SBIC Noordwijk in consortium to develop ESA’s BSGN Industry Accelerator Sustainable Agriculture & Food

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Commercialisation, SBIC News

Growing plants in space. Image: ESA

The effects of the climate crisis and overpopulation on our earth are putting the future of humankind at serious risk. Therefore, sustainable innovations are necessary. For agriculture and food businesses small and big, there now lies an opportunity in space to contribute to a better planet – and to create new business opportunities at the same time. The future of food on earth might be secured in space.

To accelerate the development of sustainable agriculture and food solutions in space, the European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a consortium the contract to develop the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Industry Accelerator for the Business in Space Growth Network (BSGN). This consortium is led by the Space Cooperative Europe (SCE) and is complemented by SBIC Noordwijk and German innovation consultant EurA.

Part of the BSGN network are two other accelerators: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing and Life Sciences, Biotech & Pharma.

Building bridges to space

The ultimate goal of the accelerator: to build a bridge from the non-space agriculture and agrifood sector to space. The focus in space will be on Low Earth Orbit (LEO), but also beyond – like in Lunar Orbit, or other applications that could make use of space exploration infrastructure when necessary and/or relevant. Think of commercially accessible services such as ICE Cubes, Bioreactor Express and Bartolomeo aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Members of the 3 BSGN accelerators and ESA during the kickoff meeting. Image: ESA

Martijn Leinweber, COO SBIC Noordwijk: “We are proud to be part of this consortium, which is creating a bridge from a non-space sector to space. It’s a great addition to the current programmes SBIC Noordwijk is offering regarding space related innovations. We are looking forward to support the next generation of agriculture and food projects who can benefit from all the Low Earth Orbit possibilities.”

Why space holds the answer

Space, and particularly Low Earth Orbit, offers a unique environment to conduct R&D as well as manufacturing for cultivation and plant growth. In conditions of weightlessness, also called microgravity, more stress resistant crops can be developed and help to improve vertical farming. Being exposed to the extreme conditions of space also delivers unique insights to plant biology, which can be used to combat plant diseases and improve overall plant health and tolerance to the effects of climate change – ultimately resulting in increased crop yields. In short: space paves the way to discoveries with the potential to change the agriculture and food industry. A change that is needed right now. 

BSGN AgriFood Community Platform

To grow the accelerator, the consortium has built a business platform where both existing and starting businesses can interactively communicate, cooperate and get access to finance. Workshops and various marketing efforts will stimulate the creation of new ideas, which will be evaluated and transformed into projects with high economic potential. There we will collect such projects into a portfolio and attract investment for it. In the first two years, the target is to collect a minimum of EUR 1M of external investment, which will be matched by ESA up to a maximum of EUR 5M.

Get in touch

To get in touch with us and other members of the BSGN Agriculture & Food accelerator, or to simply get more information about the business possibilities in LEO and/or Lunar Orbit: just send us a message.

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Industry Accelerator for the Business in Space Growth Network is carried out under a programme of and funded by the European Space Agency.

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