Innovation in the near future will be based on space technologies as we live in a satellite-enabled age. The satellites flying above us are not abstract agents of science but they provide us insight, collect, relay and distribute vast quantities of data to give us a detailed picture of what is really happening in our world and to help businesses tap into new and existing opportunities.

To support businesses to use space technology for market enhancement, Openet Technologies, a telecommunications company in Italy, have launched the SPARKme Acceleration Programme that is aimed at supporting the creation of two Technological Accelerators, located in Matera (Italy) and in Nairobi (Kenya). The ultimate goal is to stimulate the creation and growth of new markets of space/satellite-based services, addressing the real users’ need and triggering cross-fertilization processes by “infusing” other areas of business activities with the use of space technologies. This is supported by the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

The Acceleration Programme in Kenya is realized in partnership with the E4Impact Foundation, who since 2010, has been training and working with Kenyan entrepreneurs to build profitable and scalable businesses across various sectors. E4Impact Foundation was set as the Competence Centre in Nairobi that will support the acceleration programme in promoting the access to technologies, skills, good practices and know-how in the space field.

“The partnership with Openet Technologies came at the right time as we too were launching the E4Impact Accelerator in Nairobi that would support Kenyan businesses with entrepreneurship training, business coaching & mentoring, provision of milestone–based seed grants and access to regional and international markets. Through this partnership, the E4Impact Accelerator will have a competitive edge as we are able to facilitate the scientific and technological development, the technology transfer and capacity building actions in line with space technologies.” said Frank Cinque, General Manager of E4Impact Foundation.

The SPARKme is the Acceleration Programme dedicated to entrepreneurs, who intend to develop, support and accelerate their business using space technologies. There was a call of applications and over 250 applications were received. After a rigorous selection, 20 strong businesses were selected to participate in the SPARKme Project in Nairobi.
“We want to fully utilize the space technology to improve businesses and help entrepreneurs answer well to the final market. The 20 entrepreneurs already in the system will have a 12-month participation in the pilot stage of the programme. They will have the opportunity to learn and phase out constraints through the rigorous training and networking.” said Filomena Cuccarese, Managing Director of Openet Technologies.

As part of the programme, the Nairobi Space Days, held between 19th and 21st November 2018, brought together the most important Space Economy stakeholders, companies, partners and visionaries pushing the topic of space in Kenya, fostering interactions between the space and digital community and providing visibility to the rapidly changing space sector and its applications.
“SPARKme project will touch on precision farming through Earth Observation products like, Satellite and aerial imagery, Climate change detection, Weather prediction, Variable rate fertilizer, Land cover classification and Crop health indicators.” said David Cheboryot, East Africa Manager of E4Impact Foundation.

Kenyan enterprises in the SPARKme Program have already started the distance training programme which includes customized sessions for the entrepreneurs interested in using the satellite technology/applications to strengthen their business.

Mercy Kimalat (Accelerator Communication Manager)