International satellite service startups visit Taiwan's industry and academia as part of SMEA's TAcc+ program

Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: TAcc+

The Taiwan Accelerator Plus (TAcc+) program is supported by the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration (SMEA). The 2023 International SpaceTech Startup Supporting Program organized by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and TAcc+ aims to pair international SpaceTech startups with Taiwan's industries to promote collaborative innovation.

Submissions for the program were available from February 24 to April 30, 2023. Through collaborations with international partners such as Satcom Industry Association India (SIA-India), IIT Bombay SINE, SpaceSeed, and the European Space Resources Innovation Centre in Luxembourg (ESRIC), the program received submissions from 46 international SpaceTech startups. After two stages of reviews, 16 startups were selected as the final lineup.

These 16 companies are divided into four groups based on the products and services they offer. These groups are space infrastructure and microgravity applications, satellite services, satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing, and space mission operations. This article will cover four companies in the "satellite service" group.

GalaxEye Space

GalaxEye Space is an Indian company founded in 2021 by five Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) alumni. The team encompasses expertise from a variety of domains, including defense, aerospace, geospatial, and EVs.

GalaxEye's core offerings cover satellite imagery, processing, ML/DL analytics, and insights derived from in-house sensor tech. This includes a unique Earth observation (EO) data set that's harvested from its "Drishti Sensor," the world's first multi-sensor that combines synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and multi-spectral instrument (MSI) data.

The Drishti Sensor hosts a small satellite constellation that assures worldwide coverage within 12 hours and offers high-resolution and near-real-time imagery on-demand. The Drishti Sensor capitalizes on the complementary nature of SAR and optical, allowing the two to cover for each other's weaknesses. Applications of this data include crop growth monitoring, mineral deposit identification, urbanization monitoring, surface change detection, and more. This data captured can assist businesses and governments in making better and more informed decisions.

GalaxEye's competitive edge is rooted in the fact that it's the only company to fuse SAR and optical sensors onto a single satellite platform. Thus, it's able to generate a far more comprehensive data set. Moreover, it has a soon-to-be-patented innovation that ensures unmatched resolution for both optical and SAR.

GalaxEye was able to design, build, and fly a multi-sensor SAR+Optical imager on a drone, the first Asian company to do so. This is meant to act as a tech demonstration for when the technology is applied to satellites. The company's ambition is to unlock the value of EO data in sectors like insurance, utilities, agriculture, marine, and the public sector.

The team's Taiwan visit aims to foster connections with Taiwan's burgeoning Private Space industry and leverage Taiwan's robust semiconductor ecosystem to ensure a reliable supply of space components and services. Furthermore, Taiwan's unique landscape means that there are business opportunities for GalaxEye's satellite imagery technology and analytics solutions.

For instance, it has introduced its remote monitoring system GalaxEye Blue to Taiwan's aquaculture industry. Lead engineer Raageshver Sood said that their solution only needs one satellite to be able to offer extensive insight into the health of water bodies. He also mentioned that many Taiwanese companies have expressed great interest in remote sensing and may be willing to supply customized components. At the same time, a research unit at NCU has also expressed interest.

At the upcoming Taipei International Aerospace & Defense Industry Exhibition (TADTE), GalaxEye plans to showcase the SAR+Optical imager drone mentioned above.

Hikade Technologies

Hikade Technologies is a Czech company founded by Tomáš Hikade and Marek Melichar in 2022. Tomáš Hikade is the visionary behind the company's proposal, overseeing conceptual design, device production, and establishing business connections. Meanwhile, Marek Melichar brings his expertise in numerical calculations and simulations to validate the design. Besides these two founders, project manager and Senior R&D Technician Pavel Filip is a 20-year industry veteran who oversees project management, R&D engineering, and supply chain leadership.

Hikade's main product offering is a two-axis position device (gimbal) suitable for harsh stratospheric environments, where high-altitude platform stations (HAPS) operate. This gimbal supports a range of payloads, including transmitters and cameras.

With the gimbal being their own design and production, it allows them to perform quick changes to outer dimensions and weight to adapt to broad payload demands. It can become a tool to enhance data bandwidth, reduce signal latency, and improve coverage and observation capabilities.

Hikade's competitive edge is that there are no gimbals suited for stratospheric conditions in the existing market. The ones available are limited to ground or low-altitude applications such as UAVs and helicopters. No manufacturer is known to offer a gimbal for stratospheric conditions (15–25km above ground). While there are prominent industry players (e.g., Airbus) with the general knowledge and technology to develop such equipment, no commercially available product has been released so far.

The company boasts strong collaborations with leading HAPS manufacturers in the US. It has received multiple letters of intent and secured letters of commitment. They are also actively involved in several space projects that are primarily focused on space observation initiatives. One notable example is their involvement in the Solar Eclipse Observation Project.

For their trip to Taiwan, the team is particularly interested in R&D collaboration opportunities. Specifically, they are highly attracted to collaborating with TASA. While they certainly are interested in business cooperation and potential investors, the company's pre-seed status and a technology readiness level of 4 (tech validated in a lab) meant that at this stage, the company's primary focus will be R&D.

Head of business development David Nevřivý also stated that they hope to find suppliers in Taiwan too, as Taiwan is known for its manufacturing capabilities. As of now, the company is looking to sign a collaboration agreement with 5G mmWave solution provider TMYTEK.

At TADTE 2023, they plan to showcase their gimbal designed for stratospheric conditions. This device enables mounting optical devices like high-resolution cameras for Earth observation as well as data transmitters for things like telecommunication. The company expects to see interest in traffic management, agriculture, security, industry, and environmental study/protection.

Xovian Aerospace

Xovian Aerospace is an Indian startup founded by Ankit Bhateja and Raghav Sharma in 2019. The two founders previously built a space education technology startup and have worked on a satellite mission. The team is backed by former scientists of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with years of experience in satellite technology development.

Xovian is deploying a radio-based nanosatellite infrastructure to provide 24x7, real-time geospatial (GEOINT) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) data services. By capturing multiple radio frequencies through a single satellite platform and utilizing AI-driven data analysis, it's able to provide real-time insights and predictions to sectors like maritime, aviation, BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance), agriculture, and defense through a customizable, subscription-based API service platform.

Xovian's competitive edge over existing solutions is that it offers a comprehensive end-to-end solution that covers data acquisition to delivery. This allows for full control over quality, scale, and innovation cycles. Additionally, it's also cost-efficient and has low latency, higher accuracy, and the ability to capture multiple datasets using just a single platform. With every dollar spent Xovian can generate up to six times more datasets compared to conventional solutions.

The startup has gained traction with pilot customers in the maritime and aviation sectors. It is targeting the second quarter of 2024 for the launch of its first commercial space mission, followed by the launch of its API platform for pilot customers. Eyeing emerging markets in maritime and aviation, Xovian will deploy its B2B services for enterprise customers, gradually expanding its reach to other sectors.

For this trip, Xovian wants to tap into Taiwan's industrial expertise in electronics and radio frequency (RF) technologies. It's also seeking potential collaborations with Taiwan's academic institutions for R&D in satellite technologies.

Co-founder Ankit Bhateja visited several prominent Taiwanese companies. The first was Rapidtek Technologies, where they discussed the possibility of using off-the-shelf electronic components on satellites to achieve more cost-effective satellite solutions. Additionally, he also visited Aegiverse to discuss the potential use of Aegiverse's Fiber Optic Gyro Inertial Measurement Unit (FOG-IMU) on satellites.

It's worth noting that Xovian Aerospace is in discussions with several other companies to form partnerships and explore potential synergies in satellite technology development.

At TADTE 2023, Xovian Aerospace plans to showcase its key technology developments and future plans.


3IPK is a Slovakian company that currently employs 30 global team members and has a growing presence in Europe (France, Slovakia) and Asia (Taiwan, Indonesia). It is also the only startup in this program with headquarters in Taiwan. Co-founder Juraj Zamecnik has a background in aerospace engineering and executive management experience at Airbus Defense & Space.

3IPK refers to itself as a "product-centric blockchain company" that provides data security and validation applications for the aerospace industry. It closely collaborates with major players such as Thales Alenia, Airbus Defense & Space, the European Space Agency (ESA), and TASA. 3IPK's technology addresses bottlenecks in EO (Earth Observation) data, supply chain, and process management.

The team's competitive edge lies in its unique blockchain system that enables data verification in isolated product lifecycle management (PLM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. They have also partnered with Thales Alenia to co-develop an EO data validation platform for ESA's "Destination Earth" initiative, demonstrating their expertise in technology transfer across the aviation and space industries.

Other notable achievements include being the first blockchain company from Central and Eastern Europe to secure a contract with ESA, as well as being a part of technology innovation MOU signings between Slovakia and Taiwan.

During their visit to Taiwan, the team aims to create collaboration opportunities between their European partners and Taiwan. They also intend to tap into and leverage the expertise of the Taiwanese space industry, along with exploring co-investment opportunities with their current lead investor in Europe.

Ashley Reeves, 3IPK's Head of the APAC region, stated that their blockchain technology can prevent satellite data from being hacked during the distribution or reception process after the data is transmitted to the ground. For the semiconductor industry, 3IPK's solutions can help external suppliers connect to the supply chain systems without worrying about being hacked.

At TADTE 2023, 3IPK plans to showcase their co-developed EO data security project with Thales Alenia, expand discussions with their Taiwanese partners, and promote their solutions for Taiwan's ecosystem.

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Photo: TAcc+