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Report on the ActInSpace Montpellier 2020 hackathon

Information updated on 14/12/20

The 4th edition of ActInSpace will take place on November 13-14. Dedicated to space applications, this hackathon was created by CNES in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Here’s a look back at the flagship event which went digital this year

ActInSpace 2020 à Montpellier

ActInSpace in 2020 in Montpellier

This fourth edition of the ActInSpace Hackathon, organized locally by Montpellier BIC and Aerospace Valley in partnership with Montpellier IEA, harvested a variety of local talents who will move on to promote and represent the Montpellier area during the national final to be held in early 2021.

ActInSpace is a major international competition, halfway between a startup weekend and hackathon. It was launched in 2014 as an initiative by the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) and organized in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). Their goal is to imagine the products and services of tomorrow leveraging space-related technologies and creating startups.

This year’s event attracted about 3,400 participants in 62 cities across 40 countries on 5 continents. Each city simultaneously organized its own event on November 13-14, 2020.

Participants were given 24 hours to imagine a business project relating to space technologies, and then present their work to the jury in the afternoon of Saturday, November 14. Exceptionally, this year’s event took place entirely online to respect social distancing rules made necessary by the COVID-19 crisis.

By combining responsiveness, self-achievement, and teamwork to face these challenges, ActInSpace both encourages and facilitates entrepreneurship, particularly for young people, while promoting space technologies for everyday use to benefit the public, jobs, and our planet.

The big winner of the international event will receive a gravity-free flight in a training airplane for European astronauts. Other winners will benefit from an opportunity for assistance creating a startup.

Montpellier’s competition winner

In Montpellier, 44 candidates grouped together in 9 teams to take on challenges related to highly diverse topics. The teams were all coached by CNES and CEA Teach experts as well as lawyers, innovative company creation specialists, entrepreneurs from a variety of fields, and more. They let their imaginations run wild to propose solutions for changing the world using space technologies, including ideas for protecting the oceans, biodiversity, anticipating crises, supporting farmers, protecting satellites from interstellar debris, preventing forest fires, etc.
  • The big winner: Aerobert, now scheduled to take off for the ActInSpace national final, with assistance from Montpellier BIC. The team came up with the idea for #GiveMeAHand, a haptic robotic arm that can be used to perform patient palpation during a remote doctor’s appointment, thus helping to provide a solution for areas where doctors are not readily available.
  • The second winner: Betteroad. The team imagined a software application to visualize road anomalies thanks to sensors installed on vehicles.
  • Jury Favorite Award: SwornToProtect, whose team imagined a tool whose mission is to protect strategic civilian and military satellites based on an intelligent net of nanosatellites.
Awards were also given to the winners by local sponsors: University of Montpellier, IAE, Van Allen Foundation, Pépite LR, Banque Populaire du Sud, Association Contact; and partners Getavocat, Sportihome, and Bigger Inside (startups at Montpellier BIC).

ActInSpace in numbers:

The ActInSpace competition was created by CNES in 2014 and has been organized in partnership with ESA since its second year. This year was Montpellier’s third year participating in the event.
  • 3 editions and 6 years in existence – 35 startups launched since the first event.
  • In 2018: 2,200 participants, with 70% students, 32 countries, and 54 cities around the world.
  • 510 projects presented, 80 challenges met, and 500 assisting professionals.
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