OneWeb names winners of 2021 Innovation Challenge

SAN FRANCISCO – IRT Saint Exupéry, Mbryonics, Morpheus Space, Oledcomm and R3-IoT were the winners of OneWeb’s 2021 Innovation Challenge, a campaign to designed to “rethink satellite connectivity” and establish new partnerships, according to London-based OneWeb.

OneWeb announced the winners July 1 during an online event tracking the launch of 36 broadband communications satellites on an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome.

In addition to the industry winners, OneWeb named three research organizations as Innovation Challenge winners: Munich-based Fraunhofer, Imperial College London and Digantara, an Indian space technology company.

OneWeb’s 2021 Innovation Challenge attracted more than 300 submissions from 19 countries in six weeks, Valery Gineste, OneWeb senior director of technologies, said during the broadcast.

Companies and research organizations shared ideas ranging from sustainable materials and efficient propulsion to new satellite payloads and spaceflight safety improvements.

It’s not yet clear what role the new companies will play in OneWeb’s campaign to establish a 648-satellite global broadband constellation. With the July 1 launch, OneWeb’s constellation grew to 256 satellites.

When OneWeb announced the Innovation Challenge in April, it said firms would “compete in the Industrial Partners category to be part of co-engineering a new generation of satellite, with the opportunity to supply components for OneWeb’s constellation.”

Winners alluded to their hopes for that partnership when sharing news of their victories.

“We will participate with R3 IoT Limited, Morpheus Space, Mbryonics and Oledcomm in the OneWeb adventure and will receive the opportunity to work on the OneWeb satellite program and drive the future of space communications,” France’s Institute of Technology Saint Exupéry posted July 5 on LinkedIn.

Mbyronics also heralded its victory on LinkedIn and described optical terminals and photonics the company based in Galway, Ireland, is offering OneWeb.

“We greatly look forward to this opportunity of working with OneWeb on their mission to bridge the digital divide,” Mybronics’ posted July 1.

In a news release, R3-IoT of Scotland said being named a OneWeb Industrial Partner validated its business model, technology and “the hard work and dedication of our talented team.”

R3-IoT “can provide intelligent data solutions that extend beyond connectivity,” the news release added. “We aim to unlock new opportunities in key industrial sectors across the globe.”

Morpheus President Istvan Lorincz said the company was excited and humbled to have been selected from a huge pool of space companies.

OneWeb never issued a list of 2021 Innovation Challenge competitors, but named 14 finalists including Curtiss-Wright, Fujitsu and Spire Global.

Morpheus executives declined to say exactly what the firm shared with OneWeb through the Innovation Challenge. The company is known, however, for producing miniature electric thrusters for small satellites.

“Sustainability is at the heart of the company,” Morpheus CEO Daniel Bock told SpaceNews. “We’re also addressing the problem of space traffic control and managing all these different assets in space.”

In addition to propulsion, Morpheus is offering customers “an entire ecosystem that will enable autonomous operation of constellations,” said David Kalinske, Morpheus chief revenue officer. “We are excited about providing the capability to satellite companies and spacecraft developers.”

Oledcomm, a French spinoff of Versailles University, advertises wireless communications called Light Fidelity or LiFi. “Our mission is to connect objects and people by transforming the 14 billion light points on the planet into a powerful and secure communication network,” according to Oledcomm’s LinkedIn page.

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