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

As one of the biggest economic activities in the world, tourism drives wealth by creating jobs and building infrastructure for local economies. It is also a significant factor in promoting sustainable development and cultural exchange.

Due to the rapid expansion of tourism throughout the globe, critical issues have been raised about its long-term sustainability. To ensure that tourism develops in a way that is as socially and environmentally friendly as possible without having any negative impact on host communities or environments, experts are constantly looking for more innovative ways to reduce environmental problems associated with tourism developments.

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Europe and sustainability

Globally, Europe is one of the most visited tourist destinations as the region is covered by mediaeval streets to modern skylines.

According to the European Commission (EC), in the last four years alone, the continent has welcomed over 2B global tourists, providing a primary source of income for European economies.

What can experts do to make European tourism sustainable?

CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring

Last year, the European Commission initiated CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring, a series of six hackathons aimed to tackle global challenges using services and data from the EU Space Program (Copernicus satellite images and Galileo & EGNOS positioning signals). According to SpaceTec Partners, the CASSINI Hackathons & Mentoring is the flagship action of the European Commission’s Competitive Space Start-ups for Innovation Initiative (CASSINI).

The initiative includes a € 1B EU seeds and growth fund, as well as hackathons and

mentoring, prizes, a business accelerator, partnering and matchmaking.

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

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

The 3rd CASSINI Hackathon took place simultaneously in 9 different locations from May 12 to 14, 2022, with the topic “(Re) Visit 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 leadership of Design Terminal – a leading innovation agency in the CEE region.

Being Hungary’s most renowned innovation agency, Design Terminal Organizations incubation programs in 12 countries. Since 2014, it has worked with over 2,000 startups and leading corporations in many industries, within more than 200 innovation programs.

Using data and signals from the Copernicus, Galileo, and EGNOS satellite systems, CASSINI Hackathon participants 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, got together during the competition to work on a mutual idea. This resulted in them winning the main prize and getting the chance to present during the European finals.

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

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

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

Together, they developed a solution, TrashUp, which uses satellite images (that’s where CASSINI’s condition for using space data comes into the picture) to direct travelers to tourist routes heavily contaminated with plastic waste.

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

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

Ugo Celestino, Policy Officer for Space Research, Innovation, and Start-ups at the European Commission’s DG DEFIS, which organizes the CASSINI Hackathons and Mentoring series, also participated in the two-day event in Budapest.

Based on his evaluation, Design Terminal proved why the European organizers chose the innovation agency to be the Hungarian partner.

“The main challenge for organizers is always to provide the right direction and expertise for participating teams to progress. On the first day in Budapest, I saw guys come up with pretty bold ideas, but after receiving the business and technical mentoring as well as the pitch prep session steered their thinking in the right direction. ”

Hunor says besides gaining useful knowledge, networking was the main advantage for them during the Hungarian round and also the European finals.

“We are now prepared enough to target space industry incubation programs like the European Space Agency’s 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 mentor pool. The physical location in Hungary is the Office of Design Terminal (Budapest).

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