Post and Hitec leave EarthLab, redeployed by Telespazio

The Earth Lab Luxembourg was to be the first European center for monitoring industrial and environmental risks. Capable, using data and artificial intelligence, of providing new solutions to insurers or the financial world, hence its arrival in Luxembourg, with the support of the Minister of the Economy at the time, Étienne Schneider (LSAP ), Post and Hitec.

Seven years and more than 6 million euros in debt later, for a turnover that reaches 500,000 euros annually in 2020 and 2021, five people continue to take particular care in the development of their Max-ICS platform. But the Luxembourgers left the adventure after having long kept the space start-up under financial infusion.

Instead of spending our time looking for capital, the shareholders allowed us to pursue development.

Thomas Friederich,&nbsp CEO,&nbsp EarthLab Luxembourg

“It was a strategy”, comments the CEO of the Luxembourg structure, Thomas Friederich. “Instead of spending our time seeking capital, shareholders have allowed us to continue development.” In total, according to our calculations from the financial reports, they injected nearly 500,000 euros in five years. An amount that is not so high in view of the promises.

No alignment of interests and restructuring

But when the initiator of this project, the Telespazio group (subsidiary of Thales Alenia Space and Leonardo), understood that there was not really an alignment of interests, and that the other shareholders did not seem very excited to recapitalize the company, the group decided to regain full control of the start-up. This summer, Hitec and Post sold their stakes for amounts on which no one seems to want to expand. “There was a financial risk”, recognizes the deputy general manager of Telespazio Group, Jean-Marc Gardin, from Toulouse.

“As a founding shareholder, Post has supported the anchoring of this innovative project in Luxembourg, which is perfectly in line with the ambitions to develop the weight of the space sector in our economy”, let the Luxembourg group know by email. The latter welcomes “the interesting developments in the processing of spatial data” and indicates that he has sold his shares “to allow the company to take a new strategic step”.

Thales Alenia Space announced in 2019 the creation of a Digital Factory in Luxembourg, and the EarthLab could join it to strengthen this skills center.

Jean-Marc Gardin,&nbsp deputy CEO,&nbsp Telespazio Group

This summer, as it had indicated at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris, the French group integrated the Luxembourg structure into a new entity, Benelux, which allows it to clear the debt. “We will obviously have to reinvest in the company to encourage the acceleration of its development, but the amount is under discussion,” explains Jean-Marc Gardin. “We have several strategic axes to consider: first, the potential of the platform can go far beyond insurance and finance. We see this with the first of our Earth Labs, in Aquitaine, which is playing an increasingly important role in the service of agriculture. Then, Thales Alenia Space announced in 2019 the creation of a Digital Factory in Luxembourg and the Earth Lab could join it to strengthen this center of skills.”

Announced in 2019, it was in 2021 that the French group confirmed the launch of this digital factory to promote “the development of highly innovative digital solutions for space products for telecommunications, observation and navigation. It will leverage big data, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity technologies to address the challenges of complex satellite systems, while striving for excellence in user experience.”

Doubling of turnover in 2023

Finally, says Jean-Marc Gardin, the Earth Lab Luxembourg could also develop commercial activities both for its solutions and for the solutions of the group, the interest being clear: certain areas require having expertise in the field before to sell advanced artificial intelligence solutions.

After having multiplied the turnover by ten during the period of the pandemic – Telespazio became the first customer of Earth Lab Luxembourg – Thomas Friederich is confident. “I hope that we will reach the million euros in turnover next year, while our data scientists continue to advance artificial intelligence to develop new vertical projects.”

In addition to insurance, which Max-ICS could enable to carry out an inventory more quickly after a disaster to speed up compensation, and add granularity to its insurance premiums, Earth Lab could also help anticipate tornadoes and other climatic disasters, and to carry out monitoring on Earth and in space, the subject of space debris being a key theme of the Luxembourg Space Agency.

“Our mastery of AI gives us a small lead, we must take advantage of it”, concludes the CEO of Earth Lab Luxembourg.

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Post and Hitec leave EarthLab, redeployed by Telespazio

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