Forbes covers Seraphim Space Camp's First Mission and achievements

17th September 2018

Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft Space Camp Startups

Monty Munford/ @montymunford / September 17, 2018

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Earth Rover

Earlier this summer in London, Seraphim Capital revealed the first six cohort members of Space Camp, the world’s ‘first dedicated accelerator for startups in the space tech industry’.

The inaugural cohort came from the UK, US and Denmark and Space Camp was run from the city of London. An ordinary accelerator by any other name, it still seemed an interesting addition to that process of business-building. A space race maybe.

Three months on and there has been a giant leap in Space Camp’s evolution. According to Space Camp, four out of six companies in the accelerator’s first cohort have already secured funding or in advanced discussions by end of the programme.

This funding is in excess of more than £1 million each by the end of the programme and Seraphim Capital is now in the final stages of selection for Space Camp Mission 2, with the nine-week programme that launches in London today and will expand on the original cohort size of six.

Seraphim Capital also says that Inmarsat will be joining Space Camp as a partner for Mission 2. That company is apparently ‘the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, offering an unrivalled portfolio of satellite communications solutions and value-added services to keep organizations and individuals connected at all times; on land, at sea, and in the air’.

With a mission statement as long as that, perhaps its representatives should keep their feet firmly on the ground, but the connection is an obvious, and interesting, one.

Aside from the successful four companies in the initial cohort, other highlights include more than 50 workshops, one-to-one’s, and training sessions as well as an investor pitch day, which had more than 70 attendees all looking to invest, with 45 venture capital funds present on the day.

Moreover, ten days ago Space Camp selected Earth Rover as the most progressive company to have been through the first Space Camp cohort. They are using space technology developed for Mars to solve a major Earth-bound problem – farming and food. 

Earth Rover says that farming remains largely stuck in analogue mode. Farmers (as they continually like to remind us) are bleeding cash and have to contend with up to two-thirds of their crop being wasted from farm-to-fork because methods are obsolete, blunt and expensive in that supply chain.

The company says its mission is to bridge the gap from today’s farming methods to the autonomous farm of the future.   Co-founded with one of the largest organic farms in the UK, Earth Rover is working with farmers who understand how new technology fits with existing systems will be key.

Earth Rover is developing the platform that brings together smart machines — robots, autonomous tractors, drones — orchestrating how these collaborate to deliver farming services such as data-capture, weeding and harvesting.

Earth Rover’s systems draw on space technology, which is particularly relevant for farming and while at first, this product sounds as if it was bypassing this planet’s agricultural problems to solving challenges on Mars or suchlike, it is using ‘space’ in a different way than many, including this write, would understand.
Making sense of this, James Bruegger at Seraphim Capital said:

"Earth Rover plays to several key themes that are driving the future prospects of the Space sector. It’s a great example of technology developed for Space – the Mars Rover – being exploited for an entirely different application – farming – back down on Earth.

It also showcases how all autonomous systems – be they farming robots, autonomous cars, or drones will ultimately rely very heavily on Space data; without GPS, these systems simply wouldn’t function."

While the notion of tech accelerators do sometimes seem hackneyed and a recurring, and sometimes irritating, a riff that never really changes rhythm from Silicon Valley, Space Camp seems to be offering something slightly different… and not just that long-winded ‘mission’ statement referred to earlier from Seraphim Capital.

It will be interesting to see how its companies get on in the future. Some will fly, but others may crash to earth, albeit that in the most unlikely of ways – viz Earth Rover.

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