A Russian-American startup shines at Helsinki tech fair

Ekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, Astro Digital, at Slush conference.

Ekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, Astro Digital, at Slush conference.

Astro Digital took second place at Slush, one of the largest events for high-tech companies in Europe, which took place in Helsinki on Nov. 11-12. This year over 15,000 people visited the fair.

Astro Digital, a startup created by Ekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, won second place in the startup competition at Slush, which is a major event in northern Europe for innovators and developers interested in attracting international investors.

“I’ve always been interested in the space industry and wanted to apply space technology to everyday life," Kotenko-Lengold, a graduate from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in Moscow, told RBTH.

Astro Digital is a platform for accessing satellite data that provides easy, quick search and integration of satellite photographs into web and mobile applications. Developers believe there can be a demand for such technology, especially from farmers and forest owners.

Astro Digital is run by an international team of experts from Russia and the U.S., and the startup’s head office is located at NASA's Ames Research Park in California.

Traditionally, satellite imagery has been used by big corporations and governments. Only recently new solutions have become widely available. Astro Digital's main competitive advantage is simplicity; information is taken from numerous sources and then adapted to customer needs.

“Our key clients are coming from agriculture and disaster management, but products can be used for many other purposes,'' said Kotenko-Lengold. "For example, authorities could monitor waste on building roofs, which is a serious problem for many developing counties."

"Katya's project seems to be a ready-made innovation product combining the technical discipline of satellite photographs of the Earth with an IT component," remarked Skoltech director, Edward Crawley. "Skoltech's space strategy is to use low Earth orbit possibilities to improve people's lives and health, and the planet in general, including with the help of modern information technologies."

Slush's winner, awarded 650,000 euros by a group of investors, was the Australian project, CareMonkey. This is an application for exchanging data, recommendations, and information on emergency situations with friends and family.

Out of the 1,700 applications that startup participants sent to Slush, the expert jury selected 100. During the intense battle for the silver medal, 20 projects made it to the semifinal round, and 4 to the finals, including Estonia's Velmenni.com, and Germany's Plugsurfing.com.

Read more: 12 trusty know-hows invented by Russians

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