SpaceTEM aimed to develop the NewSpace industry in Estonia and Latvia and linked together Estonian and Latvian entrepreneurs, students, companies, policymakers, and research institutes in order to enlarge the resources available in the region and expand the pool of partners to collaborate in the space sector and increase its cross-border entrepreneurial activities. Project partners realized the great potential that the NewSpace movement can represent in the future, offering new opportunities for space enterprises and for private investments. The project increased entrepreneurial cross‐border cooperation in the space technology sector by linking together 275 potential Estonian and Latvian entrepreneurs through training, workshops, and events to facilitate the establishment of new businesses and initiatives in space technology, including at least 5 new enterprises with both Estonian and Latvian staff.
The project also aimed to create new connections through training, workshops, hackathons, internships as well as new projects through ESA contracts. Large attention was paid to the youth – the potential entrepreneurs of the future. 74 internships were provided within the project's lifetime.
In June 2017, students from the two countries and their supervisors met for the first time in Tartu Observatory. Internships generally lasted for 10 weeks and concluded with a conference allowing trainees to show the results of their experience. In September 2017, interns had the unique opportunity to participate in the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Riga. The event gathered more than 800 people from 40 countries. On that occasion, SpaceTEM students participated in the Early Career poster session and prepared posters summarising their summer experience. The winner of the Outstanding Student Poster Award was Anni Kasikov, a University of Tartu physics student, who did her SpaceTEM internship at the University of Latvia researching new carbon stars.
In 2018 and 2019, students were offered the chance to get hands-on experience in the space technology field, with a wider choice of private companies. Among others, internships took place in Milrem AS, SIA Mass Portal, KappaZeta OÜ, Heliocentric Technologies Latvia, Captain Corrosion OÜ, SIA SMW Wheels, AS HansaMatrix, Golbriak Space OÜ, PowerUp Fuel Cells OÜ, and SIA Emergn. Overall, interns could acquire new programming skills, work with scientists and engineers, participate in practical activities, such as the design of the new satellite and stratospheric balloon assemblies and the development of missile control, astronomical, and satellite data processing algorithms. By the end of the project, partners were able to involve a significant number of companies and had created an operational internship program.
Seminars on effective science and innovation communication were organized in October 2017 in Tartu and in April 2019 in Riga and as a live stream. The seminars provided scientists and engineers with useful guidelines to explain their research to the public and to provide journalists with tools necessary for communicating scientific information.
In addition, two space hackathons took place as part of the project. The first Garage48 SpaceTech hackathon was organized by Garage48, sTARTUp HUB, Heliocentric Technologies Latvia, and Green and Smart Technology Cluster and held in Riga in May 2018. The event focused on using satellite data for terrestrial solutions, promoting technology and space education, tackling the main obstacles encountered by space companies. In total 16 ideas emerged, from which 9 prototypes were realized. The winning team was Forest Numb, aiming to facilitate forest monitoring through Sentinel satellite imagery. They were followed by team WaterSat, a monitoring system to evaluate water in reservoirs thanks to satellite altimetry imagery, then VR Creative Space, using virtual reality to teach how to build satellites. Later that year during the start-up camp, teams worked on business ideas tackling issues such as space debris mitigation, repairing satellites in-orbit, and finding faults in electromechanical systems. In May 2019, another Garage48 SpaceTech took place at UT Tartu Observatory, where ten teams worked on their ideas. The first prize was awarded to the DIY satellite building kit Cuby. Cuby is an educational kit for youngsters, providing them with the basic programming skills in satellite development. The follow-up event Garage48 SpaceTech Bootcamp, an intensive 5-day course, was offered to the five teams with the highest business potential: Cuby; OM5G, to help telecom companies find the best locations for their services; PeatLog, allowing governments to map mining activities more easily; SatCraft, linking companies wishing to test their products in space with satellite providers; Stargazing, an app to identify the best stargazing locations in urban environments. The boot camp provided team-building activities, mentoring lessons, lectures, and interactions with customers. It aimed to make the product ready for the market, test customers’ reception, and search for possible investors.
SpaceTEM analyzed Estonian and Latvian policies and produced a policy report concentrating on Space Governance in Latvia and providing recommendations for strengthening Latvia’s space sector and forming a closer relationship with the European Space Agency (ESA), which Estonia is a full member of. Latvia has become an associated member of the European Space Agency (ESA) in the summer of 2020.
Space governance in Latvia: The current state, future challenges, and plan of actions, Policy report by the University of Tartu, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, 2018
SpaceTEM increased knowledge of enterprises on how to apply for ESA contracts and prepare successful cross-border bids by organizing two proposal writing workshops in both Estonia and Latvia.
SpaceTEM raised awareness of the benefits of the space tech sector and increasing the number of young people interested in entering STEM sciences and becoming space entrepreneurs among the general public through holding events, publishing news stories, and visiting schools to give interactive presentations about space and careers in the space sector. Hackathons and boot camps attracted many participants outside of the regular Estonian space community, who were introduced to the benefits of space technologies such as remote sensing data and positioning services. General awareness was also raised by writing news articles about SpaceTEM internship activities and events. SpaceTEM reached over 300 students during school visits.
Altogether 750 participants took part in 33 different project events and 47 enterprises received non-financial support, as they were consulted, invited as participants and collaborators to Space hackathons or other project events and activities, or acted as host companies for internships.
SpaceTEM: three years of experience of innovative cross-border initiatives, 2020
Author of the photo: Karl Erik Piiriisik