“We deliver answers from above” sounds like something you might read in a sci-fi novel. It is, however, the slogan and essence of a business idea developed by Sven Przywarra, alumnus of Technische Universtität Berlin (TU Berlin) and co-founder Daniel Seidel. Their goal: Improving life on Earth through the use of space technology. Their vision: To monitor every infrastructure network on Earth. Their concept: Analyzing satellite data to identify rail tracks or gas pipelines and to use these data to help companies make better business decisions.
As a first step, Przywarra and Seidel founded their start-up LiveEO at the beginning of 2017. In a second step, they analyzed satellite images and identified critical infrastructure points. For example: Wild vegetation can damage electricity cables, falling trees represent a danger for rail tracks and ground subsidence could result in burst pipelines. In the third step, the recording of current situations at critical points and the consolidation of data takes place automatically in the cloud. This enables risk models to be continuously improved with the help of a self-learning system based on "neural networks". “This allows us to reduce the damage caused by storms to rail tracks and other networks, but also to develop projections and assessments for insurance purposes and the finance industry through the use of artificial intelligence trained with historical data,” says Przywarra. The plan is also to use drones at some point so as to combine satellite and drone data.
Sounds like a science-fiction movie, right? Only it isn’t. In Deutsche Bahn’s Mindbox located in the S-Bahn railway arches at Jannowitzbrücke, Sven Przywarra and Daniel Seidel are researching this technology. They now have a 15-strong team consisting of aerospace engineers, geo experts and industrial engineers working closely with one another. Their headquarters are in the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CfE) at TU Berlin, which is where they developed their business from its initial idea through to its becoming fully operational.
Sven Przywarra studied Industrial Engineering and Management at TU Berlin and Daniel Seidel Aeronautical Engineering and Astronautics at RWTH Aachen. When the two met at an aeronautical and astronautics fair, it immediately became clear that they were on the same wavelength. It only took a few months from their first meeting until they came up with their first business idea.
Still studying for his bachelor´s at the time, Sven took their idea to the CfE who gave them their first office space and helped them submit an application for an EXIST start-up grant. The CfE also provided workshops on developing business plans and starting a business. “The support we got from the CfE was excellent,” says Sven, who completed his bachelor´s degree shortly after setting up LiveEO.
Since then, he has taken care of the business side of operations. He develops marketing structures, acquires new clients and takes care of operations. Daniel is responsible for the technical development of the business.
A fourth step followed: They applied successfully to Deutsche Bahn´s DB StartupXpress and were awarded funding of 25,000 euros as well as coaching, access to Deutsche Bahn’s areas of business and work spaces in the DB Mindbox. There is a real buzz of innovation here with all the different start-ups working on new ideas in the light-flooded rooms overlooking the Spree.
LiveEO now includes energy businesses among its clients. “Monitoring critical infrastructure networks such as electricity cables and gas pipes involves a great deal of time as well as high costs,” says Sven Przywarra. Businesses are very interested in commercial solutions for real-time Earth observations of large areas.
LiveEO is a real success story. In September 2018, they won the Start Alliance Pitch Contest at “Startupnight”, one of Europe´s biggest start-up events. The prize money enabled them to travel to New York to get feedback for their product from the American market. “In addition, the nationwide railway infrastructure is almost complete,” says Sven.
But these entrepreneurs are not finished yet. Their ambitious goal for the next five years is to be able to monitor every infrastructure network in the world.