of solar electricity stores that provides electricity and connectivity services as well as distributes electronic products through its kiosks.
  • MapTasking (Panama, Panama) is a platform to send tasks to remote employees and track their progress.
  • Merchandiser (Beirut, Lebanon) is an analytics management solution that reduces significant loss in sales by automating the merchandising process.
  • Modular Innobox (Johannesburg, South Africa) designs and pilots modular social businesses inside shipping containers in rural and low income communities
  • SolarizEgypt (Cairo, Egypt) is a solar power solution that provides a balanced cost/value proposition to emerging markets.

Technical expertise

In addition to the grant, the winning startup will also benefit from both Inmarsat and AP-Swiss’s invaluable industry knowledge and technical expertise.

Throughout the Seedstars World tour, which began in April 2015, Inmarsat and AP-Swiss joined Seedstars regional teams in the Middle East, Africa and Asia to explore the potential of space and satellite technologies for areas where there is currently little or no internet connection.

“Our partnership was an excellent way to discover the lively startup ecosystems of emerging countries and to connect with talented people who have activities related to our industry,” explains José Achache, the Managing Director of AP-Swiss.

Remote communities

“Through the Space Prize, we want to show that space is now open to everyone, including startups.”

Inmarsat’s Chief Technology Officer, Michele Franci said: “Space technologies can deliver huge benefits to startups, particularly those in remote communities, however raising awareness of the opportunities is the challenge.

“Seedstars World has helped to connect us with people who have previously disregarded satellite communications as a viable option for their business plans or ideas.”

Innovative applications

The Seedstars Summit is also an opportunity to discuss the potential of the space industry.

A panel event featuring Michele Franci, José Achache and some startups from emerging markets, discussing “Countdown to Launch: The internet of Everywhere” will be held on 3 March 2016, providing insights into the possibilities for innovative applications of satellite technologies in the startup world.

“Today, over four billion people do not have access to the internet, which means four billion potential consumers, opportunities and connected citizens. In the next four years alone, nearly half a billion people will come online for the first time” explains Alisee de Tonnac, CEO of Seedstars World.

This is where space technologies will be of enormous value and where the search for the startups has focused.