QuadSAT’s State-of-the-Art Drone Technology Employed by SES for International Antenna Validation

SES antenna validation

Odense, Denmark, 14th July – SES and QuadSAT have jointly performed an “industry-first” ground segment Satcom Antenna Validation campaign. Using QuadSAT’s revolutionary new drone technology, this mission redefines the possibilities for antenna diagnostics within the framework of Industry 4.0. By obtaining accurate antenna performance data from anywhere in the world from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), SES was able to quickly validate new antenna models to be added to their satellite networks, mitigating the risk of generating interference on their own satellite or adjacent satellites.

On behalf of SES, QuadSAT assessed 12 commercial maritime antennas, using its drone-based solution for antenna diagnostics. The innovative technology is deployable in a matter of hours and operates globally. The system is a fully automated drone solution equipped with a unique Radio Frequency (RF) payload.

The tests took place at two different sites and enabled SES to investigate the performance of a wide range of antennas supplied by various manufacturers. The speed of QuadSAT’s departure from Denmark, operational set-up on-site, to the start of the actual test reflects the simplicity of operation.

The data gathered is fundamental to the collaboration between satellite operators, antenna manufacturers and service providers, but has historically been challenging to obtain. With QuadSAT’s solution, the tests could be easily and efficiently performed over a period of just 23 days, including travel and setting up operations at two different sites. This time frame included processing the results, which were subsequently delivered to SES from the test sites.

Alastair Campbell, Vice President at SES commented: “A measurement campaign of this size would have been a substantial effort for SES to undertake, had it not been for QuadSAT and the new drone technology they have brought to the market. Improved access to antenna testing is essential across many parts of the satellite industry value chain”.

Joakim Espeland, CEO at QuadSAT, stated: “No antenna should transmit to a satellite without being verified. Adding underperforming antennas to a satellite network degrades satellite communications and is costly for operators to mitigate retroactively. It is reassuring to see satellite operators such as SES recognising the importance of antenna verification and taking the responsibility to avoid interference in space. We are proud that our technology could further enhance SES’s verification capabilities. SES has been validating this technology for the last 3 years. QuadSAT’s maturity in the Satcom sector made it possible to meet SES demands in this comprehensive test campaign.”.

This technological leap in antenna diagnostics is a testament to how performance data on antennas can now be collected in a completely new and unique way before connecting to a satellite network. QuadSAT is in the market and customers can use services provided by QuadSAT or own their own systems.

Media Contact

Helen Weedon
Radical Moves
+44 7733 231922

About QuadSAT

QuadSAT is developing a brand new system for the test and verification of radio frequency equipment. The technology is fully automated, flexible and location-independent capable of scaling and transforming how antennas are tested. The QuadSAT team consist of experts in robotics and radiofrequency resulting in a solution that meets the specifications for testing satellite antennas. The systems consist of state-of-the-art drone technology integrated with a custom RF payload as well as automation and measurement software. QuadSAT is backed by Space Tech focused Seraphim Capital and Danish state Vaekstfonden Venture Capital firms. More information about QuadSAT is available at www.quadsat.com

Torben Frigaard Rasmussen Appointed QuadSAT’s Chairman of the Board

Chairman Founders Torben Helge

Odense, Denmark, 30 June 2021 – QuadSAT has appointed Torben Frigaard Rasmussen as Chairman of the Board. Former Chairman of Mobile Industrial Robots (MIR), Torben is passionate about building and growing technology start-ups and will help QuadSAT to scale on its road to global and scalable growth.

QuadSAT, headquartered in Odense, Denmark, supplies drone-based antenna testing and tracking solutions to the satellite, defence, wireless and broadcast markets to enhance quality and reliability of their telecom-based services. QuadSAT’s system provides users with affordable, accessible, and accurate antenna testing and calibration.

Torben Frigaard Rasmussen has a wealth of experience working with SaaS solution providers and is a strong investor in the Odense ecosystem. Torben has been involved in more than 20 merger and acquisition transactions across Europe and the USA. Previous growth successes include E-conomics, Umbraco, Cardlay, and Mobile Industrial Robots, which was acquired by Teradyne for $222m in 2018.

Torben Frigaard Rasmussen, Chairman of the Board, QuadSAT, commented: “QuadSAT is an extremely innovative company with a solution that has the potential to revolutionize antenna testing. With the product due to launch, it is certainly an exciting time for the company, and I look forward to being a part of its inevitable growth.”

Joakim Espeland, CEO, QuadSAT, added: “Torben has a strong track record of successful investments, coupled with a high level of technical experience that makes him the ideal person to take over as Chairman. I look forward to working with Torben as we move QuadSAT forward.”

Other board members include Helge Munk from Helge Munk Holding, Rob Desborough from Seraphim Capital and Simon Frederik Øelund from Vækstfonden.

Over the last year, QuadSAT has grown its team by 33% across its engineering and commercial functions. As a highly international company, QuadSAT staff now represent more than 21 different countries. To support this continuing expansion, QuadSAT has secured an additional €1.6m of investment as part of a pre-Series A investment round, now totalling €3.6m.

About QuadSAT

Founded in 2017, QuadSAT has developed a world-first mobile antenna testing system that provides users with affordable, accessible, and accurate testing and calibration. The system utilizes a custom-built RF payload, drone technology, and mathematical algorithms to effectively simulate satellites movements and perform critical antenna performance tests. QuadSAT’s system has been developed to meet current and emerging industry-wide standards, such as SOMAP.

Media Contact: Helen Weedon, Radical Moves PR, helen@radicalmovespr.co.uk, +44 7733 231922

About TPC Management

Torben Frigaard Rasmussen has been an active Business Angel for some years and invests especially in B2B-IT-software, green technology, and the robot industry. His investments are highly successful, and he was named “Business Angel of the Year” in 2019. With an extreme passion for building start-ups and a unique insight and ability to utilize new technology, Torben Frigaard has since 1999 stood in the vanguard of a range of companies whose new technology has revolutionized traditional industries.

Press contact: tfr@tpcmanagement.dk

Antenna diagnostics: is our product right for you?

Vitalie holding drone for demonstration
Satellite has been as needed as ever

Despite the huge shift in everyone’s lifestyles in the last year, satellite services have continued to be relied upon across all verticals. Efficiency and reliability within the industry is as important as ever and operators utilising regular and accurate antenna testing are seeing the benefits.

In a time with global travel restrictions in place, the number of enquiries for our airborne antenna testing solution has increased as it offers independence to our customers; antennas can be tested anytime and anywhere.

How do you know if the solution will work for you?

When choosing the right product for your business, it’s crucial that you take time to establish that the solution can meet all of your objectives. Although travel restrictions are limiting the number of face-to-face meetings we can have, we have developed a live demo system that allows us to discuss your technical objectives, address variable factors, such as frequencies, locations, timings etc., and replicate your flight via a live demonstration.

The demos run through set up and show how testing missions are plotted, how external conditions (such as weather) are reviewed and how data is captured and processed. We can demonstrate azimuth, elevation and raster testing live, allowing us to present detailed results and findings using our software interface. This gives you an opportunity to mould how your demo session goes, meaning that you can establish the suitability of our system in certain areas of your testing requirements.

Discuss our product with the experts

Having an in-depth understanding of our product and its testing capabilities and possibilities is important and we’re happy to discuss any company-specific queries or suggestions. 

We have successfully held many live demos over the last year which has allowed new customers to utilise our technology and improve their efficiencies in antenna diagnostics. Contact us now to arrange your live QuadSAT demonstration.

4 Reasons to Visit QuadSAT at EuCAP

QuadSAT Drone Eucap

Europe’s flagship conference on antennas and propagation, EuCAP will take place virtually from 22 to 26 March 2021. QuadSAT is a silver sponsor and will be taking part in a workshop, the exhibition and presenting a technical paper. While we are looking forward to being able to travel and meet you in person, here are 4 key reasons you should visit us virtually at EuCAP in the meantime:

1. Tune in and let our founders explain our technology

Our flexible and cost-effective tool for testing- ground satellite segment infrastructure is aimed at ensuring seamless satellite connectivity and overall reduction of interference

At EuCAP, our founders, Joakim Espeland and Andrian Buchi will describe the technology and host a virtual demonstration of state-of-the-art drone-based antenna measurements in the context of SATCOM applications. They will demonstrate how this technique can bring the measurement range to the customer by providing a real demonstration of measurements of an offset 1.2m antenna and comparing results with a traditional outdoor far-field system.

Be sure to catch them on Monday, 22nd March at 1.00pm CET and get your questions ready.

2. Find out about research into drone technology

PhD student, Saki Omi from Cranfield University has been working alongside QuadSat to conduct research into drone technology. The research carried out will help to develop a satellite COTM (Communication on the Move) antenna evaluation system with a UAV Swarm and will increase QuadSAT’s testing capabilities.

Catch Saki Omi’s presentation on 22nd March at 5:30pm CET.

3. Talk to us at our booth

Join us at our virtual booth during EuCAP. Get in contact to ask your questions and learn more about our drone technology and upcoming innovations. QuadSAT’s system consists of a pseudo-satellite payload integrated on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle making it deployable anywhere at any time. The system is fully automated with pre-and post-test software, ensuring repeatable high-quality data delivered in a uniform format.

Company CEO, Joakim Espeland will be on hand to discuss the origins, present and future of QuadSAT.

4. Get a free live demo

Visitors to the booth will get a voucher to claim a free live demonstration of our drone technology. So pop by our booth, grab your voucher, and get in touch to book the demo at a time to suit you.

2020: A Year Like No Other

Managers in QuadSAT year 2020
By Joakim Espeland, CEO, QuadSAT

2020 has been a strange and challenging year for all of us. Whilst it has been dominated by the global pandemic, and all the concerns that have brought, it has also been the year that the satellite industry learned to adapt. At QuadSAT, we were no exception. However, out of the chaos of this year, there have been some positives, so with so much negativity, we thought we would end the year with a couple of the good things we will take away from this year:

1. We learnt to demo virtually

As with many companies, we had to quickly adapt to a virtual environment for absolutely everything. With lots of tests planned for this year, we had to quickly rethink the way we met our customers and demonstrated our solution. Although we look forward to meeting in person again, we have managed to deliver our demos to global stakeholders in a virtual environment, which certainly saves a great deal of time compared to travelling across the world.

2. We raised more funding

This year we secured the largest venture investment in a Danish drone tech company in history. As ever, we are grateful to our investors. Seraphim Capital, the world’s first venture fund dedicated to SpaceTech, and Vaekstfonden, the Danish state’s investment fund, are once again investing, having been with us since the first round of investments.

3. We have had more time for research and development

Having more time on our hands has given us the chance to fully immerse ourselves in developments. Thanks to that, coupled with the investment, we have been able to truly accelerate product development and testing. This has helped us fine-tune our product, as well as looking into other areas where our product can solve challenges. One example of this is recent tests we held together with Terma that demonstrated our drone solution’s ability to test and validate radar system performance at the site where the radar is deployed.

4. We are ready to bring the product to market

Thanks to the development and testing time we can transition our current technology – offered as a service now – to be sold as a product for third-party users. Our product will be ready for commercial launch in March 2021, much sooner than would have otherwise been possible. The commercial product will make the process of testing much quicker, simpler, and more cost-effective, with the opportunity to own private test facilities operating in the air instead of investing money in real estate and advanced test facilities. It will also free up valuable time for research institutes and universities that are currently carrying out much of this testing. In turn, this will allow these organisations more time to work on new research to further other innovations in satcoms.

2020 has certainly been a difficult year, however, the satellite industry has risen to the challenge. At QuadSAT, we have managed to extract some positives from a year without travel, but we are excited for a return to normality and cannot wait to get back out in the world to meet industry friends and colleagues. In the meantime, get in touch if you would like a virtual demo.

You can read our fuller year in review in the latest Sat Magazine.

QuadSAT Demonstrates On-Site Radar Measurements

Terma radar test

Odense, Denmark, December 2, 2020: QuadSAT has successfully completed tests, which demonstrated QuadSAT’s RF-testing drone’s ability to test and validate radar system performance at the site where the radar is deployed. The test course was supported by Terma.

The aim of the actual project was to determine whether the QuadSAT solution, originally made for testing satellite antennas, could be used for on-site validation of radar systems.

For the purpose of the demonstration, two radar systems were used. One deployed on land and one at the coast. QuadSAT measured the radar systems to validate the simulations done by Terma showing how the radar systems are affected by multipath lobing, such as reflections from ground and water.

“At Terma, we continuously scan the industry for innovative new companies with technology that can improve and add to existing processes.” Preben Schmidt Nielsen, Senior Specialist, Innovation Lab, Discovery & Incubation at Terma A/S, explains. “Working with QuadSAT has been a great process and the innovation height of their system is impressive”.

QuadSAT has developed the first system that can provide insights from on-site measurements of radars in its operational environment anywhere in the world. This enables a wide range of use-cases that can assist in ensuring radar system performance in a way that has not been possible before. Use-cases could be measuring the effect of buildings and topography surrounding a radar, or even how the radome covering the radar antenna might change characteristics over time.

“Tests of systems performed in the radar’s operational environment add an additional layer of understanding to the computer simulations and laboratory-generated measurements of radar performance. We, therefore, see QuadSAT’s system as a valuable addition to our current methods of ensuring the performance of radars manufactured by Terma.” Morten Østergaard Pedersen, Senior Specialist, Radar Architect at Terma A/S, explains.

Joakim Espeland, Chief Executive Officer at QuadSAT adds: “Working with Terma is really important for us. Terma is leading the way in Danish Aerospace and Defense industry and we are happy and proud that the team sees the innovativeness and value of our system.”

QuadSAT’s solution is already available as a service to operators and antenna manufacturers. It will be available as a commercial product in Q1 2021, making antenna testing and verification cost-efficient and accessible.

About QuadSAT
QuadSAT’s system delivers safety in the performance of RF applications such as satcom- and radar systems by providing an automated, flexible, and location-independent system for in-situ tests and measurements. The systems consist of state-of-the-art drone technology integrated with a custom RF payload as well as automation- and measurement software.

Media ContactHelen Weedon, Radical Moves PR, helen@radicalmovespr.co.uk, +44 7733 231922

About Terma
Denmark based high-tech Terma Group develops products and systems for defence and non-defence security applications; including command and control systems, radar systems, self-protection systems for aircraft, space technology, and aerostructures for the aircraft industry.

The Largest Drone Tech Investment in Denmark of €2 million

QuadSAT drone largest investment

Odense, Denmark, September 10, 2020: QuadSAT, a Danish company that is revolutionising the test and measurement of satellite antennas, announced today that it has closed a €2 million Pre-Series A Investment, the largest venture investment in a Danish drone tech company in history. The round was led by Seraphim Capital, the world’s first venture fund dedicated to SpaceTech, Vaekstfonden, the Danish state’s investment fund, and Angel Investor, Helge Munk.

The use of space is key to solving significant challenges faced in the world – from ensuring worldwide connectivity to providing data to solve environmental issues. As a multitude of sectors starts looking toward space, the number of satellites in orbit will increase significantly in the next few years.

With the amounts of communication satellites in use today, levels of radiofrequency (RF) interference are increasing year by year. If not managed properly the accelerating growth of the Satcom industry will drown the radio spectrum in RF interference, reducing bandwidth and causing connection breakouts. Poorly performing and inaccurate ground antennas are the main source of RF interference. For antenna research and development, and for approval to bring new antennas to market, access to testing is essential.

For the antenna ground segment to keep up with the rapid development of satellites in orbit there is a great need for a cost-effective, flexible, and efficient testing solution. QuadSAT revolutionises antenna testing by combining state of the art drone- and RF technology with custom-developed software making automated antenna tests and measurements available anytime and anywhere.

Andrian Buchi, CTO and co-founder, says: “We see a high level of interest for our technology, not only in antenna measurements but also in other test solutions aimed specifically at higher frequencies and at the future mass deployment of mega-constellations. This investment allows us to develop the product line to match the industry needs, and to build a strong team able to tackle future challenges”. Joakim Espeland, CEO and co-founder adds “Our solution is the only one that can provide the scalability of test and measurements required for a robust satcom infrastructure to minimize challenges such as dropped calls and internet buffering”.

To ensure the best fit between QuadSAT’s solution and the industry requirements, the team is working closely with SOMAP, a consortium of the world’s biggest Satellite Operators. Further, QuadSAT has recently completed contracts with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) program for supporting the development of advanced Satcom products and services.

The investment round follows a seed round at the start of 2019. This pre-series A investment is a catalyst for exploiting the potential of QuadSAT’s unique position as the only company that can provide mobile testing at scale. This will accelerate product testing allowing QuadSAT to transition its current product, currently offered as a service, to be sold as a product for third party users. This will also allow QuadSAT to expand its UK research and development activities.

QuadSAT plans to raise a Series A round within a year further expanding the revolution of antenna testing in the SATCOM industry.

About QuadSAT

Founded in March 2017, QuadSAT’s mobile antenna testing system provides users with affordable, accessible, and accurate antenna testing and calibration. The system utilizes a custom-built RF payload, drone technology, and mathematical algorithms to effectively simulate satellites and perform critical antenna performance tests. QuadSAT’s system has been developed to meet industry-wide standards.

Media Contact: Helen Weedon, Radical Moves PR, helen@radicalmovespr.co.uk, +44 7733 231922

About Vaekstfonden

Vaekstfonden is the Danish state’s investment fund that contributes to the creation of new companies by providing capital and expertise. Since 1992, Vaekstfonden has together with private investors co-financed growth in more than 8,500 Danish companies with a total commitment of more than DKK 27.3 billion.

For more information, please visit: www.vf.dk

Media contact: Cecilie Idun Andersen, Communication Advisor, cea@vf.dk, + 45 31 93 05 73

About Seraphim Capital

Seraphim Capital is the world’s largest specialist space-tech venture fund. They focus on backing both space and aerial platforms collecting and communicating data from above, in addition to the broader enabling technologies that support the full space-tech ecosystem. The £70m fund has pioneered a multi-corporate venture fund model, harnessing the collective experience and expertise of leading space industry players including the likes of Airbus, SES and Telespazio to provide start-ups the fund invests in with unparalleled access to and guidance from the top echelons of the space sector.

For more information, please visit: www.seraphimcapital.com

Media contact: Spacecamp@fieldhouseassociates.com

About Helge Munk

Helge Munk is a Business Angel with 10 active investments through his holding company Helge Munk Holding. Helge was named the Danish “Business Angel of the Year“ in 2018 and is highly successful in his investments as he currently holds an exit rate of up to 80. Helge has founded and been a co-founder of more than 15 companies, mostly in the IT industry, but during the last years, he has also invested in the tech industry.

Media contact: hm@munkholding.dk

Drones: A Game Changer for the SatCom Industry

QuadSAT Satellite

With more and more satellites being sent into various orbits, the number of antennas on the ground is increasing rapidly. As with many industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some challenges for the satellite industry. A survey by Northern Sky Research (NSR) indicated that 44% of satellite companies have experienced a significant impact. At the same time, the survey suggests that if a handful of companies succeed, the next decade will see more satellites put into orbit than all the satellites launched since Sputnik 1 in 1957.

This massive growth is already making it crowded and is set to make it even more so over the coming years. This will inevitably have a knock-on effect and we will undoubtedly see a rise in issues such as satellite interference.

At the same time, competition is high. Broadcasters, once the biggest clients for satellite, are increasingly moving to more IP-based methods. Therefore, the satellite industry is under massive pressure to keep costs low and service delivery high, in order to compete with other communication methods.

All of this means that ensuring good and reliable antenna performance is more important than ever. This was indeed the impetus behind the Satellite Operator’s Minimum Antenna Performance group, setup to ensure that all antennas function to a specified level of performance before being allowed to operate on any satellite network. Testing has risen up the agenda.

However, currently antennas are measured in dedicated test-facilities which is time-consuming, logistically heavy, and expensive. This means it is more important than ever to try and find an alternative, more effective means of antenna testing within the industry without sacrificing the reliability.

If you have been following what we are doing, you will know that we have developed an innovative tech that is set to revolutionize antenna testing using drone technology, coupled with the advancement of microwave technology. Our solution means that we will be able to gradually eliminate the requirement to transport antennas to dedicated test ranges. This method of testing will transform antenna performance measurement into a flexible, simple, quick and cost-effective method that has the potential to increase the overall quality of antenna terminals used in satellite communication.

In the latest Microwave Journal, we outline the technology and its potential. If you want a better understanding of why it will be a game-changer for the satellite industry, read the full article in Microwave Journal.

4 Key Trends in Technology for the Ground Segment

Quadsat technicians taking measurement from antenna with new technology

Space is changing. The use of satellite services is broadening with the launch of more and more LEO satellites and a boom in smart technology powered by satellite, enabling IoT, 5G, and more. It is broadly accepted that in-orbit technology needs to develop and change to keep pace with the evolving use of satellite, but the ground segment is sometimes overlooked. There is, however, a real need for new technology to help the ground segment maintain high-quality connections with new orbit technology, as the industry continues to diversify.

So, what are the key things to be aware of when it comes to current ground segment technology and where is it heading?

1. The current ground system technology is not adequate for changing demands by the latest tech in-orbit

The satellite industry has been dependent upon for its reliability for years, but even more so now as it supports the rollout of new, highly lucrative opportunities in LEO and beyond. Service reliability, therefore, must be second-to-none. As we see more satellites launching in LEO, the ground segment will be subject to different challenges and requirements which it is not at present able to deal with effectively. As opposed to GEO satellites that move with the Earth’s rotation, as a fixed point in the sky, seen from earth, LEO satellites move at a very high speed in orbit much closer above the Earth. This means that they are not a fixed point in the sky and that antennas are constantly tracking and re-pointing to maintain connectivity. This means that they are not a fixed point in the sky and that antennas are constantly tracking and re-pointing to maintain connectivity. The ground infrastructure is, therefore, much more complex, and the potential for things to go wrong has increased. Antennas can easily point to the wrong satellites, and as space becomes even more congested the resulting stakes will be high: one mispointing incident could disrupt multiple services.

2. Poor quality equipment or rather inadequate equipment for the required use is still a problem.

Most transmission incidents are a result of poor or ill-suited equipment or human error at the transmission. It is well known that sourcing high-quality equipment prevents many RFI transmission incidents and improves QoS for end-users.

There is markedly less poor-quality equipment on the market nowadays (SOMAP has been a big help to this end) but it is still out there. Operators are also sometimes misinformed when it comes to purchasing the correct or best-suited equipment for their particular operation.

This could be solved by antenna manufacturers being provided with access to more accurate and real-world style testing methods at an affordable cost. By doing so, manufacturers could better assist operators in choosing the most suitable equipment for their ground operations, delivering reassurance.

3. Testing methods and technology are still expensive and time-consuming

Particularly for COTM and VSAT operations (the latter requiring a highly accurate initial setup and continuous maintenance due to the small apertures and wide beam points), testing is a huge expense for operators and often results in significant downtime. The antenna must always be mobile, which for COTM often means laying on dedicated flights or voyages to enable accurate results in a realistic environment. Testing and calibration must also be performed by a specialist engineer, who must be transported to wherever in the world the vessel or aircraft is located – this soon becomes incredibly costly and seems incredibly antiquated in our modern age of automation and AI.

4. Emerging technology could be the answer

The industry must now look to new technology to address testing inaccuracies and its ability to keep up with evolving technology in-orbit. Drone technology could be one solution.

Already, it is proving capable of providing ground segment operators and antenna manufacturers with an innovative method to ensure that equipment is of suitable quality at sourcing and crucially during use out in the field. The drone’s simulated satellite payload is able to test, calibrate, and measure the performance of operational satellites and VSAT antennas by mimicking an orbital satellite. This technology can re-enact the testing environment as it is able to transmit and receive RF signals whilst in the air above the ground station. This means there is no need to access the actual satellite service, which saves time and money. In turn, this increases the accessibility of testing services for the ground segment, promoting regular testing for operators. It also means manufacturers can deliver products that work to the required accuracy and have been tested in real-world scenarios for their designated use.

QuadSAT is working with operators and industry organisations to develop Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) – drones – for testing. Using emerging automation and drone technology, coupled with advances in microwave technology, QuadSAT’s technology is proving able to drastically reduce costs, allowing operators to perform testing and calibration on a more frequent basis, in turn resulting in reduced antenna related RFI incidents. We believe that by reducing the cost of testing, the industry can continue to support the roll-out of new and exciting opportunities in-orbit.

About QuadSAT

Founded in March 2017, QuadSAT’s mobile antenna testing system provides users with affordable, accessible and accurate antenna testing and calibration. The system utilizes a custom-built RF payload, drone technology, and mathematical algorithms in order to effectively simulate satellites and perform critical antenna performance tests. QuadSAT’s system has been developed to meet industry-wide standards.

Press contact:

Helen Weedon
Radical Moves PR
+44 (0)1570 434632

How to get a Drone Start-up off the Ground: An Interview with Two Founders

Andrian and Joakim with drone talking about their start up

In 2017, Joakim Espeland and Andrian Buchi co-founded drone antenna testing company, QuadSAT. In this blog post, they share their story as well as their top tips for launching a start-up.

How did the founders meet?

Joakim Espeland: We met at a university seminar about entrepreneurship; the key speaker was Henrik Scheel, a Danish entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He explained the support available from the university as well as highlighting that – with the right idea – it would be possible for anyone in the room to start up a high-tech company. Andrian and I were both studying Mechanical Engineering in Denmark at the time. Following this seminar, we ended up working together on a project which ultimately became QuadSAT.

When did you think your university project would turn into something more?

Joakim Espeland: I realised that our project could become something more on our graduation day. We were given the ‘Best project of the School’ award which came with a cash prize. Our professors told us that we should consider our project as more than academic and to start looking into funding opportunities. They were incredibly supportive; they provided us with information on government funding which was available for innovative technologies at the time. We ended up securing government funding which meant we were able to start up our business straight out of university.

Andrian Buchi: For me, the really pivotal moment was when we secured funding and were able to build a prototype. Suddenly, we could test our technology and see that our theories worked.

How did you decide on which sector to target?

Joakim Espeland: Before I went to university for the second time, I worked in the satcoms industry as a satellite service engineer for a maritime oil and gas company. When working there I saw the issues with antenna testing first-hand. Companies were having to deploy the ship on journeys purely for satellite testing; these journeys obviously come at a price, both in fuel and in downtime. A few years later I was discussing the issue with Andrian in university and explained my idea around drone tech. He thought it was an awesome idea and we went on to start our project.

What has been the biggest challenge?

Joakim Espeland: Obviously, it’s really exciting to be developing pioneering technology, but it does have its challenges! We’re having to develop our products from scratch which means rigorous testing and defining our own workflows. Of course, securing funding has been another huge aspect in developing our business. It can be frustrating if you know you have a good idea, but you don’t have the investment to make it work! We really focused on pinning our ideas down into a business model so that we could approach funding opportunities with clear objectives.

As I said before, our first round of funding came from the government so it’s always worthwhile seeing what grants they have available for innovative enterprises. Our next step in securing funding was taking part in the Seraphim Space Camp; Seraphim Capital is a venture capital fund which is dedicated to space tech. This investment really allowed us to make progress with the technology. We’ve since signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) – we’re incredibly proud to be working with them.

How big is the QuadSAT team?

Joakim Espeland: There are currently 15 of us spread over two offices. Our headquarters are at the HCA airport; we positioned ourselves here as it is an amazing hub for robotics – they call it Robotics Island! There are three drone companies at this airport, and we all support each other’s projects. There isn’t anywhere else in the world that would suit us better.  Our other office is in the UK where we’re looking into RF.

What has been the most rewarding moment?

Joakim Espeland: Definitely the first flight. It proved that our ideas, and most importantly the tech, worked! It gave us masses of confidence in our product and allowed us to move forward and hire who was needed to develop our business.

Andrian Buchi: We’re constantly developing and learning and it’s great as we get to apply all of our newest thoughts to our product. It’s very rewarding seeing our hard work pay off when efficiencies improve.

Any other advice?

Joakim Espeland: If you have a good idea, it’s really important to do your research and see where you fit in industry. If you can see a clear need for your tech, people will be interested. Managing funding is obviously important, however there are grants available and investors are always looking for good ideas. We’ve also benefitted hugely from joining groups like the Global VSAT Forum and the Satcoms Innovation Group – it gives you chance to meet people who could ending up using your products. Both groups have taught us a lot about the needs of the industry and where our tech should be focused.

More about Joakim:

I’ve always been interested in becoming an engineer. After I finished school, I went on to study electrical engineering and robotics at a university in my home country of Norway. It was after this that I started working in the satcoms industry. Here I realised that I wanted to train in mechanical engineering. I’d visited the university in Denmark as part of my original electrical engineering course and I knew they held real value in innovation. When I decided to return to education, I knew it would make sense to move to Denmark to study. I have always been entrepreneurial, so I always thought that I’d end up running my own business. It’s great that our university project has developed into QuadSAT – we have some really exciting times ahead!

More about Andrian:

My mother and her family are from an engineering background, so I always had that influence and always wanted a career in engineering. I grew up in Moldova and went to high school in Romania however I decided that I wanted a change and move elsewhere for university. I decided to go to university in Denmark as it had an outstanding reputation for education, especially Engineering. At the time, my English skills weren’t that great, and the university offered an opportunity to improve my language skills. The move was challenging but most definitely worth it! In the past, I’ve also worked in an engineering consultancy firm focusing on 3D technology. I’ve always aspired to running my own business. My father is a businessman and I have definitely inherited his entrepreneurial spirit!

About QuadSAT

Founded in March 2017, QuadSAT’s mobile antenna testing system provides users with affordable, accessible and accurate antenna testing and calibration. The system utilizes a custom-built RF payload, drone technology, and mathematical algorithms in order to effectively simulate satellites and perform critical antenna performance tests. QuadSAT’s system has been developed to meet industry-wide standards.

Press contact:

Helen Weedon
Radical Moves PR
+44 (0)1570 434632