Europe lifts off
Global — Space
Ever since Nasa rocketed Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969, European space agencies have envied US spending power. But as space missions become big business in the private sector, start-ups from Europe are holding their own against their counterparts across the Atlantic.
Spain is home to two of the continent’s most impressive ventures. In Elche, near Alicante, pld Space is designing rockets it hopes will be Europe’s first reusable launch vehicles. The 25-strong team has its own testing facility at Teruel Airport in Aragon and has spent the past five years perfecting propulsion systems; now its ceo, Raul Torres, plans to build suborbital launcher Arion 1 by next year and orbital launcher Arion 2 (able to launch small satellites into orbit) by 2020. Another Spanish start-up, Barcelona’s Zero 2 Infinity, has harnessed helium-balloon technology to float satellites and passengers to the edge of space. Yet it’s a German venture that might actually achieve the first private moon landing. A module and two rovers built by Berlin-based Audi-backed PTScientists are booked on a rocket slated for launch by US company SpaceX as early as next year.
By 2030 the global space sector is predicted to hit €372bn. While US investors are still more comfortable dabbling in space ventures, London-based investment director Mark Boggett, who runs the Seraphim Space Fund, claims there is “a growing ecosystem of space entrepreneurship in Europe that can rival – and better – that of the US on all fronts”.
Taiwan — Development
“We decided to focus on one project per floor to draw in people with various interests,” says Adam Yeh, the developer behind Tainan’s Pari Pari Apartment, a restored three-storey, mid-20th-century building that combines hospitality, retail and accommodation. The ground floor is dedicated to a vintage-furniture shop, while the first floor houses a café designed to recall the days when Tainan was Japan’s colonial capital and the top floor is given over to a boutique guesthouse.
The outlook for Yeh’s venture is promising: people are already making the 265km journey from Taipei to visit the exemplary miniature development.
Portugal — Fashion
Portuguese shoe brand Undandy is combining the country’s high-quality shoemaking heritage with the latest digital technology. Customers can now use a 3D online design tool to select colour and leather combinations, as well as style, stitching and soles. “I could never find a shoe I loved,” says co-founder Rafic Daud. “It was either the wrong colour or the wrong style so I thought of customisation.” Undandy shoes are handmade in northern Portugal before being dispatched to 60 countries at a current rate of about 500 pairs a month.
Sea’s the way
Denmark — Airlines
Nordic Seaplanes’ 16-seater Twin Otter dhc-6-300 flies from Copenhagen to the harbour of Aarhus, whose rivalry with the capital has been thwarted by its decrepit airport an hour’s bus ride from the centre. Nordic Seaplanes lands passengers much closer with its €240, 45-minute flight; complimentary noise-cancelling headphones are a bonus.
UK/USA — F&B
“Design is one of the most powerful tools you can use, especially when building and defining a brand new category,” says Hamish Campbell, creative director of New York branding and design agency Pearlfisher. His firm was behind the branding of Seedlip, one of the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirits.
Artistic botanical illustrations hint at the UK brand’s natural ingredients and the illustrated fox and hare, which are indigenous to the founder Ben Branson’s family farm in the English countryside, hint at its origins. “We take great care in making Seedlip,” says Branson, who launched the company two years ago. “We believe that this quality must be reflected on the outside of the bottle as well as in it.”