by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – Space Resources.lu
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s debut in space dates back to 1985 with the creation of the satellite communications company SES. Owing to a significant commitment by the Luxembourg Government, SES launched its first satellite in 1988 and has since become one of the largest satellite operators in the world. In 2005, Luxembourg became a member of the European Space Agency with the aim to further develop its dynamic space ecosystem that today consists of more than 35 companies covering different parts of the space value chain.
Luxembourg also has a long history in terrestrial mining, going back to the mid-19th century with the birth of a major industrial basin around iron ore. Today, Luxembourg’s ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steel producer. Space resources found on asteroids, the moon, and other celestial bodies hold large potential for future technological innovation, economic activity, and growth, with a promise of ecological and social benefits. In 2016, the Ministry of the Economy announced the SpaceResources.lu initiative with a vision to contribute to the peaceful exploration and sustainable utilization of space resources for the benefit of humankind. Luxembourg devised a complete strategy to position the country as a hub for commercial activities targeting the utilization of space resources. The “Luxembourg Prize” within the “New Ideas for Business Innovation” category of the Space Exploration Masters competition integrates perfectly well into the initiative, addressing several of its objectives.
The “Luxembourg Prize” aimed to discover innovative ideas and business cases complementing the Grand Duchy‘s growing portfolio of activities in space resources utilization. The challenge addressed enterprises, universities, non-university scientific institutions, startup-teams, consortia, and individuals of legal adult age from across the world willing to set-up a sustainable business and to create economic substance in Luxembourg by establishing and registering a Luxembourg-based company.
In order to identify critical innovations at an early stage and to speed-up the implementation of emerging business models, the Ministry of the Economy called for inspiring submissions all along the value chain of space resources (prospection, extraction, processing, utilization, distribution).
Proposals submitted by participants were assessed by an interdisciplinary jury as to their innovation and short to long-term market potential. Indeed, proposals should not only offer a long-term vision for space resources utilization, but also be able to generate an economic return in the short and medium-term, using their solution in existing space and terrestrial markets. The ranking was conducted based on the maturity of the application, its commercial benefits as well as added value in comparison to current solutions.
After the first round of evaluation, the ten best Teams had the opportunity to do an oral pitching to the jury by means of electronic communication. The five nominated finalists have then been invited to Luxembourg to a one-day workshop named “Lux Lab” for a face-to-face pitching session to the jury and subsequent input from the SpaceResources.lu team, and to discover Luxembourg and learn about its business environment.
2017 Prize Description
Within the frame of the “Luxembourg Prize”, the Grand Duchy offered two awards:
One award was designed to support a phase 0 / phase A study under the Luxembourg national space program (“LuxIMPULSE”) that is managed by ESA. The study is implemented through an ESA contract with the winner who will establish and register a Luxembourg-based company. The maximum value of the contract is EUR 400,000. After interaction with LuxIMPULSE, the winner prepares a complete proposal in Direct Negotiation with ESA. For the contract to be awarded, a successful proposal needs to be submitted.
The other Award was intended for projects that are ready for early-stage funding. This Award offers a crowdinvesting campaign with SpaceStarters worth EUR 30,000 of services to prepare the campaign for launch.
The Ministry of the Economy supports both award winners with incubating their companies in one of Luxembourg’s incubators. On top of that, one of the two winners was selected as the official winner of the “Luxembourg Prize” and is thus eligible for the “Excellence in Space Exploration – derived Business Innovation” overall prize of the Space Exploration Masters’ “New Ideas for Business Innovation” competition category.