The CASSINI Hackathon: EU Space data and protecting the Arctic

The CASSINI Hackathon: EU Space data and protecting the Arctic

Startup Iceland is hosting the 2nd CASSINI hackathon in the University of Reykjavik on 5-7 November 2021. The CASSINI Hackathons are a part of the European Commission’s CASSINI entrepreneurship initiative. It is a series of six hackathons over three years that tackle global challenges with European space technologies. They engage young professionals, students and entrepreneurs with interests in coding, design and business to understand and work with Earth observations data, satellite positioning technologies and satellite communications.

The theme for this years CASSINI Hackathon is leveraging EU space
data and signals to understand and protect the Arctic region. The
hackathon will take place simultaneously across 10 European cities and
hundreds of participants will put their skills to the test and create
innovative solutions to connect the arctic.  

The event in Reykjavik will be a hybrid event, hosted both online and
at the University of Reykjavik. Speakers in our hackathon will be Ari
Kristinn Jónsson, President of the Reykjavik University and former
research scientist at NASA, Bala Kamallakharan, founder of Startup
Iceland and Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson, member of parliament.

Participants will have the weekend to work on the challenges put
forward and afterwards the best three teams will be chosen and awarded
prizes up to 5000 EUR. The hackathon is open to anyone with a passion
for entrepreneurship, the Arctic and EU space technologies.

So what are the challenges?


Safe passage at sea

Container ships, cruise liners and fishing trawlers are just some of the many seafaring vessels that need to navigate safely in our oceans. The Arctic presents an incredibly challenging environment for these journeys with the addition of sea ice and extreme temperatures. As climates around the world are impacted by our human behaviour, conditions in the Arctic continue to change, calling for adaptive measures. Rising temperatures indicate that future shipping lanes will soon appear in the Arctic, and they will require better connectivity and accurate positioning services.

This challenge calls on bold innovators to either develop ideas or design products, devices or services that ensure seafaring vessels have safe passage at sea. Leverage European space data, information and signals from secure connectivity infrastructures, Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS to bring your concept to life. Choose from the following solution area: 

– Navigation route optimisation
– Extreme weather and sea ice warnings
– Environmental disaster and emergency management
– Support for the development and connectivity of future shipping lanes

Life on land

Countries in the Arctic polar region experience seasonally varying snow and ice cover, as well as extreme cold weather conditions. These countries, along with the people and plants that inhabit them, are particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, such as rising air and water temperatures and melting sea ice. Several remote research stations are located in the region, and their occupants would greatly benefit from innovative connectivity and communication solutions. 

This challenge calls on bold innovators to either develop ideas or design products, devices or services that improve our understanding of the effects of climate change in Alaska, Russia, Canada and the Nordic countries, or mitigate the impacts of these changes. Leverage European space data, information and signals from secure connectivity infrastructures, Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS to bring your concept to life. Choose from the following solution area: 

– Environmental monitoring & climate change mitigation
– Renewable energy exploration
– Environmental protection
– Improving connectivity (higher speeds and lower latency) for research stations in remote areas

Caring for our wildlife

Wildlife in the Arctic includes many species of fish and marine mammals, birds and land animals. As human activity and industry looks to expand throughout untapped areas of our planet, the natural habitats of these animals become threatened. Rising temperatures also endanger the lives of animals who call the ice their home and whose food comes from the surrounding areas. 

This challenge calls on bold innovators to either develop ideas or design products, devices or services to better understand and protect wildlife in the Arctic. Leverage European space data, information and signals from secure connectivity infrastructures, Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS to bring your concept to life. Choose from the following solution areas:

– Protecting marine biodiversity
– Understanding and forecasting migration routes
– Understanding the effects of climate change on natural habitats
– Understanding and mitigating the effects of exploration and development on wildlife

Submit ideas:

Participants will also have the opportunity to submit their own ideas of a challenge to Startup Iceland. Deadline for the submissions in October 15th. Submissions can be sent in here.

If you interested in participating in the CASSINI Hackathon in Reykjavik application are open from the 1st of September, apply here and we’ll see you at Reykjavik University this November.

Bala Kamallakharan
Founder at Startup Iceland

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LOOP Lab – How to develop a more circular fashion industry by joining forces?

LOOP Lab - How can we develop a more circular fashion industry by joining forces?

On average, we buy 60% more clothing than we did 15 years ago — but we keep each item only half as long. And it’s also estimated that nearly 60% of all clothing ends up being burned or in landfills within only one year of being made.

The transition to circular economy is a must for the apparel industry to both reach the environmental goals and to stay profitable in a world with growing resource scarcity and risks in the global value chains. So it is time to develop new business models for the industry in parallel with advancing the structural and behavioural changes.

Today, the charity sector accounts for the majority of textile collection and sorting in a cost-effective way, while also creating great societal value. So would it be possible for the charity sector to operate as an enabler for circular change in the fashion industry? And how could increased collaboration with commercial actors create new value for the charity actors?

We wanted to explore these opportunities, needs, obstacles and potential collaborations between commercial and non-profit actors in a series of workshops. Our goal is to find new forms of collaboration and speed up the transition towards circular economy. For the first workshop, we invited charity organizations from Sweden, Stockholm Stadsmission, Red Cross Sweden, Björk & Frihet, Myrorna, Erikshjälpen and Brödet och Fiskarna, to co-create this topic with us.

One crucial reminder from the session was that the demand for secondhand garments is too low. And therefore it would be interesting to explore services and large scale behavioural changes to increase the demand. Out of the clothes that the charities collect, a large amount is exported abroad for second hand sales including an uncertain fate (possibly even ending up in landfills). An area which we find interesting to explore further, is how we can capture and create value for the collected garments within the Nordic region.

We continue advancing the ideas from the first session and invite companies of all sizes to join the charity organizations in the next workshop in August. The focus will be on how can we in  collaboration with clothing manufacturers, non-profit actors, automated sorting facilities and the municipalities create an efficient, qualitative and large-scale sorting of textiles in the Nordic countries, in order to minimize the preparation of textiles for export and maximize recovery and value creation activities at home?

If you are working on creating a more circular fashion industry, contact us to work together on this and stay tuned for updates about the next event! 

Contact us to work together on this!

Linda Glad

Sustainability Designer
+46 704 408520

Maria Klint

Service Designer and facilitator
+46 763 446681

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5 Icelandic Startups To Keep An Eye On

5 Icelandic Startups To Keep An Eye On

Earlier this month the annual Hringiðja conference was held in Reykjavík. The point of this conference is to help startups grow their businesses and connect them with industry experts, investors and leading startup hubs. Multiple startups presented their ideas this year but we at Startup Iceland picked the top 5 most promising startups for this post.

IceWind is an Icelandic based startup company that is developing micro vertical axis wind turbines for extreme weather conditions. The turbines are designed to operate in the austere for decades without maintenance. These turbines can power weather stations, surveillance systems, emergency systems and telecoms. Operators of off-grid micro energy systems often rely on diesel engines and solar panels. Diesel engines require refueling, maintenance and are not environmentally friendly. Solar panels do not provide enough energy in the arctic during winter and are therefore not an option. Only 12% of the 780,000 off-gridtelecome towers in the world are powered with renewable energy such as solar and wind. IceWind wind turbines can reduce operational and maintenance cost of diesel driven telecom towers up to 90% and reduce their carbon emissions to zero with a renewable energy platform. 

The turbines can provide renewable energy in both on-grid and off-grid applications. They are made from stainless steel, carbon fiber and aircraft grade aluminum. IceWind is providing an energy platform that can be adapted to accept solar and other energy sources in addition to being able to input and collect data from various devices such as weather and seismic sensors. IceWind also provides battery solutions for arctic environments that can withstand -60 celsius.

On to Something

On a daily basis, value leaks out of the economy in the form of surplus materials that arise from the activities of companies and institutions. Raw materials that are today disposed of by landfill, incineration or similarly non-environmentally friendly routes. There is a will among companies and institutions to recycle raw materials, but for that to happen they need to be brought to the surface.

On to something is an international trading platform where leftovers are bought and sold. User-friendly and attractive proprietary software solution that elevates raw materials to the market. Companies and organizations list leftovers and recycle them for the same fee as is paid for their disposal today – and even receive receipts. This creates unforeseen connections and synergies.


Surova creates automated vegetable grow-ups inside standardized container units. These are fully-automated hydroponics-based vertical container farms. They are portable, scalable and can grow vegetables on site of food retailers.

This startup supports the circular economy by cutting the supply chain, utilizing artificial intelligence to optimize resource usage and maximize plant growth in localized production. The solution cuts cost from transportation while increasing the freshness and quality of produce.

Hemp Pack

Hemp Pack is biotech startup that has the goal of being a driving force in Iceland’s eco-concisous industry through contributing to the solution of the plastic problem. The company uses the discounts of the food industry and agricultural production as well as renewable energy to produce a sustainable substitute plastic for the international market. Their product is a fully degradable bio plastic resin. It breaks down into material under conditions often found in nature causing no harm to the environment around it. Hemp Pack creates a product for plastic manufactures that they directly implement into their existing heating and molding technologies. Opening up the door for a whole world of sustainable plastic products.


Nýlausn is a company that has a product thats called M Bio Box which is a replacement for the polystyrene packaging that is currently being offered in the fishing industry. M Bio Box uses 100% bio degradable materials, that is mycelium, hemp fibers and lupine fibers that are combined to create these boxes that are made for fish exporters. This product is non-polluting, its cheaper than the product that currently is used and all of the materials used to create the product is grown in Iceland.


Bala Kamallakharan
Founder at Startup Iceland

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