Venture capital fund backs business opportunities from space

23 August 2010

Two start-up companies offering a communication handset for outdoor enthusiasts and a computer game to compete live with real racing drivers, both made possible thanks to space technology, are the first to receive funds from ESA’s new Open Sky Technologies Fund.

German TakWak GmbH is developing a three-in-one communication device integrating mobile phone, satellite navigation and walkie-talkie functions for outdoor enthusiasts enjoying active sports like hiking, skiing and kayaking. It combines three separate systems in one easy-to-use handset with special features for sport.


“Their unique multifunctional, dedicated outdoor sports device is based on cutting-edge technologies to provide a radical new user experience,” says Dr Bernd Geiger, Triangle Venture Capital Group.

“With its rugged design and unique features, TakWak responds perfectly to outdoor enthusiasts preferring dedicated devices to converged solutions such as a smart phone with integrated navigation features.”

Triangle manages the Open Sky Technologies Fund on behalf of ESA. This venture capital fund nurtures promising business opportunities arising from space technologies and satellite applications for terrestrial industries. The Fund and other venture-capital funds committed €2.5 million to TakWak.

Compete real time in real car races

iOpener game
iOpener game

Another start-up company backed by venture capital is Dutch–German iOpener Media, who are pioneering the next generation of online gaming.

iOpener allows gamers to compete in real time against cars in real races, by using ‘live’ satnav data.

"iOpener’s proposition goes far beyond racing,” remarks Uli Fricke, Triangle. “The virtual-world participants add another dimension to every real-world competition. Just imagine the increase in the target audience of traditional sports events. It is the missing link between the old and the new world.”

iOpener received €900.000 funding from the Open Sky Technologies Fund and other Triangle funds for its next development phases to develop the hardware for the racing cars and the tracks, and the launch worldwide of their gaming platform. During an ESA Investment Forum, iOpener had previously secured an initial funding commitment of €4.1 million from Triangle.

Scouting space tech business opportunities at ESA Investment Forum

Organised by ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office with Europe Unlimited and the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, and supported by IBAN, EBAN, KIS4SAT, NAVSAT and EC’s Enterprise Europe Network, the ESA Investment Forum in October will give investors an occasion to spot new interesting companies.

“The ESA Investment Forums are an attractive showcase for the commercial potential associated with space borne research and the commercialisation of space technologies and satellite applications in non-space markets,” says Geiger.

“We are amazed every time by the breadth and variety of the cases presented.”

The companies, many stemming from ESA’s Business Incubation Centres, are all using technologies from European space programmes or satellite services to create their innovative solutions.

William Stevens
William Stevens

“Innovation is the key to the future, and European space programmes have developed an infinite number of leading-edge technologies available to innovators and entrepreneurs,” says William Stevens, Managing Director of Europe-Unlimited.

“Technology transfer from aerospace can give Europe’s technology development and competitiveness a major boost.”

The ESA Investment Forum takes on place 5 October.
To register, visit 'ESA Investment Forum 2010 Milan'.

ESA Business Incubation Centres

ESA’s business incubation is one of the major initiatives of the Agency’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO). As part of its endeavour to encourage the transfer and commercialisation of space technologies, four Business Incubation Centres (BICs) have been set up in the Netherlands, Darmstadt and Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany, and near Rome in Italy. The centres support selected entrepreneurs with comprehensive commercial and technical assistance to help them start up businesses that use space technology in non-space industrial, scientific and commercial fields.

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office

The main mission of the TTPO is to facilitate the use of space technology and space systems for non-space applications and to demonstrate the benefit of the European space programme to European citizens. The office is responsible for defining the overall approach and strategy for the transfer of space technologies, including the incubation of start-up companies and their funding. For more information, please contact:

ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office
European Space Agency
Keplerlaan 1
2200 AG, Noordwijk ZH
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 565 6208

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