The following gives an idea of the multitude of areas being addressed by the 15 start-up companies already in the European Space Incubator (ESI) programme.
MATHCOMP was the first company to join the ESI. Dutch entrepreneur Hugo Brunsveld van Hulten, a mathematician with a background in remote sensing, invented a new design for guiding High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) treatments by using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The project is named ActiveFU for Active Focused Ultrasound; its first application is for the treatment of breast cancer.
OMNIDEA is developing Energon, an energy storage system derived from ESA research and development in ESTEC's fuel cells laboratory. Entrepreneur Tiego Pardal, from Portugal, proposed the Energon idea, which is an environmentally safe and user-friendly system for hydrogen storage, based on complex hydrides, and which is recharged using water and electric power. Energon won the second round, out of 210 participants, in The New Venture 2004 Business Plan Contest.
J-CDS (Jaqar Concurrent Design Services) reduces design time by providing turnkey concurrent design solutions for multidisciplinary product design teams, through intense design assistance, a structured software platform and a clear methodology. J-CDS is a spin-off from some of the methodologies and techniques used in ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) for the design of satellites and space missions. The team behind this idea, entrepreneur Arne Matthyssen and system engineer Sam Genere, both from Belgium, is developing J-CDS as a general tool for non-space industries carrying out research and development activities for complex systems such as those used in shipbuilding, construction, and the oil and gas industries.
ACTIVE SPACE TECHNOLOGIES is developing the product Gathergy to create garments with autonomous active thermal control powered by solar energy. This project merges different space technologies and applications, namely spacesuits, solar cells, batteries, heating and cooling units, and thermal control. One of the three inventors, Bruno Carvahlo from Portugal, envisions the product being used in a new generation of garments for use in extreme environmental conditions such as those experienced in fire fighting, on oil platforms or when carrying out scientific experiments.
THRUVISION is a UK company developing compact passive imaging technology for airport security applications. It was ‘co-incubated’ at CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory with the support of JRA Technologies, a technology broker in ESA's Technology Transfer Network. ThruVision uses the TeraHertz camera technology developed for ESA's StarTiger 1 project. ESI developed a comprehensive market study for Thruvision enabling the company to secure a £750 000 venture capital investment from Circus Capital and Rainbow Seed Fund to accelerate their development. They also secured UK government funding for £600 000 security imaging trials at an airport in the UK in 2005. In 2004 the company won the UK Research Councils’ business plan competition and was presented with a £25 000 prize by UK Science and Technology Minister, Lord Sainsbury.