The GSA-funded POSITION project has helped put Poland on the European GNSS map. After helping numerous start-ups take their GNSS-based products and services from idea to reality, they are now shifting their focus to marketization.
With a significant concentration of high-tech professionals and a large, untapped industrial sector, Poland has positioned itself as an attractive market for European GNSS (E-GNSS). To ensure the industry takes advantage of the many opportunities that Poland offers, the GSA-supported POSITION project has worked to increase E-GNSS market penetration and general awareness within the country. Specifically, the project focuses its efforts on start-ups and early stage investment opportunities for Polish companies looking to utilise E-GNSS technology.
“When the project launched, the penetration of E-GNSS in Poland was very low, and most investors and companies were generally unaware of the potential presented by E-GNSS applications,” says POSITION Project Coordinator Dr Krzysztof Kanawka. “Furthermore, start-ups and SMEs were unable to access capital within Poland, which limited their expansion and their ability to implement new technology – including E-GNSS.”
Poland has started up
Thanks to the numerous networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors organised by the project over the last several years, this is now all starting to change. The transition can be seen in the number of successful start-ups that have come out of the project. For example, Aerobits, the winner of the 2016 Galileo Masters Poland Prize, developed an integrated technology that facilitates safe and shared airspace use by both manned aircraft and drones. Its ability to both receive and decode functions for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) and GNSS signals makes it possible to identify all manned aircraft within the direct vicinity of a given UAV.
ChipCraft, another POSITION-supported start-up, is a single-chip dual frequency solution for precise positioning. The company says that their inspiration came from seeing many applications requiring precision better than one metre and reliable positioning, but the cost and size of getting the levels required kept them out of the market. To fill this gap, ChipCraft provides a high-quality, dedicated, integrated system on a chip (SoC) for precise positioning. It sees applications in telemedicine and wearable electronics as its core market.
In the maritime sector, Navdec developed an autonomous ship as a means of avoiding at-sea collisions. As over 80% of at-sea collisions are the result of human error, the Navdec system takes the human factor out of the maritime navigation equation. Its navigation decision support system uses GNSS positioning, in combination with other technologies, to qualify encounter situations in accordance to collision regulations and provides the navigator with ready-to-use avoidance solutions.
Building on experience
These start-ups, along with other POSITION supported companies, are all at a critical stage in their development. They each have a marketable GNSS-enabled device or service in hand, now all they need is an additional round of funding in order to get these devices and services to market.
“We have used the experiences gained during the POSITION project as the foundation from which to launch a range of new activities in Poland, including the Space2ac acceleration programme,” says Kanawka. The accelerator was launched in the summer of 2016 with six teams from Europe, each active in various satellite data domains (incl. GNSS) and all working towards market entry and customer acquisition. In 2017 and 2018, Space3ac plans to turn its attention to linking large industry players with small technological entities, particularly in the field of intermodal transport.
Funded under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, the POSITION project is a collaboration between Polish venture capital fund Black Pearls Investments (BPI) and Munich-based consultancy SpaceTech Partners.
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