ExoLabs obtains new grants


ExoLabs enable businesses to better apply insights from Earth Observation (EO) data such as from satellite or drones. The ultimate goal of Exolabs business strategy is to launch subscription based services. Up to now the development has been financed by grants. Recently Innosuisse approved a project with a total budget of CHF870k.


In the context of climate change and the associated changes in environmental conditions, ExoLabs builds customized software solutions and provides unique data insights based on Earth Observation (EO). for our clients that deliver financial and operational advantages. The spin-off of the University Zurich currently offers access to unique EO data products via the common app stores (e.g. ExoSnow in the Apple app store and Google Play) and APIs, running financed pilot projects with companies from the insurance (e.g. SwissRe) and tourism sector (e.g. Outdooractive) as well as with research institutions (European Space Agency, Swiss Space Center). Furthermore, we develop software solutions for paying customers from the energy sector (Energie 360°) and for federal authorities, such as the Federal Office for Statistics.

From projects to subscriptions

Currently, an evolutionary step change is taking place in the EO domain from grant-to-grant-projects to a subscription-based service environment. This more entrepreneurial approach with nonlinear growth is the final goal of ExoLabs’ business strategy. Therefore, ExoLabs is initially aiming for grant projects to fund the development of subscription-based services. “ExoLabs’ vision is to transform from research funded projects to applied commercial services with long-term user contracts. In this context, our app ExoSnow for example is the B2C version of our COSMOS snow product line, where our B2B customers have access to different levels of snow data through a licensing model”, explains Reik Leiterer, CEO and Co-founder of Exolabs to Startupticker.

One important application field for ExoLabs is the measuring and prediction of snow. “Snow is an important component of the Earth's system, which covers about one-third of Earth’s land surface for some part of the year. Here in Switzerland everyone can relate to snow as White Gold from the mountains. In fact, snow has an important economic value for different sectors, including tourism, insurance and hydropower and risk management”, comments Reik Leiterer.

Within the Innosuisse “Deep Snow” - Project, the start-up together with the ETH EcoVision Lab aims at developing a novel snow mapping approach (covering snow cover, snow depth and snow water equivalent) centred on modern deep learning technology. Sparsely distributed snow data acquired during field surveys by WSL/SLF will be connected with dense, high-resolution remote sensing imagery to predict snow conditions at country-scale. On the technical side, much effort will go into the deep learning model. For this purpose, the team will invent an original Bayesian deep learning approach as well as try to integrate physics-constraints into the model. “Through Innosuisse's support, the necessary research needs can be met in order to bring a product to market that will far surpass existing products”, says the CEO. Furthermore, a network with the most important actors in this field (ETHZ, WSL/SLF, Outdooractive, MountaiNow) can be established within the framework of the project, which guarantees the resulting product a high visibility and also maximum credibility in terms of product quality.

The approval for the Innosuisse project is not the only good news. The start-up has also been selected for PARSEC, a European business accelerator supporting the creation of new Earth Observation (EO) based products and services with a focus on the emerging Food, Energy and Environment sectors. ExoLabs has already successfully completed phase 1 of the program winning CHF10k. By reaching the next round (call 2), in addition to the 10k financing and networking events, there is also a business boot camp lasting several days. In the next round, there will be the opportunity to receive up to 100k for the business ideas submitted.

(Stefan Kyora)