Space Future Business Weekend

19th - 20th October 2013

Nearly 80 delegates participated in the Space Future Business Weekend #Inventorthon event on 19-20 October 2013. The event attracted entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists, makers, hackers and mentors of all ages to work together to generate new ideas, processes, prototypes and businesses. Eleven challenges were worked on in all, including ‘Safe Driving Game', ‘Drone Scavenger Hunt' and ‘The Movement and Positional Accuracy of Tracking Fishing Vessels', with each team developing some exciting and innovative solutions.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said, "It was incredible to see the amount of innovation and new ideas that were generated throughout the event, giving the judges a hard task to identify the winning teams. I am always amazed at the imagination and technical expertise that is shown at these events, and I am positive that a number of the solutions created will be taken further and hopefully developed into viable commercial services. I would also like to thank Future Business for their support in the project management of the event and providing mentors to help the teams focus on the potential commercialisation of their solutions, as well as the sponsors."


The judging panel consisted of:

  • George Yates – Space Trade Magazine
  • Tim Sherwood – Chairman, Satellite Applications Catapult
  • Stuart Martin – CEO, Satellite Applications Catapult
  • Ian Tracey – STFC

Winning Teams

The winning teams and ideas were:

Most Innovative Solution: Team Game of Crops

The Game of Crops team decided to tackle the proposed challenge of “using gaming time to save lives”. Their aim for the weekend was to help provide a solution to the problem of uneven food distribution across the world. The solution was inspired by the success of Farmville. Could they create a game which would use Earth observation (EO) data to highlight optimal crop locations? The team provided an excellent businesses case that would suggest so! The game would be a fun way to analyse the EO data.

Best Entrepreneurial Solution: Team JellySpot

The oceans are seeing rising numbers of Jellyfish. Jellyfish can be found in many oceans, survive in most conditions, and have few natural predators. The increasing numbers are causing problems to various businesses across the globe. These problems range from damaging the nets of small fishing boats, to shutting down nuclear power plants! The team, known as JellySpot, proposed satellite image data to create an application that would alert of impending Jellyfish blooms. The early warning detection system would allow for businesses to prepare accordingly.

Best Pitch: Team Alibi

Team Alibi worked energetically and enthusiastically on a GPS hack which would see increased card transaction security. Did you know card fraud costs the UK £300m per year? They presented an excellent business case that would allow the bank to request both the location of your card, and your location, to help highlight potentially fraudulent activities.

Other challenges and solutions proposed at the event:

  • TeamBlood – They worked on coding the automated transportation of blood donations to and from hospitals and storage sites, using flight drones.
  • Urban Tapestry – Presented the business model and possible technology to use satellite data to improve the irrigation of farm land. 
  • Satsec – Highlighted the problem of interference of satellite communications, applications and data. They proposed a scoping exercise to discover the scale of the problem.
  • Idea Flow – This management tool that proposes a way of connecting people through shared ideas. This would connect like-minded people, ideas and tools to help boost innovation and the economy.
  • Road Sage – This application would use satellite navigation data to monitor new drivers. The data collected could be sold back to parents, insurance companies, or other interested parties.
  • Beep – The Beep Team said that sitting in traffic jams cost the UK economy £4.3billion a year. The team proposed that Earth observation data could be used to reduce congestion.
  • H2GO – This was the only team to tackle a hardware hack. They were showed the science and theory behind using steam to move satellites in space. The tiny thrusters were designed for use on cubesats.
  • DroneID – The second team to use drones were Drone ID. Their application of the drone would be to search for ships that were undetected. The software that they began to code would allow the drone to use pattern recognition to identify “hidden” ships.  

The Space Future Business Weekend Inventorthon was part of the Catapult's strategy to help the development of new ideas and solutions to grow the UK's space sector.


Partners and Sponsors


Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy, STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science.

The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation, has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

Future Business Pre Incubator

The Future Business Pre Incubator's objective is to commercialise the existing patent portfolios of multiple science-based institutions. Our vision is to transform our society and economy by liberating the under-exploited intellectual property of some of the world’s finest scientific institutions, marrying it with the human potential available and building vibrant businesses and social enterprises that create value for the participants and society as a whole. We run hackathon-style events to initiate new applications and businesses, and then nurture them through to solid formation by using a network of mentors and entrepreneurs.


The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA’s Business Incubation Centres (BIC) work to inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial companies, and provide technical expertise and business-development support. The ESA BIC in Harwell has specialist capabilities in innovation, exploration and instrumentation, as well as expertise in areas such as earth observation, astronomy, operations, data management, advanced electronics, detectors, optics and robotics. We will work with you to turn your idea into reality.

Primary Sponsor

Space Internship Network (SpIN)

Space Internship Network

The Space Internship Network is a programme coordinated by the University of Reading, introducing undergraduates to the range of employment opportunities within the Space Sector.  SpIN coordinates 8 week paid internships within a wide range of organisations, from companies building spacecraft and sensors to companies selling services using satellite data to provide information. SpIN interns can come from any department or discipline, as businesses in the sector need talented and enthusiastic employees in all areas – from engineering and science, to business and marketing.

2013 SpIN interns are amongst the brightest and best, and have demonstrated their commitment and enthusiasm, making real differences to the businesses they’ve been working in.

Secondary Sponsors

UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space. It provides funding for a range of programmes via programmes such as the National Space Technology Programme and FP7, and works closely with national and international academic, education and community partners.

Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board's objective is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. To support innovation, it works with businesses of every size from pre start-up and early stage businesses to large multi-nationals; with the research base; and with many public sector organisations.