FIT grants a CHF 500,000 Growth Loan to Astrocast
Astrocast, a startup based in Ecublens, has just been awarded a CHF 500,000 Growth Loan from Vaud Canton’s Foundation for Technological Innovation (FIT). The loan will help the young firm ramp up its business development.
Founded at EPFL Innovation Park in 2014, Astrocast has developed satellites weighing less than five kilograms that can establish highly secure communications with any connected device on earth, in just a few minutes.
The firm has already launched two test satellites – in December 2018 and April 2019 – and plans to build a global network of nanosatellites providing telecommunications links for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. “Thanks to our advanced technology and our experience in making miniaturized satellites, we have been able to cut manufacturing and launch costs dramatically,” says Fabien Jordan, Astrocast’s founder & CEO. Jordan was a key engineer in the design of SwissCube – Switzerland’s first satellite, launched in 2009 – and holds extensive experience in space systems engineering. “Several niche markets have emerged since the 2000s alongside the miniaturization of satellite systems. By leveraging that trend and applying our communication technology to connected devices, we have opened up promising business development opportunities,” he says.
Astrocast’s technology employs a data protocol that the firm developed jointly with Airbus. “Our two-way communications system provides for much more efficient data transfer between satellites and devices on earth equipped with IoT-enabled chips. Because that streamlines network traffic, more devices can be connected,” says Jordan.
Astrocast has exclusive rights to use the patented protocol for the next five years. The company has already signed contracts with three clients in Europe, in the maritime, drinking-water distribution and automotive industries. “The big advantage of our technology is that it can establish secure connections in areas that cellular networks can’t reach, at a cost that’s on par with those of ground communication systems,” says Jordan.
“This FIT grant comes at a crucial time for our company and is part of an overall CHF 9 million fundraising round that we’ve just completed. The proceeds will help us deploy around a dozen satellites on two polar orbits, which new clients will be able to start using in the second half of 2020. We will also use the proceeds to shore up our 38-strong team with additional business development staff. Ours is a new market, but one that’s growing exponentially, so it’s vital that we thoroughly understand our clients’ needs so we can continue to enhance our systems,” says Jordan. Astrocast won the Lausanne Region Entrepreneur Awards (PERL) in April 2019 and is a pioneer in systems for managing space debris. Its satellites can be controlled and repositioned remotely and de-orbited if necessary.
Fabien Jordan, Astrocast founder & CEO | firstname.lastname@example.org |+41 78 815 99 52