U-M Aerospace alumni Théau Héral and Andry-Tohy Rakotovololona win Airbus Defense and Space Entrepreneurship Prize

Congratulations to UM Aerospace alumni Théau Héral and Andry-Tohy Rakotovololona, winners of Airbus DS Entrepreneurship Prize at ActInSpace challenge

Théau Héral and Andry-Tohy Rakotovololona win Airbus Defense and Space Entrepreneurship Prize.

On June 27th, UM Aerospace alumni Théau Héral and Andry-Tohy Rakotovololona (BSE AE ‘17) competed for the Airbus Defense and Space Entrepreneurship Prize at the ActInSpace International Final in Toulouse, France. They and their team, Team Alpha, won the prize with Greenvest, a project that is “committed to applying artificial intelligence to satellite data in order to optimize renewable energies for regional deployment of hybrid solutions.”

Organized by Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Space Agency (ESA), ActInSpace is an international competition meant to encourage space technologies startups. In the 2018 challenge – only the third in history – 510 start-up projects in space technologies, data and infrastructures were developed over twenty-four hours and pitched. Rakotovololona explains the structure of the event:

Airbus Defense and Space Entrepreneurship Prize

“The experience was tough but fulfilling and taught us a significant amount about teamwork, efficiency, and determination. We spent the first part of our twenty-four hours choosing our challenge and then dissecting the necessary components related to the challenge. Following that, we split into subsections in order to fulfill our business model, market analysis, the basis for our technical solution and our fiscal plans for the years to come. The final part of the time was used to prepare the pitch, our teaser video, website (not available to the public yet) and for potential questions about our solution.”

For their efforts, Team Alpha and Greenvest won €100,000 to expand their start-up in conjunction with Airbus Intelligence. Now studying for their Master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering at Institut Supérieurde l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE-SUPAERO) in Toulouse, France, Rakotovololona and Héral acknowledge their UM educations as the foundation for their success:

“Overall, our studies at Michigan gave us a lot of practice and perspective in conducting efficient and practical group projects, effectively delivering our technical ideas as well as understanding the relevant components in a space project. U of M always provided us with a wealth of knowledge and resources that went above and beyond the syllabus. This helped us to not only adapt to changes but also rise above expectations.”


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