Many applications require tracking solutions that are precise, but at the same time affordable and small. The former incubatee of the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Bavaria and overall winner of the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) in 2013, Kinexon, offers such a precision tracking solution that meets these needs perfectly. The Kinexon sensors use the latest space technology to track the positions of individuals and objects with centimetre accuracy. Its app, a secure cloud-computing platform with a smart analytics application, transforms big sensor data into valuable information in real time.
Before its incubation at the ESA BIC Bavaria, Kinexon’s business success was at its very beginning. The support received from the partner network helped it to build its first working prototype. This resulted in Kinexon being named not only the winner of the Bavaria Regional Prize, but also the overall winner of the ESNC in 2013. Huge media interest, even more awards and Kinexon’s growth into one of the market leaders in precision localisation and motion sensing solutions followed.
Discover how the ESNC winner Kinexon jump-started its business with high-level support from the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Bavaria and learn more about how to turn your business idea into a real commercial venture. ESA BIC manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Dr Alexander Hüttenbrink (AH), CEO at Kinexon GmbH.
CG: Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
AH: Kinexon develops smart sensors and software that help our customers to improve different kinds of processes and products in terms of quality, costs, and time. The scalable sensor network is capable of connecting and localising thousands of things (objects, people, machines, etc.) within centimetre accuracy – indoors and outdoors. Our software applications transform our own sensor data and third-party data into helpful analytics and process automation.
One of our main products focuses on the digitisation of sports. Our team has created comprehensive solutions for coaches, athletes and fans that revolutionise data analytics in sports. By using smart sensors and the latest radio technology, tracking and analysing athletes’ performance, monitoring health and preventing injuries becomes really easy. Our industry 4.0 solutions include asset tracking, AGV/robot navigation and sensor-based analytics in retail.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
AH: We had to face several challenges at various stages in the development of our company’s growth. At an early stage, founders need to tackle every kind of problem you can think of. This can be exhausting and it is very important to maintain your focus on key topics as you cannot work in-depth on every topic. When we built up our team, it was crucial to take care of the challenges that come with a growing organisation. It is essential to manage the knowledge and facilitate communication between people or teams. You need to keep up the start-up spirit while becoming a bigger company. Establishing and enforcing your leadership principles and your corporate culture is a permanent challenge for every founder.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
AH: We focus on our employees. Finding and convincing the best people you can get is half the battle. Granting these people responsibility multiplies the company’s performance. Additionally, we strive for the perfect product and a consumer-centric perspective while always taking account of an agile development process. Today, our investment in a sound technology stack is paying off, although our product development took us longer. For example, the very easy-to-install feature for our sports customers took time to develop, but this is now paying off, as it finds great approval among our industrial customers.
CG: What do you expect from the ESNC and the ESA BIC Bavaria? How did the competition, the incubation programme and the network help you to kick-start your business case?
AH: We applied to the ESA BIC programme more than four years ago when we were only a small team. The incubation programme helped us immensely to develop our first working prototypes due to its extensive partner network, the great business and technological support we received as well as the access to funding.
In 2013, we were named Overall winner of the Galileo Masters, now the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC). This means that our idea stood out among more than 400 applications from teams with over 1,200 participants from 50 countries. As a result, the media interest in our company increased and boosted our credibility on the market. Many pilot projects in different industries followed and some projects have successfully been turned into great customer relationships.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what does the future have in store for your company?
AH: We know that the number of interesting application fields that could benefit greatly from our technology, e.g. the healthcare sector, will increase in the near future. However, it is our aim to be the global leader when it comes to connecting and localising things and use this data to create added value for customers. Today, we are just at the beginning of what is possible with smart sensors and powerful algorithms and software. Leveraging information about the position, movement and the status of objects, people, robots, etc. will be key for the majority of IoT applications.
AZO: Anything else you want to share with us?
Check out our websites:
Since 2012, Kinexon has been developing solutions for precision localisation and motion sensing in the healthcare and sports sectors. The company offers its customers an extensive portfolio comprising software, hardware, and services. Wearable devices, smart analytics engines, and cloud-based web services are only a few examples of Kinexon’s complex solutions. The characteristics of these solutions include flexibility, high precision and ease of use.
ESA Business Incubation Centre Bavaria
Kinexon was incubated at the ESA BIC Bavaria from January 2013 to July 2014. The ESA BIC Bavaria seeks entrepreneurs who use space technologies in a non-space environment. That does not mean rocket science, but instead applies to multiple fields of application such as navigation and positioning, communications techniques, Earth observation, materials, processes, signals and robotics.
ESA’s Business Incubation Centre Bavaria was launched in 2009 and has been managed by Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO) ever since. ESA BIC Bavaria and its renowned partners – DLR, Airbus Defence and Space, Fraunhofer IIS and Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft Berchtesgadener Land – provide startups with financial and technical support at four branch offices: Oberpfaffenhofen, Ottobrunn, Nuremberg and Berchtesgadener Land. www.esa-bic.de
ESA BIC Bavaria has four selection rounds each year. The next application deadline for the incubation programme is 1 September 2017. Apply now for ESA BIC Bavaria
About the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC)
The ESNC’s annual search for new services, products, and business innovations is designed to encourage the use of satellite navigation in everyday life. Over more than 10 years, it has evolved into the leading innovation competition comprising partner regions around the world, the largest space-related incubation network and the most relevant European GNSS stakeholders. The ESNC’s latest feature is Europe’s largest E-GNSS Accelerator, providing more awards, services and three further business incubations. Sign up now by 30 June at www.esnc.eu.