CeBIT2017_Twitter_MEME_Astornaut-v3.jpgThe aerospace industry is making satellite data accessible – and geospatial companies are lifting off!

Thomas Reiter literally knows what it feels like to look at things from a different point of view. The former astronaut spent almost one year in space. Reiter was assigned to different missions on the International Space Station (ISS) and Russian space station Mir, making him the most experienced European astronaut to date. He participated in various scientific experiments and also performed numerous spacewalks during his missions.

Asked what he could see with his naked eye from space, Reiter replied: “What you don’t recognize are borders. They simply don’t exist.”

No borders—this serves as the topmost maxim for many start-up companies today. The business environment to get your digital company started in the digital sector can be challenging, and it highly depends on the location your firm is based on. Of course your business idea has to be well thought out to challenge established companies on the market. But to “lift off” your digital company to the next level, entrepreneurs require two fundamental things: a lot of data and a value-added method to analyze it.

Without a critical amount of data, most of today’s big digital players wouldn’t be able to execute their business models successfully. Google wouldn’t have the possibility to offer tailored services for its users, Uber would not be the leading mobility application in the world and German company Datameer couldn’t offer its end-to-end big data analytics platform. You can continue this list with almost every company operating in the digital sphere.

Especially geographic data has become a valuable resource for disruptors nowadays: Drones, maps, remote controlling, navigation systems or beacons—geospatial companies have learned to successfully translate their data into innovative business ideas. As an example, mapping company HERE has turned out to be highly valuable for the car manufacturing industry, furthering development of their autonomous driving concepts focusing on HERE’s location-driven data solutions. It was acquired by Audi, BMW and Daimler in August 2015 for an estimated price of € 2.8 billion euros. 

Competition for data is now shifting more and more to outer space. As a partner of the European Space Agency’s Business Incubations Initiative, German business incubator CESAH (Centre for Satellitennavigation Hessen) supports technical development, realization and market implementation of new products and services of satellite navigation. One of its projects, FabSpace 2.0, aims at making universities open innovation centers for their region and improving their contribution to the socio-economic and environmental performance of societies offering Earth observation data.

As Interagency Coordinator and Advisor to the Director General at the European Space Agency, Thomas Reiter certainly knows how high the hurdles have been in the past decades to generate the kind of data from which we are benefiting in our everyday life. Reiter is also aware of the fact that start-up companies can profit from accessing satellite-based data.

This is why I’m happy to welcome Mr Reiter at our CeBIT booth on 21 March 2017 in Hanover to talk about his experiences in space. We will also announce, together with FabSpace 2.0, a start-up competition for new business models based on satellite data.

Let’s use digital technology to bring about a better world. The possibilities are there, so we have no excuses not to.  The pace of technological progress is relentless—customer expectations, competitor capabilities, industry standards continue to evolve rapidly. The digital world of the future promises to be very different from the one we inhabit today.


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