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international space hackathonActinSpace

Interview with Aurélie Baker, ESA BIC Sud France Director, organiser of the first 100% virtual edition of ActInSpace® on 13th and 14th November 2020.

The ESA BIC worn born from an initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) aimed at assisting in the establishment of Space industries across Europe, whether focused on the transfer of Space industry technologies to another field (agriculture, health, security, mobility,…) or dealing with the evaluation of data (observation of the Earth, satellite geolocation…). Created in 2013 and coordinated by the Aerospace Valley team with the support of the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) and the SAFE Knowledge Hub, the ESA BIC Sud France seeks to raise investment, provide technical expertise and offer a network to Start-ups that use technologies or data from the Space industry.

The ESA BIC Sud France is a consortium made up of 9 organisations from the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions (ESTIA Entreprendre, Technopole Bordeaux Technowest, CEEI Théogone, Nubbo, BIC Montpellier, Incubateur PACA-Est, Pégase Croissance, Gate 1 and Chambéry Grand Lac). Since it was established, the ESA BIC Sud France has provided support to around one hundred companies that are all less than 5 years old and are all connected to the Space industry, such as the TerraNis Company that was founded by David Hello. Events are regularly hosted in Toulouse to showcase the potential applications of technologies and services related to the Space industry in daily life, but also to encourage encounters with professional experts from the CNES or Airbus. One of the finest examples of how the usefulness of Space technologies and applications is being promoted is undoubtedly ActInSpace®.

ActInSpace® is an international competition created by the CNES in 2014, organised jointly alongside the ESA and operated by Aerospace Valley, which is held every two years. Open to teams of 2 to 5 people from anywhere in the world, and made up for the most part of students as well as engineers who have an entrepreneurial spirit, this hackathon has led to the establishment of 35 Start-ups. Participants have 24 hours to tackle a challenge set by the CNES and the ESA based on their patents or on data supplied by the event’s partners (Airbus, Continental…), dreaming up the products and services of tomorrow.

Despite the current health crisis, 68 cities from 42 countries ranging from Australia to Mexico took part this year; a record! The French final for ActInSpace® will be held in Toulouse in early 2021 and will showcase the very best French projects, including the winning entry, SG (France) from Toulouse, and will also select the 3 teams that go on to represent France at the international finals. At the heart of this competition lies a unique experience that will be awarded to the winning team: a flight in zero gravity aboard the Airbus A310 Zero G, the astronaut training aircraft!