Viridian Raven, the startup monitoring bark beetle infestations in forests using earth observation data, recently finished their incubation at the ESA-BIC Noordwijk program. One of the highlights in recent years was attending the Copernicus Masters competition in 2016, and eventually winning a challenge. We asked founders Wendy Mensink and Lisa Broekhuizen to share their experiences.

Why did you join the competition?

“We participated because it means a lot of exposure if you win. The prize money was amazing, but the professional attention that both Copernicus and ESA-BIC give to it is even more valuable. At the time (2016) our company was just two years old. Because of the caliber of this competition, we want to enter twice with Viridian Raven. For the overall prize we got to the finals, and we won the DLR Environment, Energy & Health Challenge.”

So…what did you do with the prize money?

“We won a 5000 euro prize reward – which we fully invested in product development of our online platform. Here we provide risk analyses via interactive maps. This way foresters can intervene early to save trees.”

Viridian Raven wins Copernicus Masters challenge 2016
Lisa Broekhuizen (l) and Wendy Mensink (r)

What did participating brought you and your company?


First of all, it gave us a lot of positive attention. There are still companies that congratulate us when they hear we won it, even if it’s three years ago. That says something about the weight of the Copernicus Masters. It’s a well known name! So it really has increased the positive reputation of our company. And it opened doors for us! And personally, to us, attending the ceremony was a great experience.”

Viridian Raven is just one startup profiting from the competition. Earlier we wrote about them as an example of a business using satellite technology, next to other companies that use space technology in ways you might not think of. In fact, its applications are closer to home than you think!