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Czech startup Dronetag wins the highest award in the space industry in Helsinki. How did the young entrepreneurs break through?

The Czech Republic celebrates another success in the space industry. Students from the Czech Technical University are behind it

18.12.2019
Czech startup Dronetag wins the highest award in the space industry in Helsinki. How did the young entrepreneurs break through? Source: Galileo Masters 2019

With their start-up Dronetag, 25-year-old Lukáš Brchl and his team have won a “space Oscar”, officially known as a Galileo Masters award, which they received at the beginning of December 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. The company is the developer of a smart device and software platform thanks to which it will be possible to map drones in air traffic. How is business going for young students who are attempting to bring to the market an innovation on the further development of which they will use the resources of the E-GNNS Accelerator in the value of up to CZK 1.5 million in the form of, for example, mentoring and coaching?

It is 2018 and a group of students are entering the Space Application Hackathon of the ESA BIC Prague space incubator, which is administrated by CzechInvest. The competition offers young people an opportunity to consult with experts regarding their business ideas and, in the case of the best of them, future cooperation. It is here that four students from the Faculty of Information Technology of the Czech Technical University came up with the idea of mapping the movement of drones. They went on to establish the company Dronetag in 2019. “The current problem is that drones are not visible on the air traffic map. Therefore, we are working on a smart device that will monitor them and, at the same time, will be able to communicate with other drones and aircraft,” says the company’s founder, Lukáš Brchl, describing the product.

Starting the business was the tip of the iceberg

At the beginning, the start-up encountered problems associated with the technology of the product itself and legislative obstacles. “At that time, there were no similar products on the market and there was no new legislation pertaining to drones. Our project thus aroused strong interest; for example, we presented it at GSA Open Days during the Czech Space Week festival. We then registered in the ESA BIC selection procedure and, to our great surprise, we were accepted into the space incubator. But we were still at the very beginning, at the tip of the iceberg,” says Brchl, referring to the company’s origins.

Dronetag is now in the care of the ESA BIC Prague incubator. The company is thus connected to a network of specialists, who are advising it on both technical and business aspects. “Our colleagues from ESA BIC Prague mainly advise us on operational and business matters. Our path is more complicated due to the fact that we are working on the development of both hardware and software. We are currently fine-tuning the final details and we are preparing for product testing. Then, of course, the search for an investor is next on the list,” add Brchl.

The journey doesn’t end with a smart box

And what are Dronetag’s plans for the future? According to Brchl, the company’s journey does not end with just one smart box. Dronetag has developed various related products and wants to get involved in, for example, air traffic control. “In the six years that I have been in the sector, I have seen how quickly technology is changing and the strong potential that drones have for the future. So, I would say that we’ll enjoy the next few years with Dronetag,” Brchl concludes.