The first three startups to join ESA BIC Program

Today, the team from ESA BIC Switzerland announced the first batch of startups to join the program. Insolight, which develops solar cells that are twice as efficient as conventional products; Twingtec, developing twings that produces next generation wind energy; and Ligentec, developing frequency combs that increase the data capacity of fibre optic cables by a factor of 200.

Two weeks after receiving the ESA Award, members from the ETH Zürich together with the State Secretariat for Education and Research and Innovation (SERI) and ESA Switzerland, today launched ESA BIC program, a technology transfer programme from the ESA will offer targeted support to startups in the field of space technologies and applications. “It was a logical step for ETH Zurich to apply for the ESA BIC Switzerland programme, says Detlef Günther, ETH Vice President Research and Corporate Relations. “Switzerland has a lot to offer as a hotspot of research and innovation. ESA BIC will enable us to better promote activities in the field of space technologies and applications.”

Over 133 startups expressed their interest in the programme and only 6 were invited to submit a full proposal. These were assessed based on the criteria; background and experience of the team, business value of the idea and its relationship with the space industry and ease of implementation. Only there startups fulfilled the criteria and were selected for the first round of the Swiss ESA BIC programme. These include: ETH Spin offs Insolight and Twingtec, and EPFL Spin off Ligentec. SERI State Secretary Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner and Detlef Günther presented them today at Impact Hub Zurich.

In the first phase, the startups receive a total of €50,000 and can expect up to €450,000 in further support during the second phase, making it one of the most appealing programmes in Switzerland. The companies also benefit from individual coaching, networking activities and a Europe-wide network of industry and research contacts. In addition, they will gain access to ESA’s advanced technology as will benefit from ESA’s wide network of the ETH Zurich together with over 50 corporate and research partners. The startups will not be obliged to relocate, however they will participate in community programs organised by various Impact Hubs in Switzerland.

“We are delighted to be part of the ESA BIC program. The ESA team is highly experienced, which is why it is crucial for us to get feedback from them. Moreover, having access to their advanced technology and their network will help us to gain credibility, visibility as well as meet potential customers”, says Laurent Coulot, CEO of Insolight.

The first startups to join ESA BIC program are:

Insolight: Established in 2015, Insolight is developing solar panels with double efficiency compared to conventional silicon panels. Insolight’s technology called “planar optical micro-tracking”, consists of thin optical layers that can redirect sunlight coming from any direction towards the concentrator.

Twingtec: Incorporated in 2013, the startup is developing the next generation of wind energy technology systems for off-grid. The startup has developed a fully autonomous kite linked to a ground station that goes higher than traditional wind turbines. The ultra-lightweight kite flying figure eights over 100m is able to produce electricity for 45 Swiss households.

Ligentec: Founded in 2016 as a spin of EPFL, Ligentec is developing frequency combs that increase the data capacity of fibre optic cables by a factor of 200. With its silicon nitride chips Ligentec enables products based on integrated photonics for fabless companies and research institutions to be able to work with silicon nitride. This technology can be applied in coherent telecommunication, filters, supercontinuum generation, pulse generation, spectroscopy, sensing and microwave photonics.