UrbanZee is a startup focussed on measuring air quality of entire cities in detail, and helping people make decisions to optimise their health, such as which park to run in, or where to live in a city. In addition to using their own sensor, they also use government data and saw an opportunity to use data from satellites.
Space and related technologies are integral to our societies, and the European Space Agency not only develops these capabilities for Europe, but also ensure this technology benefits the citizens of Europe and the world. For instance, positioning technologies allows people to find their way in a city, and satellites provide weather information.
One highly successful business-related programme is the incubator programme organised within 20 of its Business Incubation Centres throughout Europe. Since its inception in 2003, more than 700 startups have been incubated, leading to a multitude of new services and thousands of jobs being created in Europe.
The Finnish Business Incubator Centre has been in operations since 2017, and is a collaboration between many local partners, including Business Finland, Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and Turku Business Region.
“When we first heard of ESA-BIC in 2018, we had not been aware of the potential of space data, including satellites measuring air pollutants”, explains UrbanZee’s CEO Aschwin van der Woude, “but in discussions with ESA-BIC representatives, it became clear that air quality related satellite data needed to be the corner-stone of our services”.
UrbanZee subsequently applied for the ESA-BIC programme, for which was initially rejected as the idea around the use of space data was underdeveloped. For that reason, UrbanZee joined AtmosHack in 2018 where it won the pitching competition and qualified for the Europe-wide 11-month long Copernicus accelerator programme during 2019. With these additional developments, UrbanZee applied again to the ESA-BIC programme in 2020, and succeeded.
“UrbanZee has certainly made clear progress since the first time they applied”, said Kimmo Isbjörnssund, ESA-BIC Finland’s manager, “we are excited to have them along with the other six participants in the fall 2020 programme”.
Now that UrbanZee is part of the ESA-BIC programme, they aim to integrate satellite data into its solutions with the help of experts in the ESA-BIC network, and launch a pilot in one major European city. “Being part of the ESA-BIC programme will help us further develop our capabilities and our business. It is exciting to be involved in space technologies”, concludes van der Woude.