We know the most promising startup of Vivatech 2022 (Interstellar Lab)

The French startup Interstellar Lab, launched in 2020, is now present at the Vivatech fair in Paris. The object of your visit, the introduction of BioPod, your first product for marketing, is imminent. With its inflatable module, the hope of being able to recreate environments conducive to life, thanks to a system of “recreate ideal climatic conditions for life on Earth and in Space”.

We met Barbara Belvisi, its founder and director. With it, about twenty employees from the aerospace industry (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus) and agronomists (mainly from Agricool) are developing its BioPod in Paris and Los Angeles. The Insterstellar Laboratory targets the Moon, Mars, but also experiments on Earth for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and for university research.

Drawing inspiration from nature to recreate life

Promising are the startups that have understood that nature and its knowledge are an open pit gold mine. Without this, it is difficult to propose lasting solutions. Interstellar is certainly one of them, which is why its name is present among the winners of Future40, the Station F ranking of the 40 most promising startups.

On the other side, investors are jostling. They are European and American, specialized in sustainable and aeronautical solutions. There are Urania Ventures, Auxxo, 7% Ventures, Seldor Capital, E2MC, Starburst, Kima Ventures and Bpifrance. Last March, Interstellar Lab accepted €5 million in venture capital funding.

BioPod, your first module “recreate life”, has completed its nine-month development phase. To go so fast, Barbara Belvisi explained to us that her teams work as closely as possible to their suppliers. An aeronautical company for the composite base and a German company for the inflatable membrane. The software, to monitor conditions and configure everything, is partnered with Dassault.

The sustainable cultivation of plants on Earth

Insterstellar Lab has produced the first prototype of its module occupying a space in Ivry-sur-Seine. Here, she managed to grow vanilla, in an above-ground culture model called “in aeroponics” with supply of water and nutrients through cannulas. Vanilla requires very specific conditions that the BioPod can reach “adjusting temperature, humidity, air, CO2 level and light”.

With such a tool, the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are keeping an eye on the startup. It already has an order book for 70 BioPods, a success. It must be said that such companies may want to test and grow new plants with cheap and sustainable solutions like the one from Interstellar Lab. The research community, with universities, also showed interest.

Economical and productive, the BioPod reduces water consumption (by 98%) and energy (x20) while increasing throughput (up to x300), according to its first measurements in Ivry-sur-Seine. With the BioPod, the Interstellar Lab intends to deploy entire bases, directly on Earth, to bring aerospace researchers and companies there. The philosophy of its founder: being able to bring life to other places in space requires, above all, finding sustainable solutions on Earth as well.

On the moon and orbiting in space

But what is most spectacular for the French nugget’s resume is his simultaneous work with NASA and CNES. The American and French space agencies are very interested in being able to deploy these modules in space.

NASA would like to be able to incorporate such solutions into its Artemis program (next lunar mission) and CNES would be interested in deploying a “food production system for deep space and low orbit”. For this, Barbara Belvisi told us that they will be able to offer “a more automated and controlled system with the ability to grow plants, fungi and insects”.

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