Countdown to Launch: The Internet of Everywhere
In this article, I shall attempt to resume the key points evoked during the conference Countdown to Launch: the Internet of Everywhere by the various speakers. Yasrine Ibnyahya, programme manager at Inmarsat* animated discussion and ensured the running of the conference.
Nowadays, the development of worldwide access to Internet seems to be one of the greatest success stories of the 21st century. However, in fact, only one third of the global population is given the possibility to use this mean of communication. That is why Internet access represents one of the biggest challenge of today and is a key opportunity in the satellite market for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
To understand the challenge of the democratization of satellites’ utilisation, it is important to know the environment for which these are used.
First of all, satellites can be distinguished between 3 types of services: telecommunication, precise positioning and earth observations. Theses services could lead to multiple and diverse applications. Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples: Oil & Gas, Media, Banking and Finance, Aid & NGO, Government, Maritime etc.
Michele Franci, Chief Technical Officer at Inmarsat and José Achache, executive director of AP Swiss**, exposed their views for the evolution of new space technology.
What people think first when we start to speak about space technology entrepreneurship is high cost constraint. However, it is essential to focus on positive externalities to understand why satellites could be a potential profitable sector.
Firstly, a comparison between TV and satellite emission would proves that if we put confidence in TV sector as an incubator of profitable enterprises, satellite could be too. Indeed, even if the fixed costs are larger, thanks to a potentially greater target, returns to scale make the return on investment way better.
Secondly, if a list of numerous functions needed in a 500 000 000$ satellite was established, we would remark they are now all set in a 500$ iPhone. Knowing that, technological progress seems to be rather fast to reduce costs significantly in a near future.
Thirdly, a lot of incubators for space start-up are emerging and taking place over the world. Johann Richard is responsible for technology programms and space business incubation at the Swiss Space Office. He explains that space is now open to start-up: entrepreneurs interested in this sector should go to the Swiss Space Center at EPFL to benefit from the support and the skills of the scientific community to implement their projects.
Now that we know the potential for start-ups to be implanted in space sector, let’s see two currently active start-ups for examples of what innovative ideas can lead.
The first one is Modular Innobox, presented by Harsan Darwish, the innovation director.
Modular Innobox is a new way of thinking a business. The concept comes from the following report: most of poor countries which aim at becoming emerging countries, face a lack of money and infrastructures to create new businesses. Modular Innobox provides suitable packages to start a specific business, cheaper and better than local solutions, which can fit in a shipping container. Like we said before, most of people on the planet don’t have access to Internet. Rather than waiting for an implementation of a 4G system, Modular Innobox goal is to add an option of a Satellite connected Wi-Fi so every company can be connected wherever its location. It then opens the way to millions of possible customers. This system could be one of the greatest future solution to sustain improvement of poor countries.
Indeed, this can create a virtuous circle, an emergence of strong and growing start-ups in poor countries participating in the economic growth. Employment and people revenues may then grow so are their spending in consumption. In a second way, Internet access could provide useful information for the all near community of the business. Education could then be spread thanks to Internet means, human capital becoming better and better.
Modular Innobox presents any possible business in containers in a showroom. Entrepreneurs can go to the showroom and choose his container with his customisations.
By telling his preferences he gives feedback too. This help Modular Innobox to better understand the needs of his sector and to improve on this fitted branch container.
The second start-up is Endurosat, presented by Raycho Raychev, the founder.
Endurosat wants to create cheaper cube satellites in order to divide them into multiple rentable parts. Each part can provide, for a defined time, selected treated data for anyone in need. It aims to be a 24/7 supply with, for example, a smartphone application.
The greatest powerful application of this system concerns automatic farming. A farmer could command, on demand, precise weather forecast focusing on his fields or see directly a high quality picture of their crops with data analysis of needs in water, sun, etc. The best improvement would be to send a data analysis from the satellite to a space station and then bring an operational message to automatic machines on the floor. For example, a lack of water in the satellite analysis would run sprinklers automatically. Without human intervention needed, farmers’ activities would be easier, so they would be able to only focus on how to develop their businesses.
There are a lot of others applications of this business like tracking and monitoring (Ex: prisoners), pipelines and improvement of GPS utilisation because GSM doesn’t exist in the ocean.
Bringing space to small and medium companies is now possible, thanks to the means installed to reduce considerably the cost of satellite technology.
The space is a growth sector that will be at the heart of tomorrow’s stakes for revolutionizing the world! Now, it is your turn to take part in the leading of tomorrow’s world!
*Inmarsat: Inmarsat is an enterprise providing satellite communication, the World’s only provider of GMDSS-approved maritime satellite safety services: develop machine-to-machine application, provide API’s…
**AP Swiss: AP Swiss is an enterprise providing applications and services powered by satellites, Ambassador Platform of the European Space Agency’s ARTES Applications programmes in Switzerland.