Here’s how this Hungarian startup, led by Design Terminal, uses satellites and 3D printers to make tourism sustainable

As one of the largest economic activities in the world, tourism generates wealth by creating jobs and building infrastructure for local economies. It is also an important factor in promoting sustainable development and cultural exchanges.

Due to the rapid expansion of tourism across the world, critical questions have been raised about its long-term sustainability. To ensure that tourism develops in as socially and environmentally responsible a way as possible without negatively impacting host communities or environments, experts are constantly looking for more innovative ways to reduce the environmental problems associated with developments. tourist.

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Europe and sustainability

Globally, Europe is one of the most visited tourist destinations as the region is covered in medieval streets with modern skylines.

According to the European Commission (EC), in the past four years alone, the continent has welcomed more than 2 billion global tourists, providing a main source of income for European economies.

What can experts do to make European tourism sustainable?

CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring

Last year, the European Commission launched CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring, a series of six hackathons aimed at tackling global challenges using EU space program services and data (Copernicus satellite images and Galileo positioning signals & Egnos). According to SpaceTec Partners, the CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring is the flagship action of the European Commission’s Competitive Space Start-ups for Innovation (CASSINI) initiative.

The initiative includes a €1 billion EU seed and growth fund, as well as hackathons and mentorship, prizes, a business accelerator, partnerships and matchmaking.

“The CASSINI initiative aspires to drive innovation across all EU space programmes, creating new opportunities, cutting-edge products and services and driving economic growth for a sustainable Europe,” says SpaceTec Partners.

3rd CASSINI Hackathon – “(Re)Visiting Europe”

The 3rd CASSINI Hackathon took place simultaneously in 9 different locations from 12 to 14 May 2022, with the theme “(Re)Visiting Europe”. As part of the challenge, participants were asked to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to revitalize tourism across Europe.

Besides Italy, Poland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Portugal and France, Hungary also joined the competition with the professional management of Design Terminal, an innovation agency of prominent in the CEE region.

Being the most renowned innovation agency in Hungary, Design terminal organizes incubation programs in 12 countries. Since 2014, he has worked with more than 2,000 startups and leading companies in many sectors, within more than 200 innovation programs.

Using data and signals from the Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS satellite systems, participants in the CASSINI hackathon developed their ideas on how to make the continent’s tourism sustainable.

TrashUp – The Winner

Hunor Kiri, founder of ReFilamer, and Beáta Dobsa, founder of Tripful, came together during the competition to work on a common idea. This allowed them to win the main prize and the chance to present in the European final.

Hunor Kiri’s ReFilamer is developing a machine that produces raw material for 3D printers from waste.

Beáta Dobsa’s community app Tripful targets GenZ female travelers who, with the help of the platform, can connect while traveling.

The CASSINI Hackathon initiative provided a platform for the two founders to start working together since they could complement and support each other’s innovative ideas and merge their two different target groups.

Together they have developed a solution, TrashUp, which uses satellite images (this is where CASSINI’s condition of use of spatial data comes into play) to direct travelers to tourist routes heavily contaminated with plastic waste.

Users can help recycle waste by directing it to the nearest ReFilamer machine. In return, they reward the user and the printer owner uses or sells the waste filament.

The duo intends to reach state actors, the biggest polluters, and forestry to use their idea.

Ugo Celestino, head of space research, innovation and start-ups at the European Commission’s DG DEFIS, which organizes the CASSINI Hackathons and Mentoring series, also took part in the two-day event in Budapest.

Based on its assessment, Design Terminal proved why the European organizers chose the innovation agency as their Hungarian partner.

“The main challenge for the organizers is always to provide the right direction and expertise for the participating teams to progress. On the first day in Budapest, I saw some guys coming up with some pretty bold ideas, but after getting the business mentorship and technique as well as the pitch preparation session, they steered their thinking in the right direction.

Hunor says that besides gaining useful knowledge, networking was the main benefit for them during the Hungarian round and the European final.

“We are now sufficiently prepared to target space industry incubation programs like the European Space Agency Business Incubation Center (ESA BIC),” he adds. The management of ESA BIC Hungary is led by Design Terminal in cooperation with its technical partners and pool of mentors. The physical location in Hungary is the office of Design Terminal (Budapest).

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Laura T. Thrasher