There are many ways that lead to ESA BIC. Our new start-up Polariks’ road, for instance, ran past the Leiden Observatory and through a vineyard.
Max Wijsman and Dennis van der Wiel, the young co-founders of Polariks, are developing a cheap hyperspectral camera that can be used to check the quality of wine grapes. The catchy description of their product – the wine drone – has already drawn plenty of attention from start-up awards and the media.
Communitymanager Martijn Leinweber checks out the prototype // Van der Wiel & Wijsman toast to new beginnings
Although the founders do enjoy a good glass of wine and have gathered some knowledge about oenology by now (Van der Wiel is trained as a biologist), this was not what triggered the creation of the company. The company’s approach is very much technology-driven. “I really wanted to become an entrepreneur and I was looking into joining ESA BIC for a very long time already,” Van der Wiel recalls. Looking for a technology to bring to market, the couple researched space-grade optics (which is where Wijsman’s background in physics and astronomy came in handy) and came up with the idea to make hyperspectral imaging available for small-scale applications.
Wijsman tests out the camera // The first Polariks prototype
Hyperspectral cameras, which collect much more information from across the electromagnetic spectrum than traditional cameras, are already available for large, costly industrial applications. Polariks looks to develop a camera and information processing system that can be used for much smaller applications, such as quality control in vineyards, and which could easily be adapted to other crops, but also other applications areas such as health care.
Polariks will use its time in the ESA Business Incubation Program to further establish itself as a business, fine-tune its technology and find its first paying customers.